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Illustration of Prisoners of Rameses Chained to One Another
This sketch is from a relief depicting prisoners of Ramesses II, ancient Asiatic and Philistine captives.
During the time of the Old Testament the Philistines were a non-Semitic people living by the seacoast of Israel. Their 5 main cities included: Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gath, and Ekron. The Philistines conquered almost all of Israel and subjugated the tribes of Israel in the 11th century BC. It was king David who pushed them back and little is mentioned of the Philistines after this. Later they left their religious devotion to Dagon, Astarte and other Ammonite deities to follow those of the Semites.
The Origin of the Philistines
The ancient Philistines dwelling in Canaan around 1200 BC were no doubt of Doric migrations. They appear to have been from the south coast of Asia Minor and the Aegean Islands (Crete), having been forced out of Europe by certain tribes who put an end to Mycenaean civilization and the Hittite empire in Asia Minor. According to Amos 9:7 the Philistines came from Caphtor (Crete or SW Asia Minor), they are also called Cretans in Zephaniah 2:5. It is interesting that David's bodyguard were referred to as "the Cherethithes and the Pelethites," which is referring to the Cretans and the Philistines. Little is known about their language.
The Bible mentions the "Philistines"
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.