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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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AMORITES . An ancient people whose presence can be traced in Palestine and Syria and also in Babylonia. From Deuteronomy 3:9 it appears that their language differed only dialectically from Canaanite, which was Hebrew. This view is confirmed by many proper names from the monuments. They were accordingly of the same race as the Canaanites. Contract tablets of the time of Hammurabi (b.c. 2250) show that Amorites were in Babylonia at that time (cf. Meissner, Altbab. Privatrecht , No. 42). At this period their country was designated by the ideogram MAR-TU. It has long been known that this ideogram stood for Palestine and Syria. At that time, then, the Amorites were already in the West.

Because of the identity of their proper names, it is believed that the Amorites were identical in race with that Semitic wave of immigration into Babylonia which produced the first dynasty of Babylon, the dynasty of Hammurabi (cf. Paton, Syria and Palestine , 25 29). Paton holds that an Amoritic wave of migration overran Babylonia and the Mediterranean coast about b.c. 2500, but Johns ( Expos ., April, 1906, p. 341) holds it probable, also on the basis of proper names, that the Amorites were in both Babylonia and the West before the time of Sargon, b.c. 3800.

About b.c. 1400 we learn from the el-Amarna tablets that the great valley between the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon ranges, which was afterwards called Cœle-Syria, was inhabited by Amorites, whose prince was Aziru (cf. KIB [Note: IB Keilinschriftliche Bibliothek.] , v. Nos. 42, 44, and 50). At some time they seem to have overrun Palestine also, for in the E [Note: Elohist.] document they are regarded as the pre-Israelitish inhabitants of the mountain-land of Palestine, whom the Hebrews conquered (cf. Numbers 13:29 , Joshua 24:8 ; Joshua 24:18 ). This was also the view of the prophet Amos ( Amos 2:9-10 ), and, in part, of Ezekiel ( Ezekiel 16:8 ; Ezekiel 16:45 ). The J [Note: Jahwist.] document, on the other hand, regards the Canaanites (wh. see) as the original Inhabitants of the country. As the J [Note: Jahwist.] document originated in the southern kingdom and the E [Note: Elohist.] document in the northern, some have inferred that the Amorites were especially strong in Northern Palestine; but even the J [Note: Jahwist.] document ( Judges 1:34-35 ) recognizes that the Amorites were strong in the Valley of Aijalon. In Judges 1:36 ‘Amorites’ is probably a corruption of ‘Edomites.’ (So G. F. Moore in SBOT [Note: BOT Sacred Books of Old Testament.] .) Both J [Note: Jahwist.] ( Numbers 32:39 ) and E [Note: Elohist.] ( Numbers 21:13 ) represent the trans-Jordanic kingdom of king Sihon, the capital of which was at Heshbon, and which extended from the Arnon to the Jabbok, as Amoritic, and several later Biblical writers reflect this view. This kingdom was overcome by the Israelites when they invaded Canaan. After the Israelitish conquest the Amorites disappear from our view.

George A. Barton.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Amorites'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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