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).

Josh 13:2-3

2This is the land that still remains: all the regions of the Philistines, and all those of the Geshurites3(from the Shihor, which is east of Egypt, northward to ... View more

Judg 3:1-3

Nations Remaining in the Land
1Now these are the nations that the Lord left to test all those in Israel who had no experience of any war in Canaan2(it was only ... View more

Judg 13-16

The Birth of Samson
1The Israelites again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord gave them into the hand of the Philistines forty years.2There ... View more

1Sam 4-6

1And the word of Samuel came to all Israel.
The Ark of God Captured
In those days the Philistines mustered for war against Israel, and Israel went out to battle ... View more

Ps 78:56-66

56Yet they tested the Most High God,
and rebelled against him.
They did not observe his decrees,57but turned away and were faithless like their ancestors;
they ... View more

Jer 7:12-14

12Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel.13And now, because ... View more

1Sam 13-14

Saul's Unlawful Sacrifice
1Saul was . . . years old when he began to reign; and he reigned . . . and two years over Israel.2Saul chose three thousand out of Isr ... View more

1Sam 17:41-54

41The Philistine came on and drew near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him.42When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was ... View more

1Sam 27:1-28:2

David Serves King Achish of Gath
1David said in his heart, “I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul; there is nothing better for me than to escape to the ... View more

2Sam 1:1-2:11

David Mourns for Saul and Jonathan
1After the death of Saul, when David had returned from defeating the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag.2On the th ... View more

2Sam 5:17-25

Philistine Attack Repulsed
17When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, all the Philistines went up in search of David; but David ... View more

2Sam 8:1

David's Wars
1Some time afterward, David attacked the Philistines and subdued them; David took Metheg-ammah out of the hand of the Philistines.

2Sam 21:15-22

Exploits of David's Men
15The Philistines went to war again with Israel, and David went down together with his servants. They fought against the Philistines, an ... View more

2Sam 23:8-39

David's Mighty Men
8These are the names of the warriors whom David had: Josheb-basshebeth a Tahchemonite; he was chief of the Three; he wielded his spear agains ... View more

2Kgs 18:8

8He attacked the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city.

 NEH Logo
Bible Odyssey has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.