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ASKELON, ASHKELON, OR ASCALON ('ASKŮLÂN).
SCRIPTURE NOTICES. “ And the Spirit of the Lord came upon (Samson), and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle ..." Judges xiv. 19.
66 Ashkelon is cut off with the remnant of their valley: how long wilt thou cut thyself? O thou sword of the Lord, how long will it be ere thou be quiet ? put up thyself into thy scabbard, rest, and be still. How can it be quiet, seeing the Lord hath given it a charge against Ashkelon, and against the sea-shore ? there hath he appointed it.”—Jeremiah xlvii. 5.
“ And I will cut off ... him that holdeth the sceptre, from Ashkelon.”—Amos i, 8.
“ Ashkelon (shall be) a desolation.”—Zephaniah ii. 4.
“ Ashkelon shall see it, and fear Ashkelon shall not be inhabited.”—Zechariah ix. 5.
[Josh. xiii. 3; Judges i. 18; 1 Sam. vi. 17; 2 Sam. i. 20; Jer. xxv. 20; Zeph. ii. 7.]
Askelon, the birth-place of Herod the Great,' was considered to be the most impregnable of any of the towns on the Philistine coast. Owing to this circumstance, and also to its position on the frontier of Canaan, it was much contended for by those who would become masters of the surrounding country, and was the scene of fierce
1 Herod the Great is said to have served as a priest in the temple of Apollo at Askelon. Semiramis was born at Askelon, and the fable concerning her was, that being deserted by her parent, she was nourished by doves, who brought her milk from the shepherds'
In memory of this, when raised to the throne of Assyria, she took the name of Semiramis, signifying a dove, and the figure of that bird was afterwards borne in the Babylonish standard-a circumstance which may explain the words of the prophet, when he announces the desolation of Judah, and warns the people to flee from the sword of the dove. -See Jolliffe's Letters from Palestine, vol. i. p. 226.
battles. Gibbon informs us, that while Richard the First was pushing his conquests in Palestine, when he led the Crusaders to the recovery of the sea-coast, his
progress was so irresistible, that it was only by demolishing the walls and buildings of Askelon, that Saladin could prevent him from occupying an important fortress on the confines of Egypt. Richard surrounded it with a new wall, and adorned it with many stately edifices —but it sustained so many reverses, and suffered so severely from repeated attacks during the wars of that period, that its ruin was at last sealed, and it never rose again to any thing like fame. In the seventeenth century, the city, whose name had been known in every land in Europe, was styled “ a place of no note.” Now it is a scene of utter desolation.
Dr. Robinson did not himself visit ’Askúlân. He
has the following observation respecting it. 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 ground within sinks in the manner of an amphitheatre. The distance from Gaza is about five hours. My companion, Mr. Smith, passed by way of ’Askúlân, in February, 1827, and describes it as one of the most mournful scenes of utter desolation he ha:) ever beheld.”--Vol. ii. p. 369, note.
“ The ruins of Ascalon," writes Mr. Jolliffe, rise immediately from the
beach, and comprehend a circuit of several miles ... Though formerly one of the principal maritime towns in Philistia, there is not the smallest vestige of any port; but the situation is commanding, and the place seems capable of being strongly fortified. It was constituted an episcopal see in the first ages of Christianity, and at the period of the Crusades was enriched by many sumptuous buildings : but these have long since been totally demolished ; the Turk and Saracen are alike regardless of ancient magnificence—each being far less intent on those arts which adorn and embellish life, than on those which extend the horrors and multiply the means of death.
“ The walls, close to the beach, have, by some convulsion been so reversed, that broken pillars, intermixed with large masses of compact stone-work, are thrown into a horizontal position, where they appear like the integral parts of a temple ; the masonry is rude, and the materials not of a very durable nature ; the cement was worked up with shells, and appears at many places to have formed nearly one-half of the solid structure. Near the central part of the city, there are many mutilated shafts of columns, chiefly of the grey granite; but there are some of a coarse marble, and we observed one or two of very beautiful porphyry. But, amidst this scene of desolation, the most extensive and complete which I had ever witnessed excepting
Nicopolis, there is neither base nor capital in such condition as to enable the inquirer satisfactorily to determine to what order it belonged; the only specimen we could find that had escaped total defacement, seemed to be an imperfect imitation of the Corinthian. This solitary relic was lying near a heap of rubbish, thrown out, about eighteen months since, by some workmen of the Pasha, who employed several of his people on the spot to assist the researches of an English lady of rank. Their labours did not terminate in any discovery of much importance, having, in fact, produced nothing beyond the disclosure of a single apartment, which seems to have been a gallery appertaining to a spacious bath,—at least it resembles such in the baths of Caracalla at Rome : it was arched, but without any peculiar ornament, and is at present several feet below the surface.”—Jolliffe's Letters from Palestine and Egypt, vol. i. pp. 222-224.
We are told that Askelon was celebrated for the excellence of its wines.
ASHDOD, OR AZOTUS. (ESDÙD.)
“ AND the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod. When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon. And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the Lord. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again. And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord ; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold : only the stump of Dagon was left to him. Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor
any that come into Dagon's house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day. But the hand of the Lord was heavy upon them of Ashdod; and he destroyed them, and smote them with emerods, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof. And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us; for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god. They sent, therefore, and gathered all the lords of the Philistines unto them, and said, What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel ?”—1 Samuel v. 1, &c.
“ But it came to pass, that when ... the Ashdodites heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, and conspired ... to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it.”—Nehemiah iv. 7.
“ In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod ... and their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews' language and I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair.” — Nehemiah xiii. 23.
“... Tartan came unto Ashdod, (when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him,) and fought against Ashdod, and took it.”—Isaiah xx. 1.
“... I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod” -Amos i. 8.
“... They shall drive out Ashdod at the noon-day." -Zephaniah ii. 4.
66 And bastard shall dwell in Ashdod ; and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.”—Zechariah ix. 6.
“But Philip was found at Azotus : and passing through, he preached in all the cities, till he came to Cæsarea.”—Acts viii. 40.
[Josh. xi. 22, xiii. 3, xv. 46; 1 Sam. vi, 17; 2 Chron. xxvi. 6; Jer. xxv. 20; Amos iii. 9.]
1 Tartan was one of the generals of Sennacherib, who is probably here meant by Sargon.