(the fortified; the strong), (properly Azzah), one of the five chief cities of the Philistines. It is remarkable for its continuous existence and importance from the very earliest times. The secret of this unbroken history is to be found in the situation of Gaza. It is the last town in the southwest of Palestine, on the frontier towards Egypt. The same peculiarity of situation has made Gaza important in a military sense. Its name means “the strong,” and this was well elucidated in its siege by Alexander the Great, which lasted five months. In the conquest of Joshua the territory of Gaza is mentioned as one which he was not able to subdue (Joshua 10:41; 11:22; 13:3). It was assigned to the tribe of Judah, (Joshua 15:47), and that tribe did obtain possession of it, (Judges 1:18) but did not hold it long (Judges 3:3; 13:1), and apparently it continued through the time of Samuel, Saul and David to be a Philistine city (1 Samuel 6:17; 14:52; 31:1; 2 Samuel 21:15). Solomon became master of “Azzah,” (1 Kings 4:24), but in after times the same trouble with the Philistines recurred (2 Chronicles 21:16; 26:6; 28:18). The passage where Gaza is mentioned in the New Testament (Acts 8:26) is full of interest. It is the account of the baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch on his return from Jerusalem to Egypt. Gaza is the modern Ghuzzeh, a Mohammedan town of about 16,000 inhabitants, situated partly on an oblong hill of moderate height and partly on the lower ground. The climate of the place is almost tropical, but it has deep wells of excellent water. There are a few palm trees in the town, and its fruit orchards are very productive, but the chief feature of the neighborhood is the widespread olive grove to the north and northeast.
Smith's Bible Names Dictionary (1866)