The Philistines -- By: Gordon H. Lovik

Journal: Central Bible Quarterly
Volume: CENQ 12:4 (Winter 1969)
Article: The Philistines
Author: Gordon H. Lovik


The Philistines

Gordon H. Lovik

Registrar, Central Baptist Theological Seminary of Minneapolis

It is indeed unfortunate that those ancient peoples living in Canaan, who played such an important part in the history of Israel, have left few records of their existence. Among the most important of these peoples were the Pelishti, the Philistines. They, along with the Canaanites, the Sidonians and the Hivites, were left by God to prove Israel “to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of Jehovah” (cf. Judges 3:1–4).

Records of the Philistines are found in four areas: (1) The Phaestos Disk discovered on Crete, (2) the sculptures of Medinet Habu in Egypt, (3) the archeological excavations in Philistia, and (4) scattered references in the Old Testament. These Old Testament references set forth the only extensive chronological contact with the Philistines and thus provide the basic outline for the reconstruction of Philistine history.

The Philistines During The Patriarchal Period

Thus far archeology has contributed little understanding to the origin of the Philistines. However, several Old Testament references can be considered for determining their origin (cf. Gen. 10:14; Deut. 2:23; I Chron. 1:12; Ezek. 25:16; Zeph. 2:5; Amos 9:7). Also, contacts among the Mediterranean countries with the Aegean region provide early connecting links between the Philistine and Caphtor areas (Crete and the Aegean).

Origin of the Philistines. The initial Old Testament reference to the Philistines is in Genesis 10:14, “…and Casluhim (whence went forth the Philistines), and Caphtorim.” Thus, unless there is a textual error, the Philistines went forth from Casluhim. The Septuagint has the same reading, and this reading is supported by both texts in I Chronicles 1:12. Unfortunately nothing is known about the place, Casluhim.

Amos 9:7 indicates that God “brought up” the Philistines from Caphtor, though the Septuagint reads Cappadocia. Deuteronomy 2:23 mentions that the Caphtorim came out of Caphtor and destroyed the early inhabitants of Gaza while settling in their stead.

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