I will cut off the inhabitants from Ashdod
The same with Azotus, ( Acts 8:40 ) ; another principal city of the Philistines: this perhaps was fulfilled when Tartan was sent against it by Sargon king of Assyria, and took it, ( Isaiah 20:1 ) ; or however in the times of the Maccabees, when Jonathan took it, and burnt it, and the cities round about it; and took their spoils, and burnt the temple of Dagon, and those that fled to it; and what with those that were burnt, and those that fell by the sword, there perished about eight thousand, ``84 But Jonathan set fire on Azotus, and the cities round about it, and took their spoils; and the temple of Dagon, with them that were fled into it, he burned with fire. 85 Thus there were burned and slain with the sword well nigh eight thousand men.'' (1 Maccabees 10) this was so strong a place, that, according to Herodotus F20, it held out a siege of twenty nine years, under Psammitichus king of Egypt. It was, according to Diodorus Siculus F21, thirty four miles, from Gaza before mentioned; and it was about eight or nine from Ashkelon, and fourteen or fifteen from Ekron after mentioned: and him that holdeth the sceptre from Ashkelon;
another of the five lordships of the Philistines, whose king or governor should be cut off, with the inhabitants of it; this was done by Nebuchadnezzar, ( Jeremiah 47:5-7 ) . This place was about fifteen miles from Gaza, Mr. Sandys
F23 says ten, but it was eight or nine miles from Ashdod; and, as Josephus F24 says, was sixty five miles from Jerusalem. It was the birth place of Herod the great, who from thence is called an Ashkelonite; but the king or governor of it was cut off before his time. It was governed by kings formerly. Justin F25 makes mention of a king of Ashkelon; according to the Samaritan interpreter, ( Genesis 20:1 ) ; it is the same with Gerar, which had a king in the times of Abraham; hence a sceptre is here ascribed to it: and I will turn mine hand against Ekron:
to destroy that; another of the chief cities of the Philistines. It was about ten miles from Gath; four of the five lordships are here mentioned, but not Gath, which was the fifth; see ( 1 Samuel 6:17 1 Samuel 6:18 ) ; because, as Kimchi says, it was in the hands of Judah. All these places were inhabited by Heathens, and guilty of gross idolatry, which must be one of the transgressions for which they were punished. Gaza was a place much given to idolatry, as it was even in later times; when other neighbouring cities embraced the Christian religion, the inhabitants of it were violent persecutors; hence that saying of Gregory Nazianzen F26,
``who knows not the madness of the inhabitants of Gaza?''here stood the temple of the god Marnas F1, which with the Syrians signified the lord of men: at Ashdod or Azotus stood the temple of Dagon, where he was worshipped, ( 1 Samuel 5:2 ) ;
``But Jonathan set fire on Azotus, and the cities round about it, and took their spoils; and the temple of Dagon, with them that were fled into it, he burned with fire.'' (1 Maccabees 10:84)Near Ashkelon, as Diodorus Siculus F2 relates, was a large and deep lake, full of fishes; and by it was a temple of a famous goddess, called by the Syrians Derceto, who had a woman's face, but the rest of her body in the form of a fish; being, as the fable goes, changed into one upon her casting herself into the above lake on a certain occasion; hence the Syrians abstained from fishes, and worshipped them as gods. Herodotus F3 calls this city a city of Syria, and speaks of a temple dedicated to Urania Venus; and in the Talmud F4 mention is made of the temple of Zeripha, or of a molten image at Ashkelon; and, besides idolatry, this place seems to have been famous for witchcraft; for it is said F5 that Simeon ben Shetach hung on one day at Ashkelon fourscore women for being witches; and, at Ekron, Baalzebub or the god of the fly was worshipped: and the remnant of the Philistines shall perish, saith the Lord God;
all the other towns and cities belonging to them, besides those mentioned; which very likely had its accomplishment in the times of the Maccabees, when they fell into the hands of the Jews.
F20 Euterpe, sive l. 2. c. 157.
F21 Bibliothec. l. 19. p. 723.
F23 Travels, p. 151.
F24 De Bello Jud. l. 3. c. 2. sect. 1.
F25 E Trogo, l. 19. c. 3.
F26 Orat. 3. adv. Julian. p. 87.
F1 Hieronymul in lsa. xvii. fol. 39. K.
F2 Bibliothec. l. 2. p. 92.
F3 Clio, sive l. 1. c. 105.
F4 T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 11. 2.
F5 T. Hieros. Sanhedrin, fol. 23. 3.