A sea‐going people who came originally from Crete (= Caphtor, Amos 9: 7) but after defeat by the Egyptians, they settled along the sea‐border of the southern part of Palestine (which takes its name from them). They became neighbours and enemies of the Israelites. The five main cities were Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron. The Philistines and the Israelites fought for the available land; after the monarchy was established with Saul as king, Israel tended to prevail, in spite of setbacks, but it was David who claimed the final victory (2 Sam. 8: 1). The Philistines became vassals of Assyria in the 8th cent. and of Egypt in the 7th, but finally the Babylonians conquered them (604 BCE) and deported the people (Jer. 47).

The popular reputation of the Philistines for cultural insensitivity is not borne out by archaeological discoveries of their artefacts from many centuries; these suggest an aesthetic appreciation richer than that of their Hebrew rivals.