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Background: Ashkelon is a modern Israeli sea port about an hour south of Rehovot, and is just 13km north of the Gaza Strip, making it the closest Israeli city to Gaza. The city has been in the news constantly since I’ve been here as the victim of numerous missile attacks. On the other hand, Ashkelon is one of the oldest cities in the world, dating back to the Neolithic period, around 10,000 years ago and since then has been under Canaanites, Philistines (mentioned in Judges as sacked by Samson), Israelities, Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, Persians, Egyptians, Crusaders, Ottomans, British… pretty much everyone except for the Chinese. It’s name comes from the word “shekel” as it was a major port and commercial center. Now it is famous for its national park (Tel Ashkelon), which showcases the ancient ruins.

Impressions: Ashkelon now looks like any other coastal Israeli city. Between the bus station and Tel Ashkelon was a series of sculptures named “Samson and Delilah,” depicting different aspects of the Bible story, including Samson’s foxes (that he lit on fire and let run rampant), the cutting of his hair, and his destruction of the Philistines.

~ by jonathanmtsai on May 24, 2011.

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