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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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As´kelon, a city of the Philistines, and seat of one of their five states (Judges 14:19; 1 Samuel 6:17; 2 Samuel 1:20). It was situated on the Mediterranean coast, between Gaza and Ashdod, twelve geog. miles north of the former, and ten S. by W. from the latter, and thirty-seven S.W.W. from Jerusalem. It was the only one of the five great Philistine towns that was a maritime port, and stood out close to the shore. Askelon was assigned to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 13:13; comp. Judges 1:18); but it was never for any length of time in possession of the Israelites. The part of the country in which it stood abounded in aromatic plants, onions, and vines. It was well fortified, and early became the seat of the worship of Decerto. After the time of Alexander it shared the lot of Phoenicia, and also of Judea, being tributary sometimes to Egypt, and at other times to Syria. The magnificent Herod was born at Askelon, and although the city did not belong to his dominion, he adorned it with fountains, baths, and colonnades; and after his death Salome, his sister, resided there in a palace which Caesar bestowed upon her. It suffered much in the Jewish war with the Romans, but afterwards it again revived, and in the Middle Ages was noted not only as a stronghold, but as a wealthy and important town. The town bears a prominent part in the history of the Crusades. After being several times dismantled and refortified in the times of Saladin and Richard, its fortifications were at length totally destroyed by the Sultan Bibars in A.D. 1270, and the port filled up with stones, for fear of future attempts on the part of the Crusaders. Its desolation has long been complete, and little now remains of it but the walls, with numerous fragments of granite pillars. The situation is described as strong; the thick walls, flanked with towers, were built on the top of a ridge of rock that encircles the town, and terminates at each end in the sea. The place still bears the name of Askulan.





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

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