ASHKELON (ăsh'kĕ-lŏn). One of the five chief cities of the Philistines, located on the seacoast about twelve miles (twenty km.) NE of Gaza. It was taken by the tribe of Judah shortly after the death of Joshua (
Archaeological remains are sparse: a ruined and overgrown Byzantine church, a quadrangle with some preserved columns and foundation walls of an odeum (tiered council chamber) attributed to Herod the Great by the excavators, some statues belonging to the façade of the odeum, and a third-century a.d. painted tomb. The oldest evidence of occupation here is from the area near the beach and dates to c. 2000 b.c.
J. Garstang and W. J. Phythian-Adams, “Excavations at Ascalon,” PEQ (1920-1924); W. F. Stinespring, “Ashkelon,” IDB, 1 (1961), 252-254.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
ask’-ke-lon, esh’-ka-lon, as’-ke-lon (the
David couples Ashkelon with Gath in his lament over Saul and Jonathan (
The city is mentioned in the Tell el-Amarna Letters, and a certain Yitia is referred to as king. It revolted against Rameses II and was subdued, and we have mention of it as being under the rule of Assyria. Tiglath-pileser III names it among his tributaries, and its king, Mitinti, is said to have lost his reason when he heard of the fall of Damascus in 732 BC. It revolted in the reign of Sennacherib and was punished, and remained tributary to Assyria until the decay of that power. In Maccabean times we learn of its capture by Jonathan (1 Macc 10:86; 11:60, the(British and American) "Ascalon"). Herod the Great was born there (BJ, III, ii, 1 ff). In the 4th century AD it was the seat of a bishopric. It became subject to the Moslems in the 7th century and was taken by the Crusaders. It was taken in 1187 by Saladin, who dismantled it in 1191 to make it useless to Richard of England, into whose hands it was expected to fall. Richard restored it the next year but it was again destroyed by Saladin. It was an important fortress because of its vicinity to the trade route between Syria and Egypt.