Just who are the Palestinians is what my conscience has been asking me. Who is this thorn in Israel’s side that is borne of the Mediterranean shores? Gaza is referenced in scripture 19 times, Philistine, 33, and, Philistines, 246. This is an important people, a people of giants and whose children inhabited (and still inhabit) the ancient land of Canaan. Interestingly enough, in Hebrew, Gaza means “strong”, or, “stronghold.”
Canaan of Old
Canaan is one of the sons of Ham, grandson of Noah and thus eventually the land they inhabited was called Canaan, the original name of Philistia. Another son of Ham and grandson of Noah, Mizraim, is the father of the Philistines. Many peoples have dwelt in this land of which later became known as the land of giants, such as the Emims, frightening beings, and were succeeded in the land by the Anakims, which means long neck, or, tall. YHVH shows Abram the land in which his seed is to inherit, from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates. Throughout Abraham’s adventures he encounters many Philistines and typically dwells among them in safety. Abimelech, a Philistine, king of Gerar, even covenanted with Abraham that they would treat one another with integrity and always deal uprightly with another. Isaac also covenanted with Abimelech II in similar fashion. Of course it’s confirmed later that the Philistines envied Abraham and Isaac because, like his father, Isaac also had many flocks and servants, a favored man, and, a stranger in a land of giants.
“Do Not Serve Other Gods”
Israel has warred with the Philistines throughout the ages. Many times the Philistines won, many times Israel. This land and its people are of such importance in scripture that they are described in detail beginning in Genesis through Second Chronicles, and later in the books of the prophets. What’s important to note is that when Israel would lose and go into captivity it is because they tended to forget the statutes of YHVH and the promise He fulfilled to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in giving them the land, to follow other gods such as Ashtoreth, a Philistine goddess. I’m reminded of the passage from Exodus 23 which states: “They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee.” (Ex.23:33) Likewise, we can see another, but related issue in Numbers 33, which states: “But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.” (Num.33:55) Thus YHVH, by design, would allow Israel to be punished by ‘those nations which serve other gods.’ This theme remains even in our time. We see the presence and influence of ‘other gods’ directly on His Holy Mountain.
The Ever-Present Philistines
Gaza was then, and is today, still a city which is walled off. Gaza is still a city that dwells by the Mediterranean, its people still labeled as Philistines (Palestinians). Palestine is derived from Philistia which can be easily cross-referenced in Strong’s Concordance, #6429. Nave’s Topical Bible Reference attests to the same definition. Scripture is abound with these references and can be found in, Gen.10:19, 2 Kings18:8, and Jos.11:22, to name a few (there are many others which can be easily referenced). The Arabic word for Palestine is filasÅ£Ä«n (ÙÙ„Ø³Ø·ÙŠÙ†)-(Philistine). The Hebrew word for Palestine is palestÃna (×¤Ö¼×œ×©×‚×ª×™× ×”), or peleset. Both of these words transliterate directly to Philistine, and Philistia, respectively. During the official process for naming the land Palestine (which had been the name of the land throughout the Roman and Byzantine empires), the Arabs opposed the Jewish leadership’s desire to call it simply, Eretz Yisraâ€²el (Land of Israel). This is not surprising. Another not-so-surprising demand by the Arabs was to call Palestine “Southern Syria” however the Britains rejected that proposal. The Arabs are smart. They didn’t want any reference to the land of Philistia which illuminates YHVH’s Truth, Jewish history, and Israel’s title to the land.
Strong-Necked VS. Stiff-Necked
As central as the struggle is between the Philistines and Israel we have the luxury of fast forwarding to today, most recently tracing from the British Mandate of Palestine in 1948, until now, this prophetic battle. From numerous fatwas to flotillas, Israel is constantly under siege by word and deed. They simply cannot live in peace, while daily receiving rocket fire from Gaza, oil pipeline fiascoes in Egypt which affect Israel’s oil economy, and, constantly under pressure from neighboring countries and world powers which, in reality, aren’t interested in Israel’s sovereignty. This is a lot to swallow and this is only the least of it. In essence what we have seen from antiquity to now is nothing short of a prophetic struggle between two defined peoples, one is strong-necked, the other, stiff-necked. One is gigantic on a prophetic scale, one is a tiny nation, as small as the navel of the giant.
No matter the day-to-day threats secular Israel faces, we as the spiritual nation of Israel must continually trust in the mighty hand and outstretched arm of the Most High. His wing has Israel pressed firmly to His breast. The only thing that matters is that after all these grueling centuries of our brethren being strangers in other lands, YHVH, once again, has granted His mercy to His people Israel by awarding them their home. The nations are continually in derision about this, yet they can do nothing. Sleepless nights abound for the nations attempting to solve the “Palestinian Problem”, but they are simply supporting the Philistines’ desire to conquer Israel, whether they know it, or not. Our faith must rely on these truths, which with a little knowledge and patience, becomes sort of easy to accept. YHVH has given His children clues that shine forth no matter the short-term distractions that abound on this blue sphere called Earth. His wisdom, His design, which we can’t always understand, has remained and it shall remain for ever and ever.
Jason Edmonston is a graduate from Western Carolina University with a degree in Business Administration. He enjoys reading and writing about Israel, Islam and the word of YHVH. You can read more of his work atwww.piercethesnare.blogspot.com