Against the Philistine cities (Zech 9:5-9:7)

“Ashkelon shall see it.

They shall be afraid.

Gaza too,

Shall writhe in anguish.

Ekron also,

Because its hopes are withered.

The king shall perish

From Gaza.

Ashkelon shall be uninhabited.

A mongrel people

Shall dwell in Ashdod.

I will make an end

Of the pride of Philistia.

I will take away

Its blood

From its mouth.

I will take away

Its abominations

From between its teeth.

It too shall be a remnant

For our God.

It shall be

Like a clan in Judah.

Ekron shall be

Like the Jebusites.”

Once again, there is a diatribe against the Philistine cities on the Mediterranean coast.  Only 3 of the 5 cities are mentioned here.  Ashkelon and Gaza would be afraid.  Ekron would have its hope crushed.  There would no longer be a king in Gaza.  No one would live in Ashkelon.  Only a mongrel or mixed race would live in Ashdod.  The pride of the Philistines would be crushed.  Yahweh was going to end their unclean practices of eating their meat with blood in their mouths, since they would follow the Israelite dietary laws.  These Philistines would become a small remnant just like Judah had become.  Ekron would become like the decimated Canaanite Jebusites, who had formerly inhabited Jerusalem, before the time of David.

Against the seacoast people (Zeph 2:5-2:7)

“Woe to you!

Inhabitants of the seacoast!

You nation of the Cherethites!

The word of Yahweh

Is against you!

O Canaan!

Land of the Philistines!

I will destroy you

Until no inhabitant is left.

You,

O seacoast,

Shall be pastures,

Shall be meadows for shepherds,

Shall be folds for flocks.

The seacoast

Shall become the possession

Of the remnant

Of the house of Judah.

They shall pasture

In the houses of Ashkelon.

They shall lie down at evening.

Yahweh,

Their God,

Will be mindful of them.

He will restore

Their fortunes.”

Yahweh, via Zephaniah, rebuked the whole seacoast area of the Philistines, about 32 miles along the Mediterranean coast line and about 10-16 miles wide inland in southwestern Canaan.  They were called Cherethites, since they may have had some connection to the island of Crete.  Yahweh was against them, so that he was going to destroy them until there was nothing left of them.  They would become a possession of the remnants of Judah.  Their land would become like meadows for sheep.  Their houses in Ashkelon would become pastures.  Yahweh was going to restore the fortunes of the Israelites.

Against the Philistine cities (Zeph 2:4-2:4)

“Gaza shall be deserted.

Ashkelon shall become

A desolation.

Ashdod’s people

Shall be driven out

At noon.

Ekron shall be uprooted.”

Like the other prophets, Zephaniah rallied against the neighboring countries of Israel.  He started with the Philistine cities along the Mediterranean coast.  Although there were 5 major cities, Zephaniah did not mention Gath that was probably destroyed in the 8th century BCE.  Here there is a mention of 4 Philistine cities from south to north, the coastal towns of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Ekron, the farthest north and a little inland.  Gaza would be deserted, while Ashkelon would become desolate.  Ashdod had its people driven out at noon.  Nevertheless, all 3 cities still exist today.  Ekron was simply uprooted, something that actually took place around 604 BCE under the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II.

Against the Philistines (Am 1:6-1:8)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘For three transgressions

Of Gaza,

And for four,

I will not revoke

The punishment.

Because they carried

Into exile

Entire communities,

To hand them over

To Edom.

So,

I will send a fire

On the wall of Gaza.

It shall devour

Its strongholds.

I will cut off

The inhabitants

From Ashdod.

I will cut off

The one who holds

The scepter

From Ashkelon.

I will turn my hand

Against Ekron.

The remnant

Of the Philistines

Shall perish.’

Says Yahweh

God.”

The Philistines had 5 major cities along the Mediterranean coast, west of Judah. The only city not mentioned here was Gath that had been wiped out by the Syrian King Hazael. Otherwise, Yahweh was going to punish the other 4 cities. Gaza was cited as the worst, since the numbering iniquities were about 3 and 4 things, just like the numerical Proverbs, chapter 30. Yahweh was not going to revoke his punishment against them. They were involved in the slave trade with Edom that sent whole communities into exile. Although fire would come to Gaza, Yahweh reminded them that Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Ekron would also suffer. All the remaining Philistines would perish or die. This was clearly an oracle of Yahweh.

Against the Philistines (Ezek 25:15-25:15)

“Thus says Yahweh God!

‘With unending hostilities,

The Philistines

Acted in vengeance

With malice of heart.

They took revenge

In destruction.’”

The Philistines were often mentioned in the biblical literature, especially as the enemies of King David. They were perhaps originally from the island of Crete. They were the five main Philistine coastal cities mentioned from the time of Joshua, chapter 13, Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, Gath, and Ashdod, all on the Mediterranean coast line of present day Israel. Thus the mention of unending hostilities with the Philistines did not seem out of place. Jeremiah, chapter 47, had also spoken against them. These Philistines acted with vengeance and malice, as they brought revenge on the Israelites with their destruction.

The defeat of the various Philistine cities (Jer 47:5-47:7)

“Baldness has come

Upon Gaza.

Ashkelon is silenced.

O remnant of their power!

How long

Will you gash yourselves?

O!

Sword of Yahweh!

How long

Until you are quiet?

Put yourself

Into your scabbard!

Rest!

Be still!

How can it be quiet?

Yahweh has given it

A charge

Against Ashkelon,

Against the seashore.

There he has appointed it.”

This short chapter on the Philistines ends with the mention of a couple of the five main Philistine cities, mentioned from the time of Joshua, chapter 13. Ashkelon and Gaza were still standing, but as defeated cities, as Jeremiah mentioned here. Gaza was bald and Ashkelon was silent, since they were only a remnant of their former power. How long would they be in mourning? Would Yahweh put his sword away? These seaside cities were in ruin. Gath and Ashdod were not mentioned here, because they were completely destroyed by the Egyptians in the 7th century BCE.

The Philistines (Jer 47:1-47:1)

“The word of Yahweh

Came

To the prophet Jeremiah

Concerning the Philistines,

Before Pharaoh attacked Gaza.”

The Philistines, perhaps from Crete, had been the enemies of King David with many mentions in the biblical literature. They were, of course, the five main Philistine cities mentioned from the time of Joshua, chapter 13. Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, Gath, and Ashdod, all on the Mediterranean coast line of present day Israel. Gath and Ashdod were almost completely destroyed by the Egyptians in the 7th century. Here there is a mention of Pharaoh Neco invading Gaza. In the Septuagint Greek translation, this is chapter 29, not chapter 47 as here.