Philistines fĭlˈĭstēnz, fĭlĭsˈ– [key], inhabitants of Philistia, a non-Semitic people who came to Palestine from a region in the Mediterranean in the 12th cent. b.c. Genetic studies in the 21st cent. indicate an origin in S Europe; traditionally the place of their origin, called Caphtor in the Bible, has been identified with Crete or Cyprus, but other Mediterranean locations have been suggested. Some scholars consider them one of the Sea Peoples. Their control of iron supplies and their tight political organization of cities made them a rival of the people of Israel for centuries. Their cities were conquered and destroyed by the Babylonians in 604 b.c. Philistine has come to mean an uncultured, materialistic person.

See studies by T. Dothan (1982) and B. F. Griffin (1983).

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