Origins of the Philistines

"Mizraim became the father of Ludim and Anamim and Lehabim and Naphtuhim and Pathrusim and Casluhim (from which came the Philistines) and Caphtorim" (Genesis 10:13-14). [Mizraim is the founder of ancient Egypt.]

"Are you not as the sons of Ethiopia to Me, O sons of Israel?" declares the LORD. "Have I not brought up Israel from the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?" (Amos 9:7).

"On account of the day that is coming to destroy all the Philistines, to cut off from Tyre and Sidon every ally that is left; for the LORD is going to destroy the Philistines, the remnant of the coastland of Caphtor" (Jeremiah 47:4).

Source: "Caphtor," Jewish Virtual Library.

"Most scholars consider Caphtor to be the ancient name for Crete and the surrounding islands (cf. "islands" in LXX, Jer. 47:4). In Jeremiah 47:4 Caphtor is defined as an island. Furthermore, several verses place the origin of the Philistines among the Cretans (Ezek. 25:16; Zeph. 2:5), while elsewhere they are identified as coming from Caphtor. The descent of the Caphtorim from the Egyptians (Gen. 10:14) hints at the close relationship that existed between Egypt and Caphtor. Archaeological excavations in Crete have shown that the island was a center of Minoan culture in the second millennium B.C.E. and that the population traded with Egypt, Palestine, Syria, and Mesopotamia. An Egyptian wall painting from the reign of Thutmosis III shows men from kftyw bringing gifts to the Egyptian king. The name Caphtor may be preserved in the name of the island Karpathos, near Crete."

Source: Kristin Romey, "Ancient DNA may reveal origin of the Philistines," National Geographics, 3 July 2019.

"The authors of the Hebrew Bible made it clear that the Philistines were not like them: This "uncircumcised" group is described in several passages as coming from the "Land of Caphtor" (modern-day Crete) before taking control of the coastal region of what is now southern Israel and the Gaza Strip."

"Their arrival on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean in the early 12th century B.C. is marked by pottery with close parallels to the ancient Greek world, the use of an Aegean—instead of a Semitic—script, and the consumption of pork."

"Many researchers also tie the presence of the Philistines to the exploits of the Sea Peoples, a mysterious confederation of tribes that, according to Egyptian and other historical sources, appears to have wreaked havoc across the eastern Mediterranean at the end of the Late Bronze Age in the 13th century and early 12th century B.C."

"The four early Iron Age DNA samples, all from infants buried beneath the floors of Philistine houses, include proportionally more “additional European ancestry” in their genetic signatures (roughly 14%) than in the pre-Philistine Bronze Age samples (2% to 9%), according to the researchers."

"What researchers find even more unusual is that this specific “European blip” disappears quickly and is statistically insignificant in the DNA from study samples recovered from the cemetery at Ashkelon only a few centuries after the infant burials. The later Philistine burials have genetic signatures very similar to local populations who lived in the region before the Philistines showed up."

"Now we have the answer: Southern Europe, and probably more specifically mainland Greece, Crete, or Sardinia. This fits with what had seemed the most likely answer previously, especially judging from [the archaeological remains], and so this seems a logical finding."

Source: "The Aegean (Mycenean) origin of the Philistines," Novo Scriptorium, 15 February 2019.

"Excavations at several of these Philistine cities have revealed that their red-and-black ceramics bear a striking resemblance to the styles of the Mycenaean Greeks. This was not imported pottery, because recent analysis shows that it was made with local clays. Also, loom weights found at Philistine cities are similar to those dug up at Mycenae and other Greek sites by the great 19th century archeologist Heinrich Schliemann."

"Other important clues are the brick cooking hearths uncovered in the ruins of Ekron by Trude Dothan and Dr. Seymour Gitin, director of the Albright Institute of Archeological Research in Jerusalem. The hearth had not been common in Canaan, the archeologists pointed out, but had a central place in the palaces of the Aegean world."

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