Azotus, the name given by Greek and Roman writers to Ashdod, an ancient city of Palestine, now represented by a few remains in the little village of ‛Esdud, in the governmental district of Acre. It was situated about 3 m. inland from the Mediterranean, on the famous military route between Syria and Egypt, about equidistant (18 m.) from Joppa and Gaza. As one of the five chief cities of the Philistines and the seat of the worship of Dagon (1 Sam. v.; cf. 1 Macc. x. 83), it maintained, down even to the days of the Maccabees, a vigorous though somewhat intermittent independence against the power of the Israelites, by whom it was nominally assigned to the territory of Judah. In 711 B.C. it was captured by the Assyrians (Is. xx. 1), but soon regained its power, and was strong enough in the next century to resist the assaults of Psammetichus, king of Egypt, for twenty-nine years (Herod. ii. 157). Restored by the Roman Gabinius from the ruins to which it had been reduced by the Jewish wars (1 Macc. v. 68, x. 77, xvi. 10), it was presented by Augustus to Salome, the sister of Herod. The only New Testament reference is in Acts viii. 40. Ashdod became the seat of a bishop early in the Christian era, but seems never to have attained any importance as a town.
The Mount Azotus of 1 Macc. ix. 15, where Judas Maccabeus fell, is possibly the rising ground on which the village stands. A fine Saracenic khān is the principal relic of antiquity at ‛Esdud.