Ashdod ăshˈdŏd, ăshdōdˈ [key] [Heb.,=stronghold], city, SW Israel, on the Mediterranean Sea. It is Israel's leading port after Haifa. Construction is Ashdod's main industry; its manufactures include synthetic fibers, woolen yarn, and knitted goods. Nearby is the site of ancient Ashdod, which was settled as early as the Bronze Age. Conquered by the Philistines in the 12th cent. b.c., it became an important city of the Philistine Pentapolis and a center for the worship of Dagon. The city was later ruled by Judah, Egypt, and Assyria. The Jews of Ashdod had been considered idolatrous by other Jews since the time of the return to Jerusalem (6th cent. b.c.), but they were cleansed by Judas Maccabeus in 163 b.c. Jonathan, the brother of Judas Maccabeus, took the city in 148 b.c. and destroyed the temple of Dagon. Ashdod was revived by the Romans and was an early Christian center. The first modern Israeli settlement in Ashdod was made in 1955, and in 1965 the deepwater port was completed.

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