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Ekron, Ekronite

EKRON, EKRONITE ĕk’ rŏn, ĕk’ rŏn īt (עֶקְרﯴנ׃֙, LXX ̓Ακκαρών; עֶקְרﯴנִ֖י, LXX ̓Ακκαρωνίτη. Nouns derived from the root “to root out”). The northernmost of the five major Philistine cities and its inhabitants the latter of whom are mentioned in two passages (Josh 13:3; 1 Sam 5:10; LXX reads Askalonites in 1 Sam 5:10). The city is mentioned in twenty passages.

Ekron, a border town in the tribal territory allotted to Judah, was not taken before the death of Joshua (Josh 13:3; 15:11, 45, 46) but was acquired later (Judg 1:18). It is later said to belong to Dan (Josh 19:43) and Josephus (Antiq. V. 177) also mentions Ekron in his account of the press of the Danites by the Philistines.

Though Ekron is said to have been taken by Judah at the beginning of the period of the Judges (Judg 1:18) the Philistines continued to dominate it through the period of the Judges and the Kings. While the Ark was in Philistine possession, after being at Ashdod and at Gath, it was sent to Ekron (LXX reads Askalon: 1 Sam 5:10; 6:16) where its presence caused panic and from which it was returned with gifts to the Israelites at Beth-shemesh and eventually came to Kiriath-jearim (5:10ff.; 6:16; 7:1). Samuel is said to have restored Israel’s territory from Ekron to Gath (7:14); again the Philistines were driven back to the gates of Ekron following the death of Goliath (17:52).

The god of Ekron was Baalzebub to whom King Ahaziah (c. 850-849 b.c.) sent to inquire of the possibilities of his recovery. The king’s action brought stern denunciation from Elijah (2 Kings 1:2, 3, 6, 16).

Destruction was threatened Ekron by the prophets in their oracles against the Philistines (Jer 25:20 [LXX 32:20]; Amos 1:8; Zeph 2:4; Zech 9:5, 7). Gath had by this time disappeared from the Philistine list leaving only a group of four cities. Zechariah promised that like the Jebusites Ekron would be incorporated into Israel.

When Padi, king of Ekron, was imprisoned by Hezekiah in 701 b.c., Sennacherib both forced his release and forced Hezekiah to cede Judean territory to him. Sennacherib arrived at Ekron on his way S after taking Eltekeh and Timnah (ANET, 287, 288). Later, tribute was taken from Ekron by both Esarhaddon (ANET, 291) and Ashurbanipal (ANET, 294). After the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 b.c., Ekron is unmentioned until the Maccabean period at which time in 147 b.c. Alexander Balas gave the city as a prize for services to Jonathan Maccabeus (1 Macc 10:89). The city continued on to Crusader times.

The identification of the site of Ekron remains conjectural. Eusebius in the Onomasticon (ed. Klostermann, p. 22, 1. 9, 10) mentions Ekron as a large Jewish village between Azotus and Jamnia to the E. Jerome (PL. 23. 915) suggests that some identify it with turrim Stratonis (Caesarea) which suggestion is now completely rejected. Robinson (Biblical Researches, II, 226-229) identified Ekron with the village of Aqir; however, Aqir situated in a level plain four m. E of Yebnah and twelve m. NE of Ashdod and 3/4 m. SW of Ramleh—in the area today of Kefar ’Ekron—has neither a tell nor potsherds from the required fifteen hundred year period of occupation; hence the identification, though still preferred by Simon and others, is rejected by Macalister and Albright.

Macalister attempted a distinction between northern Ekron (to be identified with the Danite town, (Josh 19:43) which he thought might be ’Aqir and a second Ekron (in Judah) for which he proposed Dhikerin, a location between Mareshah and Ashdod where there are caves and cisterns from antiquity.

Qaṭra, a hill three m. SW of ’Aqir, with a tell and remains from the Greco-Rom. period, was favored by Albright as fitting the description of Eusebius which places Ekron to the E of the route from Ashdod to Jamnia. The site would lend itself to the strong fortifications expected in a major Philistine city.

More recently Naveh of the Joint Archaeological Survey of the Dept. of Archaeology of the Hebrew University and the Israel Exploration Society has proposed that Khirbat al-Muqanna’ (Tell Miqne), located about one third m. E of Kibbutz Revadim, S of the Sorek valley, is Ekron. Philistine sherds are to be found on the surface. The city existed from the iron age to the Pers. period, and at its height of development would have covered forty acres, which makes it the largest iron age city yet found in Pal. Sections of the wall and the city gate can be traced out. There are springs of water in the area sufficient to support a sizeable town.

Bibliography R. A. S. Macalister, The Philistines, Their History and Civilization (1911), 64, 65, 74-76; W. F. Albright, “The Sites of Ekron, Gath, and Libnah,” AASOR, II-III (1923), 1-7; J. B. Pitchard, ANET (1950), 287, 288, 291, 294; J. Simon, GTT (1959), # # 318 (D/1), 1632; G. Naveh, “Khirbat al-Muqanna’—Ekron,” IEJ, VIII (1958), 87-100, 165-170; Z. Kallai-Kleinmann, “The Town Lists of Judah, Simeon, Benjamin, and Dan,” VT, VIII (1958), 145, 146 n. 4.