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    Philistine – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Why are uncultured people called Philistines?

    A. The answer goes back to the ancient conflict between light and darkness. Biblical thinking always took the side of light. At the beginning of Creation, God creates light and says it is good. Light is so significant in Judaism that we have an entire festival, Chanukah, called the Festival of Lights. Other groups, however, attached at least equal significance to darkness.

    Matthew Arnold pointed out that the Children of Israel, as the harbingers of moral truth and righteousness to the world, were instructed to be the bringers of light to Canaan. Because the Israelites were opposed by the Philistine people, the enemies of culture became popularly known as Philistines.

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