PhilistinesThe historic Philistines were a people that inhabited the southern coast of Palestine around the time of the arrival of the Israelites. They are spoken of by Amos (9:7) and Jeremiah (47:4) as from Caphtor, which is probably Crete.
The Philistines are called Pulsata or Pulista on the Egyptian monuments; the land of the Philistines (Philistia) being termed Palastu and Pilista in the Assyrian inscriptions. They occupied the five cities of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath, along the coastal strip of Palestine, from Joppa to the Gaza Strip, which belonged to Egypt up to the closing days of the Nineteenth Dynasty. The occupation took place during the reign of Rameses III of the Twentieth Dynasty. The Philistines had formed part of the great naval confederacy which attacked Egypt around 1190 BC, but were eventually repulsed by that Pharaoh, who, however, could not dislodge them from their settlements in Palestine.
This powerful tribe made frequent incursions against the Hebrews. There was almost perpetual war between them. They sometimes held the tribes, especially the southern tribes, in servitude; at other times they were defeated with great slaughter. The Philistine cities were ruled by seranim, "lords", who acted together for the common good of the nation. After their defeat by the Israelite King David, kings replaced the seranim, and their history is of individual cities, and not of a people. Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon eventually conquered all of Syria and Palestine, and the Philistine cities became part of the Neo-Babylonian empire. Subsequently the cities were under the control of Persians, Greeks, and Romans.
They are called Allophyli, "foreigners," in the Septuagint, and in the Books of Samuel they are spoken of as uncircumcised. It would therefore appear that they were not of the Semitic race, though after their establishment in Palestine they adopted the Semitic language of the country. From Philistia the name of the land of the Philistines came to be extended to the whole of "Palestine."
The word philistine, in non-historical usage, refers to people exhibiting cultural intolerance or a restrictive moral code, unappreciative of wider ideas.
- National Geographic, January 2001, article "Ancient Ashkelon," pp. 66-90.
- Paper of the Phlistines