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INTRODUCTION. As early as the time of Abraham and Isaac, a group of Philistines lived in the southern area of Canaan (Gen. 20; 26). Another group of Philistines migrated from the regions of the Aegean Sea and settled in the coastal plain of southern Canaan about 1200 B.C. during the days of the judges of Israel. The area where they settled was called Philistia from which came the Greek name Palestine.
Later the Roman or Latin term for the entire land of Canaan was Palaestina. Thus in New Testament times the region is called Palestine, but the older name of Canaan is used in the Old Testament.
The Philistines were warlike and possessed weapons of iron which the Israelites did not have. They were a constant threat to the tribes of Israel from the days of the judges until they were conquered by David around 1000 B.C. During the twenty years Samson judged in Israel his conflict with the Philistines was a personal one. One time Samson went to Gaza, a Philistine city, and when the men of the city learned he was there, they set an ambush for him. They planned to attack him in the morning when he left the city after the city gates were open, but Samson left during the night, carrying the city gates and their posts on his shoulders up to the top of a hill before Hebron about thirty-eight miles away (Judg. 16:1-3).
Next Samson became involved with another Philistine woman, Delilah. She teased him and pleaded with him to reveal the secret of his strength . When he finally succumbed and told her his strength lay in his uncut hair, the symbol of the Nazarite vow he observed, she betrayed him to the Philistines. The remainder of Samson’s life was then tragic, but at his death he looked to God, and his faith enabled him to perform one final act of heroism.