Ashdod (the Azotus of the Greeks and Romans; now called Esdud), one of the five chief Philistine cities on the Mediterranean coast, lying midway between Ascalon and Ekron, about 10 miles from each. It is 21 m. S. of Jaffa, and 32 W. of Jerusalem. Its Hebrew name signifies a stronghold, and as it lay in the only practicable route between Egypt and Assyria, its possession was of great importance in all the wars between those powers. The Hebrews were never able to hold it for more than a brief period. About 715 B. C. it was taken by the Assyrians, and 85 years later was retaken by the Egyptians, after a siege by Psam-metichus which Herodotus states to have lasted 29 years. It remained a place of some consequence 1,000 years more, for Azotus was the seat of a bishopric, the incumbent of which had a place at the councils of Nice and Chalcedon. In the time of Jerome, about A. D. 400, it was a small unwalled town. Travellers of the last century describe it as an inhabited site, marked by ancient ruins, such as broken arches and partly buried fragments of marble columns, with what appears to be an ancient khan, the principal chamber of which has been used as a Christian church.
This ruined khan, to the west of the present village, marks the site of the acropolis of the ancient town, and the grove near it alone protects the site from the shifting sand of the adjoining plain, which threatens to overwhelm the spot.