Palestine meaning | Palestine etymology

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The name Palestine in the Bible

In Hebrew, the name Palestine (פלשת) and the name Philistine (פלשתי) are pretty much the same, and Philistine literally means One Of Palestine. The Philistines are descendants of the Casluhim, who were sons of Mizraim, son of Ham, son of Noah (Genesis 10:14).

Etymology and meaning of the name Palestine

The name Palestine/ Philistine seems to be related to the verb פלש (palash), denoting the expression of intense grief:

Abarim Publications Theological Dictionary

It's ultimately unclear whether the Philistines were named for the grief they caused or perhaps for their ability to express their own grief (like a kind of ancient blues). The Philistines were, after all, products of the great people's movements, and they were driven off Caphtor (Jeremiah 47:4) and subsequently out of Egypt. In fact, their history is not all that different from Israel's, and they may very well have been known as The Mourners, or Causing To Mourning.

But then, the name of the Philistines might also reflect the more fundamental or broader Semitic meaning of the verb פלש, that of digging or breaking through. As a nation, the Philistines may have been known as the Steamrollers.

Archaeologists have shown that the Philistines came from Greece, immigrated into Egypt and then, like the Hebrews, moved to a land they called Palestine. Remnants of a Hebrew occupation of Goshen are not found, and neither proof of the Hebrew wandering years. During the reign of David the Philistines and their culture ceased to be in the land of Israel.

Some archaeologists raise their eyebrows and almost rhetorically wonder: Why did the Philistines leave a legacy of pottery with fish and bird motives, while the Hebrews left virtually nothing except the Scriptures, crammed with imagery of birds and fish? Whatever the answer may prove to be, it is remarkable that David, the king of transition, was the one to destroy the Philistine culture, while the Philistines as a people were sucked into Babylon never to rise again. The Palestinians now living in Palestine are Arabs.

For a meaning of the name Palestine, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names goes with the verb mentioned above, focuses on its meaning of to roll around, and forgivingly translates Palestine with The Land Of Wanderers. NOBSE Study Bible Name List does not translate either name Palestine or Philistine.

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