|Cities of Ancient Israel|
A11 on the Map
(Ashdod), Isdud. Gk. form of Ashdod, l Macc. 5:68; 10::77ff.; Acts 8:40. Ashdod was one of the five principal cities of the Philistines. Together with Gaza, Gath, Ekron, and Ashkelon it formed what is known as the Philistine Pentapolis. These cities were at the zenith of their power at the time of Saul (1020 BC) and continued to be important after the ascendancy of the Hebrew monarchy under the Davidic dynasty (c. 1000-587 B.C.). Ashdod was situated between Ashkelon, a seaport, and Ekron, inland on the caravan route E to Lydda and W to Joppa. Sargon of Assyria besieged and took the city (Is 20:1) despite its commanding position on a hill, which made it the envy of Israel. The Ark of God was carried by the Philistines to Ashdod after their victory at Ebenezer (1050 BC) and carried into the temple of Dagon, an ancient Canaanite deity associated with agriculture, who was worshiped there (1 Sam 5). It was later carried to Gath and Ekron with similar disastrous results as at Ashdod.
Mentioned around 21 times in the OT, its palaces and temples (Amos 3:9) preserve its memory as a city of importance. Nehemiah in his day protested against Israelite men marrying wives from Ashdod and rearing children who could not speak "the language of Judah" (Neh 13:23-25).
Archaeologists have discovered an acropolis of about seventeen acres and a lower city of perhaps ninety acres. Excavations revealed twenty-two strata of settlement extending from the 17th century BC to the Byzantine period. A fragment of a basalt stela of Sargon II came to light, mentioning some of his conquests and confirming the fact that Sargon took the town (Is 20:1). The excavators also uncovered evidence of Hezekiah's conquest and learned that the Philistines took the city early in the 12th century B.C.
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