Monday, August 4, 2014

Gaza in the Days of Samson and Moses; Land of Philistines

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                    
Samson, a man remembered for having fallen in love with Delilah, a woman of the Valley of Sorek.  Samson  was an Israelite judge, son of Manoah of the tribe of Dan.  He was a Nazirite from birth, which meant that he didn't do certain things out of respect for G-d, and one was to cut his hair.  From his hair G-d in turn had given him strength and courage.  His feats against the Philistines expressed the Israelites' desire for freedom from the Philistine suzerainty.  He did fall into the  Philistine hands because of Delilah who betrayed the secret of his strength. She handed him over to the Philistines.   His eyes were put out and he was made to turn the prison mill with his body.  There was a festival in Gaza, a Philistine stronghold and was brought to it as someone to mock.  This made him so mad that he destroyed the building and killed the entire group of people there,  including himself, when the building fell down.
Joshua led the Israelites into Canaan because Moses had just died at age 120.    He directed the division of the land as planned by Moses among the 12 sons of Jacob who had each become a tribe after 400 years of living in Egypt.

The tribe of Judah was allotted the area which included Gaza.  "Judah conquered Gaza and its territory, Ashkelon and its territory, and Ekron and it's territory.  Jews come from the tribe of Judah.
                                          King David (1010 BCE to 970 BCE)

The Philistines coming from Crete after being repulsed from Egypt by Rameses III in 1194 BCE, seized the southern coastal area of Canaan where they  founded 5 principalities:  Gaza, Askalon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath.  They were by nature a fighting people so they dominated parts of Judah in the period of the Judges.  Saul at first repelled the danger but was defeated.  David, who became King David, ended the era of Philistine domination and overran Philistia.  when the Isreaelite kingdom dissolved, the Philistines re-established their independence but were never thereafter a serious factor.  It was the Romans who gave the name officially to the former land of Judah as Palaestina or later known as Palestine.

Israelites were not as good as expected, so wound up in the hands of the Midianites for 7 years.   They had power over Israel.  The Israelites had to make "dugouts" that are in the mountains, caves and strongholds.  When the Israelite farmers went out to sow the fields, the Midianites would come.  Not only that group, but also the Amalaek (meanest) and the people of the east and they would all overrun it.  They would camp there and destroy their crops, until the approach to Gaza.  These raiders would leave nothing of food; no sheep, oxen or donkeys.  They would take it all and remove their tents and leave.  They were like a swarm of locusts.  They came on camels and their intent was to destroy all the Israelites were growing on the land.
Joshua killed them from Kadesh-barnea to Gaza.  Joshua conquered all the kings and their land that G-d had directed.  Joshua returned to Gilgal....  Ashdod, its towns and villages; Gaza, its towns and villages to the Brook of Egypt and the Great Sea (Mediterranean), and the border.
                                              King Solomon (961 BCE to 920 BCE) 

King Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms, from the Euphrates River to the land of the Phillistines, until the border of Egypt;  they brought tributes and served Solomon all the days of his life.  Solomon's provision for one day was: 30 kor of fine flour, 60 kor of flour, 10 fattened oxen, 20 oxen from the pasture, and 100 sheep and goats besides gazelle, deer, yachmur and fattened fowl.  For he ruled over the entire area beyond the Euphrates River from Tiphsah to Gaza, over all the kings of the area beyond the Euphrates River; and he was at peace  with the lands on all sides, roundabout.  Judah and Israel lived in security, each man under his grapevine and under his fig tree, from Dan to Beer-Sheba, all the days of Solomon.  

Resource: Tanakh, Art Scroll Series
 Judges, 6:4
Joshua 10:41; 15:47
I Kings, 5-4

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