Hilariously, Joseph Farah at WND hails the discovery of a 2,700 year-old fortification wall at Ashdod as some sort of proof of biblical prophecy. More strangely yet, he cites Isaiah 9:10 in relation to this find: “The bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones: the sycomores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars.”
The problem with the city of Ashdod was that it was never a Jewish city. it was a Canaanite city. Then a Philistine city. And it was an Egyptian fortress. And an Assyrian fortress.
But never a Jewish fortress. The coast of ancient Israel was Gentile. It was always Gentile. Phoenicians, Philistines, Egyptians. No Jews. In ancient times, it was only ever part of Israel in an ideological, not an actual, sense, as the first-century Jewish historian Josephus even seemed to recognize
What is also amusing is that the photo above, the photo Farah reproduces in his article, is a photo not of hewn stones, but of mud bricks.
Ashdod, for the record, was part of the Philistine Pentapolis (five cities): Gaza, Askelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath. The book of Nehemiah (13:23-24), which perhaps Farah is unaware of, even speaks of “the language of Ashdod”. That’s “Philistine” for the folks at WND. I won’t call them “Philistines” because that’s just an example of anti-Gentilism, but I think they get the drift.
And hewn stones? Mud brick didn’t make for good fortifications against ancient siege engines. If you are going to build a good defensive wall, it is going to have to be out of hewn stone. It is hardly prophecy that the biblical authors took note of the fact.
Nor is the Bible our only source for Ashdod, observes Biblical Archaeology: the Assyrians also mention it in their records. And why not? The wall Farah is so excited about was built not by the Jews, because Ashdod was not a Jewish city, but probably by the hated Assyrians. In fact, Biblical Archaeology refers to the walls as being built around the “Iron Age Assyrian harbor.”
Here is the story as told by BAR editor Hershel Shanks in 2007:
Not long after the Assyrians put an end to the northern kingdom of Israel in 721 B.C.E. and deported its citizens to Assyria (2 Kings 17:5-6), Sargon II, the Assyrian ruler, proceeded south along the Mediterranean coast all the way to the Egyptian border at Gaza, where he defeated the Egyptian army. Later (in 713 B.C.E.), when the ancient Philistine city of Ashdod made a rebellious alliance with neighboring rulers, Sargon attacked it (Isaiah 20:1). According to Assyrian records, Sargon replaced the ruler of Ashdod (Aziru) with his brother (Ahimetu). However, as soon as the Assyrians withdrew, the people of Ashdod rebelled again—this time against Ahimetu—and installed a new ruler, Yamani. In response, Sargon laid siege to Ashdod yet again and finally exiled its citizens as he had done with the Israelites. Ashdod became an Assyrian city-state. From Assyrian records, we even know the names of two puppet-kings of Ashdod (Mitinti and Ahimelech) who ruled as vassals of the Assyrian emperor. Ashdod served as the provincial center of Philistia and the south in the Assyrian empire.
As Biblical Archaeology points out, we can’t know for certain who built the wall, which was constructed in the 8th century BCE. The one thing that is certain is that it was not built by the Jews, because it was never a Jewish city:
It is as yet unclear who initiated the construction of the fortification wall. The wall may have been built before or after the Philistine rebellion, at the initiative of the locals or under the command of the Assyrians.
Archaeologist Alexander Fantalkin of Tel Aviv University, the leader of the excavations at Ashdod, opined that it is an Assyrian wall, saying its construction is too monumental to have been undertaken by the Philistine rebels. “An amazing amount of time and energy was invested in building the wall and glacis [embankments].”
Yeah. Isaiah 9:10 may be the verse Farah is wanting to sell, after all, he made a film about it – The Isaiah Judgment, based on Jonathan Cahn’s book, “The Harbinger: The Ancient Mystery That Holds the Secret of America’s Future“…
…But it’s not the relevant verse where the Philistine city of Ashdod is concerned because Isaiah 9:10 is not about the Gentile coast but about Jewish Samaria, as verse 9 makes clear: “and all the people knew it – Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria – but in pride and arrogance of heart they said: [insert verse 9:10 here].
Note to Joseph Farah: Ashdod was not in Samaria. Ashdod was in Philistia. Where they worshiped many gods. Where they spoke a different language.
Oh, and forget about 9:10. Ashdod’s comeuppance gets covered in Isaiah 20. Not Isaiah 9.
And the Assyrian King Sargon II certainly knew who his enemies were: “In a sudden rage I marched quickly . . . against Ashdod, his [Yamani’s] royal residence.”
Neat what you can do when you selectively quote scripture, isn’t it, Mr. Farah? Can’t let fact stand in the way of profit!
So Farah somehow manages not to mention anything about Ashdod being a Philistine city, or the harbor and its wall being either Philistine or Assyrian.
Or that the prophecy in Isaiah has to do with the coming Assyrian invasion, not some future catastrophe that, inevitably, President Obama is to be blamed for.
“I truly believe God is using Jonathan Cahn as a prophetic voice today – once again giving His people a chance to repent and return to Him,” said Joseph Farah, producer of “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment.” “So much has happened since September 11 that defies coincidence. And now we have this 2,700-year-old archaeological discovery in Israel as an additional reminder.”
Nothing like re-using an old prophecy. I guess people like Farah don’t have much choice. There aren’t any new prophecies, after all. So they old ones get to be true again and again. Thrifty!
The discovery of Ashdod’s harbor wall (Ashdod also has an Assyrian palace) shows that a Gentile (Philistine) population rebelled against the Assyrians and that the Assyrians made the Gentile inhabitants pay for thumbing their nose at Assyria. That’s all it shows. This was a war of Gentile against Gentile. It had nothing to do with the Jews. In fact, the Jews (and the Egyptians) refused to ally themselves with King Yamani of Ashdod – probably a sound choice, given Assyrian military efficiency, not to say ruthlessness.
It is an old Christian habit to mine the Jewish scriptures for prophecies that have nothing to do with Christianity, let alone the 21st century. Farah has plenty of company in his addiction to this bad habit. It would be nice, if they were going to continue to dig for scriptures to sow fear among their fellows they would at least stick to the facts.
But then that’s too much to ask, given how the facts just don’t support the prophecies. And let’s face it: no fact stands a chance when it gets in the way of a fundamentalist Christian and a dollar.
 Ben-Zion Rosenfeld, “Flavius Josephus and His Portrayal of the Coast (Paralia) of Contemporary Roman Palestine: Geography and Ideology,” The Jewish Quarterly Review (2000).
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.