The Philistines in Transition: A History from Ca. 1000-730 B.C.E

By Howard, David M., Jr. | Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, June 1999 | Go to article overview

The Philistines in Transition: A History from Ca. 1000-730 B.C.E


Howard, David M., Jr., Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society


The Philistines in Transition: A History from ca. 1000-730 B.C.E. By Carol S. Ehrlich. Studies in the History and Culture of the Ancient Near East 10. Leiden: Brill, 1996, xii + 235 pp., $72.25.

This work, a revision of a 1991 Harvard dissertation, is extremely useful for anyone interested in the Philistines in their own right, and not just in their role as enemies of Israel. It is the first book-length treatment of Philistine history during the period indicated in the title; prior to this, the vast majority of treatments of Philistine history have focused primarily on the Philistines' origins and entry into Canaan, well before 1000 BC. The parameters for Ehrlich's discussion are the beginning of the Philistines' entanglements with David (ca. 1000 BC) and the Assyrian conquest of Philistia (ca. 730 Bc). Despite much discussion as to the nature and extent of David's subjugation of the Philistines, these dates are two important milestones in Philistine history and form natural demarcations for Ehrlich's treatment.

The first chapter introduces the Philistines and sketches previous treatments of them, especially focusing on their earlier history. Chapter 2 deals in detail with the Philistines' decline from a position of expansive dominance in Canaan ca. 1000 Bc to one of retrenched, defensive holdings in Philistia proper at the end of the lOth century BC, due to their defeats by David and the Egyptians. Chapter 3 chronicles what little can be known of Philistine fortunes in the next two centuries. Here, the Philistines managed to hold their own within Canaan, but they never were able to pose the threat to their neighbors that they had previously. …

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