(Caphʹtor), Caphtorim (Caphʹto·rim).
Among the descendants of Ham through Mizraim are the Caphtorim. (Ge 10:6, 13, 14; 1Ch 1:12) At some unspecified time prior to the Israelite Exodus from Egypt (1513 B.C.E.), the Caphtorim had taken over land in the SW part of Canaan, dispossessing a people known as the Avvim. (De 2:23) Elsewhere, the name Caphtor (also, Crete, NW) is applied to the “island” or “coastland” (RS, AT, others) from which the Philistines migrated to Canaan.—Jer 47:4; Am 9:7.
The identification of Caphtor has been a subject of much discussion. Among the places suggested are the Delta region of Egypt, the southeastern coast of Asia Minor (including Cilicia), Cappadocia, and Crete. The majority of scholars today favor an identification with the island of Crete, lying off the SE coast of Greece. Some would also include neighboring islands and coastlands under the name Caphtor. Caphtor is understood to be represented by the name Kaptara, found in the Assyro-Babylonian texts, and by Kfty(w) in Egyptian inscriptions. There is evidence indicating that the Egyptians (also descendants of Mizraim) carried on trade with the Cretans from early times, perhaps from a period contemporaneous with Abraham.
Many scholars consider that the reference to “the Caphtorim” at Deuteronomy 2:23 actually applies to the Philistines. However, since the Philistines are shown to have gone forth from among the Casluhim (another branch of Mizraim’s descendants), the Philistines could only be called Caphtorim in a geographic (and not a genealogical or racial) sense, that is, in the sense of their having lived in the territory of Caphtor before coming to Canaan. They would then be called Caphtorim in the same way that the Hebrew Jacob was called a Syrian (or Aramaean). (De 26:5) Otherwise, it must be understood that the Philistines are not meant at Deuteronomy 2:23 and that the national group of the Caphtorim had its own emigrants to Canaan.