.php lang="en"> The Term 'Palestine' (Free Bible Quotes) What is the origin of the word Palestine?

Quotes About the Bible and History


John Bimson

The Term 'Palestine'

"The term 'Palestine' is derived from the Philistines. In the fifth century BC the Greek historian Herodotus seems to have used the term Palaistine Syria (= Philistine Syria) to refer to the whole region between Phoenicia and the Lebanon mountains in the north and Egypt in the south. (While the exact meaning intended by Herodotus is debated, later Greek writers certainly used 'Philistine Syria' in this very broad sense.)

During the second century BC, under the Hasmonean priest-kings, the name of the tribe of Judah became applied to a very wide region, and when the Romans took control of that territory in 63 BC they called it Provincia Judaea. 

However, in AD 135, after putting down the second major Jewish revolt against Rome, the Emperor Hadrian wanted to blot out the name of the province to Provincia Syria Palaestina (ie the Latin version of the Greek term). This was later shortened to Palaestina, from which the modern 'Palestine' is derived. 

Since the term does not originate until the fifth century BC at the earliest, it does not occur in the Old Testament. (in the KJV we do find 'Palestine' in Joel 3:4 and 'Palestina' in Exod 15:14 and Isa 14:29, but these are errors of translation; both should be 'Philistia', as in the RSV.)

Today the name "Palestine" has political overtones which many find objectionable, and for that reason some writers deliberately avoid using it. However, the alternatives are either too clumsy to be used repeatedly, or else they are inaccurate when applied to certain periods, so "Palestine" remains a useful term when kept free of political implications."

John Bimson "The Compact Handbook of Old Testament Life" (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1988) pp. 6-7