The Bible

Bible Usage:


  • Included in Eastons: Yes
  • Included in Hitchcocks: Yes
  • Included in Naves: No
  • Included in Smiths: Yes
  • Included in Websters: No
  • Included in Strongs: Yes
  • Included in Thayers: No
  • Included in BDB: Yes

Strongs Concordance:


Easton's Bible Dictionary

(Genesis 10:14, R.V.; but in A.V., "Philistim"), a tribe allied to the Phoenicians. They were a branch of the primitive race which spread over the whole district of the Lebanon and the valley of the Jordan, and Crete and other Mediterranean islands. Some suppose them to have been a branch of the Rephaim (2 Samuel 21:16-22). In the time of Abraham they inhabited the south-west of Judea, Abimelech of Gerar being their king (Genesis 21:32, 34; 26:1). They are, however, not noticed among the Canaanitish tribes mentioned in the Pentateuch. They are spoken of by Amos (9:7) and Jeremiah (47:4) as from Caphtor, i.e., probably Crete, or, as some think, the Delta of Egypt. In the whole record from Exodus to Samuel they are represented as inhabiting the tract of country which lay between Judea and Egypt (Exodus 13:17; 15:14, 15; Joshua 13:3; 1 Samuel 4).

This powerful tribe made frequent incursions against the Hebrews. There was almost perpetual war between them. They sometimes held the tribes, especially the southern tribes, in degrading servitude (Judges 15:11; 1 Samuel 13:19-22); at other times they were defeated with great slaughter (1 Samuel 14:1-47; 17). These hostilities did not cease till the time of Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:8), when they were entirely subdued. They still, however, occupied their territory, and always showed their old hatred to Israel (Ezekiel 25:15-17). They were finally conquered by the Romans.

The Philistines are called Pulsata or Pulista on the Egyptian monuments; the land of the Philistines (Philistia) being termed Palastu and Pilista in the Assyrian inscriptions. They occupied the five cities of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath, in the south-western corner of Canaan, which belonged to Egypt up to the closing days of the Nineteenth Dynasty. The occupation took place during the reign of Rameses III. of the Twentieth Dynasty. The Philistines had formed part of the great naval confederacy which attacked Egypt, but were eventually repulsed by that Pharaoh, who, however, could not dislodge them from their settlements in Palestine. As they did not enter Palestine till the time of the Exodus, the use of the name Philistines in Genesis 26:1 must be proleptic. Indeed the country was properly Gerar, as in ch. 20.

They are called Allophyli, "foreigners," in the Septuagint, and in the Books of Samuel they are spoken of as uncircumcised. It would therefore appear that they were not of the Semitic race, though after their establishment in Canaan they adopted the Semitic language of the country. We learn from the Old Testament that they came from Caphtor, usually supposed to be Crete. From Philistia the name of the land of the Philistines came to be extended to the whole of "Palestine." Many scholars identify the Philistines with the Pelethites of 2 Samuel 8:18.

Hitchcock's Names Dictionary

those who dwell in villages

Naves Topical Index

Descendants of Mizraim
Genesis 10:14; 1 Chronicles 1:12; Jeremiah 47:4; Amos 9:7


1 Samuel 30:14-16; Ezekiel 25:16; Zephaniah 2:5

Genesis 10:14; 1 Chronicles 1:12

Jeremiah 47:4; Amos 9:7

Territory of
Exodus 13:17; Exodus 23:31; Deuteronomy 2:23; Joshua 13:3; Joshua 15:47

Lords of
Joshua 13:3; Judges 3:3; Judges 16:5; Judges 16:30; 1 Samuel 5:8; 1 Samuel 5:11; 1 Samuel 6:4; 1 Samuel 6:12; 1 Samuel 7:7; 1 Samuel 29:2; 1 Samuel 29:6-7

Kings of:

Abimelech I
1 Samuel 1:20

Abimelech II
1 Samuel 1:26

1 Samuel 21:10-15; 1 Samuel 27:2-12; 1 Samuel 28:1-2; 1 Samuel 29:1-11

Suffered to remain in Canaan
Judges 3:3-4

Shamgar slays six hundred with an ox goad
Judges 3:31

History during the leadership of Samson
Jude 1:13-16

Defeat the Israelites; take the ark; suffer plagues, and return the ark
Jude 9:4

Army of
1 Samuel 13:5

Defeated by Samuel
1 Samuel 9:7

Defeated by Saul and Jonathan
1 Samuel 9:16; 1 Samuel 9:13

Their champion, Goliath, slain by David
1 Samuel 9:17

David slays two hundred
1 Samuel 18:22-30

David finds refuge among
1 Samuel 27:1-12

Defeat the Israelites and slay Saul and his sons
1 Samuel 31:1-13; 1 Chronicles 10:1

Defeated by David
2 Samuel 5:17-25; 2 Samuel 23:9-16; 1 Chronicles 14:8-16

Pay tribute to Jehoshaphat
2 Chronicles 17:11

Defeated by Hezekiah
2 Kings 18:8

Prophecies against
Isaiah 9:11-12; Isaiah 14:29-31; Jeremiah 25:17-20; Jeremiah 47:1-7; Ezekiel 25:15-17; Amos 1:6-8; Zephaniah 2:4-7; Zech 9:5-7

Smith's Bible Dictionary

(immigrants), The origin of the Philistines is nowhere expressly stated in the Bible; but as the prophets describe them as "the Philistines-from Caphtor," (Amos 9:7) and "the remnant of the maritime district of Caphtor" (Jeremiah 47:4) it is prima facie probable that they were the Caphtorim which came out of Caphtor" who expelled the Avim from their territory and occupied it; in their place, (2:23) and that these again were the Caphtorim mentioned in the Mosaic genealogical table among the descendants of Mizraim. (Genesis 10:14) It has been generally assumed that Caphtor represents Crete, and that the Philistines migrated from that island, either directly or through Egypt, into Palestine. But the name Caphtor is more probably identified with the Egyptian Coptos. [CAPHTOR, CAPHTORIM] History.

The Philistines must have settled in the land of Canaan before the time of Abraham; for they are noticed in his day as a pastoral tribe in the neighborhood of Gerur. (Genesis 21:32,34; 26:1,8) Between the times of Abraham and Joshua the Philistines had changed their quarters, and had advanced northward into the plain of Philistia. The Philistines had at an early period attained proficiency in the arts of peace. Their wealth was abundant, (Judges 16:5,19) and they appear in all respects to have been a prosperous people. Possessed of such elements of power, they had attained in the time of the judges an important position among eastern nations. About B.C. 1200 we find them engaged in successful war with the Sidonians. Justin xviii. 3. The territory of the Philistines having been once occupied by the Canaanites, formed a portion of the promised land, and was assigned the tribe of Judah. (Joshua 15:2,12,45-47) No portion of it, however, was conquered in the lifetime of Joshua, (Joshua 13:2) and even after his death no permanent conquest was effected, (Judges 3:3) though we are informed that the three cities of Gaza, Ashkelon and Ekron were taken. (Judges 1:18) The Philistines soon recovered these, and commenced an aggressive policy against the Isr'lites, by which they gained a complete ascendancy over them. Individual heroes were raised up from time to time, such as Shamgar the son of Anath, (Judges 3:31) and still more Samson, Judges 13-16, but neither of these men succeeded in permanently throwing off the yoke. The Isr'lites attributed their past weakness to their want, of unity, and they desired a king, with the special object of leading them against the foe. (1 Samuel 8:20) Saul threw off the yoke; and the Philistines were defeated with great slaughter at Geba. (1 Samuel 13:3) They made no attempt to regain their supremacy for about twenty-five years, and the scene of the next contest shows the altered strength of the two parties. It was no longer in the central country, but in a ravine leading down to the Philistine plain, the valley of Elah, the position of which is about 14 miles southwest of Jerusalem. On this occasion the prowess of young David secured success to Isr'l, and the foe was pursued to the gates of Gath and Ekron. (1 Samuel 17:1) ... The power of the Philistines was, however, still intact on their own territory. The border warfare was continued. The scene of the next conflict was far to the north, in the valley of Esdr'lon. The battle on this occasion proved disastrous to the Isr'lites; Saul himself perished, and the Philistines penetrated across the Jordan and occupied the, forsaken cities. (1 Samuel 31:1-7) On the appointment of David to be king, he twice attacked them, and on each occasion with signal success, in the first case capturing their images, in the second pursuing them "from Geba until thou come to Gazer." (2 Samuel 5:17-25; 1 Chronicles 14:8-16) Henceforth the Isr'lites appear as the aggressors. About seven years after the defeat at Rephaim, David, who had now consolidated his power, attacked them on their own soil end took Gath with its dependencies. The whole of Philistine was included in Solomon's empire. Later when the Philistines, joined by the Syrians and Assyrians, made war on the kingdom of Isr'l, Hezekiah formed an alliance with the Egyptians, as a counterpoise to the Assyrians, and the possession of Philistia became henceforth the turning-point of the struggle between the two great empires of the East. The Assyrians under Tartan, the general of Sargon, made an expedition against Egypt, and took Ashdod, as the key of that country. (Isaiah 20:1,4,5) Under Senacherib, Philistia was again the scene of important operations. The Assyrian supremacy was restored by Esarhaddon, and it seems probable that the Assyrians retained their hold on Ashdod until its capture, after a long siege, by Psammetichus. It was about this time that Philistia was traversed by vast Scythian horde on their way to Egypt. The Egyptian ascendancy was not as yet re-established, for we find the next king, Necho, compelled to besiege Gaza on his return from the battle of Megiddo. After the death of Necho the contest was renewed between the Egyptians and the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar, and the result was specially disastrous to the Philistines. The "old hatred" that the Philistines bore to the Jews was exhibited in acts of hostility at the time of the Babylonish captivity, (Ezekiel 25:15-17) but on the return this was somewhat abated, for some of the Jews married Philistine women, to the great scandal of their rulers. (Nehemiah 13:23,24) From this time the history of Philistia is absorbed in the struggles of the neighboring kingdoms. The latest notices of the Philistines as a nation occur in 1 Macc. 3-5. Institutions, religion, etc .

With regard to the institutions of the Philistines our information is very scanty, The five chief cities had, as early as the days of Joshua, constituted themselves into a confederacy, restricted however, in all probability, to matters of offence and defence. Each was under the government of a prince, (Joshua 13:3; Judges 3:3) etc.; (1 Samuel 18:30; 29:6) and each possessed its own territory. The Philistines appear to have been deeply imbued with superstition- they carried their idols with them on their campaigns, (2 Samuel 5:21) and proclaimed their victories in their presence. (1 Samuel 31:9) The gods whom they chiefly worshipped were Dagon, (Judges 16:23; 1 Samuel 5:3-5; 1 Chronicles 10:10) 1Macc. 10.83, Ashtaroth, (1 Samuel 31:10) Herod. I. 105, and Baalzebub. (2 Kings 1:2-6)