called also Azzah, which is its Hebrew name (Deut. 2:23; 1 Kings 4:24; Jer. 25:20), strong, a city on the Mediterranean shore, remarkable for its early importance as the chief centre of a great commercial traffic with Egypt. It is one of the oldest cities of the world (Gen. 10:19; Josh. 15:47). Its earliest inhabitants were the Avims, who were conquered and displaced by the Caphtorims (Deut. 2:23; Josh. 13:2, 3), a Philistine tribe. In the division of the land it fell to the lot of Judah (Josh. 15:47; Judg. 1:18). It was the southernmost of the five great Philistine cities which gave each a golden emerod as a trespass-offering unto the Lord (1 Sam. 6:17). Its gates were carried away by Samson (Judg. 16:1-3). Here he was afterwards a prisoner, and "did grind in the prison house." Here he also pulled down the temple of Dagon, and slew "all the lords of the Philistines," himself also perishing in the ruin (Judg. 16:21-30). The prophets denounce the judgments of God against it (Jer. 25:20; 47:5; Amos 1:6, 7; Zeph. 2:4). It is referred to in Acts 8:26. Philip is here told to take the road from Jerusalem to Gaza (about 6 miles south-west of Jerusalem), "which is desert", i.e., the "desert road," probably by Hebron, through the desert hills of Southern Judea. (See SAMSON.)
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