Monday, April 22, 2013

The Philistines

The Philistines are mentioned in several books of the Bible as being the nemesis of the Israelites. There were huge battles and casualties listed in the thousands but I was mystified... who were the Philistines?
So I looked up "Philistine" in my online dictionary because I'm lazy and I didn't want to lug the unabridged (and hence, huge) dictionary up the stairs. One of the definitions was this: "A person who is hostile or indifferent to culture and the arts, or who has no understanding of them."
Really? The Israelites were fighting wars against people who are just lacking in taste? That doesn't seem to me to be much of a reason to fight a war. 
I also found out that the Philistines were an ancient people who lived in Philistia. Really? That's not too informative. I also found out that the Philistines no longer exist. Apparently, they are extinct so there are no books telling the dramatic tales of the Philistines from the Philistine perspective.
I found a good deal of information about the Philistines from this website. So, here are some details about the Philistines. They may have come from Crete in the Aegean Sea. They were considered to be sea people. They had enormous sea battles with the Egyptians. In fact, the Philistines were also known to have been very warlike. They were aggressive, like the Klingons in Star Trek, who went into battle announcing, "Today is a good day to die."
The Philistines seemed invincible because they were able to produce swords and all sorts of weapons in great quantities. They were technologically ahead of the Israelites. The Philistines, when not fighting with the Israelites, helped out the Israelites by sharpening their farm tools. Apparently, the Israelites didn't know how to do that.
I also found out that the Philistines were very musical and they celebrated many occurrences of their lives with song.They also celebrated with copious amounts of alcohol. They were culturally more advanced than the Israelites. They were, however, pagans.  So the definition of Philistine as uncultured boor is inaccurate.
But God did not favor the Philistines because they were pagans...
And they are all gone...
without leaving behind any of their folk tales...


  1. How do we know about God's intentions vis a vis the Philistines?

    1. It is hard to know what God's intentions were, but God did make it clear repeatedly that he was a jealous God who did not like people to worship deities other than Him.