The town Gath was a Philistine city in north-western Philistia, one of five cities in ancient Canaan and Philistine. According to the Bible the king of the city was Achish, who reigned in the times of Saul, David, and Solomon. Gath was also the home city of Goliath and his brothers, as well as of Itai and his 600 soldiers who aided David in his exile from Absalom. David, while running from Saul, escaped to Gath, and served under its king Achish. During Solomon’s reign, Shemei goes to Gath to return his escaped slave (1 Kings). In 2 Kings, the city of Gath is mentioned as being captured by Hazael of Aram Damascus.
However, recent excavations at Gath have produced evidence of a siege and subsequent destruction of the site in the late 9th century BC. Archaeologists have dug up a monumental gate, large walls, and various fortifications. This provides a strong indication that it is related to the conquest of Gath by Hazael, King of Aram Damascus, as mentioned in 2 Kings 12:18. Further evidence for the siege is likely related to the conquest of Gath by Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:6), thus sitting well with the technology as described in the Old Testament book of 2 Chronicles (26:15). According to lead archaeologist Aren Maeir, of Bar-Ilan University in Israel, in conversation with Live Science: “We knew that Philistine Gath in the 10th to ninth century [B.C.] was a large city, perhaps the largest in the land at that timel. These monumental fortifications stress how large and mighty this city was.”
Recently, in 2005, an important inscription was found. Scratched on a shard were two non-Semitic names written in Semitic “Proto-Canaanite” letters. The two names: “ALWT” (אלות) and “WLT” (ולת), are similar to the name Goliath (גלית). Goliath was the feared Philistine warrior champion, who according to the biblical text, was a native of Gath, and was felled by David. Although this is not conclusive historical evidence of the biblical Goliath’s existence, it provides excellent evidence of the cultural milieu of this period. Thus, it does not stretch one’s credulity in believing that a mighty Philistine warrior, by the name of Goliath, actually existed and happened to find his way into the pages of the Old Testament:
“So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.“ (1 Samuel 17:50)