“17And the king went forth, and all the people after him, and tarried in a place that was far off. 18And all his servants passed on beside him; and all the Cherethites, and all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites, six hundred men which came after him from Gath, passed on before the king. 19Then said the king to Ittai the Gittite, ‘Wherefore goest thou also with us? return to thy place, and abide with the king: for thou art a stranger, and also an exile. 20Whereas thou camest but yesterday, should I this day make thee go up and down with us? seeing I go whither I may, return thou, and take back thy brethren: mercy and truth be with thee’. 21And Ittai answered the king, and said, ‘As the LORD liveth, and as my lord the king liveth, surely in what place my lord the king shall be, whether in death or life, even there also will thy servant be’. 22And David said to Ittai, ‘Go and pass over’. And Ittai the Gittite passed over, and all his men, and all the little ones that were with him.” (II Samuel 15:17-22)
[This was right after David had fled Jerusalem at the commencement of Absalom’s conspiracy and coup d’état. These 600 Gittites were exiles from Gath, which was a major city (if not THE major city) of the Philistines. They had been loyal to David, but now that David himself is an exile he informs them that he cannot offer them much of a life—sort of like Naomi telling Ruth and Orpah to go back to their homes instead of being loyal to her now that she had no family and no wealth, she had nothing to offer them. Neither Ruth nor Orphah were Moabites by race: They had been born in the land of Moab, after their families had fled there to escape famine. See my S.T.E.Commentary on Ruth: The Truth About Ruth—Ruth the Israelite!]
The Gittites were pure Hamites—Philistines. The Philistines were pure Hamites. Though they were often Israel’s enemies (they had been both friendly to Abraham and some unfriendly to Isaac, years later), they were pure kinsmen (and not even Israelites of the same tribe got along at times, nor the tribes with one another). Similarly, the Syrians (or more properly, Aramaeans) were pure kinsmen, and God used them to chasten His people too; though from the time of Solomon the kings of Syria were Edomites, and therefore, it is most probable that many of the “Syrians” themselves had intermarried with the Edomites that the Edomite kings brought in and set up in places of power in state and society.
The Philistines or Pelishtites descend from Philistim, son of Casluhim, son of Mizraim (Egypt), son of Ham. Ham and his brothers (Shem and Japheth), like their father Noah, were pure in their generations—as were their wives. Canaan was cursed because he was born of incest, Ham having lewdly defiled his mother (which is what “uncovering thy father’s nakedness” means, as defined in Leviticus). It seems that they all had a little too much wine, and fermentation changed after the Flood, due to new climatic conditions. They did not realize they would get drunk; but each behaved differently. Canaan then went out and married a woman descended from Cain, and thus the Canaanites carry multiple curses. Only the descendents of Canaan were cursed; not all Hamites. God never cursed Ham or turned him black, which is utter unbiblical nonsense.
The Gittites were Philistine inhabitants of the city of Gath. However, before the Philistines inhabited Gath the Amorites inhabited it, and the Amorites were one of the tribes of Canaan that contained giant blood, the nephilim, when the fallen angels abducted Adamite women and sired children by them, some of the mixed seed, by the genetic roll of the dice, formed giant DNA; then if those giants married other giants, that giant seed was greater represented among certain tribes and families. The Holman Bible Dictionary (1991) records:
“Prior to the coming of the Israelites, Gath was a Canaanite city occupied by the Anakim, a group known for their large stature (Josh. 11:21-22).”
And Andrew Robert Fausset in his Bible Dictionary (c.1878) records:
“In undesigned coincidence with the presence of giants in Gath, according to 1 Samuel 17; 2 Samuel 21:19-22, is Joshua 11:22: “only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod there remained Anakims.”
Thus, Goliath, while called a ‘Gittite’ [or ‘Goliath of Gath’] and a ‘Philistine’, was also either part or full Armorite (as were his giant brothers and father, of course)—even as modern sports teams compromise their morals to have the tallest and heaviest alien on their team, it seems it was not much different 3,000 years ago.
[For discussion of nearly every possible factor / question / objection concerning Cain, Canaan, fallen angels, the Flood, etc., see my nearly exhaustively detailed books, What Was the Mark that God Placed on Cain?, Who Was the Serpent in the Garden...? and the Waters that Covered the Earth, and What the Devil? — What the Hell?]
The Pelethites, however, are not to be confused with Pelishtites: the Philistines, which derives from the word pelisheth, which means, “rolling”, hence “migratory”. Since clearly the Philistines were not named for the land (but for their progenitor), which may have had rolling hills, the word refers to a migratory nature of the people who would descend from Philistim—and God controls the naming of all infants, even as He controls and ordains every other detail in His universe, of which He is Supreme and unchallenged Master; see my Does God Repent? — Can God Change His Mind?).
The Philistines / Pelishtites were a tribe, a racial clan. However the Pelethites were not a tribe or clan, but rather a “special group or band of royal couriers”. Likewise, the Cherethites (those spoken of in II Samuel 15) were themselves not a racial clan, but were a “band of elite royal guardsmen”. It is hard to tell from the passage in II Samuel: The Pelethites and Cherethites may have been Gathites, or the “600 men who came from Gath” may refer only to “all the Gittites” and not the Pelethites and Cherethites mentioned before them; which seems most likely.
However, the confusion seems to arise because there were also a tribe of people associated with the Philistines (I Samuel 30:4,16; Ezekiel 25:16; Zephaniah 2:5), who were also called Cherethites / Cherethims.
But I do not believe that they were the same as the Cherethites and Pelethites who are mentioned in II Samuel 15 and associated passages, who clearly seem to have been Israelites:
“16And Joab the son of Zeruiah was over the host; and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder; 17And Zadok the son of Ahitub, and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar, were the priests; and Seraiah was the scribe; 18And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over both the Cherethites and the Pelethites; and David’s sons were chief rulers.” (II Samuel 8)
“7And there went out after him Joab’s men, and the Cherethites, and the Pelethites, and all the mighty men: and they went out of Jerusalem, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri. .... 23Now Joab was over all the host of Israel: and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was over the Cherethites and over the Pelethites: 24And Adoram was over the tribute: and Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud was recorder: 25And Sheva was scribe: and Zadok and Abiathar were the priests: 26And Ira also the Jairite was a chief ruler about David.” (II Samuel 20) [See also I King 8:38,44 and I Chronicles 18:17.]
Fausset’s Bible Dictionary says:
“CHERETHIMS or Cherethites. David’s body guard, along with the see PELETHITES (2 Samuel 8:18; 15:18; 20:7,23; 1 Kings 1:38,44; 1 Chronicles 18:17). Saul had “footmen” (runners) as his guard (1 Samuel 22:17); so Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:27,28). Couriers afterward took their place.
“The Cherethites and Pelethites were called out from attending the king’s person only on extraordinary emergencies, as the rebellion of Sheba (2 Samuel 20:6,7). Benaiah was their commander (2 Samuel 23:23). The name is a national name; a tribe of the Philistines (1 Samuel 30:14; compare 30:16; Ezekiel 25:16; Zephaniah 2:5).
“Crete seems a kindred name to Cherethites; it was famed for archery, as were they; for which David chose a number of them as his body guard. Some of them probably joined him during his sojourn among the Philistines (1 Samuel 27; 29). Others he may have afterward enrolled on his conquest of the Philistines (2 Samuel 8:1). Some of the Philistine Cherethites probably colonized Crete originally, while others remained in Philistia, where they had migrated from Africa. Gittites of the Philistine Gath, to the number of 600, under Ittai, similarly followed David (2 Samuel 15:18,19). The name Pelethites may be another form of Philistines, or possibly be from Peleetim, (political) “refugees” from Philistia. Ewald supports the former. It is probably an ethnic name, as Cherethim. [See CAPHTOR.]"
Fausset’s Bible Dictionary also says:
“PELETHITES (See CHERETHITES.) The two together formed David’s body guard. As Ittai of Gath, so other refugees from Philistine tribes probably joined David. The Egyptian monuments mention Shayretana (= Cherethim, or Cretans) and Pelesatu (= Philistines), whom Rameses III conquered. The Shayretana supplied mercenaries to the Egyptian kings of the 19th and 20th dynasties. Cherethites may be from chaarat “to cut off,” namely, from one’s country; Pelethites from paalat “he fled,” “fugitives,” political refugees. “Philistine” is from phalash “to emigrate.” Gesenius less probably explains” executioners and runners.”
I think Fausset makes many erroneous assumptions, but I offer his comments as food for thought. That Cretans joined David’s army simply because they were good archers and their name has a similarity (if you squint) to Cherethites, is quite a stretch without corroborating evidence. His suggested meaning of the words Cherethite, Pelethite, and Philistine differ from Strong’s definitions. The passages that I listed show that the Cherethites and Pelethites were Israelites, and are not mentioned in any context with the Philistines. Canaanites and Israelites and Philistines and Phoenicians all shared similar language, and therefore, had similar words and names—but that does not make the identities of those persons or groups or towns the same; even as the first dozen or so descendants of Cain and Adam bear nearly identical names, but does not mean that htye were the same people. Satan sows confusion with tares—linguistic as well as racial.