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PostSubject: The Philistines   Wed Dec 05, 2007 12:42 am

The historic Philistines were a people who inhabited the southern coast of Canaan around the time of the arrival of the Israelites, their territory being named Philistia in later contexts. Their origin has been debated among scholars, but modern archaeology has suggested early cultural links with the Mycenean world in mainland Greece. Though the Philistines adopted local Canaanite culture and language before leaving any written texts, an Indo-European origin has been suggested for a handful of known Philistine words.

The Hittite and Mycenaean cultures collapsed at the same time, and various people from that area invaded Egypt, where they were called the Sea Peoples - the Philistines, the Lycians, and the Achaeans, among others (possibly the Trojans). Egypt beat these Sea Peoples off, but Egypt collapsed soon afterward anyway.

Origin of the Philistines

It has been suggested that the Philistines formed part of the great naval confederacy, the "Sea Peoples", who had wandered, at the beginning of the 12th century BCE, from their homeland in southern Greece and the Aegean islands to the shores of the Mediterranean and repeatedly attacked Egypt during the later Nineteenth Dynasty. Though eventually repulsed by Ramesses III, he was, according to the theory, apparently unable to dislodge them from their settlements in Canaan.


Sea Peoples is the term used for a mysterious confederacy of ship-faring raiders who sailed into the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, invaded Cyprus, Hatti and the Levant, and attempted to enter Egyptian territory during the late 19th dynasty, and especially year 5 of Rameses III of the 20th Dynasty. The term "Sea Peoples" was never used in Egyptian records, but has been popularized in the last century.
The earliest mention of the Sea Peoples proper is in an inscription of the Egyptian king Merneptah, whose rule is usually dated from 1213 BC to 1204 BC, although mention of individual groups does occur earlier (for example Denyen, during the reign of Amenhotep III and Shardana, as mercenaries to Rameses II. Merneptah states that in the fifth year of his reign (1208 BC) he defeated an invasion of an allied force of Libyans and the Sea People, killing 6,000 soldiers and taking 9,000 prisoners.

About 20 years later the Egyptian king Ramses III was forced to deal with another invasion of the Sea Peoples, this time allied with the Philistines. In the mortuary temple he built in Thebes, Ramses describes how, despite the fact "no land could stand before" the forces of the Sea People and that they swept through "Hatti, Kode, Carchemish, Arzawa, and Alashiya" destroying their cities, he defeated them in a sea battle. He gives the names of the tribes of the Sea People as including: the Peleset, the Tjeker, the Shekelesh, the Denyen, and the Weshesh. However, because this list is identical to the one Merneptah included in his victory inscription, and because Ramses also describes several fictitious victories on his temple walls, some Egyptologists believe that he never actually fought the Sea Peoples, but only claimed the victories of Merneptah as his own - a common practice of a number of the Pharaohs.

A Sea People appear in another set of records dated around the early 12th century BC. Ammurapi, the last king of Ugarit (c.1191 BC - 1182 BC) received a letter from the Hittite king Suppliluliuma II warning him about the "Shikalayu who live on boats" who are perhaps the same people as the Shekelesh mentioned in Merneptah's list. It may be relevant that shortly after he received this communication, Ammurapi was overthrown and the city of Ugarit sacked, never to be inhabited again.

The abrupt end of several civilizations in the decades traditionally dated around 1200 BC have caused many ancient historians to hypothesize that the Sea People caused the collapse of the Hittite, Mycenaean and Mitanni kingdoms. However, Marc Van De Mieroop and others have argued against this theory on several points. Grimal argues that the kingdoms of the Mittani, Assyria, and Babylon were more likely destroyed by a group who dwelled on the edges of the settled lands called by the Akkadian word Habiru.

Another argument Grimal makes is that the attempted Sea People invasion of Egypt that Ramses III foiled is now seen as nothing more than a minor skirmish, the records of his victories on his temple walls being greatly exaggerated. Though it is clear from the archeological excavations that Ugarit, Ashkelon and Hazor were destroyed about this time, Carchemish was not and other cities in the area such as Byblos and Sidon survived unscathed.

Another hypothesis concerning the Sea People, based on their recorded names, is that they may have been formed of people involved in the Greek migrations of this period, either the Greek-speaking invaders (identifying the "Ekwesh" with the Achaeans and the "Denyen" with the Dananoi, an ancient name for the Greek people).

This theory implies that the Philistines were part of this Greek-speaking confederacy. This theory was recently revived by the archeologist Eberhard Zangger in 2001 (earlier in German) that the Sea Peoples were the early semi-literate city states of the Greek Mycenaean civilizations, who destroyed each other in a disastrous series of conflicts lasting several decades.

There would have been few or no external invaders and just a few excursions outside the Greek speaking part of the Aegean civilization. The city states were semi-literate in the sense that very few individuals could master the complex syllabary used to write Linear B and other written forms of the early Greek language, and, thus, relatively few documents were produced in daily life to bear witness to the fratricidal nature of the wars.

In contrast, the completely alphabetic writing system which started to appear with the rise of Ancient Greece around 800 BC was relatively easy to learn and use, thus giving rise to the production of many documents, both fictional and non-fictional.

In contradistinction to the foregoing interpretation of relevant textual records, the archaeological record provides a substantial basis to believe that peoples from central Europe and the Italian peninsula may have contributed to the Sea Peoples phenomenon.

Pottery and bronze weapons of a distinctly Italic type have been found in quantity at excavations of structures built atop the charred ruins of cities believed to have been burnt to the ground by the Sea Peoples. Attempts have been made to identify certain Sea Peoples with Italian peoples; for example, some scholars have speculated that the Shekelesh can be identified with the ancient people of Sicily.

Additionally, brooches of a plainly Central European type, and amber beads, have also been found at some of the sites. None of these items appear in the archaeological record of the area prior to the Sea Peoples period. Also worth noting is that some of the knives and cups of an Italic design bear a strong resemblance to knives and cups unearthed in Hungary and central Germany, dating to the period 1800 - 1600 BC.

One thing about the Sea Peoples is beyond doubt: following violent conquest, the Sea Peoples always burnt rich cities to the ground. They made no attempt to retain this wealth, but instead built new settlements of a lower cultural and economic level atop the ruins. This demonstrates a deep scorn and contempt for what these cities represented. It is unlikely that the traditional Helladic warrior classes would have so discarded the spoils of victory, if the writings of Homer are to be considered a guide.

A recent theory proposed by Holst and others is that the Sea Peoples, facing starvation, migrated from the Black Sea, in cooperation with the Phoenicians, seeking food and land upon which to settle. An interesting fact supporting this theory is that the Phoenicians alone were spared attack from the Sea Peoples.

Textual and archaeological records show that Greek and Egyptian state structures utilized mercenaries from the north and west. It is possible that these mercenary groups eventually allied themselves with indigenous slave classes to bring down a number of complex but ossified state structures in Greece and the Near East.Some scholars have tenuously identified the Tribe of Dan with the Danua or Denyen, one of the Sea Peoples, speculating that the Danites abandoned the Sea People confederacy and joined the Israelite tribal confederacy sometime during the twelfth century BC. Such an identification would explain the special enmity between the Danites and the Philistines found in the Book of Judges.

Curiously, and in contrast to most theories of their origin, the Egyptians depicted them as being circumcised, and having semitic names. As a consequence, more radical, and less accepted, theories of their origin have been proposed, suggesting that the Sea Peoples represent a group of people from Canaan. In these theories, the group of 5 sea peoples mentioned together are identified as the 5 groups with coastal lands during the era of Solomon:


The Peleset are the Philistines (the name Philistine being a phonetic corruption of Peleset+-ine)
The Danua are the Tribe of Dan
The Shekelesh are the Tribe of Issachar (Shekelesh being understood to translate as men of Sheker, a corruption of men of Sachar)
The Weshesh are the Tribe of Asher (technically the name is equivalent to Uashesh, and so in the theories is a corruption of Asher)
The Tjekker are the Tribe of Manassah (an Egyptian tale Wenamun explicitely mentions that Dor is a Tjekker town, and Dor is the name of a place in the Manassah region)

Since these place the Philistines on the same side as the tribe of Dan, this suggests that the Tribe of Dan, and the others, later joined a different confederacy, historic Israel, of which they were not originally part, resulting in great enmity (as recorded in the Bible) with the Philistines, whom they had thus betrayed. Also, Tjekker itself is understood, in the theory, to translate as of Aker, a town in Asher's dominion whose original inhabitants were allowed to remain. This requires, in the theory, that Aker was originally part of the land of Manassah, and Asher invaded the area, indeed, as the tale of Wenamun recounts, Beder (a name not mentioned in any other Egyptian text) was the prince of Dor, and the closest name mentioned in the bible is Bezer, a prince of Asher, implying Manasseh was the vassal of Asher. Kenneth Kitchen in On the Reliability of the Old Testament rejects these views as contradicting the Bible, which as an Evangelical Christian, he believes to be inerrantly true under all situations.
References: Sanford Holst. Phoenicians, Lebanon's Epic Heritage. Cambridge & Boston Press, Los Angeles, 2005.


Papyrus Harris I details the achievements of the reign of Ramesses III. In the brief description of the outcome of the battles in year 8 is the description of the fate of the Sea Peoples. Ramesses tells us that, having brought the imprisoned Sea Peoples to Egypt, he "settled them in strongholds, bound in my name.


Papyrus Harris I is also known as the Great Harris Papyrus and (less accurately) simply the Harris Papyrus (though there are a number of other papyri in the Harris collection). Its technical designation is Papyrus British Museum 9999. At 41 metres long, it is the longest papyrus ever found in Egypt. It was found in a tomb near Medinet Habu, across the Nile river from Luxor, Egypt, and purchased by collector Anthony Charles Harris (1790­1869) in 1855; it entered the collection of the British Museum in 1872.
The hieratic text of the papyrus consists of a list of temple endowments and a brief summary of the reign of king Ramesses III of the Twentieth dynasty of Egypt. However, it also notes that Setnakhte restored order and stability to Egypt after a time of civil conflict. The text itself was composed during the reign of Ramesses IV.

Numerous were their classes like hundred-thousands. I taxed them all, in clothing and grain from the storehouses and granaries each year." Some scholars suggest it is likely that these "strongholds" were actually fortified towns in southern Canaan, the cities that would eventually become the five cities of the Philistines (Redford 1992, p. 289).

The connection between Mycenean culture and Philistine culture was made clearer by finds at the excavation of Ashdod, Ekron, Ashkelon, and more recently Tell es-Safi (probably Gath), four of the five Philistine cities (Pentapoli) in Canaan.

Especially notable is the early Philistine pottery, a locally made version of the Aegean Mycenaean IIIC pottery, which is decorated in shades of brown and black. This later develops into the distinctive Philistine pottery of the Iron Age I, with black and red decorations on white slip.

Also of particular interest, a large, well constructed building covering 240 square meters was discovered at Ekron. Its walls are broad, designed to support a second story, and its wide, elaborate entrance leads to a large hall, partly covered with a roof supported on a row of columns.

In the floor of the hall is a circular hearth paved with pebbles, as is typical in Mycenean buildings; other unusual architectural features are paved benches and podiums. Among the finds are three small bronze wheels with eight spokes. Such wheels are known to have served as wheels for portable cultic stands in the Aegean region during this period, and it is therefore assumed that this building served cultic functions.

One name the Greeks used for the previous inhabitants of Greece and the Aegean was Pelasgians, but no definite connection has been established between this name and that of the Philistines. The theory that the Sea Peoples included Greek-speaking tribes has been developed even further to postulate that the Philistines originated in either western Anatolia or the Greek peninsula.

There is some limited evidence in favor of the assumption that the Philistines did originally speak some Indo-European language. A number of Philistine-related words found in the Bible are not Semitic, and can in some cases, with reservations, be traced back to Proto-Indo-European roots.

For example, the Philistine word for captain, seren, may be related to the Greek word tyrannos (which, however, has not been traced to a PIE root). In addition, use of non-Semitic names in Philistine inscriptions, indicate the non-Semitic origins of this group.The Hebrew tradition recorded in Genesis 10:14, states that the "Philistim" proceded from the "Casluhim", who descended from Mizraim (Egypt), son of Ham.

The Philistines settled Philistia along the eastern Mediterranean coast at about the time when the Israelites settled in the Judean highlands. Biblical references to Philistines living in the area before this, at the time of Abraham or Isaac (eg. Gen. 21:32-34), are generally regarded by modern scholars to be anachronisms.

They are spoken of in the Book of Amos as originating in Caphtor: "saith the Lord: Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor, and Aram from Kir?" (Amos 9:7).

Later, in the 7th century BCE, Jeremiah makes the same association with Caphtor. Scholars variously identify the land of Caphtor with Cyprus and Crete and other locations in the eastern Mediterranean.

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PostSubject: Re: The Philistines   Wed Dec 05, 2007 12:43 am

History

If the Philistines are to be identified as one of the "Sea Peoples", then their occupation of Canaan will have taken place during the reign of Rameses III of the Twentieth Dynasty, ca. 1180 to 1150 BCE. Their maritime knowledge presumably would have made them important to the Phoenicians.

In Egypt, a people called the "Peleset" (or, more precisely, prst), generally identified with the Philistines, appear in the Medinet Habu inscription of Ramses III , where he describes his victory against the Sea Peoples, as well as the Onomastica of Amenope (late Twentieth Dynasty) and the Great Papyrus Harris (Papyrus Harris I), a summary of Ramses III's reign written in the reign of Ramses IV.

Nineteenth-century Bible scholars identified the land of the Philistines (Philistia) with Palastu and Pilista in Assyrian inscriptions, according to Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897).

The Philistines occupied the five cities of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath, along the coastal strip of southwestern Canaan, that belonged to Egypt up to the closing days of the Nineteenth Dynasty (ended 1185 BCE). The biblical stories of Samson, Samuel, Saul and David include accounts of Philistine-Israelite conflicts. The Philistines long held a monopoly on iron smithing (a skill they possibly acquired during conquests in Anatolia), and the biblical description of Goliath's armor is consistent with this iron-smithing technology.

This powerful association of tribes made frequent incursions against the Hebrews. There was almost perpetual war between the two peoples. They sometimes held the Hebrews, especially the southern tribes, in servitude; at other times they were defeated with great slaughter.

The Philistine cities were ruled by seranim, "lords", who acted together for the common good, though to what extent they had a sense of a "nation" is not clear without literary sources. After their defeat by the Israelite King David, kings replaced the seranim, governing from various cities.

Some of these kings were called Abimelech.The Philistines lost their independence to Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria by 736 BC, and revolts in following years were all crushed. Later, Nebuchadrezzar II of Babylon eventually conquered all of Syria and the land of Canaan, and the Philistine cities became part of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Subsequently the cities were under the control of Persians, Greeks, and Romans, and "Philistia" was governed as a territory.

The name of the region of Palestine comes, via Greek and Latin, from the Philistines.

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