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ost people are aware or at least have heard of the biblical story about the battle between David and Goliath. How an unarmed young shepherd killed a giant warrior. The discord of the story is still believed by many to be a legend however, there are mentions within the old testament of the Bible about David and Goliath as well as referring to the humongous size of Goliath.

And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. — 1 Samuel 17:4 (ESV)

A decisive battle faced the armies of the Jews and the Philistines. Among the Philistines was the giant Goliath, who wanted to provoke a two-way battle with one of his opponents. But the Israelites were terrified, and no one dared to face the Goliath’s sword. King Saul promised the one who would dare to face him would be rewarded with the hand of his daughter. So the young shepherd David is announced. He refused the king’s sword and armor and was quick to fight only with a slap, which killed Goliath with one blow in the eye. The Israelites were brave, they followed the feared Philistines, and they have shown no compassion.

The Aegean space in Palestine

The Philistines originally belonged to the people of the sea, a coalition of diverse populations from the region of Anatolia and the Aegean Sea, which repeatedly attacked Egypt during Pharaoh Rameses III (1184–1153 BC). The Philistines settled in southern Palestine, especially in the coastal plains. First under Egyptian rule and at the end of the twelfth century still under Egyptian control, the cities of Gaza, Askalon, and Ashdod feel into the sphere of influence of the Philistines, who make up Pentapolis. So these three cities together with Aaron and Gath were governed by principles that come together in a confederation with a changing headquarters.

Depiction of King Saul (source: Bible Wiki)

Despite all the Bible descriptions, the facts presented do not always mesh with geographical discoveries. The military equipment of the Philistines and Goliath, respectively, is described in detail. From the Philistine military camp, Goliath from the Gat stands out as a first-rank fighter, who measures six bowls and a hatchet. On his head, he wore a bronze helmet and had a bronze plate, worth 5,000 shekels. He also had bronze splinters on his legs and carried a sickle between his shoulders. He had a spear as thick as a tree and extremely sharp.

Depiction of David fighting Goliath (source: Wikimedia Commons)

The biblical description brings us to the likeness of Greek hoplites. The spear, the sword, the shield or the cap with a brush are quite clear indications. However, if one compares the description with the reliefs in Medinet Habu, it is concluded that the Old Testament account fits at the earliest for the seventh century, since only heavy armor dates back then.

The Philistines

Their military organization has certainly brought them many benefits. The fighting car and the bow were taken from the Egyptians. The erection of some outposts, as well as the use of mobile units, allowed them to expand the occupied territory. Iron processing and its use in the military field were of great help to them. However, a side effect was that the tribes in Israel had to reorganize themselves militarily and organizationally to cope with this threat.

The Israelites defeated by the Philistines (source: Bible Wiki)

In the religious field, the Philistines differed fundamentally from the Israelites. They worshiped many Gods and Goddesses, for example, Dagon or Baal Zebur. For them, temples and other holy places were erected where sacrifices were made. The Philistines also used stone-carved blocks, which were not known until then in the area, except Cyprus. In the big cities, houses and palaces were erected, which are distinguished by the Canaanite architectural tradition.

The name Palestine has to do with the Philistines. After the Romans suppressed Bar Kochba’s uprising in 135 AD, they integrate Palestine from Syria. In 193/94 a division was reached under which the province of Palestine was created. The name is still preserved today, so it survived as Byzantine, Arab, and Osmania rule. In the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, it is occasionally tried to connect the Palestinians with the Philistine past and through this invocation the overcoming of the state of war.

It requires attention, however, because the Philistines had disappeared as a people for many centuries before the Roman conquest the residents of Palestine today are the descendants of the Byzantine population and then of the Arabs who infiltrated in the area. To this day, the parable with David and Goliath is still used when it comes to an unequal battle. From a certain point of view, through the huge Bible, the Philistines still have a place in the collective memory, although their union of cities was subdued by the Assyrians of Tiglatpilaser III in 732 BC.

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