Which nations were the Cherethites and Pelethites?

Divrei Hayamim I - I Chronicles - Chapter 18:17 And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and the Pelethites, and the sons of David were first at the king's hand.


Rashi calls "the Cherethites and the Pelethites" "nations".

Which nations, therefore (on a pshat level), were the Cherethites and Pelethites?

  • 1
    The verse that Rashi cites (Tzefaniah 2:5) refers to "the nation of Cherethites" and "land of the Philistines," so presumably at least the Cherethites would be Philistines or a segment of them.
    – Meir
    Nov 8, 2020 at 16:10

1 Answer 1


There are a number of views on their identities brought by Da'at Mikra on Divrei Hayamim 1:18:7. The following two are the ones relevant to your question - views that these were distinct groups of people:

  1. Cheretites - from the Cheretite Negev, mentioned in Shmuel 1:30:14, and Peletites - descendants of Pelet, from the family of Yirachme'el.

  2. According to Rabbeinu Yonah Ibn Janach in Sefer HaShorashim: Two groups of Plishtim from Crete.

Other views:

  1. A slightly more nuanced version of the above two options is offered by the Encyclopedia Mikra'it (Hebrew Biblical Encyclopedia), entries: פלשתים and כרתי, that the Cheretites and the Plishtim are not the same people. Likely the both came from the same area in the Mediterranean, but they are two distinct groups (similar to how the Tanach differentiates between the Kaphtorim and the Plishtim). This might serve to explain the term "Cheretite Negev": The Cheretites, in order to distinguish themselves from their countrymen, settled south of Pleshet. It's also possible that the Cheretites actually made up an earlier immigration wave to Canaan, arriving there before the Plishtim. Connecting this view with what Trude Dothan wrote in her book "The Philistines and their material culture", pg. 17, that "The Philistine expansion toward the southwest is probably indicated by the term negeb hakreti", it's possible that the Cheretites originally settled with the Plishtim, and then perhaps volunteered to assist with the expansion by settling a particular area of the Negev Desert. The Encyclopedia believes that the Peletites are regular Plishtim.

  2. In Olam Hatanach on Shmuel 2, it is suggested that per the reading "הכרי והפלתי" (Shmuel 2:20:23) instead of "כרתי ופלתי", the Cheretites may have actually originated in the Caria region in Anatolia, which at the time was known for having many mercenaries-for-hire (though the Tanach never outright states it, it seems that that's what the Cheretites and Peletites were). It's worth noting that, as I first heard from archeologist Dr. Amit Dagan, inscriptions found in Turkey tell about a King Taita ruling the "Kingdom of Palistin".

I distinctly recall seeing a number of other sources with other views, but haven't been able to track them down yet. I hope I'll be able to eventually.

  • 1
    so one group says, the Cherethites and Pelethites are both Plishtim, that is, they are both originally Cretans (from the nation Crete); whereas another group says, the Cherethites are non-Israelites from the Negev, and the Pelethites are from a family of Israelites? If so, how can the "Pelethites" be described as a "nation" by Rashi, if the "Pelethites" are simply a family-subset from an Israelite family?
    – ninamag
    Nov 9, 2020 at 6:04
  • 1
    @ninamag I guess you're right. Then the only relevant view of the two I posted here is the second one.
    – Harel13
    Nov 10, 2020 at 6:40
  • Did the rabbis say that "Cheretite Negev" are from Crete and/or from which Av (Father) did they descend?
    – ninamag
    Nov 12, 2020 at 19:36
  • @ninamag no the Cheretite Negev aren't a people, it's part of the Negev Desert in Israel. But if the Cheretites are from Plishtim from Crete, then we're getting into the question of from whom the Plishtim descend, because there are disagreements on the subject. Sure, Beresheet 10:10 says they're descendants of Mitzrayim, but there a number of issues with this: 1. The Plishtim in the time of Avraham seem vastly different from those in the time of Am Yisrael. 2. Who are the Evim that are said to have been killed by the Plishtim? 3. Plishtim are called the nation of Crete in Tanach but is
    – Harel13
    Nov 12, 2020 at 20:32
  • Caphtor really Crete? Crete, after all, isn't that close to Egypt. Moreover, the Plishti civilization looks much more Minoan or Phoenician than Egyptian, in archeological terms. There are probably some more questions that I missed. So there are different answers: some say there were different groups called Plishtim: one, descendants of Egypt, another, Minoans from Crete. A third, the Evim". If they're from Crete, and they are descendants of the Minoan culture, then most likely they were descendants of Yavan, son of Yefet.
    – Harel13
    Nov 12, 2020 at 20:34

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