Remains of the city wall of the Philistine city of Gath. (Photo: Prof. Aren Maeir/ Bar Ilan University)
The return of giants is mentioned in various Jewish teachings as part of the process of redemption. A recent archaeological discovery indicates that Biblical stories of these famed beings are no longer mere myths.
Archaeologists in Israel have uncovered what they believe to be the enormous gates of Gath, the city of Goliath. The story of Goliath the Giant (1 Samuel 17) is a Bible classic with a clear message for young and old. However, equally important and less studied, is the role of Goliath and the Philistines as the physical and ideological enemies of David and the Messianic dynasty.
A Bar Ilan University team of archaeologists estimate that the remains of the ancient Philistine city dates back to the 10th century BCE. Two inscriptions discovered at the site ad names similar to Goliath, giving more weight to their theory. The modern site, known today as Tell es-Safi, has been occupied almost continuously for nearly 5,000 years and is the focus of continuous archaeological excavations since 1899. Until now, it was not known that its iron-age remains were so extensive.
“We knew that Philistine Gath in the tenth to ninth century (BCE) was a large city, perhaps the largest in the land at that time,” excavation leader Professor Aren Maeir told Live Science. “These monumental fortifications stress how large and mighty this city was.”
Most scholars believe that Gath was besieged and laid to waste by Hazael, King of Aram Damascus, in 830 B.C., Maeir said.
The newly discovered gate is being hailed as one of the largest of its kind ever found. The gate is part of enormous and extensive fortifications, indicating the importance of the city. Archaeologists also found ironworks and a Philistine temple near the monumental gate, with some pottery. Examination of the pottery revealed both Philistine and Israelite influences, indicating there was more interaction between the two cultures than previously thought.
“This mirrors the intense and multifaceted connections that existed between the Philistines and their neighbors,” Maeir said.
As if the discovery of the giant gate wasn’t enough, archaeologists also found indications of a catastrophic earthquake in the 8th century BCE, in what the team says could be the disaster mentioned in the Book of Amos.