Philistines - i.e. inhabitants of Palestine - a race who in the period of the Hebrew kings occupied the low country along the coast of Palestine. They appear to have been originally wandering emigrants, and have been thought by some to be identical with the Hyksos who invaded Egypt. In the time of Abraham they were a pastoral people, but developed a commerce and became powerful. Their five cities of Gaza, Askelon, Ashdod, Gath, and Ekron gave the Israelites much trouble; and in the time of the Judges the Philistines evidently had the upper hand, as is shown by their frequent raids. This seems to have been one of the chief reasons for which the Israelites demanded a king; and Saul and David effectually put them down. They became again independent after the Separation, and harassed the kingdom of Israel. Later we find them invading Jerusalem, and still later they were merged into the Assyrian Empire. Their language was probably Semitic, and they appear to have had a considerable coasting and inland traffic. Their chief gods were Dagon, Ashtaroth, and the fish-deity Derceto.