Their journey began from their homeland in Crete and the Aegean islands. These lands in the Bible are called Caphtor. Known as People of the Sea, they repeatedly attacked Egypt and were eventually repulsed by Ramesses III.
His actions led to these roving pirates settling on the fertile plane south of Joppa on the Mediterranean coast, in what is now known as the Gaza Strip. They developed the cities of Gaza, Gath, Ashkelon, Ashdod and Ekron.
Primary Bible characters associated with the region are Saul, Samuel, Samson and David. For years, the principal god of these people who came to be known as Philistines was the Semitic god Dagon. Currently, most who live there are Muslims.
Persians, Hasmoneans, Selucids, Egyptians, Romans and Israelis have tried to rule them unsuccessfully. In recent years after conquering the territory, the Israelis gave up on trying to govern them and gladly relinquished the territory. Egypt didn’t want them back. The ultimate group that has tried on several occasions to rule them unsuccessfully is their self-governance.
No one has ever successfully ruled them.
“Philistinism” is a derogatory coined word that describes people who disregard art, beauty, intellectualism, spiritual values and are materialistic.
Historically, there are brief periods of their existence that dispute this depiction.
Goethe (1749-1832) wrote of them, “The Philistine not only ignores all conditions of life which are not his own, but also demands that the rest of mankind should fashion its mode of existence after his own.” The term is in general one of social scorn.
That gives an idea of the long held mentality of the core of people who live in the Gaza Strip and their ancestors. Perhaps it explains why it is difficult to negotiate with them. Many are insisting the Israelis negotiate with them. No one has ever been able to do so. No one.
After the last conquest by Israel, Jewish settlements were developed in certain parts.
Later, seeking to reach a peace settlement, on August 17, 2005, Israel uprooted 1,700 Jewish households in Gaza, destroyed the buildings and withdrew all their settlers resulting in Palestinian rule.
The people who govern there now were elected by the people. America pushed for them to have open elections several years ago against the warning Hamas would be put in control. Unfortunately, instead of dedicating themselves to providing a better way of life for their people, Hamas dedicated themselves to the destruction of Israel.
Were it not for belligerence and obstinacy, the conflict could easily be resolved. All that would be required would be for Hamas to stop firing rockets into Israel. Israel does not want the Gaza Strip and the responsibility of trying to govern a people no one has ever been able to govern.
A significant aside is there has been virtually no support for Gaza by Arab countries. Iran has clandestinely provided them military equipment, but no other forms of support.
Iran’s interest and that of persons in other Arab countries has been to enable them to be a constant irritant to Israel. They have become very successful in this role.
The Rev. Dr. Nelson Price is pastor emeritus of Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta.