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Map of Israel's Southern Coastal Plain

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Map of the Southern Coastal Plain in Ancient Israel

Israel and Judah both had the privilege of sharing the Coastal Plain also known as the Maritime Plain. The Southern Coastal Plain known as the Plain of Philistia ran from the Joppa to the river below Gaza called the River of Egypt (Wadi el-Arish) as seen in the map above.

The distance was about 70 miles and the width varied from 3 miles in the north to 25 miles in the south. The width was 10 or 20 miles in variation.

This map also shows the Shephelah which was a buffer zone of large 500 - 1500 sloped hills with forests between the Philistines and the Hill Country of Israel.

The hills were 1,000 feet or more above sea level and the sand dunes flow inland for nearly 2 miles. It would have been a very good area for luxurious living were it not for its vulnerability to the north and to the south.

A main road ran directly through the land. The main cities of Philistia were Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron.

1 Samuel 6:17 - "And these are the golden emerods which the Philistines returned for a trespass offering unto the LORD; for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Askelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one"

The Bible Mentions "Philistia" on the Coast of Israel

Psalms 87:4 - I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this [man] was born there.

Psalms 60:8 - Moab [is] my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe: Philistia, triumph thou because of me.

Psalms 108:9 - Moab [is] my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe; over Philistia will I triumph.

The Bible Mentions "Gaza" as a Chief City of the Philistines

Judges 1:18 - Also Judah took Gaza with the coast thereof, and Askelon with the coast thereof, and Ekron with the coast thereof.

1 Chronicles 7:28 - And their possessions and habitations [were], Bethel and the towns thereof, and eastward Naaran, and westward Gezer, with the towns thereof; Shechem also and the towns thereof, unto Gaza and the towns thereof:

Joshua 15:47 - Ashdod with her towns and her villages, Gaza with her towns and her villages, unto the river of Egypt, and the great sea, and the border [thereof]:

Genesis 10:19 - And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha.

1 Samuel 6:17 - And these [are] the golden emerods which the Philistines returned [for] a trespass offering unto the LORD; for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Askelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one;

Amos 1:6 - Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not turn away [the punishment] thereof; because they carried away captive the whole captivity, to deliver [them] up to Edom:

Judges 6:4 - And they encamped against them, and destroyed the increase of the earth, till thou come unto Gaza, and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep, nor ox, nor ass.

Judges 16:21 - But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.

Acts 8:26 - And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.

Joshua 11:22 - There was none of the Anakims left in the land of the children of Israel: only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod, there remained.

2 Kings 18:8 - He smote the Philistines, [even] unto Gaza, and the borders thereof, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.

Jeremiah 47:5 - Baldness is come upon Gaza; Ashkelon is cut off [with] the remnant of their valley: how long wilt thou cut thyself?

Zephaniah 2:4 - For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation: they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day, and Ekron shall be rooted up.

Jeremiah 47:1 - The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Philistines, before that Pharaoh smote Gaza.

Joshua 10:41 - And Joshua smote them from Kadeshbarnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon.

Amos 1:7 - But I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, which shall devour the palaces thereof:

Judges 16:1 - Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.

Zechariah 9:5 - Ashkelon shall see [it], and fear; Gaza also [shall see it], and be very sorrowful, and Ekron; for her expectation shall be ashamed; and the king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon shall not be inhabited.