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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Caphtor; Caphtorim

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kaf´tor , kaf´tor -im ( כּפתּור , kaphtōr , כּפתּרים , kaphtōrı̄m ; Καππαδοκία , Kappadokı́a , Γαφτοριείμ , Gaphtorieı́m , Καφτοριείμ , Kaphtorieı́m ).

1. First Theory: Crete

The country and people whence came the Philistines (Genesis 10:14 = 1 Chronicles 1:12 (here the clause "whence went forth the Philistines" should, probably come after Caphtorim); Deuteronomy 2:23 ; Jeremiah 47:4 ; Amos 9:7 ). Jer (loc. cit.) calls it an "island"; there is evidence of ancient connection between Crete and Philistia; and the Philistines are called Cherethites, which may mean Cretans (see CHERETHITES ). These considerations have led many to identify Caphtor with the important island of Crete. It should be noted, however, that the word אי , 'ı̄ , used by Jeremiah, denotes not only "isle," but also "coastland."

2. Second Theory: Phoenicia

Ebers (Aegypten und die Bücher Moses , 130ff) thought that Caphtor represented the Egyptian Kaft -ur , holding that Kaft was the Egyptian name for the colonies of Phoenicians in the Delta, extended to cover the Phoenicians in the north and their colonies. Kaft -ur , therefore, would mean "Greater Phoenicia." But the discovery of Kaptar among the names of countries conquered by Ptolemy Auletes in an inscription on the Temple of Kom Ombo is fatal to this theory.

3. Third Theory: Cilicia

A third theory would identify Caphtor with the Kafto of the Egyptian inscriptions. As early as the time of Thotmes III the inhabitants of this land, the Kafti , are mentioned in the records. In the trilingual inscription of Canopus the name is rendered in Greek by Phoinı́kē , "Phoenicia." This seems to be an error, as the Kafti portrayed on the monuments have no features in common with the Semites. They certainly represent a western type. It is held that the Egyptian Kafto is a district in Asia Minor, probably Cilicia. The sea-pirates, the purasati , whom Rameses III subdued (circa 1200 bc), entered Syria from the north. The "R" in the name is the Egyptian equivalent of the Semitic "L". Therefore Purasatı̄ = Pilishtı̄ , "Philistines." And so it is proposed to identify Caphtor with Cilicia. A serious objection to this theory is the absence of the final "r" in Kafto . McCurdy's suggestion (HDB ) that it represents a Hebrew waw , written as a vowel-letter in an original Kafto , does not carry conviction.

It is impossible to give a certain decision; but the balance of probability seems still inclined to the first theory.


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Caphtor; Caphtorim'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/isb/c/caphtor-caphtorim.html. 1915.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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