Ashdod (referred to in the New Testament as Azotus) is the sixth-largest city and the largest port in Israel accounting for 60% of the country's imported goods. Ashdod is located in the Southern District of the country, on the Mediterranean coast where it is situated between Tel Aviv to the north (32 kilometres (20 miles) away) and Ashkelon to the south (20 km (12 mi) away). Jerusalem is 53 km (33 mi) to the east. The city is also an important regional industrial center and is a planned city built near to the site of the ancient city.
Ashdod in Biblical times
The first documented urban settlement at Ashdod dates to the Canaanite culture of the 17th century BCE, making the city one of the oldest in the world. Ashdod is mentioned 13 times in the Bible. During its pre-1956 history the city was settled by Philistines, Israelites, Greek colonists coming in the wake of Alexander's conquests, Romans and Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, and Ottoman Turks.
There are Biblical episodes referencing Ashdod:
Upon Joshua's conquest of the Promised Land, Ashdod was allotted to the Tribe of Judah (Book of Joshua 15:46). In 1 Samuel 6:17 Ashdod is mentioned among the principal Philistine cities. After capturing the Ark of the covenant from the Israelites, the Philistines took it to Ashdod and placed it in the temple of Dagon. The next morning Dagon was found prostrate before the Ark; on being restored to his place, he was on the following morning again found prostrate and broken. The people of Ashdod were smitten with boils; a plague of mice was sent over the land (1 Samuel 6:5). According to the Bible, during the 10th century BCE Ashdod became, along with all the kingdom of Philistia, a patronage area of the Kingdom of Israel under the control of King David. The capture of the city by King Uzziah of Judah shortly after 815 BCE is mentioned within 2 Chronicles (26:6) and in the Book of Zechariah (9:6), speaking of the false Jews. In the Book of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 13:23–24), some 5th century BCE residents of Jerusalem are said to have married women from Ashdod, and half of the children of these unions were reportedly unable to understand Hebrew; instead, they spoke "the language of Ashdod".