Where did the name Palestine come from?
The name Palestine is given to the region spreading from eastern Mediterranean coast to the Jordan Valley to the area covering Galilee Lake in the north and southern Negev Desert. The origin of this word lies in “Plesheth”. This is a name appearing frequently in the Bible and have started being known as “Philistine” in English. The world root of “Plesheth” lies in the word “palah” was is a term used generally in the sense of migratory, referring to the Palestinian’s conquest of the coast of Mediterranean. These people were mostly originates of Asia Minor and Greece and gradually became a part of the Arab world.
The Philistines entered in this region not all at one time but in different eras. The first group reached here in the pre-patriarchal period and made a settlement in Gerar, south of Beersheba. The second group arrived from Crete and settled in the southern coastal area where it divided made different settlements into Gat, Ekron, Ashdod, Ascalon and Gaza. These districts were occupied by the foreign settlers coming mostly from the Mediterranean islands.
In the fifth century BC, the region of eastern coast of the Mediterranean started being called as “the Philistine Syria”, a term coined by the Greek historian, Herodotus and used in its Greek language form. In AD 135, the Emperor Hadrian blotted out the name “Provincia Judea” and renamed it “Provincia Syria Palaestina”. This was the Latin version of the Greek name and soon became a name to be used as an administrative unit. This name was shortened to Palaestina and the name “Palestine” was derived from it as a modern and anglicized version.
No changes occurred to this name until after the fourth century had passed when Palestine was divided in to three regions, following the imperial reorganization. The name Palestine was used by the Christian Crusades to regard all three of the divided regions in general and continued to be used for the regions on both sides of the Jordan River in general. Palestine went under the rule of the Ottoman Turks for 400 years where its administration was attached to Damascus. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, the name Palestine was revived and was applied to the land falling under the British Mandate for Palestine. Arabs use the name “Falastin” for Palestine which is an Arab pronunciation of the Roman word “Palaestina.”
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