|Ashkelon - |
Askelon, Ascalon. One of the five Philistine lords' cities (Joshua 13:3; 1 Samuel 6:17). Remote in the S. on the coast of the Mediterranean, so less brought into contact with the Jews; omitted in the towns allotted to Judah (Joshua 15; but compare Judges 1:18). Gaza was still more S., but on the main road from Egypt to Palestine. Samson slew thirty of the Ashkelonites, took their spoil, and gave change of raiment unto them of Timhath who expounded his riddle (Judges 14:19). Later, the temple and lake of Derceto (with a female head and bust and fish's fail, like Dagon), the Syrian Venus, stood near it. Here Julian cruelly persecuted the Christians. Its name still appears in our "eschalot" or" shallot," an onion for which it was famous, as for its figs, olives, etc. Within the walls, of which the ruins still stand, Richard I held his court in the crusades.
After the brilliant battle here the crusaders would have taken the city, but for Count Raymond's jealousy; and for long Ashkelon was a thorn to the Christian kingdom. The Mahometans call it "the bride of Syria." In the Sam. version of Genesis 20:1-2; Genesis 26:1, Ashkelon stands instead of Gerar; and curiously tradition in Origen's time pointed out wells there as those dug by Isaac. The city stands on the very shore of the Mediterranean, its walls were along the ridge of rock sweeping round inland in continuation of the shore cliffs. Conder (Pal. Expl., July, 1875) thinks that the Ashkelon of the Bible, of Herod, and of the crusaders, is one and the same town on the seashore, distinguished from another early Christian inland Ashkelon by the title Ascalon Maiumas. Maiumas, "watering place," applies not to a port only, but to any place abounding in water. But Ashkelon and its port town of Maiumas were distinct, as a bishop of each signed the acts of the Council of Constantinople, A.D. 536. The present Ashkelon is the Maiumas of Ascalon; the original Ashkelon was probably inland, and is now buried in sand. (Pusey.)