Bible Dictionary

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A tribe that originally came from Caphtor (Crete, or perhaps part of Egypt) (Amos 9:7) and occupied before the days of Abraham (Gen. 21:32) the rich lowland on the Mediterranean coast from Joppa to the Egyptian desert. They formed a confederation of five chief cities, namely, Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron, each governed by its “lord.” For many years there was a struggle for supremacy between them and the Israelites, Philistine power being at its height at the time of Saul’s death but rapidly declining during the reign of David. They were conquered by Tiglath-pileser in 734 B.C. Their country later formed part of the Persian Empire; in New Testament times it was annexed to the Roman province of Syria. Strangely enough the name of the territory of these enemies of the Jews has become one familiar title (Palestine) for all of the Holy Land.