The Ekron Inscription of Akhayus (1 Samuel 21)

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Sometimes evidence from proper names (onomastic evidence) helps us to reconstruct the history and racial identity of a people. In 1996 a dedicatory inscription was discovered in a Philistine temple at Ekron (picture above), reading in part: “The temple that Achish, son of Padi… ruler of Ekron, built for PTGYH.” Although PTGYH’s identity is debated, Achish and Padi are known from Assyrian records as kings of Ekron. Achish appears by the name Ikausu in Ashurbanipal’s annals from the early seventh century B.C. Bot both appear to derive from a previous form of the name, Akhayus, which is similar to the Greek name Achaios (Achaean). The Achaeans were one of the archaic Greek peoples. In short, widespread evidence suggests that the Philistines were related to the Greeks.

According to 1 Samuel 21:11-16, 27:1-29, and 1 Kings 2:39-40, the ruler(s) of Gath were named Achish from the time of Saul to the days of Solomon (eleventh-ninth centuries B.C.). Similarly, an eighth century Philistine ruler of Ashdod used the nickname Yamani, which seems to be a corruption of the word Ionian (another Greek people). Thus it appears that various Philistine rulers used their Greek ethnic identity as a title for themselves. This conclusuion is supported by their material culture in the twelfth century B.C., which is Achaean. This evidence also fits with the assertions of Jeremiah 47:4, Amos 9:7 and Zephaniah 2:4-6 that the Philistines were Kerethites (hailing from Crete – aka Caphtor) who came to Canaan along with the Greek Sea Peoples.


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