The Philistines were a people described in the Hebrew Bible. The Hebrew term “pelistim” occurs 286 times in the Masoretic text of the Hebrew bible (of which 152 times in Samuel 1), whereas in the Greek Septuagint version of the Hebrew Bible, the equivalent term phylistiim occurs only 12 times, with the remaining 269 references instead using the term “allophylos” (“of another tribe”).
According to Joshua 13:3 and 1 Samuel 6:17, the land of the Philistines (or Allophyloi), called Philistia, was a Pentapolis in south-western Levant comprised the five city-states of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath, from Wadi Gaza in the south to the Yarqon River in the north, but with no fixed border to the east. The Bible portrays them at one period of time as among the Kingdom of Israel’s most dangerous enemies. Biblical scholars have connected the Philistines to other biblical groups such as Caphtorim and the Cherethites and Pelethites, which have both been identified with Crete, and leading to the tradition of an Aegean origin, although this theory has been disputed. See also Palestinian People.
The evidence for and origins of the Philistines are not clear and is the subject of considerable research and speculation in biblical archaeology. Since 1822, scholars have connected the Biblical Philistines with the Egyptian “Peleset” inscriptions, all five of which appear from c.1150 BCE just as archaeological references to “Kinaḫḫu” or “Ka-na-na” (Canaan) come to an end, and since 1873 they have both been connected with the Aegean “Pelasgians”. Whilst the evidence for these connections is etymological and has been disputed, this identification is held by the majority of egyptologists and biblical archaeologists.
Medinet Habu is a mortuary temple that was constructed for Ramesess III at Thebes in Upper Egypt. The temple decoration consists of a series of reliefs and texts telling of the many exploits of the king, from his campaign against the Libyans to, most importantly, his war against the Sea Peoples.
The texts and reliefs that deal with the Sea Peoples date to year eight of Ramesess III’s reign, approximately 1190 B.C. The significance of these texts is that they provide an account of Egypt’s campaign against the “coalition of the sea” from an Egyptian point of view.
The Medinet Habu inscriptions are also significant for their artistic depictions of the Sea Peoples. These provide valuable information about the appearance and accoutrements of the various groups, and can lend clues towards deciphering their ethnic backgrounds (Redford 1992: 251).
But this was not the first attempted invasion by the Sea Peoples, the first attempt was against king Merneptah (reign:1213 to 1203 B.C.). His victory was recorded on his stele:
The Merneptah Stele — also known as the Israel Stele or Victory Stele of Merneptah — is an inscription by the Ancient Egyptian king Merneptah (reign:1213 to 1203 BC), which appears on the reverse side of a granite stele erected by the king Amenhotep III. It was discovered by Flinders Petrie in 1896 at Thebes.
The black granite stela primarily commemorates a victory in a campaign against the Libu and Meshwesh Libyans and their Sea People allies, but its final two lines refer to a prior military campaign in Canaan in which Merneptah states that he defeated Ashkelon, Gezer, Yanoam and Israel among others. The stele has gained much fame and notoriety for being the only Ancient Egyptian document generally accepted as mentioning “Isrir” or “Israel”. It is also, by far, the earliest known attestation of the demonym Israel.
The stele reads: Israel is wasted, bare of seed,
The Peleset and Tjeker (Minoans) of Crete, they would later be known as the “Philistines” after they had settled in Southern Canaan. Over time, this area became known by a form of their name “Palestine”. The Lukka who may have come from the Lycian region of Anatolia, The Ekwesh and Denen who seem to be identified with the original (Black) Greeks, The Shardana (Sherden) who may be associated with Sardinia, The Teresh (Tursha or Tyrshenoi), the Tyrrhenians – the Greek name for the Etruscans, and The Shekelesh (Sicilians?).
From the textual evidence on the temple walls, it appears that the Peleset and the Tjeker made up the majority of the Sea Peoples involved in the year 8 invasion.