The Philistines we encounter in the books of Judges and 1 and 2 Samuel (11th century BC) are well known to us. Not only do we have detailed information about them in the Bible.
We have evidence from extra-Biblical sources as well.Pharaoh Rameses III recorded that the Philistines were one tribe of a coalition of “Sea Peoples” who swept across Anatolia (modern Turkey) and down the Mediterranean coast intent on taking up residence in Egypt.
In his eighth year (ca. 1177 BC), Rameses III turned them back at the border and the various tribes of the Sea Peoples were forced to settle elsewhere. The Philistines ended up in one of the choicest areas of Palestine, the southwest coastal region. Archaeologists have been able to track their presence there because of their distinctively Aegean material culture, especially their pottery (Wood 1991). According to the Bible, the Philistines originated in “Caphtor” (Jer 47:4; Am 9:7), identified as the island of Crete (Hess 1992).
But what about the mention of Philistines in the book of Genesis some 900 years earlier? Scholars have a ready answer: the Bible is wrong! For example, in The Anchor Bible Dictionary article on the Philistines, author Katzenstein states, “The references to the Philistines in Gen 21:32–34; 26:1, 8, 14–15; and in Exod 13:17; 15:14; 23:31 are all anachronisms” (1992: 326), that is, material that is chronologically out of place. Let us probe this “Bible problem” a little deeper.
The Phaistos Disk
An important find relating to the early Philistines is the Phaistos Disk, a 6.5 inch diameter, 0.5 inch thick, baked clay disk with undecipherable inscriptions on both sides (Robinson 2002: 297–315). It was discovered in 1908 by Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier in the ruins of a Minoan palace in southern Crete. Based on the archaeological context, the date cannot be later than about 1700 BC. The signs, running in a spiral from the outer edge toward the center, were impressed in the wet clay with a punch or stamp, resulting in the world’s first typewritten document. No other texts in this script have since been found.
The inscription was made by pressing pre-formed hieroglyphic "seals" into the soft clay, in a clockwise sequence spiraling towards the disc's center.
The significance of the Phaistos Disk for our purposes is that it connects the Philistines with the island of Crete and places them there at a period far earlier than the 12th century BC. One of characters on the disk, in fact, the one that occurs most frequently, is a warrior with a feathered headdress. It is very similar to the depiction of the later Philistines in reliefs on the walls of Rameses III’s mortuary temple in Medinet Habu, Egypt (T. Dothan 1982: 22; T. and M. Dothan 1992: 35–36). This is not an isolated find, as identical signs, including frontal views of the feathered warrior, have been found inscribed on an axe found in a cave in Crete (Robinson 2002: 306–307).
The name “Philistine,” therefore, may simply be the Biblical term for Aegean peoples from Crete, from any time period. Another name used in the Bible for the people from Crete is “Caphtorites.” Deuteronomy 2:23 states, “as for the Avvites who lived in villages as far as Gaza, the Caphtorites coming out from Caphtor destroyed them and settled in their place.” According to the Bible, then, peoples from Crete took over the southwest coastal area of Canaan prior to the time of Moses. That is precisely the area where Abraham and Isaac encountered “Abimelech king of the Philistines.”
The scholarly label for the ancient inhabitants of Crete is “Minoans.” This artificial appellation was coined by Arthur Evans, excavator of Knossos, a major site on Crete, based on Minos, an ancient ruler of Crete known from Greek mythology. We do not know what the ancient inhabitants of Crete called themselves. Archaeological evidence indicates that the Minoans were engaged in maritime trade throughout the Levant in the Middle Bronze period (ca. 2000–1500 BC). Some of this evidence suggests that they established trading colonies in Syria, Canaan and Egypt. A small, but growing, number of finds in Palestine provide tangible evidence for contacts between Canaan and Crete long before the 12th–11th century Philistines.
Gerar (Tel Haror)
Abimelech, the Philistine king or kings Abraham and Isaac had dealings with, ruled at Gerar (Gn 26:1). Ancient Gerar has been identified as Tel Haror, 17 miles east of Gaza in the western Negev (Oren 1992: 989). The Middle Bronze urban settlement there is one of the largest in southern Canaan, occupying an area of about 38 acres. It was enclosed by an elaborate system of earthen ramparts fronted by a deep ditch (Klenck 2002: 30; Oren et al. 1996: 91). Within the city a sacred precinct was excavated, including a “migdol temple,” remains of animal sacrifice, and cultic and imported pottery (Klenck 2002; Oren et al. 1996: 91–92). Also found within the fortified enclosure was a 10 foot diameter well, excavated to a depth of 38 feet (Klenck 2002: 34; Oren 1993: 581). The wells of Gerar were a major issue between both Abraham (Gn 21:25) and Isaac (Gn 26:17–22), and the Philistines.
Of particular interest is a Minoan graffito found in the sacred precinct dating to ca. 1600 BC. Analyses of the sherd determined that it originated in Crete, most likely the south coast (Day et al. 1999; Oren et al. 1996). There are four Minoan signs on the graffito, inscribed prior to firing, which represent a bull’s head, cloth, branch and figs (Oren et al. 1996: 99–109). In addition to the graffito, an unusual chalice of Canaanite shape and fabric was found in a room on the east side of the sacred area. What makes the chalice unusual is its high arching handles, a well-known feature of Minoan chalices, but not of Canaanite (Oren et al. 1996: 95, 96; Oren 1993: 581).
Maritime Trade Between Crete and the Levant
The similarity of harbors in Crete and the Levant in the Middle Bronze I (=IIA), period, ca. 2000–1750 BC, strongly suggests contact between the two areas:
- the sea crossing between Crete, Egypt and the Levant was not only theoretically easy and simple, but had been used as such since early days…The data…suggest a close technical and conceptual resemblance for the type of siting and the layout of the portal installations in the Aegean, Crete and the Levant…the soaring demand for maritime facilities which [was] instigated by the rapid urbanism of the Levantine coast and the palatial economy of Crete…had brought about the new type of estuarian harbours, the extensive artificial remodification of coastal topography and the introduction of stone blocks [sic] quays in Crete and in the Levant (Raban 1991: 145).
There were harbors all along the Canaanite coast in Middle Bronze I and it is highly likely that it was commerce that brought the Minoans to Canaan. The harbors of Tel Ridan, 12 miles southwest of Gaza, and Ashkelon, 12 miles north-northeast of Gaza, would have served Gerar, which, in turn, acted as a gateway for transshipping goods throughout southern Canaan (Marcus 2002: 248). At Ashkelon, a sherd of a decorated Minoan cup from ca. 1800 BC was found (Merrillees 2003: 136).
Harbors at Yavneh Yam, 10 miles south of Tel Aviv, and Tel Gerisa, 2 miles east of Tel Aviv, provided anchorages for central Canaan. Further north, Dor, 14 miles south of Haifa; Tel Nami, 9 miles south of Haifa; Acco 8 miles north of Haifa; and Achziv, 17 miles north of Haifa, met the maritime needs of the northern sector.
At Tel Nami, excavators found 259 charred seeds of the legume Lathyrus clymenum in four storage jars and on the floors of two storerooms dated to the Middle Bronze I period (Kislev, Artzy and Marcus 1993). The seeds are exotic on two counts. First, they are not native to the Near East, but to the Aegean and regions further west, and thus were imported. The Tel Nami seeds most closely resemble samples from Crete (Kislev, Artzy and Marcus 1993: 148). Secondly, the seeds contain a toxic substance that causes permanent paralysis of the lower limbs if consumed in large quantities. Those using L. clymenum need specialized knowledge of how to process and prepare the seeds in order to avoid the accompanying health risk. The excavators conclude:
More than likely the demand for L. clymenum came from a person or persons who were either native to, or familiar with the Aegean region and were acquainted with the plant’s consumption and its palatable taste. The discovery of L. clymenum at Tel Nami could be evidence for the presence of Aegean people on the Israeli coast during the Middle Bronze IIA period…In the light of the nature of the archaeobotanical find at Tel Nami, we must consider that Minoan-Levantine contacts were not of an ephemeral disposition, but were of a sufficient scale to create the conditions whereby either local inhabitants (merchants, sailors?) acquired a presumably expensive taste for an Aegean food plant, or Aegeans abroad imported the ingredients for their own haute cuisine! (Kislev, Artzy and Marcus 1993: 152).
Tel Kabri is located 3 miles southeast of the port of Achziv. During the Middle Bronze I period it was fortified with an earthen rampart and city wall, and covered an area of ca. 80 acres, making it one of the largest Bronze Age sites in Israel. It was a major trading center, acting as an entrepot for northern Canaan (Marcus 2002: 248; Dothan, Zuckerman and Goren 2000: 13). That Minoans were present at the site was evidenced by a Minoan painted plaster floor and fragments of a wall fresco dating to the 17th century BC (Dever 1995: 114). They were found in a Middle Bronze palace which occupied ca. 22,000 square feet. The floor, in a 33 feet square ceremonial hall, was painted with a grid pattern of red lines imitating a pavement of stone slabs. The wall fragments were from a miniature fresco depicting a rocky shore, including flora and fauna, elements of buildings on shore, the sea, boats and a mythical griffin, all done in Minoan style (B. and W.-D. Niemeier 2000: 767–80).
Rather than being a “Bible mistake,” the accounts in Genesis 20–21 and 26 concerning Philistines ruling in Gerar in the days of Abraham and Isaac provide a rare glimpse into the history of southwestern Canaan in ca. 2000 BC that is otherwise undocumented.
Source: Bible Archaeology
The battle of David vs the Philistine Goliath
Well, who were the Philistines?
To anyone other than a Bible student, the Philistines are merely a long-forgotten people, the subject of old, dusty volumes of equally dry and irrelevant history. Surprisingly, even the dictionary contains little useful information on them. Webster's Dictionary provides a typical definition: "a native or inhabitant of ancient Philistia," an explanation—if one can call it that—that violates a primary rule of thumb of lexicography, "Avoid defining a word by referencing itself." It is like defining a dog as "an animal with dog-like qualities"—essentially useless, especially if one has never seen a dog.
Subsequent definitions of Philistine prove equally futile: "a person who is guided by materialism and is usually disdainful of intellectual or artistic values" and "one uninformed in a special area of knowledge." Evidently, Philistine has acquired these meanings from association with its occasional biblical adjective "uncircumcised" (see I Samuel 17:26, 36). While David meant to suggest a man who had no relationship with God, a foreigner, generations of Bible readers have understood it to mean a brutish, unrefined person, as they imagine Goliath to have been.
So much for the helpfulness of dictionaries. They leave us still hungering for answers to the question, "Who were the Philistines?" This question, while not vital to our salvation, begs an answer, as the people called Philistines in Scripture had a great impact on biblical history. From the days of Abraham to the Assyrian conquest of the northern kingdom of Israel, the Philistines were at times friends, allies, deadly enemies, vassals, and rivals of God's people, but never a people their leaders could ignore.
For Bible students in the twenty-first century, knowing who the Philistines were is important in grasping the lessons in the stories of Abraham and Isaac, Samson, Samuel, Saul, and David, in which they sometimes played major roles. Though they were bit players in later history, their name arises in the writings of the prophets, some of them having end-time implications. With Jesus' admonition in mind to live by every word of God (Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4), finding out about the Philistines becomes more crucial.
philistine pottery, reminds Cretan and Cyprus pottery
Unexpectedly, the Philistines first appear in the Table of Nations in Genesis 10:13-14: "Mizraim [a son of Ham] begot Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, Pathrusim, and Casluhim (from whom came the Philistines [Philistim, KJV] and Caphtorim)."1 Mizraim is the Hebrew word that is commonly translated as "Egypt," thus the Philistines are ethnically related to the Egyptians.
However, note that the Casluhim are divided into the Philistines and Caphtorim (in fact, the Philistines are frequently identified with Caphtor, the Hebrew name for at least the island of Crete and perhaps for the whole Aegean region; see Amos 9:7; Jeremiah 47:4). This indicates that their origins lie in the area of Crete, western Asia Minor, and the Aegean Sea, and modern archeology bears this out. For instance, Philistine pottery resembles that of the Minoan and Mycenaean (Homeric Greek) civilizations to the point that a material connection is beyond question. Other substantial links to the area include early Greek weapons, armor, dress, burial methods, military tactics, government, religion, etc.
How did these Aegean people end up settling in southwestern Canaan? The story is a long one, beginning in the days of Abraham. Being a restless, warlike, trading people, the Philistines frequently attempted to expand their influence, first through setting up trading colonies in distant lands and then by force of arms, if necessary. Genesis 21:34 records, "Abraham sojourned in the land of the Philistines many days," referring to the area around the town of Gerar, where Abimelech2 was king (see Genesis 20). This means that by the early nineteenth century bc, at least a small colony of Philistines had already gained a foothold in the land of Canaan.After Isaac's similar experience with them, they are next mentioned in passing in Exodus 13:17: Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, "Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt."
The "way of the land of the Philistines" describes a small portion of the route later known as the Via Maris, "the Way of the Sea." This coastal road connected the Nile Delta region with Canaan, Syria, and beyond that to Mesopotamia. Although the naming of this portion of the road after the Philistines may be a slight anachronism (perhaps a later emendation), Philistines already lived along its southern course in Canaan.
However, more significant is the Philistines' connection with war. Evidently, the people who lived along that road were a hostile group, easily provoked into armed conflict, and at the time of the Exodus, on a war footing. The fledgling nation of Israel, God knew, was not yet prepared to fight any people as aggressive as the Philistines, no matter what their numbers were at the time.
Nevertheless, this passing mention in Exodus 13 alludes to the fact that the Philistine presence in southern Canaan had not remained static. From a trading outpost in Gerar, they had expanded in the intervening four centuries to control a large area. Perhaps they were not the most populous of the ethnic groups there, but they were certainly the dominant one. It is thought that their numbers were steadily increased by new colonists from their homeland in the Aegean. In addition, it seems to have been a conscious policy to assimilate to a large degree with the native population, which would include intermarriage3 and adoption of local deities. In this way a minority people could quickly rise to prominence.
Despite their early dominance, the bulk of the Philistine people did not migrate to coastal Canaan for another nearly two and a half centuries. What caused the main body of Sea Peoples4—as they are known to historians—to cross the Mediterranean is not entirely known. Perhaps the migration of Central European peoples into the Aegean region dislodged them, or maybe the early throes of Mycenaean decline played a part. Some have even suggested a terrible famine or a volcanic eruption as reasons for their relocation. Whatever the cause, the annals of the time record that the Sea Peoples were strong enough to overwhelm the Hittite Empire in Asia Minor, as well as other nations down the Mediterranean coast. Not content with these conquests, they set out to invade Egypt between the reigns of Pharaohs Merneptah (c. 1224-1216 bc) and Rameses III (c. 1174-1144 bc).
One massive sea battle in the Nile Delta region during the reign of Rameses III put an end to the Sea Peoples' advance. Though normally outmatched on water, Pharaoh won a decisive victory, capturing large numbers of Sea Peoples. As new vassals of Egypt, they were placed in Egyptian fortified cities up the coast in southwestern Canaan where small Philistine colonies already existed, and many of them—particularly those of the Peleset tribe—settled permanently in the area. They formed a league of five major cities (a Pentapolis): Gaza,5 Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath, each of which was ruled by a "lord" (Hebrew seren, which is perhaps better rendered as "tyrant," a Greek concept).
Now being the majority people in the area, it did not take the Philistines long to ignore Egyptian overrule (Egypt had been weakened and exhausted by its conflict with the Sea Peoples) and to carve out their own nation between the desert buffer of Sinai and the weak, disunited, hill-country Israelite tribes. Their rise to power began in the early- to mid-twelfth century BC (for instance, the Philistines conquered Ashkelon in about 1175 bc), contemporaneous with the end of Deborah's judgeship and the length of Gideon's. By the days of Jephthah, Samson, and Samuel in the early eleventh century, the Philistines dominated most of the land of Canaan from Sinai to Galilee, especially in the areas closer to the coast.
A key to their dominance lay in their more advanced material culture. While the Israelites and Canaanites of the highlands still practiced Bronze Age skills, the Philistines had advanced to an Iron Age culture, making them nearly invincible on the battlefield. I Samuel 13:19-22 informs us:
Now there was no blacksmith to be found throughout all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, "Lest the Hebrews make swords or spears." But all the Israelites would go down to the Philistines to sharpen each man's plowshare, his mattock, his ax, and his sickle; and the charge for sharpening was a pim [two-thirds of a shekel, an exorbitant price] for the plowshares, the mattocks, the forks, and the axes, and to set the points of the goads. So it came about, on the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan. But they were found with Saul and Jonathan his son.
Saul could muster only two swords among six hundred men (see verse 15)! Evidently, most of his soldiers fought with axes, mattocks, ox goads, sickles, or sharpened sticks. Recall that Samson never used a normal weapon either, resorting to the jawbone of a donkey or his bare hands. The Philistine army, however, was fully outfitted with the advanced weaponry of the day:
So the Lord was with Judah. And they drove out the inhabitants of the mountains, but they could not drive out the inhabitants of the lowland [the Philistines and Canaanites there], because they had chariots of iron. (Judges 1:19)
[Goliath] had a bronze helmet on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail. . . . And he had bronze greaves on his legs and a bronze javelin was between his shoulders. Now the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and his iron spearhead weighed six hundred shekels; and a shield-bearer went before him. (I Samuel 17:5-7)
Later, the account mentions that Goliath also carried a sword (verse 51). David, of course, having refused Saul's armor and sword because he was untrained in them, carried only "his staff in his hand; . . . five smooth stones from the brook, and . . . his sling" (verse 40). David's severe disadvantage in arms was typical for an Israelite before the might of the Philistines.
While a fair amount is known about the Philistines from textual sources, only recently have archeological finds begun to flesh out Philistine culture. For instance, relatively little is known about the original Philistine language except that, upon arriving in Canaan, it seems they quickly adopted the Semitic language of the area while retaining words from their original Indo-European tongue, including personal names. In November 2005, a small pottery shard bearing an inscription containing two names linguistically resembling "Goliath" was found in the ruins of Gath. There is no evidence that it refers to the biblical Goliath, but it confirms the general historicity of the story in I Samuel 17.
The artifacts being dug up from the ruins of Philistine cities reveal that Philistine culture was as advanced as their weaponry. Their art was refined, being heavily influenced by typically Mycenaean motifs with Egyptian and later Canaanite styles added to their repertoire. While its roof may not have been redundantly supported (see Judges 16:23-30), their Temple of Dagon in Gaza—similar in design to Cretan architecture—supported about three thousand people on its roof, making it an imposing edifice. The evidence found in the tells of the Pentapolis bears out that, for the time, the Philistines built large, planned cities complete with fortresses, palaces, temples, and markets, all of which were surrounded by thirteen-feet-thick walls.
Anciently, the Philistines were also renowned for both their production and consumption of alcoholic beverages. Numerous finds have exposed a well-managed spirits industry, from breweries and wineries to retail outlets that advertised beer, wine, and strong drink. Among the most numerous artifacts unearthed from Philistine ruins are beer mugs and wine craters (large drinking bowls). The story of Samson's wedding feast alludes to the Philistine practice of engaging in weeklong drinking parties, as the Hebrew word misteh, translated as "feast" in Judges 14:10, indicates a "drinking feast."
From the Old Testament, we find that the principal deity of the Philistines was Dagon (Judges 16:23; I Samuel 5:2-7). This deity, either a god of fish or of grain (the root dg can represent either idea, depending on the vowel used), was worshipped at least in the temples of Gaza, Ashdod, and Beth-shan. II Kings 1:1-6 records that at Ekron the god Baal-Zebub was venerated. There is thought to be some connection between these gods and similar ones worshipped by the Hittites, also a Hamitic people, who lived in Anatolia (Asia Minor). Over time, however, the Philistine deities began to resemble their Canaanite counterparts, though the Philistines retained a distinctive worship ritual.
Judges 16:23-24 contains snatches of a song sung in the Temple of Dagon at Gaza celebrating the successful capture of Samson. Cultic artifacts found at Ashdod suggest music played a prominent role in Philistine worship, both singing and instrumental music, particularly the use of the lyre. This same passage also shows a Philistine penchant for performance art and entertainment (verse 25), another interest attributed to the Greeks.
Unlike the common belief, the Philistines were not unsophisticated, uncultured brutes, but advanced, refined people. In fact, for several generations their culture was years ahead of Israel's, a disparity they maintained through their martial superiority. Nevertheless, their cosmopolitan sophistication could not hide their underlying uncircumcision in God's eyes; they were a foreign people in the land God had promised to Abraham's descendants. Eventually, through His intervention, the Israelites under David overcame the Philistine's might and advanced culture, making Israel the dominant force in the region.
Philistia in Prophecy
Map of Philistia - Gaza's original name was Minoah!
Prophetically, the Philistines are mentioned several times in both the Major and Minor Prophets. The sense of many of these passages is that, despite being put under tribute by David, the Philistines were not absorbed by Israel but remained a distinct people beyond the fall of both Israel and Judah. In fact, Assyrian records list the Philistines separately from Israel during the time of the latter's fall in the late eighth century bc. Further, these passages suggest that the Philistines are a distinct people at the time of the end.
For example, Isaiah 11:11-14 is a prophecy of the Day of the Lord and the regathering of Israel to the Promised Land, an event known as the Second Exodus. Isaiah prophesies that the reunited Israelites will overwhelm the end-time Philistines:
It shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left, from Assyria and Egypt, . . . and the islands of the sea. He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. . . . [T]hey shall fly down upon the shoulder of the Philistines toward the west. . . . (see also Isaiah 14:28-31)
Jeremiah (Jeremiah 47:1-7), Ezekiel (Ezekiel 25:15-17), Joel (Joel 3:4-5), Amos (Amos 1:6-8), Obadiah (Obadiah 19), Zephaniah (Zephaniah 2:4-7) and Zechariah (Zechariah 9:5-8) also make proclamations of destruction against the Philistine people. Ezekiel's is typical:
Thus says the Lord God: "Because the Philistines dealt vengefully and took vengeance with a spiteful heart, to destroy because of the old hatred," therefore thus says the Lord God: "I will stretch out My hand against the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethites and destroy the remnant of the seacoast. I will execute great vengeance on them with furious rebukes; and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I lay My vengeance upon them."
All of these prophecies were anciently fulfilled, but end-time fulfillments cannot be ruled out. Isaiah's prophecy hints that ultimately, God will deploy Israel to punish the Philistines. These prophecies highlight the Philistines' treachery in taking Israelites captive and selling them to Edom as slaves, as well as their long-held, smoldering, spiteful hatred that caused them to take vengeance on Israel for old defeats. From evidence like this, the speculation that the modern inhabitants of the Gaza Strip descend from the ancient Philistines takes on greater credence.
Joel also mentions a further reason: "Because you have taken My silver and My gold, and have carried into your temples My prized possessions" (Joel 3:5). Evidently, the Philistines' capture of the ark in the time of Eli (I Samuel 4:10-11; 5:1—7:1), as well as other plunderings of Israel and Judah, rankled God, and He is determined to repay them for their sacrilege.
While modern humanity has essentially forgotten the real people of Philistia, God certainly has not, and neither should His people. Far from being uncultured rabble, the Philistines were refugees of the great Minoan/Mycenaean civilization, prepared by God to be a thorn in Israel's side for many generations. In the historic conflicts between these two very different peoples, we can unearth many lessons that we can apply on our Christian walk to the Kingdom of God.
1 The Hebrew masculine suffix —im, along with its feminine counterpart, -oth, turn a root word into a plural. These names, then, identify peoples rather than individuals, although most of them probably contain the name of a forefather. For instance, Ludim probably means "the people of Lud," the nation history calls "Lydians."
2 Abimelech is not, as is often supposed, a proper name but a title. It means "my father is king," implying the right of the bearer to rule through dynastic succession, or "father-king," suggesting that the ruler is father to his people. The Abimelech in Isaac's story (Genesis 26); the would-be king Abimelech, son of Gideon (Judges 9); and the Abimelech before whom David feigned madness (see Psalm 34:1; called Achish in I Samuel 21:10-15) are all different men from Abraham's acquaintance).
3 The native Canaanites were a related people (see Genesis 10:6-20).
4 Several tribes composed the Sea Peoples: the Peleset, Tjekker, Shekelesh, Denyen, and Weshesh, among others. The Egyptians called the Peleset prst (in Egyptian hieroglyphs, r is often interchanged with l), which is very similar to their Hebrew name, pelist?m. The Tjekker settled in and around the northern Canaanite city of Dor, while the Denyen may have eventually settled in Cyprus. The Shekelesh and the Weshesh were probably absorbed into Egypt, although some scholars believe some of the Shekelesh found their way to Sicily.
5 Interestingly, Gaza's original name was Minoah, very similar to that of the ancient Aegean civilization.
The Bible Mentions the "Philistines"
The battle with the Philistines, Gate of Paradise, east door of Baptistry Florence
Genesis 26:18 - And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them.
Judges 10:6 - And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD, and served Baalim, and Ashtaroth, and the gods of Syria, and the gods of Zidon, and the gods of Moab, and the gods of the children of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines, and forsook the LORD, and served not him.
1 Samuel 17:3 - And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side: and [there was] a valley between them.
Judges 16:28 - And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.
1 Samuel 4:6 - And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, What [meaneth] the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of the LORD was come into the camp.
1 Samuel 14:4 - And between the passages, by which Jonathan sought to go over unto the Philistines' garrison, [there was] a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side: and the name of the one [was] Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh.
1 Samuel 28:15 - And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.
2 Chronicles 28:18 - The Philistines also had invaded the cities of the low country, and of the south of Judah, and had taken Bethshemesh, and Ajalon, and Gederoth, and Shocho with the villages thereof, and Timnah with the villages thereof, Gimzo also and the villages thereof: and they dwelt there.
1 Samuel 5:8 - They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines unto them, and said, What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel? And they answered, Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried about unto Gath. And they carried the ark of the God of Israel about [thither].
1 Samuel 31:7 - And when the men of Israel that [were] on the other side of the valley, and [they] that [were] on the other side Jordan, saw that the men of Israel fled, and that Saul and his sons were dead, they forsook the cities, and fled; and the Philistines came and dwelt in them.
2 Chronicles 17:11 - Also [some] of the Philistines brought Jehoshaphat presents, and tribute silver; and the Arabians brought him flocks, seven thousand and seven hundred rams, and seven thousand and seven hundred he goats.
1 Samuel 10:5 - After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where [is] the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy:
1 Samuel 27:1 - And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul: [there is] nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines; and Saul shall despair of me, to seek me any more in any coast of Israel: so shall I escape out of his hand.
1 Samuel 17:46 - This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.
2 Samuel 3:18 - Now then do [it]: for the LORD hath spoken of David, saying, By the hand of my servant David I will save my people Israel out of the hand of the Philistines, and out of the hand of all their enemies.
Obediah 1:19 - And [they of] the south shall possess the mount of Esau; and [they of] the plain the Philistines: and they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria: and Benjamin [shall possess] Gilead.
1 Samuel 6:18 - And the golden mice, [according to] the number of all the cities of the Philistines [belonging] to the five lords, [both] of fenced cities, and of country villages, even unto the great [stone of] Abel, whereon they set down the ark of the LORD: [which stone remaineth] unto this day in the field of Joshua, the Bethshemite.
1 Samuel 28:4 - And the Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem: and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they pitched in Gilboa.
1 Samuel 18:17 - And Saul said to David, Behold my elder daughter Merab, her will I give thee to wife: only be thou valiant for me, and fight the LORD'S battles. For Saul said, Let not mine hand be upon him, but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him.
1 Samuel 18:27 - Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king's son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife.
1 Samuel 7:3 - And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, [then] put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.
Judges 15:5 - And when he had set the brands on fire, he let [them] go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards [and] olives.
1 Kings 15:27 - And Baasha the son of Ahijah, of the house of Issachar, conspired against him; and Baasha smote him at Gibbethon, which [belonged] to the Philistines; for Nadab and all Israel laid siege to Gibbethon.
1 Samuel 17:1 - Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and were gathered together at Shochoh, which [belongeth] to Judah, and pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephesdammim.
1 Chronicles 14:10 - And David enquired of God, saying, Shall I go up against the Philistines? and wilt thou deliver them into mine hand? And the LORD said unto him, Go up; for I will deliver them into thine hand.
Jeremiah 25:20 - And all the mingled people, and all the kings of the land of Uz, and all the kings of the land of the Philistines, and Ashkelon, and Azzah, and Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod
Ezekiel 16:57 - Before thy wickedness was discovered, as at the time of [thy] reproach of the daughters of Syria, and all [that are] round about her, the daughters of the Philistines, which despise thee round about.
1 Chronicles 14:15 - And it shall be, when thou shalt hear a sound of going in the tops of the mulberry trees, [that] then thou shalt go out to battle: for God is gone forth before thee to smite the host of the Philistines.
1 Samuel 6:4 - Then said they, What [shall be] the trespass offering which we shall return to him? They answered, Five golden emerods, and five golden mice, [according to] the number of the lords of the Philistines: for one plague [was] on you all, and on your lords.
1 Samuel 14:19 - And it came to pass, while Saul talked unto the priest, that the noise that [was] in the host of the Philistines went on and increased: and Saul said unto the priest, Withdraw thine hand.