GATH (Heb. גַּת), name of several Canaanite cities often appearing with a toponymic addition to differentiate them (e.g., Gath-Hepher, Gath-Rimmon, Gath-Gittaim, etc.). Four cities called Gath are listed among the conquests of Thutmose iii and several Gath (or Gintis) are mentioned in the *El-Amarna letters: Ginti, Ginti-Kirmel, and Giti-Padalla. The last, which also appears in the city list of Pharaoh Shishak, is identified with the Arab village of Jatt in the Sharon. Pliny mentions a Gitta north of Mt. Carmel (Natural History 5:75); it was the home town of the famous sorcerer Simon Magus (Justinus Martyr, Apologia 1:26, 5–6). Eusebius locates a Gath between Antipatris and Jamnia (Jabneh; Onom. 72:2) and it is similarly situated on the Madaba Map. This is probably Gath-Gittaim, which Jewish tradition identifies with Ramleh and for which B. Mazar proposes the site of Ras Abu Ḥumayd (or Ḥamīd), east of Ramleh.
The best known Gath is "Gath of the Philistines." It was originally inhabited by Anakim ("giants"; Josh. 11:22; i Chron. 20:6, 8; ii Sam. 21:20, 22) and later by one of the five Philistine lords (Josh. 13:3; etc.). It was one of the cities to which the Ark was brought after its capture (i Sam. 5:8). The Philistines fled from Gath after the defeat of Goliath (ibid. 17:52). Persecuted by Saul, David escaped to take refuge with Achish king of Gath (ibid. 21:11) from whom he received Ziklag in the Negev, a fact which indicates the extent of the territory ruled by Gath in the south. When Israel again became strong and united under David, Gath is mentioned in connection with his victory over the Philistines (i Chron. 8:13); the parallel account in ii Samuel 8:1, however, contains the enigmatic "Metheg-Ammah" instead of Gath. The people of Gath were subdued and Ittai the Gittite became one of the captains of David's guard and remained faithful to him when Absalom rebelled (ii Sam. 15:19–22; 18:2). A descendant of Achish, however, continued to rule Gath at the beginning of Solomon's reign (i Kings 2:39ff.); thus the Gath fortified by Rehoboam cannot be Gath of the Philistines and is possibly Moresheth-Gath, as proposed by Y. Aharoni. In his campaign of c. 815–814 b.c.e., Hazael of Aram-Damascus advanced as far as Gath (ii Kings 12:18); his destruction of the city may be that alluded to by Amos (6:2). Gath was conquered by Uzziah, king of Judah (ii Chron. 26:6) and Sargon mentions the capture of Gath (Ginti) during his campaign against Ashdod in 711 b.c.e. It is doubtful, however, whether these two references are to Gath of the Philistines or to the more northern Gat-Gittaim. In later times Eusebius mentions a village called Gath, five Roman miles from Eleutheropolis on the road to Diospolis-Lydda (Onom. 68:4ff.); it is also mentioned by Jerome (Epistulae 108:14).
The identification of Gath is a much debated problem. Albright proposed to locate it at Tell al-ʿUrayna, west of Bet Guvrin (Eleutheropolis) but six seasons of excavations by S. Yeivin have shown that most of the site contained no Iron Age (Philistine) remains. Only on the upper mound were remains from that period found, but its small size (3–4 acres) precludes an identification with Gath. A subsequent proposal to identify Gath with Tell al-Najīla has also been disproved so far by excavations; in two seasons of excavations a large Middle Bronze Age city was found but almost no Iron Age remains. The current proposal returns to its old identification with Tell al-Ṣāfī (as suggested by Elliger, Galling, and later, Aharoni). This large mound, excavated in 1899/1900, has produced large quantities of Philistine pottery.
em, s.v.; F.J. Bliss and R.A.S. Macalister, Excavations in Palestine (1902), pl. 44; Albright, in: aasor, 2–3 (1923), 7–17; Elliger, in: zdpv, 57 (1934), 148–52; Bulow and Michell, in: iej, 11 (1961), 101–10; S. Yeivin, First Preliminary Report on the Excavations at Tel Gat (1961); Mazar, in: iej, 4 (1954), 227–35; Aharoni, Land, index.
GATH-RIMMON (Heb. גַּת רִמּוֹן).
(1) Levitical city in the territory of Dan (Josh. 21:24; i Chron. 6:54). It is located in the vicinity of Jehud, Bene-Berak, and Me-Jarkon ("the waters of Yarkon") in Joshua 19:45 and it is possibly mentioned in the list of conquests of Thutmose iii in c. 1469 b.c.e. (line 63) in the same general area, between Jaffa and Lydda. In the opinion of some scholars, the Giti-rimunima in the *El-Amarna letters (ed. by Knudtzon, 250) refers to this locality. Gath-Rimmon is commonly identified with Tell Jarīsha, which was excavated from 1934. The finds included remains of a Hyksos wall and glacis of the Middle Bronze ii Age, a Late Bronze Age tomb, and evidence of a settlement up to the ninth century b.c.e.
(2) Levitical city of the tribe of Manasseh west of the Jordan (Josh. 21:25). Some scholars consider it identical with the Giti-rimunima of the el-Amarna letters mentioned above, and as evidence that a second Gath-Rimmon existed in the region, they cite the worship of Hadadrimmon in the Jezreel Valley (Zech. 12:11). In the parallel text of levitical cities in i Chronicles 6, however, Bileam (Ibleam) appears instead of Gath-Rimmon, and the mention of the latter twice in Joshua 21 may have been due to an error.
em, s.v. (includes bibliography); qdap, 4 (1935), 208–9; 6 (1938), 225; 10 (1944), 55ff., 198–9, excavation reports of Gath Rimmon (1); Aharoni, Land, index.