One of the most well-known stories of the Bible is David’s defeat of Goliath, a Philistine giant from the town of Gath. The Philistines may have originated from the island of Crete and settled along the eastern Mediterranean coast around the time of the Judges. As the Philistines pushed further into the interior of Canaan, they often came into conflict with the Israelites, who resided mostly in the hill country. The Philistine threat was likely one of the reasons the Israelites eventually demanded a king to help rally the nation. The five primary cities of Philistia were Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron, Gath, and Gaza, and these may have been what was in young David’s mind as he chose five stones in preparation to face Goliath. The Israelites subdued the Philistines, but the area remained largely Gentile throughout Bible times. In the New Testament, Peter traveled to the nearby cities of Lydda and Joppa and healed Aeneas and Dorcas, and Philip the Evangelist (one of the original deacons of the early church) met an Ethiopian eunuch on the road to Gaza and explained to him that Jesus is the Messiah foretold in the Scriptures.

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