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Reference: Caphtor


a chaplet, the original seat of the Philistines (De 2:23; Jer 47:4; Am 9:7). The name is found written in hieroglyphics in the temple of Kom Ombos in Upper Egypt. But the exact situation of Caphtor is unknown, though it is supposed to be Crete, since the Philistines seem to be meant by the "Cherethites" in 1Sa 30:14 (see also 2Sa 8:18). It may, however, have been a part of Egypt, the Caphtur in the north Delta, since the Caphtorim were of the same race as the Mizraite people (Ge 10:14; 1Ch 1:12).

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CAPHTOR or CAPHTORIM. The original seat of the Philistines (De 2:23). Sprung from Mizraim (Ge 10:14), akin to the Philistines who proceeded from the Casluhim, who sprung from Mizraim (Ge 10:13-14). In Jer 47:4 "the isle (margin i.e. the maritime or even the river bordering coast) of Caphtor" is mentioned, implying their neighborhood to either the sea (the Philistines' position) or to the Nile (whose waters are called "the sea," Na 3:8). The Egyptian names Copt (Kebtu, Keb-her in the hieroglyphics, the modern Coptic Kuft) and Egypt, i.e. Ee (the isle or coast of) Caphtor, are evidently the source of Caphtor. Capht-ur, i.e. the Great Calpht, probably the northern delta from which the Phoenicians emigrated into Asia, from whence Capht was the Egyptian name for the oldest Phoenicians in Asia or in Africa.

The time of migration must have been very early, as the Philistines were settled in Palestine in Abraham's time (Ge 21:32-34). A seafaring race related to the Egyptians spread abroad at an ancient date. For at Medcenet Haboo the monuments of Rameses III state that the Egyptians were at war with the Philistines, the Tok-karn (the Carians) and the Shayratana (the Cherethim or Cretans) of the sea. ("The isle of Caphtor" in its later sense may mean Crete.) All three resemble the Egyptians. In Am 9:7, "Have I not caused the Philistines to go up from Caphtor?" (i.e. from subjection to Caphtor, previous to their migration, as the context proves) Philistiym means immigrants, from the Ethiopic fallasa. The Cherethim are seemingly identified with or formed a part of the Philistines (1Sa 30:14,16).

Pusey suggests there were different immigrations of the same tribe into Palestine, which afterward merged in one name: the Casluhim first; a second from the Caphtorim; a third the Cherethim or Cretans, Crete being an intermediate resting place in their migrations from whence some passed into Philistia. The Philistines were first a Casluchian colony between Gaza and Pelusium, which was afterward strengthened by immigrants from Caphtor, and extended its territory by pressing out the Avvim (De 2:23; Jos 13:3). Tacitus (Hist., 5:2) says "the inhabitants of Palestine came from Crete"; perhaps many of the Cherethim settlers in Crete from Egypt, when disturbed by Minos and the Hellenes, withdrew from Crete to Philistia, where their kinsmen were settled.

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The region whence the Philistines came to Palestine (Am 9:7; Jer 47:4). Hence in De 2:23 Caphtorim means the Philistines. In Ge 10:14 Caphtorim is used of the country itself in place of Caphtor; it should be placed in the text immediately after Casluhim. Many identifications of Caphtor have been attempted. The favourite theory has been that it means the island of Crete (cf. Cherethites). Next in favour is the view that Caphtor was the coast of the Egyptian Delta. It has also been identified with Cyprus. The correct theory is suggested by inscriptions of Ramses III. of Egypt (c. b.c. 1200), who tells of his having repelled a great invasion by enemies who had entered Syria and Palestine from the north. The leaders of these barbarians were called Purusati, which (Egyp. r being Sem. l) is equivalent to the Heh. Pelisht

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The country from which, beside the Caphtorim, came some of the Philistines. They sprang from Mizraim, son of Ham. De 2:23; Am 9:7. In Jer 47:4 the 'isles,' margin, may only signify 'maritime border.' Caphtor is supposed to be somewhere in Egypt, but has not been identified. See CASLUHIM

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