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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Ash´dod, the Azotus of the Greeks and Romans, and so called in 1 Maccabees 4:15; Acts 8:40; a city on the summit of a grassy hill, near the Mediterranean coast, nearly mid-way between Gaza and Joppa, being 18 geog. miles N. by E. from the former, and 21 S. from the latter; and it is more exactly mid-way between Askelon and Ekron, being 10 geog. miles N. by E. from the former, and S. by W. from the latter. Ashdod was a city of the Philistines, and the chief town of one of their five states (Joshua 13:3; 1 Samuel 6:17). It was the seat of the worship of Dagon (1 Samuel 5:5; 1 Maccabees 11:4); and it was before its shrine in this city that the captured ark was deposited and triumphed over the idol (1 Samuel 5:1-9). Ashdod was assigned to Judah; but many centuries passed before this and the other Philistine towns were subdued [PHILISTINES]; and it appears never to have been permanently in possession of the Judahites, although it was dismantled by Uzziah, who built towns in the territory of Ashdod (1 Chronicles 26:6). It is mentioned to the reproach of the Jews returned from captivity, that they married wives of Ashdod, with the result that the children of these marriages spoke a mongrel dialect, half Hebrew and half in the speech of Ashdod (Nehemiah 13:23-24). These facts indicate the ancient importance of Ashdod. It was indeed a place of great strength; and being on the usual military route between Syria and Egypt, the possession of it became an object of importance in the wars between Egypt and the great northern powers. Hence it was secured by the Assyrians before invading Egypt (Isaiah 1:1, sq.); and at a later date it was taken by Psammetichus, after a siege of twenty-nine years, being the longest siege on record. The destruction of Ashdod was foretold by the prophets (Jeremiah 25:20; Amos 1:8; Amos 3:9; Zephaniah 2:4; Zechariah 9:6); and was accomplished by the Maccabees (1 Maccabees 5:68; 1 Maccabees 10:77-84; 1 Maccabees 11:4). It was, however, rebuilt, and was included in the dominion of Herod the Great, who bequeathed it, with two other towns, to his sister Salome. The evangelist Philip was found at Ashdod after he had baptized the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:40). Azotus early became the seat of a bishopric; and we find a bishop of Azotus present at the councils of Nice, of Chalcedon, A.D. 359, of Seleucia, and of Jerusalem, A.D. 536.

Ashdod exists at present as an inconsiderable village. The site is marked by ancient ruins, such as broken arches, and partly buried fragments of marble columns; there is also what has the appearance of a very ancient khan, the principal chamber of which had obviously, at some former period, been used as a Christian chapel. The place is still called Esdud.





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Ashdod'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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