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Gezer (See also wiki article Gezer.)

GEZER - An ancient city of the Shephelah, on the border of the Philistine plain (modern Tell Jezer). The site was excavated by R. A. S. Macalister for the Palestine Exploration Fund between 1902 and 1909. It was populated in Chalcolithic times (4th millennium BC) by inhabitants of Semito-Hamitic stock, and became a Canaanite city in the Bronze Age. To the Canaanite period belongs the famous 'high place,' excavated by Macalister - more precisely, an alignment of stone menhirs set up as a funerary shrine towards the end of the Early Bronze Age (21st cent. BC) and still used as such in the Late Bronze period (16th-13th cents. BC). Gezer was conquered and fortified by Thothmes III. of Egypt (c 1470 BC) but had regained its independence by the Amarna Age, a century later.

The Canaanite city covered some 22 acres. It was not taken by the Israelites in the early days of their settlement (Jos.16.10, Jg.1.29). In David's time it was apparently held by the Philistines (1 Ch.20.4). It was captured by an Egyptian king of the 21st Dynasty (c 970 BC) and given by him as a dowry to his daughter, Solomon's queen; Solomon thereupon rebuilt it as one of his fortified cities (1 K.9.15ff). Traces of this rebuilding have been found in the form of characteristic Solomonic masonry. But there is an almost complete gap in the history of its occupation between the end of the Solomonic period (when it fell to Shishak's invading army) and the 5th cent. BC.

In Hellenistic times it was refounded as a Greek city (Gazara; AV has Gaza), which was captured by Simon Maccabaeus in 142 BC. Simon built himself a palace there (1 Mac.13.43ff), the remains of which were uncovered during the excavation of Gezer. One of the stones had a line of Greek verse scratched on it (presumably by a prisoner-of-war employed on the construction): 'May fire burn up Simon's palace!'

Inscriptions have been found at Gezer from a much earlier date - early Semitic alphabetic inscriptions of date 1800-1500 BC, comparable to those discovered at Lachish and Shechem, cuneiform tablets from the 15th and 14th cents. BC, and the 'Gezer Calendar,' a rhythmical Hebrew summary of the successive operations of the agricultural year, copied on a piece of limestone as a schoolboy's exercise about the time of Solomon.

[Article: Dictionary of the Bible, J.Hastings, 2nd Ed., T&T.Clark, 1963. - R.A.S.M. - F.F.B.]