Lod is ancient Lydda an important city over the history of the Holy Land, Lydda which was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 66 during the Jewish War. The ancient city was refounded by emperor Hadrian as Diospolis, Lydda was awarded the rank of a Roman colony under Septimius Severus in A.D. 200.
It remained in Roman hands until becoming a Christian city and eventually succumbing to Arab conquerors in A.D. 636. The discovery immediately prompted a rescue excavation, undertaken by the Israel Antiquities Authority, which revealed a series of mosaic floors that measured approximately seventeen meters long by nine meters wide (fifty by twenty-seven feet).
Ono and Lod and the towns thereof are said to have been built by Shemed, a Benjamite (1 Ch 8:12). The children of Lod, Hadid and One, to the number of 725, returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:33; Neh 7:37 ). The town lay in the Shephelah, perhaps in גֵּי הָחֲרָשִׁים, “the valley of craftsmen” (Neh 11:35). In the NT it appears as Lydda. Here the apostle Peter visited the saints and healed the palsied Arenas (Acts 9:32). Hence he was summoned by messengers from Joppa on the death of Dorcas.
LOD HISTORY in MACCABEAN'S PERIOD
The three governments of Aphaerema, Lydda and Ramathaim were added to Judea from the country of Samaria by King Demetrius II (1 Macc 11:34). Lydda presided over one of the toparchies under Jerusalem, into which Judea was divided (BJ, III, iii, 5). After the death of Julius Caesar the inhabitants of Lydda and certain other towns, having failed to pay the contributions Cassius demanded, were by him sold into slavery. They were freed by Antony (Ant., XIV, xi, 2; xii, 2). Lydda suffered severely under Cestius Gallus (BJ, II, xix, 1). Along with Jamnia it surrendered to Vespasian (BJ, IV, viii, 1). After the fall of Jerusalem it was noted as a seat of rabbinical learning. The classical name of the city was Diospolis. In the 4th century it was connected with the trade in purple. It became the seat of a bishopric, and the bishop of Lydda was present at the Council of Nicea. At Lydda, in 415 AD, took place the trial of Pelagius for heresy.
Under the Moslems it became capital of the province of Filastin but later it was superseded by er-Ramleh, founded by Khalif Suleiman, whither its inhabitants were removed (Ya’kubi, circa 891 AD). Mukaddasi (circa 985) says that in Lydda “there is a great mosque in which are wont to assemble large numbers of people from the capital (er-Ramleh) and from the villages around. In Lydda, too, is that wonderful church (of George) at the gate of which Christ will slay the antichrist” (quoted by Guy le Strange, Palestine under the Moslems, 493). It was rebuilt by the Crusaders; but was destroyed by Saladin after the battle of Hattin, 1191 AD. It was again restored; but in 1271 it was sacked by the Mengels, and from this blow it has never recovered.
IDENTIFICATION and DESCRIPTION of LOD
The ancient Lod or Lydda is represented by the modern village of Ludd, on the road to Jerusalem, about 11 miles S.E. of Yafa. It is a station on the Jaffa-Jerusalem Railway. It occupies a picturesque hollow in the plain of Sharon, and is surrounded by gardens and orchards, the beauty of which intensifies by contrast the squalor of the village. It was the reputed birthplace of George, and here he is said to have been buried. The one ruin of importance in the place is that of the church which perpetuates his name.
The town stood on the great caravan road between Babylon and Egypt, near its intersection with that from Joppa to Jerusalem and the E. Its position on these great arteries of commerce meant trade for the inhabitants. “The manufacture and repair of such requisites for the journey as sacks, saddles and strappings would create the skilled labor in cloth, leather, wood and metal that made the neighborhood once the valley of craftsmen” (Mackie, HDB, under the word). Like many other once prosperous cities on these and similar caravan routes, Lydda suffered from diversion of traffic to the sea; and it may be that for none of them is any great revival now possible.
“Lod; Lydda,” ISBE, paragraph 36621.
According to talmudic sources, Lydda was situated on the boundary of the Shephelah and the coastal plain, one day's journey from Jerusalem; other sources call the plain around it the Shephelah of Lydda (Ma'as. Sh. 5:2). The town flourished between the First and Second Jewish Wars. It had a large market; cattle were raised in the area; and textile, dyeing, and pottery industries were established. A Christian community existed there in the time of Peter (Acts 9:32–35). It was the seat of a Sanhedrin; famous talmudic scholars, such as R. Tarfon, R. Eliezer b. Hyrcanus, R. Akiva, Joshua b. Levi, Judah b. Pazi, Eleazar bar Kappara, and Ḥanina bar Ḥama taught there. Among its synagogues was one specially maintained by a community of Tarsians. After the war of Bar-Kokhba (132–135), Jews remained in Lydda, though its agricultural hinterland had been destroyed. The patriarch R. Judah I leased estates in its plain.
In 200, the emperor Septimius Severus established a Roman city at Lydda, calling it Colonia Lucia Septimia Severa Diospolis. Its territory consisted of the combined toparchies of Lydda and Thamna. The town remained partly Jewish. It took part in the revolt against the emperor Gallus in 351 and was punished when the revolt failed; according to one Mid-rash, out of ten measures of poverty in the world, Lydda had nine. The Samaritan element became more powerful in Byzantine times, although the town, part of Palaestina Prima, was predominantly Christian and had a bishop. Justinian built a church there. It was the legendary birthplace of St. George; hence its name Georgiopolis in late Byzantine and crusader sources. It was captured by the Muslim general ʿAmr ibn al-ʿÁṣin 636 and until the foundation of Ramleh (c. 715) it served as headquarters of the province of Filasṭīn. In 1099 it was occupied by the crusaders and became a seigneurie with a vicomte in charge. The crusaders built a Church of St. George there, still partly preserved. In 1170, Benjamin of Tudela found only one Jewish family there. After Saladin's reconquest of the town in 1191, more Jews settled in it. In the 14th century, Estori ha-Parhi found a Jewish community there. Under the Mamluks Lydda was the seat of an administrative district. The town seems not to have been inhabited by Jews during the early Ottoman period. Ancient remains in modern Lydda include a mound, a Jewish tomb, and a Greco-Samaritan inscription. A magnificent mosaic floor within a large villa was uncovered in recent archaeological work in the city; the floor has Nilotic scenes with sea creatures and boats.
Jewish Virtual Library, Michael Avi-Yonah, Lydda.
History of Jaffa in the Maccabean’s period
The men of Joppa, having treacherously drowned some 200 Jews, Judas Maccabeus fell upon the town “and set the haven on fire by night, and burned the boats, and put to the sword those that had fled thither” (2 Macc 12:3 ff). Jonathan took the city, in which Apollonius had placed a garrison (1 Macc 11:47 ff). It was not easy to hold, and some years later it was captured again by Simon, who garrisoned the place, completed the harbor and raised the fortifications (1 Macc 12:36 f; 13:11; 14:5–34). It is recorded as part of Simon’s glory that he took it “for a haven, and made it an entrance for the isles of the sea,” the Jews thus possessing for the first time a seaport through which commerce might be fully developed. It was taken by Pompey and joined to the province of Syria (Ant., XIV, iv, 4; BJ, I, vii, 7). Caesar restored it to the Jews under Hyrcanus (Ant., XIV, x, 6). It was among the cities given by Antony to Cleopatra (XV, iv, 1). Caesar added it to the kingdom of Herod (vii. 3; BJ, I, xx, 3), and at his death it passed to Archelaus (Ant., XVII, xi, 4; BJ, II, vi, 3). At his deposition it was attached to the Roman province. The inhabitants were now zealous Jews, and in the Roman wars it suffered heavily. After a massacre by Cestius Gallus, in which 8,400 of the people perished, it was left desolate. Thus it became a resort of the enemies of Rome, who turned pirates, and preyed upon the shipping in the neighboring waters. The place was promptly captured and destroyed by Vespasian. The people took to their boats, but a terrific storm burst upon them, dashing their frail craft to pieces on the rocks, so that vast numbers perished (BJ, III, ix, 2–4). At a later time it was the seat of a bishopric. During the Crusades it had a checkered history, being taken, now by the Christians, now by the Moslems. It was captured by the French under Kleber in 1799. It was fortified by the English, and afterward extended by the Turks (Baedeker, Palestine, 130).
“Unto them of Zidon also and Tyre they gave carrs, that they should bring cedar trees from Libanus, which should be brought by floats to the haven of Joppa, according as it was commanded them by Cyrus king of the Persians. And he pitched his tents against Joppa: but; they of Joppa shut him out of the city, because Apollonius had a garrison there. Then Jonathan laid siege unto it: whereupon they of the city let him in for fear: and so Jonathan won Joppa. Then Jonathan met the king with great pomp at Joppa, where they saluted one another, and lodged. Simon also went forth, and passed through the country unto Ascalon, and the holds there adjoining, from whence he turned aside to Joppa, and won it. Also he sent Jonathan the son of Absolom, and with him a great power, to Joppa: who casting out them that were therein remained there in it. And as he was honourable in all his acts, so in this, that he took Joppa for an haven, and made an entrance to the isles of the sea, Moreover he fortified Joppa, which lieth upon the sea, and Gazera, that bordereth upon Azotus, where the enemies had dwelt before: but he placed Jews there, and furnished them with all things convenient for the reparation thereof.) Furthermore he sent unto him Athenobius, one of his friends, to commune with him, and say, Ye withhold Joppa and Gazera; with the tower that is in Jerusalem, which are cities of my realm. And whereas thou demandest Joppa and Gazera, albeit they did great harm unto the people in our country, yet will we give thee an hundred talents for them. Hereunto Athenobius answered him not a word; Now when Apollonius the son of Menestheus was sent into Egypt for the coronation of king Ptolemeus Philometor, Antiochus, understanding him not to be well affected to his affairs, provided for his own safety: whereupon he came to Joppa, and from thence to Jerusalem: The men of Joppa also did such an ungodly deed: they prayed the Jews that dwelt among them to go with their wives and children into the boats which they had prepared, as though they had meant them no hurt. And when the town was shut up, he went backward, as if he would return to root out all them of the city of Joppa.”
1 Esdras 5:55; 1 Maccabees 10:75–76; 11:6; 12:33; 13:11; 14:5, 34; 15:28, 35; 2 Maccabees 4:21; 12:3, 7 KJVA
Lydda, (strife), the Greek form of the name, (Acts 9:32, 35, 38) which appears in the Hebrew records as LOD a town of Benjamin, founded by Shamed or Shamer. (1 Chronicles 8:12; Ezra 2:33; Nehemiah 7:37; 11:35) It is still called Lidd or Ludd, and stands in part of the great maritime plain which anciently bore the name of Sharon. It is nine miles from Joppa, and is the first town on the northernmost of the two roads between that place and Jerusalem. The watercourse outside the town is said still to bear the name of Abi-Butrus (Peter), in memory the apostle. It was destroyed by Vespasian, and was probably not rebuilt till the time of Hadrian, when it received the name of Diospois. When Eusebius wrote (A.D. 320-330) Diospolis was a well-known and much-frequented town. The modern town is, for a Mohammedan place, buy and prosperous.
“Lydda,” A Dictionary of the Bible, paragraph 4388.