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Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

Caphtor or Caphtorim The original seat of the Philistines ( Deuteronomy 2:23). Sprung from Mizraim ( Genesis 10:14), akin to the Philistines who proceeded from the Casluhim, who sprung from Mizraim ( Genesis 10:13-14). In  Jeremiah 47:4 "the isle (margin i.e. the maritime or even the river bordering coast) of Caphtor" is mentioned, implying their neighborhood to either the sea (the Philistines' position) or to the Nile (whose waters are called "the sea,"  Nahum 3:8). The Egyptian names Copt (Kebtu, Keb-her in the hieroglyphics, the modern Coptic Kuft) and Egypt, i.e. Ee (the isle or coast of) Caphtor, are evidently the source of Caphtor. Capht-ur, i.e. the Great Calpht, probably the northern delta from which the Phoenicians emigrated into Asia, from whence Capht was the Egyptian name for the oldest Phoenicians in Asia or in Africa.

The time of migration must have been very early, as the Philistines were settled in Palestine in Abraham's time ( Genesis 21:32-34). A seafaring race related to the Egyptians spread abroad at an ancient date. For at Medcenet Haboo the monuments of Rameses III state that the Egyptians were at war with the Philistines, the Tok-karn (the Carians) and the Shayratana (the Cherethim or Cretans) of the sea. ("The isle of Caphtor" in its later sense may mean Crete.) All three resemble the Egyptians. In  Amos 9:7, "Have I not caused the Philistines to go up from Caphtor?" (i.e. from subjection to Caphtor, previous to their migration, as the context proves) Ρhilistiym means immigrants, from the Ethiopic fallasa. The Cherethim are seemingly identified with or formed a part of the Philistines ( 1 Samuel 30:14;  1 Samuel 30:16).

Pusey suggests there were different immigrations of the same tribe into Palestine, which afterward merged in one name: the Casluhim first; a second from the Caphtorim; a third the Cherethim or Cretans, Crete being an intermediate resting place in their migrations from whence some passed into Philistia. The Philistines were first a Casluchian colony between Gaza and Pelusium, which was afterward strengthened by immigrants from Caphtor, and extended its territory by pressing out the Avvim ( Deuteronomy 2:23;  Joshua 13:3). Tacitus (Hist., 5:2) says "the inhabitants of Palestine came from Crete"; perhaps many of the Cherethim settlers in Crete from Egypt, when disturbed by Minos and the Hellenes, withdrew from Crete to Philistia, where their kinsmen were settled.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

CAPHTOR . The region whence the Philistines came to Palestine (  Amos 9:7 ,   Jeremiah 47:4 ). Hence in   Deuteronomy 2:23 Caphtorim means the Philistines. In   Genesis 10:14 Caphtorim is used of the country itself in place of Caphtor; it should be placed in the text immediately after Casluhim. Many identifications of Caphtor have been attempted. The favourite theory has been that it means the island of Crete (cf. Cherethites). Next in favour is the view that Caphtor was the coast of the Egyptian Delta. It has also been identified with Cyprus. The correct theory is suggested by inscriptions of Ramses III. of Egypt ( c [Note: circa, about.] . b.c. 1200), who tells of his having repelled a great invasion by enemies who had entered Syria and Palestine from the north. The leaders of these barbarians were called Purusati , which (Egyp. r being Sem. l ) is equivalent to the Heh. Pelishtî . Connecting these facts with the circumstance that the southern coast of Asia Minor, more especially Cilicia, was called Kefto or Kafto in the Egyptian inscriptions, it appears very probable that this Kafto and Caphtor are identical. The further conjecture might be hazarded that the writing of the Hebrew waw as a vowel-letter in an original Kafto gave rise to the additional rçsh . Compare the similar case Ashkenaz.

J. F. McCurdy.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [3]

Caph'tor. (A Crown). Thrice mentioned as the primitive seat of the Philistines,  Deuteronomy 2:23;  Jeremiah 47:4;  Amos 9:7, who are once called Caphtorim .  Deuteronomy 2:23. Supposed to be in Egypt, or near to it, in Africa.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [4]

The country from which, beside the Caphtorim, came some of the Philistines. They sprang from Mizraim, son of Ham.  Deuteronomy 2:23;  Amos 9:7 . In  Jeremiah 47:4 the 'isles,' margin , may only signify 'maritime border.' Caphtor is supposed to be somewhere in Egypt, but has not been identified. See CASLUHIM

Easton's Bible Dictionary [5]

 Deuteronomy 2:23 Jeremiah 47:4 Amos 9:7 1 Samuel 30:14  2 Samuel 8:18 Genesis 10:14 1 Chronicles 1:12

Holman Bible Dictionary [6]

 Amos 9:7 Jeremiah 47:4  Deuteronomy 2:23 Genesis 10:14Crete

People's Dictionary of the Bible [7]

Caphtor.  Deuteronomy 2:23. See Crete.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [8]

(Hebrews Kaphtor', כִּפְתּוֹר [ כִּפְתֹּר in Deuteronomy], a Chaplet, as in  Amos 9:1, etc.; Sept. Καππαδοκία , Vulg. Cappadocia), a maritime country thrice mentioned as the primitive seat of the Philistines ( Deuteronomy 2:23;  Jeremiah 47:4;  Amos 9:7), who are once called Caphtorim ( Deuteronomy 2:23), as of the same race as the Mizraite people of that name ( Genesis 10:14;  1 Chronicles 1:12). There has been a great diversity of opinion with regard to the exact situation of that country (see Simonis, Onom. V. T. p. 441). (See Caphtorim).

1. The general opinion that Caphthor was Cuppadocia (not the city Cappadocia, or Caphtora in Phoenicia, see Schultz, Leit. 5:466) is, upon the whole, founded more on the ancient versions of the Bible, such as the Septuagint and the Targums, than on any sound argument (see Bochart, Phaleg, 4:32; Miller, Syntagm. Hermeneut. p. 167 sq.; Strauss, ad Zephaniah, p. 47). Against this opinion have been urged:

(1) The authority of Josephus (Ant. 1:6, 2), who seems to seek Caphtor somewhere between Egypt and Ethiopia;

(2) that the Caphtorim came originally from Egypt, from which Cappadocia is so far removed that it seems highly improbable that an Egyptian colony should first have emigrated thither, and then again removed to Palestine, still more remote;

(3) that Caphtor and Cappadocia are very dissimilar names (but see Heeren in the Commentt. Soc. Gott. 13:33; Jablonsky, Opusc. 3:1 sq.; Gesenius, Thesaur. p. 709; K Ö ster, Erl Ä Uter. p. 157 sq.) even in sound;

(4) that Caphtor is ( Jeremiah 47:4) designated as an island ( אִי ), though יַ sometimes also signifies a coast. (See Cappadocia).

2. Others again, as Calmet (Dissert. Sur L'Origine Des Philistins, p. 321), and still more Lackemacher (Obser. Philippians p. 2, 11 sq.), have tried to prove that the Philistines derived their origin from the island of Crete (so Rosenm Ü ller, Alterfh. II, 2:363; 3:385; Movers, Phon. 1:28; Lengerke, Ken. 1:194; Ewald, Gesch. Isr. 1:330; Tuch, Genesis p. 243; Hitzig, Zu  Zephaniah 2:5; Bertheau, Isr. Gesch. p. 187; Knobel, Genesis p. 110; Delitzsch, Geas. p. 290; Fiirst, Handwb. s.v.), because

(1) Caphtor is with Jeremiah an island;

(2) the proper name of the Philistines is כְּרֵתִים , Kerethim', "Cherethites" ( Ezekiel 25:16;  Zephaniah 2:5;  1 Samuel 10:14);

(3) a city Aptera existed in Crete (Strabo, 10:479; Pliny, 4:20).

The Sept., however, evidently makes a distinction between the Caphtorim and Cherethim; nor is it probable either that a small island like Crete should be able to send forth thus early so large a body of emigrants as must have landed on the territories of the Avim, so as to be able to expel them and take possession of their country, or that the Phoenicians would allow a seafaring race like the Cretans to settle in their vicinity (see H Ö ck, Kreta, p. 367). (See Crete).

3. By far more probable is Calmet's previous opinion (found in the first edition of his Comment. On Genesis, but which he afterward recalled), that Caphtor is the island of Cyprus. From the geographical situation of that island, it may have been known to the Egyptians at a very early period, and they may have sent colonies thither, who afterward removed, from some reason or other, to the southern coast of Palestine bordering on Egypt. Swinton (Inscr. Cit. Oxon. 1750, p. 78; 85) actually found on that island an ancient Phoenician coin, with the inscription which he read "Kabdor" ( כבדר ), not very unlike Kaphtor; but in the Allgemeine Lit. Zeitung (Leips. 1825, 1:440) it has been proved that Swinton was mistaken in the reading of that inscription (see Gesenius, Mon. Phoen. 2:320). Opposed to this identification also is the fact that the Cyprians are elsewhere ( Genesis 10:4) called Chittim (q.v.). (See Cyprus).

4. A still more probable identification is with certain parts Of Egypt: either

(1) the coast of the Egyptian Delta (Stark, Gaza, p. 76);

(2) Damietta (Saadias, Arab. Vers., which has "Dimyat;" Haine, Obs. Sac, 2:6, 10); or

(3) part of Morocco west of Egypt (Quatremere, Jour. Des Savans, 1846, p. 265).

The position of the country, since it was peopled by Mizraites, may naturally be supposed to be in Egypt, or near to it in Africa, for the idea of the south-west of Palestine is excluded by the migration of the Philistines. In  Jeremiah 47:4, the expression אַי כִפְתּוֹר ("country of Caphtor") has a wider signification than an insular location; for the term אַי denotes any maritime land, whether coast or island, as in the expression Gentile Shores ( אַיֵּי הִגּוֹיִַם ,  Genesis 10:5), by which the northern coasts and the islands of the Mediterranean seem to be intended, the former, in part at least, being certainly included. It must be remembered, however, that the Nile is spoken of as a sea ( יָם ) by Nahum in the description of No, or Thebes (3:8). It is also possible that the expression in Jeremiah merely refers to the maritime position of the Philistines (comp.  Ezekiel 25:16), and that Caphtor is here poetically used for Caphtorim. Forster ( Epist. Ad Michael. p. 17 sq.) thinks that the Caphtorim had lived on the Egyptian coast, somewhere about Damietta (comp. Benjamin of Tudela, p. 121, Bohn). From hence he supposes a colony of that people, and their brethren and easterly neighbors, the Casluhim, had gone forth, in the period between the first wars of the world (described in Genesis 14) and the birth of Isaac, and settled on the southern coast of Palestine, under the name of Philistines, after having expelled the Avim (q.v.), who lived about Gaza. But in subsequent times, Forster thinks, these new .Philistines had again sent a colony who conquered the province of Lapethus, in the island of Cyprus.

This colony he identifies with the Ethiopians, who lived, according to Herodotus (7:88), upon the island. "Following out these suggestions, Reginald Stuart Poole (in the Encyclopcedia Britannica, 8th ed., article Egypt, p. 419), after a conjecture in Heinii Dissertt. Sacr. p. 210 sq., has proposed to recognize Caphtor in the ancient Egyptian name Coptos ( Κοπτός ), which, if literally transcribed, is written in the hieroglyphics Kebtu, probably pronounced Kubt (Brugsch, Geogr. Inschr. pl. 38, No. 899, 900), whence Coptic Kepto, Arab. Kuft. The similarity of name is so great that it alone might satisfy us, but the correspondence of Αἴγυπτος , as if Αϊ v Α Γυπτός , to אַי כִפְתּוֹר , unless אַי refer to the Philistine coast, seems conclusive. We must not suppose, however, that Caphtor was Coptos: it must rather be compared to the Coptite nome, probably in primitive ages of greater extent than under the Ptolemies, for the number of nomes was in the course of time greatly increased. The Caphtorim stand last in the list of the Mizraite peoples in Genesis and Chronicles, probably as dwellers in Upper Egypt, the names next before them being of Egyptian, and the earliest names of Libyan peoples. (See Egypt).

"The migration of the Philistines is mentioned or alluded to in all the passages speaking of Caphtor or the Caphtorim. It thus appears to have been an event of great importance, and this supposition receives support from the statement in Amos. In the lists of Genesis and Chronicles, as the text now stands, the Philistines are said to have come forth from the Casluhim 'the Casluhim, whence came forth the Philistines and the Caphtorim' where the Hebrews forbids us to suppose that the Philistines and Caphtorim both came from the Casluhim. Here there seems to have been a transposition, for the other passages are as explicit, or more so, and their form does not admit of this explanation. The period of the migration must have been very remote, since the Philistines were already established in Palestine in Abraham's time ( Genesis 21:32;  Genesis 21:34).

The evidence of the Egyptian monuments, which is indirect tends to the same conclusion, but takes us yet farther back in time. It leads us to suppose that the Philistines and kindred nations were cognate to the Egyptians, but so different from them in manners that they must have separated before the character and institutions of the latter had attained that development in which they continued throughout the period to which their monuments belong. We find from the sculptures of Rameses III at Medinet Ab Û that the Egyptians, about 1200 B.C., were at war with the Philistines, the Tok-karu, and the Shayratana of the Sea, and that other Shayratana served them as mercenaries.: The Philistines and Tok-karu were physically cognate, and had the same distinctive dress; the Tokkaru and Shayratana were also physically cognate, and fought together in the same ships. There is reason to believe that the Tok-karu are the Carians, and the Shayratana have been held to be the Cherethim of the Bible and the earlier Cretans of the Greeks, inhabiting Crete, and probably the coast of Palestine also (Encyclop. Brit. s.v. Egypt, p. 462). All bear a greater resemblance to the Egyptians than does any other group of foreign peoples represented in their sculptures. This evidence points, therefore, to the spread of a seafaring race cognate to the Egyptians at a very remote time. Their origin is not alone spoken of in the record of the migration of the Philistines, but in the tradition of the Phoenicians that they came from the Erythraean Sea, (See Arabia), and we must look for the primeval seat of the whole race on the coasts of Arabia and Africa, where all ancient authorities lead us mainly to place the Cushites and the Ethiopians. (See Cush).

The difference of the Philistines from the Egyptians in dress and manners is, as we have seen, evident on the Egyptian monuments. From the Bible we learn that their laws and religion were likewise different from those of Egypt, and we may therefore consider our previous supposition as to the time of the separation of the peoples to which they belong to be positively true in their particular case. It is probable that they left Caphtor not long after the first arrival of the Mizraite tribes, while they had not yet attained that attachment to the soil that afterward so eminently characterized the descendants of those which formed the Egyptian nation. The words of the prophet Amos (9:7) seem to indicate a deliverance of the Philistines from bondage. The mention of the Ethiopians there is worthy of note: they are perhaps spoken of as a degraded people. The intention appears to be to show that Israel was not the only nation which had been providentially led from one country to another where it might settle, and the interposition would seem to imply oppression preceding the migration. It may be remarked that Manetho speaks of a revolt and return to allegiance of the Libyans, probably the Lehalim, or Lubim, from whose name Libya, etc., certainly came, in the reign of the first king of the third dynasty, Necher Ô ph Ê s or Necher Ô chis, in the earliest age of Egyptian history, B.C. cir. 2600 (Cory, Anc. Frao. 2d ed. p. 100, 101)." (See Philistine).

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [9]

Caph´tor (; ; ) was the real and proper country of the Philistines. There has been a great diversity of opinion with regard to the exact situation of that country. The general opinion that Caphtor was Cappadocia is not founded on any sound argument. Others, again, have tried to prove that the Philistines derived their origin from the island of Crete. By far more probable is the opinion, that Caphtor is the island of Cyprus. From the geographical situation of that island, it may have been known to the Egyptians at a very early period, and they may have sent colonies thither, who afterwards removed, from some reason or other, to the southern coast of Palestine bordering on Egypt.