(Heb. Pelesheth ) (land of sojourners ). The word thus translated (in) ( Psalms 60:8 ; 87:4 ; 108:9 ) is in the original identical with that elsewhere rendered Palestine, which always means land of the Philistines. (Philistia was the plain on the southwest coast of Palestine. It was 40 miles long on the coast of the Mediterranean between Gerar and Joppa, and 10 miles wide at the northern end and 20 at the southern.--ED.) This plain has been in all ages remarkable for the extreme richness of its soil. It was also adapted to the growth of military power; for while the itself permitted. the use of war-chariots, which were the chief arm of offence, the occasional elevations which rise out of it offered secure sites for towns and strongholds. It was, moreover, a commercial country: from its position it must have been at all times the great thoroughfare between Phoenicia and Syria in the north and Egypt and Arabia in the south.
The country is referred to under various designations in the Old Testament: namely, pelesheth (Philistia) (Psalms 60:8); 87:4), 'erets pelishtim, "land of the Philistines" (Genesis 21:32,34), geloth hapelishtim; Septuagint ge ton Phulistieim, "the regions of the Philistines" (Joshua 13:2). The Egyptian monuments have Puirsatha, Pulsath (Budge), Peleset (Breasted) and Purasati (HGHL), according to the different voweling of the radicals; the Assyrian form is Palastu or Pilistu, which corresponds very closely to the Egyptian and the Hebrew. The extent of the land is indicated in Joshua 13:2 as being from the Shihor, or Brook of Egypt (Revised Version), to the border of Ekron, northward. The eastern border was along the Judean foothills on the line of Beth-shemesh (1 Samuel 6:9) with the sea on the West. It was a very small country, from 25 to 30 miles in length and with an average width of about half the length, but it was fertile, being an extension of the plain of Sharon, except that along the coast high sand dunes encroached upon the cultivated tract. It contained many towns and villages, the most important being the five so often mentioned in Scripture: Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron. The population must have been large for the territory, which enabled them to contend successfully with the Israelites, notwithstanding the superiority of position in the hills to the advantage of the latter.
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