EKRON


EKRON (Heb. עֶקְרוֹן), one of the capital cities of the Philistine Pentapolis. According to the Bible, Joshua allotted it to the tribe of Dan on its northeastern border with Judah (Josh. 15:11, 45–46; 19:43), and Judges 1:18 relates that it was captured by the tribe of Judah. In Joshua 13:3, however, and all later sources, Ekron appears as one of the five cities of the Philistine confederation. After the Ark of the Covenant, which was captured at Eben-Ezer, had brought misfortune to the Philistine cities that received it, the people of Ekron refused to admit it and proposed returning it to Israelite territory (I Sam. 5:1ff.; 6:16–17). Cities in the region of Ekron and Gath were restored to Israel by Samuel (I Sam. 7:14). In the story of David and Goliath, the Israelites pursued the Philistines to "the gates of Ekron" (I Sam. 17:52). In the ninth century messengers of King Ahaziah of Israel consulted "Baal Zebub, the god of Ekron," receiving a stern rebuke from Elijah (II Kings 1:2–16). Amos (1:6–8) reprimanded Ekron and its sister cities for their slave trade and threatened it with destruction as did Jeremiah (25:20) and Zephaniah (2:4) in King Josiah's time (640–609 B.C.E.). Zephaniah threatened Ekron with being "rooted up" (תֵּעָקֵר), a play on words.

The siege of 'amqar(r)una (Ekron), which took place in 712 B.C.E., was depicted on a wall relief in the palace of Sargon II at Khorsabad. Sennacherib captured Ekron in 701 B.C.E. during his suppression of the rebellion led by King Hezekiah of Judah. According to Sennacherib's Royal Annals, Padi, king of Ekron, who was loyal to Assyria, was deposed by a part of the populace who handed him over to Hezekiah for imprisonment. Despite the help Ekron received from the Egyptians, Sennacherib took the city, executed the rebels, and forced Hezekiah to release Padi, whom he restored as ruler of the city. Padi also received territory taken from Judah. His successor, Ikausu, however, was not so fortunate and, together with Manasseh of Judah, paid heavy tribute to both Esarhaddon (particularly materials for the palace at Nineveh) and Ashurbanipal during their campaigns against Syria, Egypt, and Cush, in the first half of the seventh century B.C.E.

In 147 B.C.E. Alexander Balas granted the city and its district to Jonathan the Hasmonean as a reward for his loyalty (I Macc. 10:89; Jos., Antiq., 13:102). Eusebius describes it as "a very large Jewish village called Akkaron" (Onom. 29:9). Jerome situates it to the east of Azotus and Iamnia, mentioning also that some equated Accaron with Straton's Tower at Caesarea; similarly in the Talmud R. *Abbahu mistakenly identifies Ekron with Caesarea (Meg. 6a). It is also mentioned in connection with a march by Baldwin I during the Crusades (c. 1200).

The biblical city of Ekron is now identified with Tel Miqne (Khirbat al-Muqannaʾ), a large fortified mound (75 acres), situated 22 mi. southwest of Jerusalem on the frontier zone that once separated Philistia from Judah. J. Naveh was the first to identify Muqanna' with Ekron, correcting W.F. Albright who had suggested that it should be identified as biblical Eltekeh. Naveh's identification has been borne out by subsequent excavations at the site (14 seasons) that were undertaken between 1981 and 1996 by T. Dothan and S. Gitin on behalf of the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research and the Hebrew University. Apart from ceramic finds from the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Ages, the earliest remains of a settlement at the site date from the Middle Bronze Age (MB II), including monumental platforms – the base of a fortifications rampart, and intramural burials. The Late Bronze Age settlement was apparently unfortified and restricted to the ten acres of the northeast acropolis/upper city, while the lower city was abandoned. Finds attest to links with Cyprus, the Aegean, and Anatolia, on the one hand, and Egypt, on the other. The final LB stratum was destroyed by fire.

Ekron saw a process of re-urbanization during the Iron Age I with the founding of the first Sea Peoples/Philistine city in the second quarter of the 12th century B.C.E. This fortified urban center, encompassing upper and lower cities, was characterized by a new material culture with Aegean affinities, including megaron-type buildings and local versions of Mycenaean (IIIC:1) wares. The Iron Age I city was destroyed in the first quarter of the tenth century B.C.E., either by the Egyptians (at the time of Pharaoh Siamun) or by the Israelites. The Iron Age IIA–B city (tenth–eighth centuries B.C.E.) was limited to the northeast acropolis/upper city. Following the Assyrian conquest in 701 B.C.E., when Ekron became an Assyrian vassal city-state, the city once again expanded encompassing the lower and upper cities and a new area of 25 acres to the north of the site. During the Iron Age II period, when the Aegean affinities of the Philistine material culture had ceased to exist, the Philistines themselves did not disappear but underwent a process of acculturation. Nevertheless, throughout this period the Philistines were able to maintain their ethnic identity. Excavations have shown that in the seventh century B.C.E. Ekron achieved its zenith of economic growth, with the largest industrial center for the mass production of olive oil yet known from antiquity. Seventh century Ekron also produced a unique temple with a royal dedicatory inscription dating from the second quarter of the seventh century B.C.E. This inscription refers to two kings of Ekron who are also attested in the Neo-Assyrian annals, namely Padi and his son Ikausu, the builder of the temple, and identifies the site as Ekron. The city was substantially destroyed by fire at the time of the campaign of the Neo-Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar (604 B.C.E.). Although it was partially resettled in the sixth century B.C.E., the mound was largely abandoned with only very few remains surviving from later periods.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

T. Dothan, "Tel Miqne-Ekron: An Iron Age I Philistine Settlement in Canaan," in: N.A. Silberman and D. Small (eds.), The Archaeology of Israel: Constructing the Past, Interpreting the Present (1997), 96–106; S. Gitin, T. Dothan, and J. Naveh, "A Royal Dedicatory Inscription from Ekron," in: IEJ, 47 (1997), 1–16; S. Gitin, "The Neo-Assyrian Empire and its Western Periphery: The Levant, With Focus on Philistine Ekron," in: S. Parpola and R.M. Whiting (eds.), Assyria 1995 (1997), 77–103; T. Dothan, "Initial Philistine Settlement: From Migration to Coexistence," in: S. Gitin, A. Mazar and E. Stern (eds.), Mediterranean Peoples in Transition: Thirteenth to Early Tenth Centuries BCE (1998); J. Naveh, "Achish-Ikausu in the Light of the Ekron Dedication," in: BASOR, 310 (1998), 35–37; S. Gitin and M. Cogan, "A New Type of Dedicatory Inscription from Ekron," in: IEJ, 49 (1999), 193–202; T. Dothan, "Reflections on the Initial Phase of Philistine Settlement: Type Site – Tel Miqne-Ekron," in: E.D. Oren (ed.), The Sea Peoples and Their World: A Re-Assessment (2000), 145–58; S. Gitin, "The Philistines: Neighbors of the Canaanites, Phoenicians and Israelites," in: D.R. Clark and V.H. Matthews (eds.), 100 Years of American Archaeology in the Middle East (2000); S. Gitin, "The Four-Horned Altar and Sacred Space: An Archaeological Perspective," in B. Gittlen (ed.), Sacred Time, Sacred Space: Archaeology and the Religion of Israel (2002), 95–123; T. Dothan, "Bronze and Iron Objects with Cultic Connotations from Philistine Temple Building 350 at Ekron," in: IEJ, 52 (2002), 1–27; S. Gitin, "Neo-Assyrian and Egyptian Hegemony over Ekron in the Seventh Century BCE: A Response to Lawrence E. Stager," in: Eretz-Israel, 27 (2003), 55*–61*; P. James, "The Date of the Ekron Temple Inscription: A Note," in: IEJ, 55 (2005), 90–93.

[S. Gitin (2nd ed.)]


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