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Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

See Palestine, which is the same word, and originally meant "the land of the PHILISTINES:" (See Palestine .)  Psalms 60:8;  Psalms 87:4;  Psalms 108:9.) Caphtorim;  Amos 9:7, "the Philistines from Caphtor";  Jeremiah 47:4;  Deuteronomy 2:23.  Genesis 10:14 "Casluhim, out of whom came Philistine." (See Caphtorim ; CASLUHIM.) Both came from Mizraim, i.e. Egypt. As in Amos and Jeremiah the Philistines are traced to Caphtor, probably the Casluhim and Caphtorim were tribes which intermingled, the Caphtorim having strengthened the Casluchian colony by immigration; so the Philistines may be said to have come from either (Bochart). Philistia is derived from the Ethiopic falasa "to emigrate," Hebrew Palash , "wander." (In the W. of Abyssinia are the Falashas, i.e., emigrants, probably Israelites from Palestine.) Successive emigrations of the same race took place into Philistia, first the Casluhim, then the Caphtorim from both of which came the Philistines, who seemingly were in subjection in Caphtor (The Northern Delta Of Egypt) , from whence "Jehovah brought them up" ( Amos 9:7). (See Caphtor .)

The objection to the Mizraite origin of the Philistines from their language is answered by the supposition that the Philistine or Caphtorim invaders adopted the language of the Avim whom they conquered ( Deuteronomy 2:23). Their uncircumcision was due to their having left Egypt at a date anterior to the Egyptians' adoption (Herodotus ii. 36) of circumcision (compare  Jeremiah 9:25-26). The Cherethites were probably Caphtorim, the modern Copts. Keratiya in the Philistine country, at the edge of the Negeb or "south country," and now called "castle of the Fenish," i.e. Philistines, is related to the name Cherethites; so "Philistines" is related to "Pelethites." Their immigration to the neighborhood of Gerar in the south country was before Abraham's time, for he deals with them as a pastoral tribe there ( Genesis 21:32;  Genesis 21:84;  Genesis 26:1;  Genesis 26:8). This agrees with the statement ( Deuteronomy 2:23) that the Avim dwelt in Hazerim, i.e. in nomadic encampments. By the time of the Exodus the Philistines had become formidable ( Exodus 13:17;  Exodus 15:14).

At Israel's invasion of Canaan they had advanced N. and possessed fully the seacoast plain from the river of Egypt (el Arish) to Ekron in the N. ( Joshua 15:4;  Joshua 15:47), a confederacy of the five cities (originally Canaanite) Gaza (the leading one), Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron (Always Put Last) . Each city had its prince (called Seren or Sar ;  Joshua 13:3 "lords"):  Amos 1:7-8. The opprobrious name given to the shepherd kings, Philition (Herodotus ii. 12) seems related to Philistine. Their plain was famed for its fertility in grain, vines, and olives ( Judges 15:5), so that it was the refuge from times of famine ( 2 Kings 8:2; compare  Genesis 26:12). It suited war chariots, while the low hills of the Shephelah afforded sites for fortresses. Philistia is an undulating plain, 32 miles long, and from nine to 16 broad, from 30 to 300 ft. above the sea. To the E. lie low spurs culminating in hog's backs running N. and S., and rising in places 1,200 ft. above the sea. To the E. of these the descent is steep, about 500 ft., to valleys E. of which the hill country begins.

The sand is gaining on the land, so that one meets often a deep hollow in the sand, and a figtree or apple tree growing at the bottom, or even a house and patch of ground below the sand level. It was the commercial thoroughfare between Phoenicia and Syria on the N. and Egypt and Arabia in the S. Ashdod and Gaza were the keys of Egypt, and the latter was the depot of Arabian produce (Pint., Alex. 25). The term "Canaan" ("merchant") applied to the Philistine land ( Zephaniah 2:5) proves its commercial character. They sold Israelites as slaves to Edom and Greece, for which God threatens retribution in kind, and destruction ( Amos 1:6-8;  Joel 3:3-8). They were skilled as smiths in Saul's days; at the beginning of his reign they had so subjugated Israel as to forbid them to have any smith. (See Jonathan ; David; Israel; Michmash )  1 Samuel 13:19-22.

Their images, golden mice, emerods, and armour imply excellence in the arts ( 1 Samuel 6:11;  1 Samuel 17:5-6). They carried their idols with them in war ( 2 Samuel 5:21), and published their triumphs in the house of their gods; these were Dagon ( Judges 16:23) , Ashtaroth ( 1 Samuel 31:9-10), Baalzebub ( 2 Kings 1:2-6), and Derceto (Diod. Sic. 2:4). (See Dagon .) Their god Dagon was half man and half fish; Derceto was the female deity, with the face of a woman and body of a fish; our mermaid is derived from them. They had priests and diviners ( 1 Samuel 6:2), "soothsayers" ( Isaiah 2:6). Their wealth in money was great ( Judges 16:5;  Judges 16:18). They had advanced military posts or garrisons in Israel's land ( 1 Samuel 10:5;  1 Samuel 13:3;  1 Samuel 13:17); from whence they sent forth spoilers, so that travelers durst not go by the highways ( Judges 5:6), and the Israelites hid from the Philistines in caves, or else fled beyond Jordan ( 1 Samuel 13:6-7).

Though the Philistine land was allotted to Israel, it was never permanently occupied ( Joshua 13:2;  Joshua 15:2;  Joshua 15:12;  Joshua 15:45-47;  Judges 1:18;  Judges 3:5;  Judges 3:31;  Judges 3:13-16). Neither Shamgar nor Samson delivered Israel permanently from the Philistines. The Israelites so lost heart that they in fear of the Philistines bound Samson ( Judges 15:12). The effort to deliver the nation from the Philistines was continued unsuccessfully under Eli (1 Samuel 4), successfully under Samuel ( 1 Samuel 7:9-14); Saul (Israel's desire for a king was that he might lead them in war:  1 Samuel 8:20),  1 Samuel 8:1 Samuel 13; 14; 17; David (after the disaster at Gilboa: 1 Samuel 31),  2 Samuel 5:17-25, when they dared to penetrate even to the valley of Rephaim, S.W. of Jerusalem, and to Bethlehem ( 1 Chronicles 11:16-18;  1 Chronicles 14:8-16), taking their images, and pursuing them to Gazer, then taking Gath and so wresting the supremacy from the Philistines ( 1 Chronicles 18:1;  2 Samuel 8:1), so that encounters with the Philistines henceforth were in their own land ( 2 Samuel 21:15-22). (See Methegammah .)

Solomon had them tributary ( 1 Kings 4:21-24; compare  1 Kings 2:39). The Egyptian Pharaoh took Gezer at the head of the Philistia plain, and gave it as his daughter's marriage portion to Solomon ( 1 Kings 9:16-17); and Solomon fortified it and Bethhoron, to command the passes from the Philistia plain to the central region. At Israel's disruption Rehoboam fortified Gath, etc., against the Philistines ( 2 Chronicles 11:8). But the Philistines laid hold of Gibbethon commanding the defile leading from Sharon up to Samaria; Israel had a long struggle for its recovery ( 1 Kings 15:27;  1 Kings 16:15). The tribute had ceased, only some paid presents to Jehoshaphat ( 2 Chronicles 17:11). Under Jehoram they invaded Judah ( 2 Chronicles 21:16-17). Uzziah inflicted a decisive blow on them, dismantling their cities Gath, Ashdod, and Jahneh, and building commanding forts in their land ( 2 Chronicles 26:6;  Amos 6:2).

But under the weak Ahaz the Philistines recovered, and invaded the cities of the low country and S. of Judah, taking Bethshemesh, Ajalon, Gederoth. Shocho, Timnah, and Gimzo:  Isaiah 9:12, "the Syrians before (I.E. From The E., Which Quarter They Faced In Marking The Points Of The Compass) and the Philistines behind," i.e. from the W. ( 2 Chronicles 28:18.) Isaiah ( Isaiah 14:29-32) warns Philistia, "rejoice not because the rod of him (Uzziah) that smote thee is broken; for out of the serpent's (As The Philistines Regarded Uzziah) root shall come forth a cockatrice," i.e. a more deadly adder, namely, Hezekiah ( 2 Kings 18:8), "and the firstborn of the poor (I.E. The Most Abject Poor, Hebraism; The Jews Heretofore Exposed To Philistia'S Invasions And Oppression) shall feed in safety." Hezekiah had Egypt for his ally in resisting Assyria, possibly also in subduing the Philistines. Hence Sargon's annals (Bunsen, Eg. 4:603) term Gaza and Ashkelon "Egyptian cities." His general Tartan took Ashdod, as key of Egypt ( Isaiah 20:1-5).

The Assyrians fortified it so strongly that it stood a 29 years' siege under Psammetichus (Herodot. 2:157). Sennacherib took Ashkelon, and gave part of Hezekiah's land as a reward to Ashdod, Gaza, and Ekron for their submission (Rawlinson 1:477). After the Babylonian captivity ( Ezekiel 25:15-17) the Philistines vented their "old hatred" on the Jews, for which God as He foretold "executed vengeance on them with furious rebukes, and destroyed the remnant," namely, by Psammetichus, Necho ( Jeremiah 25:20), and Nebuchadnezzar who overran their cities on his way to Egypt (Jeremiah 47), and finally by Alexander the Great, as foretold ( Zechariah 9:5-6, "the king shall perish from Gaza"; Alexander bound Betis the satrap to his chariot by thongs thrust through his feet, and dragged round the city; the conqueror slew 10,000, and sold the rest as slaves:  Zephaniah 2:4-5). At Medinet Haboo there are sculptures representing Philistine prisoners and warriors and ships attacked by Egyptians (Rosellini). They used sometimes to burn their prisoners alive ( Judges 15:6;  Psalms 78:63). Their speech differed from the Jews' language ( Nehemiah 13:23-24). (See Phoenicia .)

People's Dictionary of the Bible [2]

Philistia ( Fi-Lís'Tĭ-Áh or -Lĭst'Yah ), Land Of Sojourners. In  Psalms 60:8;  Psalms 87:4;  Psalms 108:9, the only places where the word "Philistia" occurs, is the same Hebrew word elsewhere translated "Palestine." Palestine originally meant only the district inhabited by Philistines. In  Psalms 83:7 A. V. the word is rendered "Philistines." Josephus calls these people "Palestines." Philistia, or the "land of the Philistines," included the coast plain on the southwest of Palestine, from Joppa on the north to the valley of Gerar on the south, a distance of about 40 miles. Its breadth at the northern end was ten miles, and at the southern about 20. It appears to have extended as far inland as Beersheba.  Genesis 21:33-34;  Genesis 26:1;  Genesis 26:14-18;  Exodus 23:31;  Joshua 13:2-3. At the Exodus the Philistines seem to have been such a mighty and warlike people, that the Israelites deemed it prudent to avoid their land, lest "the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt."  Exodus 13:17. Thenceforward, during the whole period of Old Testament history, the Israelites and the Philistines were frequently brought in contact. The Philistines are mentioned 310 times in the Old Testament, from Genesis to Zechariah. They were a commercial as well as a warlike people. Their chief god was Dagon,  Judges 16:23;  1 Samuel 5:1-5, who, as well as the goddess Derketo, had the form, of a fish.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [3]

Philis'tia. (Hebrew, Pelesheth ). (Land Of Sojourners). The word thus translated in  Psalms 60:8;  Psalms 87:4;  Psalms 108:9, is, in the original, identical with that elsewhere rendered Palestine, which always means land of the Philistines.

(Philistia was the plain on the southwest coast of Palestine. It was 40 miles long on the coast of the Mediterranean between Gerar and Joppa, and 10 miles wide at the northern end and 20 at the southern. - Editor).

This plain has been, in all ages, remarkable for the extreme richness of its soil. It was also adapted to the growth of military power; for while the itself permitted, the use of war-chariots, which were the chief arm of offence, the occasional elevations which rise out of it offered secure sites for towns and strongholds. It was, moreover, a commercial country: from its position, it must have been, at all times, the great thoroughfare between Phoenicia and Syria, in the north and Egypt and Arabia in the south.

Holman Bible Dictionary [4]

 Exodus 15:14 Psalm 60:8 Psalm 87:4 Psalm 108:9 Isaiah 14:29-31 Exodus 15:14 Isaiah 14:29-31

Easton's Bible Dictionary [5]

 Psalm 60:8 87:4 108:9

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [6]

PHILISTIA. See next art. and Palestine.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [7]

See Palestina

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [8]

(Heb. Pele'sheth, פְּלֶשֶׁת , signif. doubtful [see below]; Sept. Ἀλλόφυλοι ), the land of the Philistines, as it is usually styled in prose ( Genesis 21:32-33;  Exodus 13:17;  1 Samuel 27:1;  1 Samuel 27:7;  1 Samuel 29:11;  1 Kings 4:21;  2 Kings 8:2-3). This term is rendered in our version sometimes "Palestina," as in  Exodus 15:14, and  Isaiah 14:29;  Isaiah 14:31; and "Palestine" in  Joel 3:4; but "Philistia" in  Psalms 60:8;  Psalms 87:4; and  Psalms 108:9; and "Philistines" in  Psalms 83:7. "Palestine" originally meant nothing but the district inhabited by the "Philistines," who are called by Josephus Παλαιστῖνοι , "Palaestines" (Ant. 5:1, 8). In fact the two words are the same, and the difference in their present form is but the result of gradual corruption. The form Philistia does not occur anywhere in the Sept. or Vulgate. In  Exodus 15:14 this word (Pelesheth) is used along with Canaan, and as distinct from it; in  Joel 3:4 its "coasts" are referred to (for it was a littoral territory), and are coupled with Tyre and Sidon as having sold into slavery the children of Judah and Jerusalem, and carried off silver and gold from the Temple; and in  Isaiah 14:29-31 it is told not to congratulate itself on the death of Ahaz, who had smitten it. In  Psalms 60:8;  Psalms 83:7;  Psalms 87:4;  Psalms 108:9, it is classed among countries hostile to Israel. The word therefore uniformly in Scripture denotes the territory of the Philistines though it came at length to signify in common speech the entire country the Holy Land. Philistia is probably the country vaguely referred to by Herodotus as Συρίη Παλαιστίνα for he describes it as lying on the sea-coast (7:89).

The name is specially attached to Southern Syria by Strabo (16), Pomp. Mela (1:11), and Pliny (Hist. Nat. 5:12). The broader signification of the term arose by degrees. Josephus apparently uses it in both meanings (Ant. 1:6, 2. 4; 8:10, 3). Philo says of Palestine, Τότε Προσηγορεύετο Χαναναίων , and Jerome says, "Terra Judaea quae nunc appellatur Palaestina" (see Reland, Palcest. chapter 1, 7, 8). In the Talmud and the Arabic it likewise denotes the whole land of the Jews. (See Palestine). The name itself has given rise to various conjectures. Hitzig identifies the Philistines with Πελασγοί , and supposes the word, after the Sanscrit Valaksha, to denote the white races, as opposed to the Phoenician or dusky races (see Kenrick, Phean. pages 50, 52). Redslob makes it a transposition of the name of their country, שְׁפְלָה , Shephelah, the low country (A.V. "valley" or "plain"). Knobel, Gesenius, Movers, and Roth take it from the root פָּלִשׁ , "to emigrate" of which Ἀλλόφυλοι is supposed to be a translation. Furst substantially agrees with this etymology, from the same Heb. root, in the sense of breaking through, i.e., "wandering." Stark regards this Greek term as opposed to Μόφυλος , "of the same race" (Gaza, page 67); and Von Lengerke looks upon it as a playful transposition of Φυλιστιείμ . Ἀλλόφυλοι seems, in later Greek, to denote a foreign race living in a country among its natives. Thus Polybius gives the name to the forces of Hannibal located in Gaul and Italy (3:61). The Sept. has in this way given it to a race that lived in a country which God had conferred in promise on the Hebrew people. The same name is for a like reason given to the population of Galilee ( 1 Maccabees 5:15).

Philistia proper was a long and somewhat broad strip of land lying on the sea-coast, west of the hills of Ephraim and Judah, and stretching generally from Egypt to Phoenicia. The northern portion of this territory, from Joppa nearly as far as Ashkelon, was allotted to Dan; and the southern portion, from Ashkelon to the wilderness of Tih, and extending east to Beersheba, was assigned to Judah. In short, it comprised the southern coast and plain of Canaan, along the Mediterranean, hence called " the sea of the Philistines" ( Exodus 23:31), from Ekron to the border of Egypt; though at certain times the Philistines had also in possession large portions of the interior ( Psalms 60:7;  Psalms 87:4;  Psalms 108:10;  1 Samuel 31:8;  1 Kings 15:27;  Psalms 83:7). The land of the Philistines partakes of the general desolation common to it with Judaea and other neighboring states. According to Volney, except the immediate environs of a few villages, the whole country is a desert abandoned to the Bedawin Arabs who feed their flocks on it ( Zephaniah 2:4-7). (See Philistine).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [9]

fi - lis´ti - a  : The country is referred to under various designations in the Old Testament: namely, פּלשׁת , pelesheth (Philistia) (  Psalm 60:8 (Hebrew 10);   Psalm 87:4 ), פּלשׁתּים ארץ , 'erec pelishtı̄m , "land of the Philistines" ( Genesis 21:32 ,  Genesis 21:34 ), הפּלשׁתּים גּלית , gelōth ha - pelishtı̄m  ; Septuagint gḗ tṓn Phulistieı́m , "the regions of the Philistines" ( Joshua 13:2 ). The Egyptian monuments have Puirsatha , Pulsath (Budge), Peleset (Breasted) and Purasati ( HGHL ), according to the different voweling of the radicals; the Assyrian form is Palastu or Pilistu , which corresponds very closely to the Egyptian and the Hebrew. The extent of the land is indicated in  Joshua 13:2 as being from the Shihor, or Brook of Egypt (Revised Version), to the border of Ekron, northward. The eastern border was along the Judean foothills on the line of Beth-shemesh (  1 Samuel 6:9 ) with the sea on the West. It was a very small country, from 25 to 30 miles in length and with an average width of about half the length, but it was fertile, being an extension of the plain of Sharon, except that along the coast high sand dunes encroached upon the cultivated tract. It contained many towns and villages, the most important being the five so often mentioned in Scripture: Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron. The population must have been large for the territory, which enabled them to contend successfully with the Israelites, notwithstanding the superiority of position in the hills to the advantage of the latter.