a maritime city in the extreme south of Palestine, between Gaza and Rhinocorura, a day's march from both, reckoned by Josephus, Polybius, and others, as the first city of Syria. (Joseph. B. J. 4.11.5; Plb. 5.80
It was taken from the Egyptians by Alexander Jannaeus, and held by the Jews for some time.
It was one of the ruined and depopulated cities restored by Gabinius. (Ant.
13.13.3, 15.4, 14.5.3.)
It is mentioned also by Strabo (xvi. p.759
) and in the Itinerary of Antoninus, between the above-named towns. Coins of Raphia still exist, and it was represented by its bishop in the council of Ephesus, and in those of Constantinople, A.D. 536 and 553. (Reland, s. v. pp. 967, 968; Le Quien, Oriens Christianus,
vol. iii. pp. 629, 630.)
It was in the neighbourhood of this city that a great battle was fought between Ptolemy Philopator and Antiochus the Great, in which the latter was routed with immense loss. (3 Maccab.
1.2; Plb. 5.80
, &c.; Hieron. ad Dan.
cap. xi.) Its site is still marked by the name Refah,
and two ancient granite columns in situ,
with several prostrate fragments, the remains apparently of a temple of considerable magnitude. (Irby and Mangles' Journal,