Between 1997 and 2016, researchers at an excavation near Ashkelon in Israel examined the remains of more than one hundred humans, remains that dated from the 12th to 6th centuries before Christ. The researchers hoped to find human DNA in order to answer an old question: Who were the Philistines? Where did they come from?
As it turns out, the Philistines were exactly who the Bible says they were, and they came from where the Bible says they did.
Amos 9 speaks of God bringing up the Philistines from Caphtor, just as he brought Israel out of Egypt. Deuteronomy 2 tells us that “the Caphtorim, who came from Caphtor, destroyed [the original Canaanite inhabitants] and settled in their place.”
This brings us to the obvious question: “Where was Caphtor?” We just don’t know for sure, but the Bible does provide an interesting clue. Jeremiah called the Philistines “the remnant of the coastland of Caphtor.” The Hebrew word translated “coastland” can also mean “island.”
For this and other reasons, many archaeologists have concluded that biblical Caphtor was Crete. In fact, some modern Bible translations even render “Caphtor” as “Crete.” We can’t be completely certain that it is, but the Bible does tell us three additional things about the Philistines. First, they weren’t native to Iron Age Canaan. Second, they displaced the original inhabitants of the region. And, third, they came via the sea, that is, the Mediterranean.
Which brings me back to the excavation in Ashkelon. After analyzing DNA from the site, Michal Feldman, an archaeogeneticist at the Max Planck Institute, and Daniel Master, the head of the expedition, revealed the results. Master announced, “Our study has shown for the first time that the Philistines immigrated to this region in the 12th century (BC).”
And from where did they immigrate? According to Feldman, “This [DNA] ancestral component is derived from Europe, or to be more specific, from southern Europe, so the ancestors of the Philistines must have traveled across the Mediterranean and arrived in Ashkelon sometime between the end of the Bronze age and the beginning of the Iron age.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Stonestreet and Roberto Rivera