The Lords Of The Philistines
The "Philistines," or "Philistim" (from which comes the English rendering "Palestine") originated from Mizraim, the son of Noah's son Ham (the Canaanites originated from Ham's other son Canaan):
"10:1 Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood." (Genesis 10:1 KJV)
"10:6 And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan." (Genesis 10:6 KJV)
"10:13 And Mizraim begat Ludim, and Anamim, and Lehabim, and Naphtuhim, 10:14 And Pathrusim, and Casluhim, (out of whom came Philistim,) and Caphtorim." (Genesis 10:13-14 KJV)
The Philistines grew into a militarily-powerful "nation" (which originally just meant family, or place of birth i.e. "nation" and "nativity" have the same root) in the area of the Mediterranean coast, southwest of Jerusalem. In the time of Joshua, the cities of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath were ruled by the "lords of the Philistines."
"13:3 From Sihor, which is before Egypt, even unto the borders of Ekron northward, which is counted to the Canaanite: five lords of the Philistines; the Gazathites, and the Ashdothites, the Eshkalonites, the Gittites, and the Ekronites" (Joshua 13:3 KJV)
By the time of The Judges (tribal leaders after the death of Joshua; see also Joshua's Warning), the "lords of the Philistines," and other foreigners in the land of Israel, were still formidable opponents to Israel, according to the purpose of the LORD i.e. to "teach them war" and "to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the LORD."
"3:1 Now these are the nations which the LORD [i.e. Jesus Christ; see 'The God Of The Old Testament'] left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan; 3:2 Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof; 3:3 Namely, five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites that dwelt in mount Lebanon, from mount Baalhermon unto the entering in of Hamath. 3:4 And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of the LORD, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses." (Judges 3:1-4 KJV)
"All the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport"
It was "the lords of the Philistines," with the help of the treacherous Philistine woman Delilah, that captured foolish Samson (see also Samson's Fatal Attraction) after he, even though he knew better, eventually gave in to the endless nagging of his "honey" i.e. "she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death" (see also Lessons From The Honeycomb).
"16:4 And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. 16:5 And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver.
16:6 And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee.
16:7 And Samson said unto her, If they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.
16:8 Then the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven green withs which had not been dried, and she bound him with them. 16:9 Now there were men lying in wait, abiding with her in the chamber. And she said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he brake the withs, as a thread of tow is broken when it toucheth the fire. So his strength was not known.
16:10 And Delilah said unto Samson, Behold, thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: now tell me, I pray thee, wherewith thou mightest be bound.
16:11 And he said unto her, If they bind me fast with new ropes that never were occupied, then shall I be weak, and be as another man.
16:12 Delilah therefore took new ropes, and bound him therewith, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And there were liers in wait abiding in the chamber. And he brake them from off his arms like a thread.
16:13 And Delilah said unto Samson, Hitherto thou hast mocked me, and told me lies: tell me wherewith thou mightest be bound.
And he said unto her, If thou weavest the seven locks of my head with the web. 16:14 And she fastened it with the pin, and said unto him, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awaked out of his sleep, and went away with the pin of the beam, and with the web.
16:15 And she said unto him, How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart is not with me? thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein thy great strength lieth.
16:16 And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death;
16:17 That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.
16:18 And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath showed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand. 16:19 And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him.
16:20 And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the LORD was departed from him.
16:21 But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house." (Judges 16:4-21 KJV)
The LORD (see also 'Before Abraham Was, I AM') did not leave Samson however. The answer to Samson's final prayer devastated "the lords of the Philistines" of that time.
"16:22 Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven. 16:23 Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand.
16:24 And when the people saw him, they praised their god: for they said, Our god hath delivered into our hands our enemy, and the destroyer of our country, which slew many of us.
16:25 And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars.
16:26 And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them. 16:27 Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport. 16:28 And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. 16:29 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. 16:30 And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.
16:31 Then his brethren and all the house of his father came down, and took him, and brought him up, and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the buryingplace of Manoah his father. And he judged Israel twenty years." (Judges 16:22-31 KJV)
Fact Finder: (a) Did the "lords of the Philistines" ever capture the Ark of the Covenant from the Israelites? Why were the Philistines soon thereafter desperate to return the Ark to Israel? (b) What "god" did the Philistines worship?
(a) See The Ark In Ekron; see also Raiders Of The Lost Ark
(b) See Baal-zebub and Beelzebub