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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Canaanites

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CANAANITES . A name given in the J [Note: Jahwist.] document to the pre-Israelitish inhabitants of Palestine ( e.g. Genesis 24:3-7; Genesis 38:2 , Exodus 3:8; Exodus 3:17; Exodus 13:5; Exodus 13:11 , Numbers 14:43; Numbers 14:45; Numbers 21:1; Numbers 21:3 , Judges 1:1; Judges 1:5; Judges 1:17; Judges 1:23; Judges 1:29-30; Judges 1:33 ).

In this usage the P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] document concurs, though the E [Note: Elohist.] document generally calls them ‘ Amorites ’ (wh. see). The E [Note: Elohist.] document ( Numbers 13:29 ) says that the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and the Amorites in the mountains. All the writers unite in calling Palestine the land of Canaan. Opinions differ as to whether the people were named from the land or the land from the people. The earliest usage in the el-Amarna tablets (where it is called Kinaḫḫi and Kinaḫni ) and in the Egyptian inscriptions of the XlXth dynasty, seems to confine the name to the low land of the coast (cf. KIB [Note: IB Keilinschriftliche Bibliothek.] v. 50.41, 151.50; and Müller, Asien und Europa , 205 ff.). The PhÅ“nicians, much later, on their coins called their land Canaan; and two or three Greek writers testify that they called it Chna ’ (cf. Schröder, Phön. Sprache , 6 ff.). A view proposed by Rosenmüller has been held by many modern scholars, viz.: that Canaan means ‘lowland,’ and was applied to the seacoast of Palestine, as opposed to the central range and the Lebanons. If this view were correct, the Canaanites would have received their name after settling in the coast-land. This view has been proved incorrect by Moore ( Proc. of Am. Or. Soc . 1890, p. lxvii ff.). Probably ‘Canaanite’ was a tribal name, and the people gave their name to the land (cf. Paton, Early History of Syria and Palestine , 68). It appears from Deuteronomy 3:9 that the language of the Canaanites differed only dialectically from that of the Amorites. Both peoples were therefore closely related. Probably the Canaanites were a later wave of Amorites. In Isaiah 19:18 Hebrew is called ‘the language of Canaan,’ a statement which is substantiated by the Moabite Stone, the PhÅ“nician inscriptions, and the Hebrew idioms in the el-Amarna tablets. It appears from the latter that the Canaanites had given their name to the country before b.c. 1400. Paton connects their migration with that movement of races which gave Babylonia the Kassite dynasty about b.c. 1700, and which pushed the Hyksos into Egypt. Probably their coming was no later than this.

In Judges 1:1-36 we are told of many Canaanites whom Israel did not at first conquer. After the time of Solomon, however, those resident in the high lands who had not been absorbed into the Israelitish tribes (cf. Israel §§ 3 , 11 ), were reduced to task-work. The coming of the Philistines pushed the Canaanites out of the maritime plain south of Mt. Carmel, so that ultimately the PhÅ“nicians were the only pure Canaanites left. The leading PhÅ“nician cities were such commercial centres that ‘Canaanite’ afterwards became equivalent to ‘trader’ (cf. Hosea 12:8 , Isaiah 23:8 , Zephaniah 1:11 , Ezekiel 17:4 , Proverbs 31:24 ).

George A. Barton.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Canaanites'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdb/c/canaanites.html. 1909.

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