What is…

Hebrew: אַשְׁדּ֞וֹד —transliteration: Ashdod —occurrences: 17 times in the Old Testament —from the root word: shadad —meaning: ravager, to deal violently with, despoil, devastate, ruin

also known as: Eshdud and Azotus

Ashdod was a Philistine coastal city (Joshua 15:47), about midway between Gaza and Joppa (Jaffa), and 3 miles from the Mediterranean.

Ashdod was one of the five Philistine (Philistia) city-states—Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath.

It was also one of the chief locations for the worship of the false-god Dagon (1 Samuel 5:5).

Modern Ashdod—satellite view

God twice toppled the Dagon idol (image) in Ashdod’s temple as the ark of the covenant was on display there after its capture by the Philistines.

God also smote its worshippers with emerods (1 Samuel 5:1-12).

Ashdod belonged to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:47), but it never came into their actual possession. It was an important city, as it stood on the highroad from Egypt to Canaan, and so was strongly fortified (2 Chronicles 26:6; Isaiah 20:1).

King Uzziah took it, but 50 years after his death it was taken by the Assyrians (B.C. 758). According to Sargon’s record, it was captured by him in 711 BC.

The only reference to it in the New Testament, where it is called Azotus, is in the account of Philip’s return from Gaza.

And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea. —Acts 8:39-40

The city was later called Eshdud. It still exists to this day, and is again called Ashdod—located in Israel and includes the largest Israeli port.

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Article Version: April 16, 2024