|1175 BC–604 BC|
Aramaic (from the 6th c. BC)
|Historical era||Iron Age|
• Babylonian conquest of the Levant
|Today part of|| Israel|
|History of Israel|
|History of Palestine|
Philistia (Hebrew: פְּלֶשֶׁת, romanized: Pəlešeṯ; Koine Greek (LXX): Γῆ τῶν Φυλιστιείμ, romanized: gê tôn Phulistieím) was a confederation of five main cities or pentapolis in the Southwest Levant, made up of principally Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath, and for a time, Jaffa.
Scholars believe the Philistines were made up of people of an Aegean background that from roughly 1200 BC onwards settled in the area and mixed with the local Canaanite population, and came to be known as Peleset, or Philistines. At its maximum territorial expansion, its territory may have stretched along the Canaanite coast from Arish in the Sinai (today's Egypt) to the Yarkon River (today's Tel Aviv), and as far inland as Ekron and Gath. Nebuchadnezzar II invaded Philistia in 604 BC, burned Ashkelon, and incorporated the territory in the Neo-Babylonian Empire; Philistia and its native population the Philistines disappear from the historic record after that year.
Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic records from the New Kingdom period record a group of the Sea Peoples called the pwrꜣsꜣtj, generally transliterated as either Peleset or Pulasti, as invading Egypt in the mid-13th century BC. About a century later, pharaoh Ramesses III boasted of having defeated the Peleset, and allegedly relocated them to the southern abandoned coast of Canaan, recording this victory on a Medinet Habu temple inscription dated to c. 1150 BC. The pwrꜣsꜣtj are generally identified as the Philistines. The Great Harris Papyrus, a chronicle of Ramesses' reign written no later than 1149 BC, also records this Egyptian defeat of the Philistines.
Despite Ramesses III's claim, archaeology has not been able to corroborate the existence of any such (re)settlement, and the lack of sense in granting an apparently barbarous invading people an expansive and richly fertile swath of land already under Egyptian control is noted by scholars.
During Iron Age I, the Philistines seem to have had a presence far outside of what was traditionally considered Philistia, as 23 of the 26 Iron Age I sites in the Jezreel Valley, including Tel Megiddo, Tel Yokneam, Tel Qiri, Afula, Tel Qashish, Be'er Tiveon, Hurvat Hazin, Tel Risim, Tel Re'ala, Hurvat Tzror, Tel Sham, Midrakh Oz and Tel Zariq, yielded typical Philistine pottery dating from the 12th-to-10th century BC. However, given the minuscule quantity of said pottery finds, it is likely that even if the Philistines had by-and-large settled in the area, they remained a minority which had assimilated into the native Canaanite population by the 10th century BC.
In its historical form, Philistia's northern boundary was the Yarkon River, with the Mediterranean Sea on the west, the Kingdom of Judah at Ziklag to the east, and the Arish to the south. Philistia consisted of the five city-states of the Philistines, known as the Philistine pentapolis, described in the Book of Joshua (Joshua 13:3) and the Books of Samuel (1 Samuel 6:17), comprising Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, Gath, and Gaza, in the south-western Levant. Tell Qasile and Aphek (see Battle of Aphek) likely marked the nation's frontiers, as evidence from Tell Qasile especially indicates that non-Philistines constituted an otherwise unusually large portion of their respective populations. The identity of the aforementioned Ziklag, a city which according to the Bible marked the border between the Philistine and Israelite territory, remains uncertain.
Philistia included Jaffa (in today's Tel Aviv), but it was lost to the Hebrews during Solomon's time. Nonetheless, the Philistine king of Ashkelon conquered Jaffa again circa 730 BC. Following Sennacherib's third campaign in the Levant, the Assyrians re-assigned Jaffa to the Phoenician city-state of Sidon, and Philistia never got it back.
The Five Lords of the Philistines are described in the Hebrew Bible as being in constant struggle and interaction with the neighbouring Israelites, Canaanites and Egyptians, being gradually absorbed into the Canaanite culture.
Philistia was occupied by Tiglath-Pileser III of the Neo-Assyrian Empire in the 8th century BC. Throughout the century, often at the incitement of neighboring Egypt, Philistia revolted against Assyrian rule, but each time they were defeated and forced to pay tribute. Gath disappears from history after Sargon II records its capture in 711 BC, which may indicate he destroyed the city rather than conquered it. Interestingly, the term "Philistia" is not used in Assyrian records describing their campaigns, only the names of individual cities, which may indicate that at this stage the Philistines had become increasingly divided, and that the confederation of the pentapolis which constituted Philistia had fractured into separate city-states. Sennacherib further reported that he had sacked (and possibly burned) a "royal city of the land Philistia that [Hezek]iah had taken away (and) fortified," but the city's name has not survived. The texts also mention that Ashkelon was also sacked due to its refusal to acknowledge Assyrian authority. Despite this Philistine sedition, Sennacherib records that he divided up the lands he had plundered from Judah amongst the kings of Ashdod, Gaza, and Ekron, even going as far as freeing Padi, the king of Ekron, from Judahite captivity and returning him to the throne.
The Philistines disappear from written records following the conquest of the Levant by the Neo-Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar II during the 6th century BC, when Ashkelon and many other cities from the region were destroyed.
East of Gaza
The area east of Gaza, particularly around Nahal Besor that reaches into the hills as far as Beersheva, had a very substantial Philistine presence. This area is a part of the Negev desert. It also includes Nahal Gerar to the north that joins Nahal Besor before flowing into the Mediterranean Sea.
This was a heavily populated area during the early Iron Age. It includes archaeological sites such as Tell Beit Mirsim, Tel Haror, Tel Sera (Ziklag) along Nahal Gerar, and Tell Jemmeh and Tell el-Far'ah (South) along Nahal Besor. All these sites and others in the area had Philistine settlements.
When the Neo-Assyrian Empire first invaded this area, the Philistine cities were given considerable autonomy in exchange for tribute. But having responded to various revolts, this policy hardened.
- Achish the king of Gath
- Palistin (or Walistin), a Syro-Hittite kingdom (11th–9th c. BC) in what is now NW Syria and the SE Turkish province of Hatay
- Timeline of the history of the region of Palestine
- Timeline of the name "Palestine"
- Anson F. Rainey (February 2001). "Herodotus' Description of the East Mediterranean Coast". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research. The University of Chicago Press on behalf of The American Schools of Oriental Research (321): 58–59. doi:10.2307/1357657. JSTOR 1357657. S2CID 163534665.
- Sullivan, Benjamin M. (2018). "In the Shadow of Phoenicia". The Journal of Hellenic Studies. 138: 67–79, (70). doi:10.1017/S0075426918000058. JSTOR 26575919. S2CID 165940849.
- John Noble Wilford (29 September 1992). "Philistines Were Cultured After All, Say Archeologists". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 May 2021.
I am willing to state flatly that the Sea Peoples, including the Philistines, were Mycenaean Greeks
- Carl S. Ehrlich, The Philistines in Transition: A History of the Philistines from Ca. 1000-730 B. C. E., Brill 1996, p.7
- Masalha 2018, p. 56: The 3200‑year‑old documents from Ramesses III, including an inscription dated c. 1150 BC, at the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III at the Medinat Habu Temple in Luxor – one of the best‑preserved temples of Egypt – refers to the Peleset among those who fought against Ramesses III (Breasted 2001: 24; also Bruyère 1929‒1930), who reigned from 1186 to 1155 BC.
- Killebrew 2005, p. 202.
- "Text of the Papyrus Harris". Specialtyinterests.net. Archived from the original on 2013-02-01. Retrieved 2011-12-11.
- Killebrew 2005, p. 204.
- Finkelstein, Israel. "Is The Philistine Paradigm Still Viable?". In Bietak, M. (ed.). The Synchronisation of Civilisations in the Eastern Mediterranean in the Second Millennium B. C. III. Proceedings of the SCIEM 2000 – 2nd Euro- Conference, Vienna, 28th of May–1st of June 2003, Denkschriften der Ge- samtakademie 37, Contributions to the Chronology of the Eastern Mediterranean 9, Vienna 2007. pp. 517–524.
SUMMARY Was there a Sea Peoples migration to the coast of the Levant? Yes. Was it a maritime migration? Possibly. Was there a massive maritime Sea Peoples invasion? Probably not. Did the Philistines settle en-masse in Philistia in the days of Ramesses III? No. Were the Iron I Philistine cities fortified? No. Were the Iron I Philistines organized in a peer-polity system? Probably not. Was there a Philistine Pentapolis system in the Iron I? No. Are the Iron I Philistines the Philistines described in the Bible? No.
- Drews 1995, p. 69: "For the modern myth that has replaced it, however, there is [no basis]. Instead of questioning the story of the Philistines Cretan origins, in an attempt to locate a core of historical probability, Maspero took the story at face value and proceeded to inflate it to fantastic dimensions. Believing that the Medinet Habu reliefs, with their ox carts, depict the Philistine nation on the eve of its settlement in Canaan, Maspero imagined a great overland migration. The Philistines moved first from Crete to Caria, he proposed, and then from Caria to Canaan in the time of Ramesses III. Whereas Amos and Jeremiah derived the Philistines directly from Crete, a five-day sail away, Maspero's myth credited them with an itinerary that, while reflecting badly on their intelligence, testified to prodigious physical stamina: the Philistines sail from Crete to Caria, where they abandon their ships and their maritime tradition; the nation then travels in ox carts through seven hundred miles of rough and hostile terrain until it reaches southern Canaan; at that point, far from being debilitated by their trek, the Philistines not only conquer the land and give it their name but come within a hair's breadth of defeating the Egyptian pharaoh himself. Not surprisingly, for the migration from Caria to Canaan imagined by Maspero there is no evidence at all, whether literary, archaeological, or documentary.
Since none of Maspero's national migrations is demonstrable in the Egyptian inscriptions, or in the archaeological or linguistic record, the argument that these migrations did indeed occur has traditionally relied on place-names. These place-names are presented as the source from which were derived the ethnica in Merneptahs and Ramesses inscriptions." sfn error: no target: CITEREFDrews1995 (help)
- Ussishkin 2008, p. 207: "Reconstruction of the Philistine migration and settlement on the basis of the above model is hard to accept. First, it is not supported by any factual evidence. Second, it assumes that the Philistines had at their disposal a large and strong naval force of a kind unknown in this period. Third, in the period immediately following their settlement in Philistia there is hardly any archaeological evidence connecting the Philistine culture and settlement with sea and navigation. Had the Philistines really possessed such a strong naval force and tradition, as suggested by Stager, we would expect to observe these associations in their material culture in later times." sfn error: no target: CITEREFUssishkin2008 (help)
- Avner Raban, "The Philistines in the Western Jezreel Valley", Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No. 284 (November 1991), pp. 17–27, The University of Chicago Press on behalf of The American Schools of Oriental Research.
- Ehrlich, Carl S. (1996). The Philistines in Transition: A History from Ca. 1000-730 B.C.E. BRILL. p. 3. ISBN 978-90-04-10426-6. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
- Ben-Shlomo, David (2010). Philistine Iconography: A Wealth of Style and Symbolism (PDF). Saint-Paul. p. 14. ISBN 978-3-525-54360-3. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2022-10-09. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
- Gösta Werner Ahlström (1993). The History of Ancient Palestine. Fortress Press. p. 311. ISBN 978-0-8006-2770-6.
- Butler, Trent C., ed. (1991). "Ziklag". Holman Bible Dictionary.
- Note - the "Lords" is a translation of seren or ceren (סַרְנֵ֣י) in Hebrew, or satrap (σατραπείαις) in the Greek of the Septuagint
- Library, National Public. "Philistia | National Public Library - eBooks | Read eBooks online". nationalpubliclibrary.info. Retrieved 2016-11-01.
- "Sennacherib 1015; line 11". ORACC.
- Jarus, Owen (16 July 2016). "Who Were the Philistines?". Live Science. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
- Ben-Shlomo, David (2014). "Tell Jemmeh, Philistia and the Neo-Assyrian Empire during the Late Iron Age". Levant. 46: 58–88. doi:10.1179/0075891413Z.00000000031. S2CID 161673835.
- Gunnar Lehmann; Steven A. Rosen; Angelika Berlejung; Bat-Ami Neumeier; Hermann M. Niemann. "Excavations at Qubur al-Walaydah, 2007–2009". academia.edu.
- "Tell el-Far'ah, South -- Israel Excavation Project Website". Farahsouth.cgu.edu. Retrieved 12 Jan 2016.
- Killebrew, Ann (2005), Biblical Peoples and Ethnicity: An Archaeological Study of Egyptians, Canaanites, Philistines, and Early Israel, 1300–1100 B.C.E., Society of Biblical Lit, ISBN 978-1-58983-097-4
- Masalha, Nur (15 August 2018). Palestine: A Four Thousand Year History. Zed Books, Limited. ISBN 978-1-78699-273-4.