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The Untold Story of the Kingdom of Judah

(C3) The Untold Story of Moreshet-Gath

Prof. Oded Lipschits

Azekah’s power and wealth, the strong fortifications from the Middle Bronze Age, the extent of the city’s borders in the Late Bronze Age and the wealth of finds that were discovered, the strategic location and the control of the main roads connecting the hill country in the east and the coastal area in the west, together with the rich agricultural potential of the Elah Valley, all of these allowed Azekah to become a central and important settlement, which was also one of the main geopolitical forces in the area between Beth Shemesh in the north and Lachish in the south, as long as Gath was not at its peak, controlling the entire area around it and not allowing Azekah to grow and develop.
In light of this, an important question arises: what was the name of this city in the second millennium BCE?
In this chapter I will argue that the original and ancient name of Tel Azekah was a Moreshet, it is the same Muḫraštu mentioned in the el-Amarna letters, or Moresheth-Gath, the city of the prophet Micah (the Moreshtite).
The name “Azekah” was given to the place by the kings of Judah, after they took control of the area of the Elah Valley during the eighth century BCE. It was a second, new name of Judean origin for an existing city that already had a different name, in an area that had never been connected to the hill country before, and was never part of the Kingdom of Judah. During this period, Gath had already disappeared from the world, it existed in the common memory and its place in history was undeniable, but as part of the new ownership of the area by the kings of Judah, the place was given a new name, which removed Gath from its previous hold on the area. This new name also expressed the status and the importance of the place from Judah’s point of view as part of the king’s estate, which, after Judean rule over the area was established, had to take advantage of it as much as possible for the benefit of the kingdom.

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