The Philistines

The Old Testament frequently mentions the Philistines, a pagan people who clashed with God's children in the Promised Land. The Bible itself provides many interesting facts about Philistine culture, and archaeological discoveries have added to our understanding of these ancient people.

History: The Philistines sailed from the Aegean world (Greece) and settled along the coast of Palestine about 1100 BC, about the time the Israelites entered the Promised Land from the east. Philistines developed a sophisticated culture that centered around various city states.

Location: The five main Philistine cities:Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and Gath,were located near the Via Maris trade route, which went through the coastal plain. Because of their strategic location, the Philistines dominated world trade and greatly influenced other nations.

Industry: The Philistines had an elaborate olive pressing industry. At Ekron alone, about 200 installations produced olive oil ?perhaps more than 1,000 tons (which is more than the amount produced today)! They were also famous for their iron-making skills.

Military Might: Philistine soldiers were quite tall, clean-shaven, and wore breastplates and small kilts. The soldiers carried small shields and fought with straight swords and spears.

Artistic Skill: Philistines created intricate pottery with red and black geometric designs on white backgrounds.

Religion: Philistine religion was both sophisticated and immoral. The people built carefully planned temples in Gaza, Ashdod, and Beth Shean. Dagon, their main god, was thought to be the god of grain. Ashtoreth, believed to be his mistress, was associated with war and fertility. Philistines at Ekron worshiped Baal-Zebul, thought to be Dagon's son.