GERAR (Heb. גְּרָר), a city and region in the Negev in which Abraham and Isaac dwelt (Gen. chs. 20, 26). Gerar was located on the way to Egypt and is mentioned in connection with Kadesh (identified in ancient sources with Petra and now mainly with ʿAyn Qudayrāt) and Shur (the fortifications on the Egyptian frontier). In the north it bordered on the territories of Beersheba and Gaza (Gen. 10:19; 26:1–2; II Chron. 14:12–13). Its area included Rehoboth (which some scholars identify with the later Ruheibah, 12½ mi. (20 km.) south of Elusa, Sitnah, Esek, the valley of Gerar, and the royal city of Gerar. Through Abraham's oath to Abimelech, the land of Gerar was excluded from the territory destined to be conquered by the Israelites (Gen. 21:22–32; cf. Ḥul. 60b) and it was outside the area of Israelite settlement (Josh. 15). According to the patriarchal tradition, the land of Gerar was inhabited by Philistines originating from Casluhim who lived in Gerar as shepherds ruled by a king; a treaty existed between them and the Hebrew Patriarchs (Gen. 10:14; 21:32–34; 26:1, 15ff.). These references to the Philistines, however, are considered an anachronism. Gerar is again mentioned in the time of Asa king of Judah (c. 908–867 B.C.E.) who pursued Zerah the Ethiopian from Mareshah to Gerar and destroyed all the cities in its vicinity (II Chron. 14:8–14). If the Septuagint version of I Chronicles 4:39–41 is correct (reading Gerar instead of Gedor), the land of Gerar was inhabited in the period of the monarchy by remnants of Ham and by Meunim. The name Gerar survived as a geographical term even after the destruction of the city and designated the district occupied by the former land of Gerar. The reference to it in II Chronicles 14:12 may already have this meaning and it certainly has it in II Maccabees 13:24 (cf. I Macc. 11:59). The district was later known by its Greek name Geradike (TJ, Shev. 6:1, 36c; Gen. R. 52:6; 64:3) or Geraritike (Eusebius, Onom. 60:6ff.), which was identified with the biblical Gerar. Eusebius (loc. cit.) locates it 25 Roman miles "from Eleutheropolis (Bet Guvrin) toward the south"; it is similarly represented on the Madaba Map southwest of Beersheba. Various scholars have accordingly proposed to identify it with Tell al-Sharīʿa, 12 mi. (19 km.) northwest of Beersheba or with Tell Yamma further to the west. Y. Aharoni, however, has suggested a site midway between these two mounds – Tell Abu Hurayra (Tell Haror), the largest tell in the area and containing pottery dating from the Middle Bronze Age and later periods.
Horowitz, Ereẓ Yis, S.V.; I. Ben Zvi, Sefer ha-Shomeronim (1935), 116ff.; Grintz, in: Koveẓ… M. Schorr (1944), 96ff.; idem, in: Tarbiz, 17 (1945/46), 32ff.; 19 (1947/48), 64; Aharoni, in: IEJ, 6 (1956), 26ff.; Aharoni, Land, index.
[Yehoshua M. Grintz]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.