Ash'dod (Heb. Ashdod', אִשׁדּוֹד, a stronghold; Sept. and N.T. ῎Αζωοτς), the Azotus of the Greeks -and Romans, and so called in 1 Macc. 4:15; Ac 8:40 (see also Plin. Hist. Nat. v, 14; Ptolem. v, 16); a city of the Philistine Pentapolis, on the summit of a grassy hill (Richardson, Travels, ii, 206), near the Mediterranean coast (comp. Joseph. Ant. 14:4, 4), nearly mid. way between Gaza and Joppa, being 18 geographical miles north by east from the former (270 stadia north, according to Diod. Sic. 19:85), and 21 south from the latter; and, more exactly, midway between Askelon and Ekron, being 10 geographical miles north by east from the former, and south by west from the latter (see Cellar. Notit. ii, 599; Mannert, VI, i, 261 sq.). Ashdod was a city of the Philistines, and the chief town of one of their five confederate states (Jos 13:3; 1Sa 6:17). It was the seat of the worship of Dagon (1Sa 5:5; 1Sa 1 Macc. 11:4), before whose shrine in this city it was that the captured ark was deposited and triumphed over the idol (1Sa 5:1-9). Ashdod was assigned to Judah (Jos 15:47); but many centuries passed before it and the other Philistine towns were subdued (1Ki 4:24), SEE 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 (2Ch 26:6). It is mentioned to the reproach of the Jews after their return from captivity that they married wives of Ashdod; the result of which was that the children of these marriages spoke a mongrel dialect, compounded of Hebrew and the speech of Ashdod (Ne 13:23-24). It was 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 under Tartan (B.C. 715) before invading Egypt (Isa 20:1 sq.); and about B.C. 630 it was taken by Psammetichus, after a siege of twenty-nine years, the longest on record (Herodot. ii, 157). That it recovered from this blow appears from its being mentioned as an independent power in alliance, after the exile, with the Arabians and others against Jerusalem (Ne 4:7). The destruction of Ashdod was foretold by the prophets (Jer 25:20; Am 1:8; Am 3:9; Zep 2:4; Zec 9:6), and was accomplished by the Maccabees (1 Macc. 5:68; 10:77-84; 11:4). It is enumerated among the towns which Pompey joined to the province of Syria (Joseph. Ant. 14:4, 4; War, i, 7, 7), and among the cities ruined in the wars, which Gabinius ordered to be rebuilt (Ant. 14:5, 3). It was included in Herod's dominion, and was one of the three towns bequeathed by him to his sister Salome (War, 17:8, 1; 11:5). The evangelist Philip was found at Ashdod after he had baptized the Ethiopian eunuch (Ac 8:40). Azotus early became the seat of a bishopric; and we find a bishop of this city present at the councils of Nice, Chalcedon, A.D. 359, Seleucia, and Jerusalem, A.D. 536
(Reland, Palestina, p. 609). Ashdod subsisted as a small unwalled town in the time of Jerome. It was in ruins when Benjamin of Tudela visited Palestine (Itin. ed. Asher, i, 79); but we learn from William of Tyre and Vitriacus that the bishopric was revived by the Latin Christians, at least titularly, and made suffragan of Treves. Sandys (Travailes, p. 151) describes it "as a place of no reckoning;" and Zuallart (Voyage, 4:132) speaks of it as an Arab village (comp. Van Troilo, 1666, p. 349). Irby and Mangles (p. 180) describe it as an inhabited site marked by ancient ruins, such as broken arches and partly-buried fragments of marble columns; there is also what appeared to these travellers to be 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 (Volney, Trav. ii, 251; Schwarz, Palest. p. 120). The name occurs in the cuneiform inscriptions (q.v.). The ancient remains are few and indistinct (Hackett, Illustra. of Script. p. 185). The ruined khan to the west of the village marks the Acropolis of the ancient town, and the grove near it alone protects the site from the shifting sand of the adjoining plain, which threatens, at no distant day, entirely to overwhelm the spot (Thomson, Land and Book, ii, 319).
The inhabitants are styled (אִשׁדּוֹדִי, Ne 5:7; "Ashdothites," Jos 13:3; the dialect is the Pim. אִשׁדּוֹדִית, Ashdodith', Sept. Α᾿ζωτιστί, Vulg. Azotice, A. V. "in the speech of Ashdod," Ne 13:24).