The Philistines were one segment of a major movement of people (the Sea Peoples), during the 13-12th centuries BC, from the Aegean (Greece and Western Turkey) southwards into the Mediterranean coastline. Amos 9:7 links them with Caphtor (Crete?).

Olive press in partially reconstructed Philistine village near Eqron
After Rameses III defeated them in a battle on land and sea (c1190BCE) he settled them on the southern coast of Palestine (the land which now bears their name). They organized themselves into a league of city-states, particularly the five major cities of Askalon, Ashdod, Eqron, Gath and Gaza. Philistine expansion inland from this rich coastal strip brought them into conflict with Israel. This ended with David's creation of a small empire. Competition between the Philistines and Judah led to fighting intermittently throughout the period of the Hebrew kingdoms.

The Philistines had a rich material culture, and early control of iron technology. This control was largely responsible for their early military success.

The ninth century saw incursions by Judah into Philistia (2 Chron 17:11) and the reverse (2 Chron 21:16-17). Uzziah, king of Judah in Amos' day, conducted successful campaigns against the Philistines as well as other neighbors, Ahaz however, a little later, lost territory to them.

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