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Philistines


Fi-lis´teenz

A warlike people who, with the other Sea Peoples, migrated from the Aegean basin to the southern coast of Palestine in the early twelfth century BCE and became one of Israel’s principal rivals. In agreement with (Josh 13:2-3, Judg 3:1-3) says that the Philistines were among the nations that the Lord left in Canaan to “test” Israel. Their strength and military prowess are acclaimed in the stories of Samson (Judg 13-16), which also speaks of their encroachment into Hebrew territory. First Samuel later reports an all-out war in which the Ark was captured, only to be later returned (1Sam 4-6; Ps 78:56-66; Jer 7:12-14). The balance of power fluctuated, but the establishment of the monarchy and a regular army enabled Saul to achieve some impressive victories (1Sam 13-14). David’s subsequent success in fighting Philistines (including the giant Goliath, as told in (1Sam 17:41-54) provoked Saul to jealousy, and David took refuge with the Philistine king of Gath, Achish, and became one of his vassals (1Sam 27:1-28:2). The death of Saul caused David to break his alliance with the Philistines and oppose them with a force that decisively broke their power (2Sam 1:1-2:11; 2Sam 5:17-25; 2Sam 8:1). Although the Philistines continued to resist Israel’s expansion (2Sam 21:15-22; 2Sam 23:8-39), they were no longer a major threat to the Hebrews. According to the biblical record, the last Israelite king who had contact with the Philistines was Hezekiah; he directed successful campaigns against this traditional rival (2Kgs 18:8).