According to the biblical materials, the Philistines emerge primarily as an opponent, an archetype whom Israel should never emulate or get close to (see the multiple examples cited in P. Machinist, “Biblical Traditions: The Philistines and Israelite History,” in The Sea Peoples and Their World: A Reassessment [ed. E. D. Oren; Philadelphia: University of Pennysylvania Museum, 2000], 53-83, esp. 67-69).
But things can be a little bit more complicated from an archaeological point of view! In the stimulating lecture held at the College de France in paris on 25.02.2015, Prof. Aren Maeir shows us how entangled the Philistine culture can be with the Israelite and other cultures in the surrounding world. You can check out the lecture in the following video, which does remind me of my summer adventure at the 2013 Tel Burna archaeological excavation:
Three things from the video amaze me in particular:
1. On the basis of the ancient DNA tests, the Philistines were responsible for importing pigs from Europe into the Levant! (25:15 onwards)
2. There are oraganic residue of incenses from Sri Lanka in the Philistine Iron Age IIA chalices! (43:15 onwards)
3. Some Jerusalemites might have been attracted to the Philistine religion, such that a jar made in the Jerusalem area and inscribed with an Israelite name was found in a Philistine temple precinct! (51:38 onwards)
Interesting mixture of cultures, isn’t it? 🙂