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The Philistine Threat

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TitleAddress Description
Gaza Strip

Sampson destroyed temple of Philistine god Dagon at Gaza (Judges 16: 21-31).

21 Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison. 22 But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.

The Death of Samson . . .23-31

Ashkelon, Israel

A confederation of five powerful Philistine cities – Asdod, Ashkelon, Gath, Gaza, and Ekron – during the period of the Judges.

Ashdod, Israel

Philistines occupied southwest Canaan, probably migrating here from Caphtor (Gen. 10:14; Jer. 47:4), or the island of Crete in the Mediterranean.

Genesis 10:13-14

13 Egypt was the father of the Ludites, Anamites, Lehabites, Naphtuhites,

14 Pathrusites, Kasluhites (from whom the Philistines came) and Caphtorites.

Jeremiah 47:4

4 For the day has come to destroy all the Philistines and to remove all survivors who could help Tyre and Sidon. The Lord is about to destroy the Philistines, the remnant from the coasts of Caphtor.

Kiryat Ekron, Israel

Israel’s ark of the covenant captured by Philistines during Samuel’s time; lodged at Ashdod and Ekron (1 Samuel 5-7).

Hagai HaNavi St 14, Bet Shemesh, Israel

David killed Philistine giant Goliath between Gath and Ekron (1 Samuel 17).

David and Goliath

1 Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah. 2 Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. 3 The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.

4 -12

Kiryat Ekron, Israel

David defeated Philistines “from Geba as far as Gezer” (2 Samuel 5:25), breaking their power.

2 Samuel 5:25

25 So David did as the Lord commanded him, and he struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon (Geba) to Gezer.

Kiryat Ekron, Israel

Brief resurgence of Philistine power during the period of the divided kingdom (2 kings 18:8).

2 Kings 18:8 Hezekiah King of Judah

8 From watchtower to fortified city, he defeated the Philistines, as far as Gaza and its territory.

Mt. Gilboa
Mount Gilboa

King Saul of Israel mortally wounded by Philistine forces at Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 31).

Saul Takes His Life, 1 Samuel 31


The Old Testament indicates that around the 13th century B.C., during the days of Samuel and Samson, the Philistines moved inland from the coast of Canaan. There, they built their civilization primarily in five cities: Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gath, and Ekron (Joshua 13:3). These cities were each governed by a “king” or “lord” (from the Hebrew word seren, also rendered as “tyrant”). These kings apparently formed a coalition of equals. Each king retained autonomous control of his city, such as when Achish, king of Gath, dealt with David (1 Samuel 27:5-7), but they worked in concert in times of national emergency (Judges 16:5).

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