Archaeologists Uncover Entrance Gate To Goliath’s City

Archaeologists Uncover Entrance Gate To Goliath’s City

August 05, 2015

An archaeological expedition has discovered the fortifications and entrance gate of the biblical city of Gath of the Philistines, home of Goliath and the largest city in the land during the 10th-9th century BCE, about the time of the “United Kingdom” of Israel and King Ahab of Israel.

The excavations, conducted by a team from the Bar-Ilan University headed by Prof. Aren Maeir, are being conducted in the Tel Zafit National Park, located in the Judean Foothills, about halfway between Jerusalem and Ashkelon in central Israel.

Prof. Maeir, of the Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology, said that the city gate that was discovered is among the largest ever found in Israel and is evidence of the status and influence of the city of Gath during this period.

In addition to the monumental gate, an impressive fortification wall was discovered, as well as various building in its vicinity, such as a temple and an iron production facility. These features, and the city itself were destroyed by Hazael King of Aram Damascus, who besieged and destroyed the site at around 830 BCE, according to a statement from Bar-Ilan University.

The city gate of Philistine Gath is referred to in I Samuel 21 in the story of David’s escape from King Saul to Achish, King of Gath.

The Ackerman Family Bar-Ilan University Expedition to Gath is a long-term investigation aimed at studying the archaeology and history of one of the most important sites in Israel.

Tell es-Safi/Gath is one of the largest tells (ancient ruin mounds) in Israel and was settled almost continuously from the 5th millennium BCE until modern times.

The archaeological dig is led by Prof. Maeir, along with groups from the University of Melbourne, University of Manitoba, Brigham Young University, Yeshiva University, University of Kansas, Grand Valley State University of Michigan, several Korean universities and additional institutions throughout the world.

So far, according to the statement from Bar-Ilan, the group has discovered Philistine Temples dating to the 11th through 9th century BCE, evidence of an earthquake in the 8th century BCE possibly connected to the earthquake mentioned in the Book of Amos I:1, the earliest decipherable Philistine inscription ever to be discovered, which contains two names similar to the name Goliath.

They have also uncovered a large assortment of objects of various types linked to Philistine culture; remains relating to the earliest siege system in the world, constructed by Hazael, King of Aram Damascus around 830 BCE, along with extensive evidence of the subsequent capture and destruction of the city by Hazael, as mentioned in Second Kings 12:18; evidence of the first Philistine settlement in Canaan (around 1200 BCE); different levels of the earlier Canaanite city of Gath; and remains of the Crusader castle “Blanche Garde” at which Richard the Lion-Hearted is known to have been.

NEW FIND AT ANCIENT GATH (Friday Church News Notes, August 21, 2015,, 866-295-4143) – Archaeologists at the site of the ancient Philistine city of Gath (Tel Tzafit) have unearthed another exciting find. This year an expedition from the Bar Ilan University discovered the ancient gate which is mentioned in the Bible (1 Sam. 21:13).  Professor Meir Ettinger says the gate is among the largest ever found in Israel (“Goliath’s Humongous Gate Found,” Israel Today, Aug. 6, 2015). Gath, one of the five major Philistine cities of the Old Testament era, is mentioned more than 30 times in Scripture, and archaeological research since 1996 has confirmed the Biblical record in many interesting ways. First, evidence was found of a Dagon temple with two central pillars. Judges 16:23-30 says the Dagon temple at Gaza had two central pillars. While the temple at Gaza has not been found, the Philistine temples found at Gath and Qasile had central pillars that were close enough together for a large, supernaturally-empowered man to have pushed them apart. Second, evidence was found for the mid-eighth century earthquake mentioned in Amos 1:1. Third, evidence was found for the sieges and destruction of the city in the ninth century, which agrees with the biblical account of sieges by Hazael (2 Ki. 12:17) and Uzziah (2 Ch. 26:6). Fourth, two names “etymologically similar” to “Goliath” were found inscribed on pieces of pottery in “Proto-Canaanite” letters. Though the inscriptions might not refer to the Goliath of Scripture, they prove that this name was in common usage at the time.

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