Who were the mysterious Crethi and Plethi?
Although much of the origin of the Crethi and Plethi is unknown and needs further archeological research, there are accounts of the Crethi and Plethi in ancient texts and archeological prove of their ancient existence. They are explicitly mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as the personal guards of King David. So let us focus on what we know about the Crethi and Plethi and try to fit this all together.
This website is named after the Crethi and Plethi, because they were at a certain time (from 1007 b.c. to 965 b.c.) the gentile mercenaries who formed the elite bodyguard of King David, who was at that time King of Israel. But what were the events that led to the historical fact that this strange group of men became so close to a Jewish King of Israel?
How did the Crethi and Plethi become King David’s loyal bodyguards?
When Saul was King over Israel (he was the first king of all the twelve Jewish tribes and reigned 1047 – 1007 BC), Samuel (the Prophet) anointed David as the true King of Israel chosen by God, because Saul was unfaithful to God. We all know the story in the Hebrew Bible (the Tanakh) how David as a young man defeated Goliath, the filistine warrior, who mocked the God of the Israelites. Saul, impressed by David’s courage, appointed David as his commander-in-chief. David won battle after battle against Israel’s enemies and became very popular among the Jewish tribes.
And Saul became jealous, because the Jewish tribes admired David more than the king himself. So Saul tried to kill David, but David managed to escape Saul’s murderous plot and fled into the desert. During many years David wandered in hostile regions and even made an alliance with the Philistines, Israel’s worst enemies, becoming their vassal. During those years, he formed a band of warriors, mostly outcasts and outlawed men themselves. They formed a close group living in harsh circumstances, constantly chased by the army of Saul and always fighting side by side in skirmishes with their enemies.
During that time they undoubtedly became loyal to David and trusted their leader with their lives. The Crethi and Plethi recognized God’s favor and blessing over David’s life and his leadership and heroism. At the same time David recognized the loyalty and devoutness of his men towards him. After several years, Saul’s army was defeated by the Philistines in the Battle of Gilboa and although David grieved about the dead of King Saul, it was also an opportunity to become King himself. And so he did and with the help of the Crethi and the Plethi, David defeated the Jebusites in Jerusalem (around the year 1010 B.C.E.) and established Israel (and the twelve Jewish tribes) as one nation, with Jerusalem as the capital. From that time on, the Crethi and Plethi served as King David’s personal Bodyguard within his army in a time when the Kingdom of Israel became a prosperous and great Kingdom.
It was also King David’s greatest desire to build a Holy Temple for God as a permanent resting place for the Ark of the Covenant (with the Ten Commandments). But God didn’t allow David to build the Temple because he was a warrior and blood was on his hands. This task was to fall to David’s son, Solomon, a man of wisdom and peace. After the Temple in Jerusalem was completed (957 b.c.), it would become the focus of Jewish worship from that point to the present.
The Crethi and Plethi are mentioned in the Bible, (e.g. 2 sam. 8:18; 2 sam. 15:14,18; 2 sam. 20:7; 1 kgs 1:38,44) as the elite units of King David. Established as a military unit under the command of Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada. The elite unit remained loyal to King David at a time when his son Absalom revolted against David’s reign over Israel. They also participated in the war against Sheba, and were present at Solomon’s enthronement after the death of King David. They had many heroes in their ranks, who stood out in battle.
What was the origin of these fierce warriors?
In some sources the Crethi and Plethi are refered to as descendants of a semitic nation, but that is debatable, because the hebrew meaning of the word “phlistim” (= philisti = filistines) is for a non-semitic nation. The Crethi (= Cretans) and Plethi (= Philisti) are supposingly decendants of “Pelasgen” (or early greeks) and people from Crete, and came to Israel because of emigration. The term “phlistim” could be a linguistic corruption of “Pelasgen”.
The Crethi are descendants from Caftor (which is Crete in ancient text) and the Plethi are descendants of early greeks from the south east region of Greece. They were accordingly from non-semitic descent and were influenced by the Hellenistic (Greek) and Mycian culture. The first wave of Crethi or Plethi came probably around 1250 b.c. to Egypt from overseas Crete and were eventually driven back to Canaan by Ramses the 3rd. There is archeological evidence of Mycian culture (pottery, language and eating of pigmeat, which was of course forbidden in semitic cultures) in this period in Egypt and Canaan. The Plethi also came from the north (through turkey and lebanon) to Canaan.
They eventually merged together or formed an alliance, even with the Philistines (with 5 major cities and their 5 rulers) and in those days were sworn enemies of the 12 Jewish tribes in the rest of Canaan. Together, the Crethi and Plethi, were also called “the sea people”, which also indicates an ancestry of overseas people and their craftsmanship of trade (as they lived along the coast of what is now called Gaza). They were fierce warriors and fond of war, they had the genius of military organisation and established a military nation in and around Gaza.
At first they supressed the Israelites by military power, but that changed when David came to rule. He managed to defeat the Philistines and they gradually were erased from history by successive occupations by Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians and Syrians. From this historical point of view it is clear that the Crethi and Plethi, as loyal bodyguards of the King of Israel, were indeed a strange alliance of non-semitic mercenaries and a Jewish king.
Why our website is named after the Crethi and Plethi?
It’s clear that the Jews have a 3,000 year history in Israel. And now, after a diaspora of thousands of years, the Jewish tribes have rightfully claimed their historical place among the nations in this world. But sadly, many dispute and deny Israel’s right to exist in the Middle East. We used these names, the Crethi and the Plethi, because they were defenders and loyal guards of the first Jewish nation in Canaan with Jerusalem as capital. We admire their courage and honor them as true defenders of God’s chosen people.
Today again, we need a band of loyal ‘bodyguards’ to support and defend Israel with perseverance, courage and truth. Today, the modern Crethi and Plethi can act as well, with facts and words.
In that sense, we are the modern Crethi and Plethi.
The Crethi and The Plethi — (translated in other modern languages):
- Dutch: Crethi Plethi
- German: Krethi Plethi
- English: Cherethites Pelethites
- French: Kerethiens Pelethiens
- Spanish: Ceretheos Peletheos
- Hebrew: Kerethi Pelethi