the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Land of Canaan
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
(אֶרֶוֹ כְּנִעִן, according to some, from its being lew; see 2 Chronicles 28:19; Job 40:12, among other passages in which the verb is used), a name denoting the country west of the Jordan and Dead Sea (Genesis 13:12; Deuteronomy 11:30), and between those waters and the Mediterranean; specially opposed to the "land of Gilead" — that is, the high table-land on the east of the Jordan (Numbers 32:26; Numbers 32:32; Numbers 33:51;Joshua 22:32; see also Genesis 12:5; Genesis 23:2; Genesis 23:19; Genesis 31:18; Genesis 33:18; Genesis 35:6; Genesis 37:1; Genesis 48:4; Genesis 48:7; Genesis 49:30; Numbers 13:2; Numbers 13:17; Numbers 33:40; Numbers 33:51; Joshua 16:2;Judges 21:12). True, the district to which the name of "low land" is thus applied contained many very elevated spots: Shechem (Genesis 33:18), Hebron (Genesis 23:19), Bethel (Genesis 35:6), Bethlehem (Genesis 48:7), Shiloh (Joshua 21:2; Judges 21:12), which are all stated to be in the "land of Canaan." But, high as the level of much of the country west of the Jordan undoubtedly is, there are several things which must always have prevented it from leaving a marked impression of general elevation. These are,
(1), that remarkable, wide, maritime plain over which the eye ranges for miles from the central hills, a feature of the country which cannot be overlooked by the most casual observer, and which impresses itself most indelibly on the recollection;
(2), the still deeper and more remarkable and impressive hollow of the Jordan valley, a view into which may be commanded from almost any of the heights of Central Palestine; and,
(3), there is the almost constant presence of the long high line of the mountains east of the Jordan, which, from their distance, have the effect more of an enormous cliff than of a mountain range-looking down on the more broken and isolated hills of Canaan, and furnishing a constant standard of height before which every thing is dwarfed. These considerations are based upon the supposition that the name was derived from the natural features of the country. But this is not countenanced by Scripture. Canaan was the son of Ham. He and his whole family colonized Western Syria, and while the whole region took his name, differentsections of it were called after his sons (Genesis 10:15-20). Aram was a son of Shem, and him descendants colonized the country of Aram (Genesis 10:21-31). On the other hand, Aram cannot, at least ab, solutely, be termed a "highland region." It comprised the vast plains along the banks of the Euphrates, and westward to the Orontes and Anti- Libanus. Canaan, on the whole, however, is rather a hilly country, with strips of plain along the coast. In one passage it is distinguished from the low valley of the Jordan (Genesis 13:12). In short, the terms Aram and Canaan, if bestowed with any reference to the comparative elevation of the respective countries, have a merely relative significance; the latter lying nearer the sea-boast, while the former — especially that part of it wherethe Hebrew patriarchs originated — is situated toward the interior head- waters of the great river Euphrates. (See ARAM).
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