Today, the term “Philistine” has become synonymous with any person or people deemed uncultured, uncouth, and boorish. The word is repeated with little thought to its origin with few people knowing that it is derived from a maligned and often misunderstood people from the Old Testament of the Bible. For those who are familiar with the Old Testament, the Philistines were at first the ultimate bullies who seemed to delight in punishing the Israelites whenever they had a chance, but they then received their just dues at the hands of Israel’s second king, David (ca. 1000 BC). The reality was that the relationship between the Philistines and Israelites was complex and requires a more thorough examination.
The Philistines and Israelites found themselves on opposite sides of the battlefield for some reasons, some of which are more obvious than others. Both peoples established kingdoms in the Levant (the region that roughly corresponds to the modern nation-states of Palestine, Israel, and Lebanon) in the early Iron Age just after the collapse of the Bronze Age system around 1200 BC. Some of the early reasons for conflict were based on culture.