“Gaza shall be deserted.
Ashkelon shall become
Shall be driven out
Ekron shall be uprooted.”
Like the other prophets, Zephaniah rallied against the neighboring countries of Israel. He started with the Philistine cities along the Mediterranean coast. Although there were 5 major cities, Zephaniah did not mention Gath that was probably destroyed in the 8th century BCE. Here there is a mention of 4 Philistine cities from south to north, the coastal towns of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Ekron, the farthest north and a little inland. Gaza would be deserted, while Ashkelon would become desolate. Ashdod had its people driven out at noon. Nevertheless, all 3 cities still exist today. Ekron was simply uprooted, something that actually took place around 604 BCE under the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II.
“In the one hundred seventy-fourth year, Antiochus set out and invaded the land of his ancestors. All the troops rallied to him, so that there were only a few with Trypho. Antiochus pursued him. He came in his flight to Dor, which is by the sea. He knew that troubles had converged upon him, since his troops had deserted him. So Antiochus encamped against Dor, and with him were one hundred twenty thousand warriors and eight thousand cavalry. He surrounded the town since the ships had joined battle from the sea. He pressed the town hard from land and sea. He permitted no one to leave or enter it.”
In 138 BCE, or the 167th year of the Greek Empire, King Antiochus VII invaded the land of his ancestors. That sounds strange to invade your own country. He was trying to take back the throne from King Trypho. King Trypho fled to Dor, a sea port south of Carmel, miles north of Caesarea. Most of the troops of King Trypho had abandoned him. King Antiochus VII followed him to Dor with 120,000 warriors and 8,000 cavalry. Once again, these numbers seem high. He then surrounded the city since he had ships in the port so that no one could leave or enter the city.
“Then the people of the city assembled within the city, to the number of one hundred twenty thousand. They wanted to kill the king. But the king fled into the palace. Then the people of the city seized the main streets of the city and began to fight. So the king called the Jews to his aid. They all rallied about him. Then they spread out through the city. They killed on that day about one hundred thousand men. They set fire to the city. They seized a large amount of spoil on that day. They saved the king. When the people of the city saw that the Jews had gained control of the city as they pleased, their courage failed. They cried out to the king with this entreaty.
‘Grant us peace!
Make the Jews stop fighting against us and our city.’
They threw down their arms and made peace. So the Jews gained glory in the eyes of the king and of all the people in his kingdom. They returned to Jerusalem with a large amount of spoil.”
There were about 120,000 people in revolt against King Demetrius II as this mob wanted to kill him. The king ran into his palace, but they seized the main streets of Antioch. Then the king asked the Jews for help. Supposedly, there were about 3,000 Jews in Antioch sent by Jonathan. Somehow, these 3,000 Jews spread out and killed 100,000 inhabitants of Antioch. It does not explain how this happened. They must have been great fighters. They even set fire to the city and took its spoils. Apparently, those remaining people of Antioch wanted peace. They wanted the Jews to stop fighting. The king was happy with the Jews as they returned to Jerusalem with their spoil. That was a great feat of the Jewish fighters but it was for a foreign king and made others mad.