The archaeology of Philistia (Judges 13)

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Egyptian texts suggest that the Philistines were part of a large-scale emigration of various tribes from the Aegean, referred to as Sea Peoples, who attempted to enter Egypt. As they made their way by land and sea down the Mediterranean coast, they left a swath of destruction behind them. The tribes arrived at the border of Egypt around 1177 B.C., but were repulsed by Rameses III. They retreated to Canaan and settled in previously conquered areas. The Philistines seized one of the choicest parts, the Southwestern coast, which became known as Philistia.

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Illustration: temple at Medinet Habu where Rameses III won over the Sea People

The Philistines had five major cities: Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath (1 Samuel 6:17). Excavations at these sites have revealed a common pattern of Philistine settlement – the previous city was violently destroyed and a larger, well-planned, fortified city built in its place. The Philistines brought wit them their native Aegean culture in the form of architecture, pottery, cultic items, metallurgy (1 Samuel 13:19-22), burial customs and language.

Soon the Philistines expanded eastward and dominated the Israelites (Judges 13:1). The tribe of Dan was directly impacted, since its allotment was in the northern sector of Philistia. Samson was the first Israelite military leader to counteract the Philistine oppression, probably in the later part of the twelfth century B.C. (Judes 13:5).

Bilderesultat for ancient philistia

Illustration: a philistine head dress


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