Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Wikipedia.


(fĭl`ĭstēnz, fĭlĭs`–), inhabitants of PhilistiaPhilistia
, region of SW ancient Palestine, comprising a coastal strip along the Mediterranean and a portion of S Canaan. The chief cities of Philistia were Gaza, Ashqelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath; strategically located on the great commercial route from Egypt to Syria, they
..... Click the link for more information.
, a non-Semitic people who came to Palestine from the Aegean (probably Crete), in the 12th cent. B.C. Their control of iron supplies and their tight political organization of cities made them a rival of the people of Israel for centuries. Philistine has come to mean an uncultured, materialistic person.


See studies by T. Dothan (1982) and B. F. Griffin (1983).



a people who in the 12th century B.C. settled in the southwestern part of Canaan, on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. In the Bible, the land of the Philistines is called Pleshet, and eventually the entire land of Canaan became known as Palestine. According to biblical sources, the Philistines originally came from Caphtor (Crete). In Egyptian depictions on the Medinet Habu chariot, the ships and clothing of the Philistines are similar to those of the Aegean region. Philistine pottery of the 12th and 11th centuries B.C. resembles Mycenaean pottery of the 13th century B.C.

There is no reliable evidence regarding the language of the Philistines. In 1969, Philistine writing inscribed on seals was found during excavations at Ashdod, but it has not yet been deciphered.

The Philistines were one of the Peoples of the Sea, who invaded Asia Minor and northern Syria, destroyed the Hittite empire and Ugarit circa 1200 B.C., and conducted campaigns against Egypt. Repulsed by the Egyptians, the Philistines invaded the southern part of the eastern shore of the Mediterranean, seized a number of fortified cities, and created the Pentapolis, an alliance of five city-states—Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron. The alliance was headed by the ruler of Gath. The Philistines adopted the Canaanite language and religion. They introduced the use of iron into this region, becoming monopoly producers of iron chariots and weapons. Their military superiority enabled the Philistines to invade Canaan as far as Beth-shan, in the Jordan River valley, where they established hegemony. The advance of the Philistines was halted by King David in the early tenth century B.C, but the conflict continued until the seventh century. The wars between the Judeans and the Philistines are described in the historical sections of the Bible and in epic accounts of the feats of legendary heroes, such as the Israelites Samgar and Samson and the Philistine Goliath.

In the eighth century B.C, the Philistines were subjugated by the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III, in the late seventh century by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II, and in the late sixth century by the Persians. During the Achaemenid period, Philistia—the region settled by the Philistines—became part of the fifth Persian satrapy. In the second and first centuries B.C, the Philistine cities were conquered by the Maccabees. The Hellenization of the Philistines began with the campaigns of Alexander the Great and the Diadochoi and was completed by the beginning of the Common Era.


Macalister, R. The Philistines: Their History and Civilization. Chicago, 1965.
Dothan, T. “Archaeological Reflections on the Philistine Problem.” Antiquity and Survival, 1957, vol. 2, no. 1.
Mitchell, T. C. “Philistia.” In Archaeology and Old Testament Study. Edited by D. W. Thomas. Oxford, 1969. Pages 404–27.



perennial rivals of Israel in Biblical times; looked upon as uncultured by Israelites. [Jewish Hist.: NCE, 2132]
References in periodicals archive ?
Paul Boorstin's David and the Philistine Woman fleshes out the David and Goliath story as never before, populating it with complex personalities from both sides of the divide who raise fresh questions of religiosity, faith, and nation.
His wrath flares against the Philistines after they solve his riddle, so he kills them (Judges 14:19).
The time range of this culture is actualy [sic] of briefer duration than that of the Philistines and apparently did not last much longer than one hundred and thirty years, from the end of the twelfth century, or perhaps a little later, to the end of the eleventh century, when it was displaced in its entirety by the local Israelite one.
Their top 10 of words that deserve to be used more often is: caterwaul (howling or wailing noise), concinnity (harmonious arrangement or fitting together), flapdoodle (nonsense), knavery (roguish act), melange (mixture), obambulate (to walk about), opsimath (a person who studies late in life), philistine (hostile to culture and the arts), rapscallion (rascal) and subtopia (unsightly suburb and development).
According to ancient Egyptian sources, the Philistines were one of several groups of seafaring raiders that migrated into southern Canaan--possibly from Crete--at the end of the Bronze Age, around the 12th century BCE.
In the Bible, Samson's strength is captured by the seductive Delilah, who ultimately cuts the man's long hair and facilitates his imprisonment by the Philistines.
No era in history has been construed to demonize Palestinians and Arabs more than the story of the Children of Israel's mortal enemy; the ancient Philistines.
Sadly it would appear that the Philistines are now in control, at least they are in the Corporate Property Group of Caerphilly County Borough Council.
I can only conclude that the Sims are philistines with no regard for their cardiovascular health.
Written for children ages 4-10, "Shamgar and the Ox Goad" tells the little known Bible story of Shagmar the son of Anath, who according to Judges 3:31 did the following: "And after him was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: and he also delivered Israel.
Whilst not having been in use for some time, this 110-year-old building has been left fallow by the philistines of the council for several years to the point whereby it is now a roost for the pigeons of Wallsend.
Let us get some real pressure put on these shortsighted Philistines and get the Neptune back where it belongs, at the heart of our regional culture.