Ashdod ( אַשְׁדּוֹד; أشدود ) is the sixth-largest city and the largest port in Israel. Modern Ashdod was established in 1956 and incorporated as a city in 1968. When you are in Ashdod, you must visit Metzudat Ashdod.
The first documented urban settlement at Ashdod dates to the 17th century BCE. Modern Ashdod covers the territory of two ancient twin towns. Ashdod Yam is on the coast and Tel Ashdod is inland. Ashdod Yam and inland Tel Ashdod were for most of their history two separate entities, connected though by close ties with each other. At different times in history one of the two twin towns would gain the upper hand over the other.
Ashdod Yam (“Ashdod on the Sea” ) is an archaeological site on the Mediterranean coast of Israel. It is located in the south-west part of the modern city of Ashdod. During the Late Bronze Age the inland city of Ashdod used the small port was located at Ashdod-Yam in addition the main port at Tel Mor. During the Iron Age the roles gradually reversed, and Ashdod-Yam, located south of Ashdod, overtook in importance the port at Tel Mor. Ashdod Yam was called Azotus Páralios in the Hellenistic Period and the Castellum Beroart by the crusaders.
Metzudat Ashdod – Ashdod Fortress – Ashdod Yam
A beautifully preserved citadel (called the Metzuda) is located on the popular “Metzuda Beach”.
Metzudat Ashdod – the port castle (Kal’at El-Mina) citadel reaches a height of eight meters and covers two and a half dunams. It was constructed by none other than Caliph Abed el Malek – who erected Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock in 691. Because it was covered over with sand for centuries and thus beautifully preserved.
Kal’at El-Mina was one of a series of fortresses in the Muslim defensive coastal line: Ashkelon, Gaza, Jaffa, Apollonia (Arsuf) and Ashdod. Smoke signals and beacons were used for communication among the citadels. When they warned that enemy ships were approaching, soldiers from the cities defended the port.
There are eight towers in the fortress, four round, and four square. The central courtyard is surrounded by rooms for people and animals. In the 11th and 12th century, Crusaders conquered Ashdod. They took over the citadel until the Mameluke conquest in the 13th century. Afterwards, Ashdod Yam was abandoned – and covered in sand.
The site of Ashdod in the Bronze Age and Iron Ages was at a tel about 5 kilometres southeast of Ashdod -Yam. Tel Ashdod is where Ashdod stood in the time of the Philistines. Today, Tel Ashdod is also close to ‘Ad Halom Industrial Park, Ashdod ‘Ad Halom train station and the remains of an Arab village, Isdud.
Archeological excavations have found more than 23 cities since the Bronze Age. The earliest major habitation in Ashdod dates to the 17th century BCE, with fortification of the acropolis of the tel. During the Late Bronze Age the inland city of Ashdod used a port facility near the mouth of the Lakhish River, at Tel Mor, located north of Ashdod. Written documents (in Ugarit) first mention Ashdod in the Late Bronze Age. These documents indicate that the city was a center of export for dyed woolen purple fabric and garments. At the end of the 13th century BCE the Sea Peoples conquered and destroyed Ashdod. By the beginning of the 12th century BCE, the Philistines, one of the Sea Peoples, ruled the city. During the Philistine reign, the city prospered and was a member of the Philistine Pentapolis (Five Cities: Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, Gat and Ashdod.
Ashdod in the Bible
Ashdod is mentioned 13 times in the Bible.
Ashdod in the Prophets
- “There was none of the Anakim left in the land of the children of Israel; only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod, did some remain.” (Joshua 11:22)
- Ashdod was allotted to the Tribe of Judah: “From Ekron even unto the sea, all that were by the side of Ashdod, with their villages.” (Joshua 15:46).
- “Now the Philistines had taken the ark of God, and they brought it from Eben-ezer unto Ashdod. And the Philistines took the ark of God, and 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 ground 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 lay cut off upon the threshold; only the trunk 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.” (1 Samuel 5:1-5)
- In Ashdod is mentioned among the principal Philistine cities. “And these are the golden emerods which the Philistines returned for a guilt-offering unto the LORD: for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Ashkelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one.” (Samuel I 6:17 )
- “And all the mingled people; and all the kings of the land of Uz, and all the kings of the land of the Philistines, and Ashkelon, and Gaza, and Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod.” (Jeremiah 25:20)
- Some 5th century BCE residents of Jerusalem are said to have married women from Ashdod, and half of the children of these unions were reportedly unable to understand Hebrew; instead, they spoke “the language of Ashdod”. “In those days also saw I the Jews that had married women of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab; and their children spoke half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews’ language, but according to the language of each people.” (Nehemiah 13:23–24)
Ashdod in The Twelve or Trei Asar
- “I will also cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, And him who holds the scepter, from Ashkelon; I will even unleash My power upon Ekron, And the remnant of the Philistines will perish,” Says the Lord GOD.” (Amos 1:8)
- “For Gaza will be abandoned And Ashkelon a desolation; Ashdod will be driven out at noon And Ekron will be uprooted.” (Zephaniah 2:4)
- “Foreigners will occupy the city of Ashdod. I will destroy the pride of the Philistines.” (Zechariah 9:6)
Ashdod in the Ketuvim (Writings)
- “And he went forth and warred against the Philistines, and broke down the wall of Gath, and the wall of Jabneh, and the wall of Ashdod; and he built cities in [the country of] Ashdod, and among the Philistines.” (2 Chronicles 26:6)
The site of abandoned Arab Isdud is known for the ruins of a Turkish khan and a mosque. Adjacent to the village mosque once stood the grave of Salman al Farisi, Mohamed’s personal barber. According to legends, Salman was honored because he was the only person who ever saw the Prophet remove his hat. Israeli villages Sde Uzziyahu, Shtulim, Bene Darom and Gan ha- Darom were all founded on village lands.