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ASHDOD (Assyrian Asdûdu, Greek Azotos):

The northernmost of the five royal cities of the Philistines, two to three miles from the seacoast, about half-way between Gaza and Joppa. In I Sam. vi. 17 it is mentioned first among the principal Philistine cities; and the Ark of the Lord is brought first to that place as a trophy (I Sam. v. et seq.). Amos (iii. 9) gives Ashdod as the representative of all Philistine cities, but Ashdod is placed second in the list in Amos, i. 8, and fourth in Zech. ix. 6. Judah's claim upon Ashdod (Josh. xv. 46) is to be considered as merely theoretical, as Josh. xiii. 3 proves. The capture by King Uzziah (II Chron. xxvi. 6) is usually treated by modern critics as probably unhistorical. It is not certain that the petty king Dagantakala of the El-Amarna tablets resided in Ashdod. Asdûdu led the revolt of Philistines, Judeans, Edomites, and Moabites against Assyria after expelling the king Akhimeti, whom Sargon had installed instead of his brother Azuri. Gath (Gimtu) belonged to the kingdom of Ashdod at that time. But the Assyrian general subjected Ashdod in 711 B.C. (compare Isa. xx. 6, and "C. I. O. T." pp. 87 et seq.), and the usurper, Yawani, fled. Mitinti was king in the time of Sennacherib; Akhimilki in the reign of Esarhaddon. Psammetichus of Egypt is reported to have besieged the great city Azotus for twenty-nine years (Herodotus, ii. 157). The reference to "the remnant of Ashdod" (Jer. xxv. 20; compare Zeph. ii. 4) is interpreted as an allusion to this event. In Neh. iv. 1, the Ashdodites seem still to represent the whole nation of the Philistines, as well as in Neh. xiii. 23, so that xiii. 24, the "speech of Ashdod" (which the younger generation of the Jews began to adopt), would be the Philistine dialect. Winckler ("Gesch. Israels," p. 224) explains the use of that name by the fact that Ashdod was nearest to Jerusalem of the Philistine cities. Yet the simplest explanation seems to remain, that Ashdod was still the leader among those cities even in Greek times. Judas Maccabæus does not seem to have conquered Azotusitself (I Macc. iv. 15, v. 68), but Jonathan (ib. x. 84, xi. 4) destroyed it and burned the old temple of Dagon (compare I Sam. v. 2, 3; see also ib. xvi. 10). According to Josephus, "Ant." xiii. 15, § 4, Alexander Jannæus possessed it (contrast "B. J." i. 7, § 7). Pompey restored its independence ("B. J." i. 6, § 4), which apparently means only that he reconstructed its walls. It belonged to the dominion of Herod and Salome ("Ant." xvii. 18, § 9), Vespasian had to take it by force ("B. J." iv. 130); so that the Jewish inhabitants must have been in the majority. The New Testament mentions Azotus in one passage only (Acts viii. 40). The modern Esdūd is an insignificant village nearly four miles from the sea. To the west of the wooded height on which the village stands, traces of the ancient harbor—now known as Minet el-Ḳal'a—can still be seen. The statement of Ptolemy and Josephus that it was a maritime city, is explained by the possession of a harbor on the shore, which is called "Azotus by the Sea" ("Ant." xiii. 15, § 4). This place has been compared with the Asdudimmu mentioned by Sargon, but the comparison is hardly justified. See Philistines.

J. Jr. W. M. M.
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