=Askelon=Ascalon, was one of the five cities of the Philistines ( Joshua 13:3 ; 1 Samuel 6:17 ). It stood on the shore of the Mediterranean, 12 miles north of Gaza. It is mentioned on an inscription at Karnak in Egypt as having been taken by king Rameses II., the oppressor of the Hebrews. In the time of the judges ( Judges 1:18 ) it fell into the possession of the tribe of Judah; but it was soon after retaken by the Philistines ( 2 Samuel 1:20 ), who were not finally dispossessed till the time of Alexander the Great. Samson went down to this place from Timnath, and slew thirty men and took their spoil. The prophets foretold its destruction ( Jeremiah 25:20 ; Jeremiah 47:5 Jeremiah 47:7 ). It became a noted place in the Middle Ages, having been the scene of many a bloody battle between the Saracens and the Crusaders. It was beseiged and taken by Richard the Lion-hearted, and "within its walls and towers now standing he held his court." Among the Tell Amarna tablets (see EGYPT) are found letters or official despatches from Yadaya, "captain of horse and dust of the king's feet," to the "great king" of Egypt, dated from Ascalon. It is now called 'Askalan.
A maritime town between Jaffa and Gaza, one of the five chief cities of the Philistines. The Ashkelonites are mentioned by Joshua (Joshua 13:3), and the city was taken by the tribe of Judah (Judges 1:18). One of the golden tumors (the King James Version "emerods") sent back with the ark by the Philistines was from Ashkelon (1 Samuel 6:17).
David couples Ashkelon with Gath in his lament over Saul and Jonathan (2 Samuel 1:20) indicating its importance, and it is joined with Gaza, Ashdod and Ekron in the denunciations of Amos (1:7,8). It is referred to in a similar way by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:20; 47:5,7). Zephaniah (2:4,7) speaks of the desolation of Ashkelon and Zechariah announces the fear of Ashkelon on the destruction of Tyre (9:5).
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 Revised Version (British and American) "Ascalon"). Herod the Great was born there (BJ, III, ii, 1). 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.
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