Philistines, an ancient people who were hereditary foes of the Israelites in Canaan. The name Palestine is derived from the Philistines. They were a seafaring people, probably from Asia Minor, who settled on the coastal plain about the 12th century B.C. The Philistines formed a confederacy of five cities—Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath. With their knowledge of ironworking they made iron weapons that gave them a military advantage.

The Israelites were often subject to the Philistines. Samson was an Israelite leader against these foes. The boy David slew the Philistine giant Goliath in combat; later, as king, he forced the enemy people to pay tribute. The Philistines disappeared as a nation about the eighth century B.C.

In current speech, the word “philistine,” as first used by Matthew Arnold, refers to a materialistic person who ignores or belittles intellectual and artistic values.