Apart from the Egyptians and the Canaanites, the Philistines were some of the first groups of people the ancient Israelites interacted with. They coexisted peacefully (such as in the time of the patriarchs), but this was broken when Israel emerged as a rival in territories and power in southern Levant during the early Iron Age. The was with the Arabs and the Philistines is listed on the Bible Timeline Chart around 700 BC.
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The Philistines, also known as Sea People, settled on the coast of Canaan around 1100 BC. They lived in what was known as a pentapolis of Philistia, which was a group of five cities. This included Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath. The cities were bordered by the land assigned to the tribe of Judah in the east and Dan in the north. The Philistines were the predominant military power in the area, and they repeatedly invaded Israel during the combined reigns of Saul and David.
One of the Arab tribes that came into contact with Israel is the Midianites who were traders (Genesis 37:28-36), allies (Exodus 18:1; Numbers 10:29), or enemies (Numbers 22; Joshua 13:21; Judges 6) at different periods in Israel’s existence. The rise of the tribes linked and their contact with Israel and Judah came later during the reign of Jehoshaphat (871 BC to 850 BC). The nomadic tribes lived in the wide expanse of the Arabian peninsula which bordered the territories of the Edomites and Arameans.
During the time of Saul and David, Israel had significant victories over the Philistines, but they also lost major battles against them. The Philistines were subdued during the time of Solomon (2 Chronicles 9:26) and some, along with the neighboring Arabs, paid tributes to Jehoshaphat during his reign (2 Chronicles 17:11).
The Philistines once again became Judah’s enemy during the reign of Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21:16). They banded together with Arabs to attack him. Jehoram’s palace was looted, and his wife and sons were taken as captives by his enemies. Only Ahaziah was left among his children.
A hundred years later Uzziah won battles against the Philistines and Arabs. He took the cities of Gath, Jabneh, and Ashdod, and rebuilt towns near the Philistine territory (2 Chronicles 26:6-7). The Philistines invaded towns in Judah during the reign of Uzziah’s grandson King Ahaz, but his son King Hezekiah defeated the Philistines and drove them back “as far as Gaza and its territory” (2 Kings 18:8).
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