It’s fair to say that the ancient Philistines have enjoyed a thoroughly bad press over the centuries. In fact, according to the Collins Dictionary, the very word “philistine” means “smugly conventional and lacking in culture” – hardly a description that anyone would welcome. But take a closer look back at history, and you’ll soon discover that the Philistine’s bad reputation is somewhat unfair.
The lousy name that the Philistines have is partly down to the Old Testament. You see, this section of the Bible was written by Jews, for whom the Philistines were arch enemies. It follows, then, that many of the biblical stories about the Philistines paint them in a less than favorable light. For instance, there’s the story of David and Goliath, in which the diminutive Israelite David took on the blustering bully and Philistine, Goliath. Despite the odds, David fells the giant with a slingshot and then decapitates him. There’s little doubt, then, who’s the hero and who’s the baddie in that story.
Then there’s the tale of Samson and Delilah. Treacherous Delilah convinces Samson to reveal the source of his strength – strength that has prevented the Philistines from capturing the Israelite hero. And once Delilah learns that Samson’s power is in his hair, she promptly cuts off his locks. With their craftily obtained advantage, the Philistines subsequently capture and blind Samson before taking him into slavery.