Origin of the Name Palestine

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.”

§ 133 Responses to Origin of the Name Palestine"

  • suzan zaghmouth says:

    i am originally from Palestine and recently became curious of my family history.
    i was wondering if my last name means anything? where it comes from?

    • Adam says:

      Your Arabic name will tell you where you are from originally…but if you claim to come from ‘Palestine’ (and I don’t doubt that you were born there) the areas of origin for your surname are easy to find. It is going to be Syrian, Saudi Arabian or Egyptian. Arab surnames are geographically based, and also clan based. I would suggest you contact Arab groups from those countries first and ask if your name is one of theirs. If it isn’t from the first you try, they will point you in the right direction. .Good luck.

    • Shonah says:

      It’s the transliteration of a Mesopotamian name, not Arabic (I wish people really understood linguistics in this country – ugh! I could tell just by looking). Here you go, though: In Mesopotamia, over 4,000 years ago, the Mesopotamian celebrated the beginning of each year with a 12-day celebration called “Zagmuth.”

    • Zaid says:

      For those who did not hear of Palestion before 1917.
      The Balfour Declaration (dated 2 November 1917) was a letter from the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Baron Rothschild (Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild), a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland.

      His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

      The “Balfour Declaration” was later incorporated into the Sèvres peace treaty with Turkey and the Mandate for Palestine. The original document is kept at the British Library.

      Some facts:
      1. There has not been a country that is called Israel.
      2. Jews had been screwed in Europe, because they are dirty, lier, greedy
      3. Europe wanted to get rid of Jews.
      4. Palestinians hosted Jews in Palestine.
      5. Jews came to Palestine as refugees.
      6. Thereafter, Jews have been murdering Palestine since 1945
      7. In 1945 Jews took Palestine over
      8. Since 1945 Jews have been trying to find one evidence that proves there was a country that is called Israel, and yet nothing has been found.
      9. It has been called Palestine since, Ancient Egyptians, Canaanites, Ancient Israelites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, the Muslims, the Crusaders, Ayyubids, Mameluks, Ottomans, the British, The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
      10. Jews a group of people who are not Muslims or Christians.
      11. Jews are relating to Judaism.
      12. Jews can be found in Africa, USA, Europe, Asia, Arab Countries and everywhere.
      13. Jews are not a nation as such.
      14. Due to the bad treatment in Europe they wanted to have a country in Palestine.
      15. Ironically, they came to Palestine and chose the most beautiful cities to declare them as their country.
      16. In Jerusalem there is one of the most important church “Church of the Resurrection” , and the most important mosque for Muslim, and they claimed that is a very important temple under the church and the mosque really!
      17. Isreal will be vanished soon.

      P.S. To all Jews in Palestine only, heroes do fight like Palestinians.

  • andy boswell says:

    So Palestine is not a country, just a roman name for this for this area.The British chose to call the land they mandated Palestine, and the Arabs picked it up as their nation’s supposed ancient name, though they couldn’t even pronounce it correctly and turned it into Falastin a fictional entity. So that they wouldn’t have to call it what it is-ISRAEL. Thanks for the info.

    • vixi says:

      Names can change , as Lebanon, Canaan, Saudi, Iraq, Angola but people stay. Israel also is a fictional given name. What were the American Indian called before Columbus ? what was their country called ? NO one knows neither do they . So does that mean as people they did not exist ? You do realize no one knows the true story abut the Philstines, but we know if you chose the Bible. They are mentioned long before Israel . Make sense.

    • Sam says:

      Is that what your little brain surmised from this post?

  • Mike Giles says:

    The world is really un-informed to the facts presented here. There is no such thing as “The Palestinian homeland”.
    Through out world history the names of countries have been changed many times because of war.
    The land of Canaan became Israel after Joshua subdued the land. Later 2 kingdoms came out of one, Israel and Juda, which the entire area was later called Judea during the time of Jesus.
    Not until the Romans changed the name did Israel become “Syria Palaestina”.
    However, today as it was known in the time of King David, the name of the country is Israel.
    The so called Palestinians do not have a country called Palestine.
    Case closed.