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(Heb., usually in the sing., and with the art., hak-Kenaani', הִכְּנִעֲנַי, i.e. accurately according to Hebrew usage [Gesenius, Hebrews Gram. § 107], "the Canaanite;" but in the Auth. Vers., with few exceptions, rendered as plural, and therefore indistinguishable from כְּנִעֲנַים, Kenaanim', which also, but unfrequently, occurs; Sept. generally Χαναναῖος [or Χαναναῖοι ]; but Φοίνιξ, Exodus 6:15; comp. Joshua 5:1; Vulg. Chananeus), properly a designation of the descendants of Canaan, the son of Ham and grandson of Noah, inhabitants of the land of Canaan and the adjoining districts. (See CANAAN).

I. Component Tribes.

1. These are most frequently enumerated in the formula used in the command and statement of their extermination by the Israelites, which, however, assumes the following different shapes:

(1.) Six nations: the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. This is the usual form, and, with some variation in the order of the names, it is found in Exodus 3:8; Exodus 3:17; Exodus 23:23; Exodus 33:2; Exodus 34:11;Deuteronomy 20:17; Joshua 9:1; Joshua 12:8; Judges 3:5. In Exodus 13:5, the same names are given with the omission of the Perizzites.

(2.) With the addition of the Girgashites, making up the mystic number seven (Deuteronomy 7:1; Joshua 3:10; Joshua 24:1). The Girgashites are retained and the Hivites omitted in Nehemiah 9:8 (comp. Ezra 9:1).

(3.) In Exodus 23:28, we find the Canaanite, the Hittite, and the Hivite.

(4.) The list often nations in Genesis 15:19-21 (where the Kenites, the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites are added), includes some on the east of Jordan, and probably some on the south of Palestine.

(5.) In 1 Kings 9:20, the Canaanites are omitted from the list.

2. Besides these there were several tribes of the Canaanites who lived beyond the borders of the Promised Land northward. These were the Arkites, Sinites, Arvvadites, Zemarites, and Hamathites (Genesis 10:17-18), with whom, of course, the Israelites had no concern. There were also other tribes of Canaanitish origin (or possibly other names given to some of those already mentioned), who were dispossessed by the Israelites. The chief of these were the Amalekites, the Anakites, and the Rephaim (or "giants," as they are frequently called in our translation). See each of these, as well as the foregoing, in their alphabetical place.

II. Geographical Distribution. In this respect the term "Canaanite" is used in two senses, a limited and a wide application.

1. For the tribe of "the Canaanites" only the dwellers in the lowland, i.e. "who dwelt by the sea and by the coasts of Jordan" (Numbers 13:29). The whole of the country west of Jordan might, as we have seen, be in some sense called a "lowland" as compared with the loftier and more extended tracts on the east; but there was a part of this western country which was still more emphatically a "lowland."

(a.) There were the plains lying between the shore of the Mediterraneanand the foot of the hills of Benjamin, Judah, and Ephraim the Shephelah, or plain of Philistia, on the south; that of Sharon, between Jaffa and Carmel; the great plain of Esdraelon, in the rear of the bay of Akka; and, lastly, the plain of Phoenicia, containing Tyre, Sidon, and all the other cities of that nation.

(b.) But separated entirely from these was the still lower region of the Jordan Valley, or Arabah (q.v.), the modern Ghor, a region which extended in length from the sea of Cinneroth (Gennesareth) to the south of the Dead Sea about 120 miles, with a width of from 8 to 14. The climate of these sunken regions, especially of thee valley of the Jordan, is so peculiar, that it is natural to find them the special possession of one tribe. "Amalek" so runs one of the earliest and most precise statements in the ancient records of Scripture "Amalek dwells in the land of the south; and the Hittite, and the Jebusite, and the Amorite dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanite dwells by the sea, and by the side of Jordan" (Numbers 13:29). This describes the division of the country a few years only before the conquest. But there had been little or no variation for centuries. In the notice which purports to be the earliest of all, the seats of the Canaanite tribe as distinguished from the sister tribes of Zidon, the Hittites, Amorites, and the other descendants of Canaan are given as on the sea shore from Zidon to Gaza, and in the Jordan Valley to Sodom, Gomorrah, and Lasha (afterward Callirrhoe), on the shore of the present Dead Sea (Genesis 10:18-20). In Joshua 11:3, at a time when the Israelites were actually in the western country, this is expressed more broadly. "The Canaanite on the east and the west" is carefully distinguished from the Amorite who held "the mountain" in the center of the country. In Joshua 13:2-3, we are told with more detail that "all the circles' (גְּלַילוֹת ) of the Philistines . . . from Sihor (? the Wady el-Arish) unto Ekron northward, is counted to the Canaanite." Later still, the Canaanites are still dwelling in the upper part of the Jordan Valley-Bethshean; the plain of Esdraelon-Taanach, Ibleam, and Megiddo; the plain of Sharon- Dor; and also on the plain of Phoenicia-Accho and Zidon. Here were collected the chariots which formed a prominent part of their armies (Judges 1:19; Judges 4:3; Joshua 17:16), and which could indeed be driven nowhere but in these level lowlands (Stanley, Sinai and Palest. p. 134).

The plains which thus appear to have been in possession of the Canaanites, specially so called, were not only of great extent; they were also the richest and most important parts of the country, and it is not unlikely that this was one of the reasons why

2. The name "Canaanite" is also applied as a general name for the non- Israelite inhabitants of the land, as we have already seen was the case with "Canaan." Instances of this are Genesis 12:6; Numbers 21:3, where the name is applied to dwellers in the south, who in 13:29, are called Amalekites; Judges 1:10, with which comp. Genesis 14:13; Genesis 13:18, and Joshua 10:5, where Hebron, the highest land in Palestine, is stated to be Amorite; and Genesis 13:12, where the "land of Canaan" is distinguished from the very Jordan Valley itself. See also Genesis 24:3; Genesis 24:37; comp. Genesis 28:2; Genesis 28:6; Exodus 13:11; comp. 5. But in many of its occurrences it is difficult to know in which category to place the word. Thus, in Genesis 1:11 : if the floor of Atad was at Bethhogla, close to the west side of the Jordan, "the Canaanites" must be intended in the narrower and stricter sense; but the expression "inhabitants of the land" appears as if intended to be more general. Again, in Genesis 10:18-19, where some believe the tribe to be intended, Gesenius takes it to apply to the whole of the Canaanite nations. But in these and other similar instances, allowance must surely be made for the different dates at which the various records thus compared were composed; and, besides this, it is difficult to estimate how accurate a knowledge the Israelites may have possessed of a set of petty nations, from whom they had been entirely removed for four hundred years, and with whom they were now again brought into contact only that they might exterminate them as soon as possible. Again, before we can solve such questions, we ought also to know more than we do of the usages and circumstances of people who differed not only from ourselves, but also possibly in a material degree from the Orientals of the present day. The tribe who possessed the ancient city of Hebron, besides being, as shown above, called interchangeably Canaanites and Amorites, are in a third passage (Genesis 23) called the children of Heth, or Hittites (comp, also Genesis 27:46, with Genesis 28:1; Genesis 28:6). The Canaanites who were dwelling in the land of the south when the Israelites made their attack on it may have been driven to these higher and more barren grounds by some other tribes, possibly by the Philistines who displaced the Avites, also dwellers in the low country (Deuteronomy 2:23). See Kurtz, Hist. of the Old Covenant, vol. 1, §45.

3. History of the Canaanitish Race. The Israelites were delivered from Egypt under Moses, in order that they might take possession of the land which God had promised to their fathers. This country was then inhabited by the descendants of Canaan, as described above. These nations, and especially the six or seven so frequently mentioned by name, the Israelites were commanded to dispossess and utterly to destroy (Exodus 23:23; Numbers 33:53; Deuteronomy 20:16-17). The destruction, however, was not to be accomplished at once. The promise on the part of God was that he would "put out those nations by little and little," and the command to the Israelites corresponded with it; the reason given being "lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee" (Exodus 23:29;Deuteronomy 7:22).

The destructive war commenced with an attack on the Israelites by Arad, king of the Canaanites, which issued in the destruction of several cities in the extreme south of Palestine, to which the name of Hormah was given (Numbers 21:1-3). The Israelites, however, did not follow up this victory, which was simply the consequence of an unprovoked assault on them; but turning back, and compassing the land of Edom, they attempted to pass through the country on the other side of the Jordan, inhabited by a tribe of the Amorites. Their passage being refused, and an attack made on them by Sihon, king of the Amorites, they not only forced their way through his land, but destroyed its inhabitants, and, proceeding onwardtoward the adjoining kingdom of Bashan, they in like manner destroyed the inhabitants of that district, and slew Og, their king, who was the last of the Rephaim, or giants (Deuteronomy in, 11). The tract of which they thus became possessed was subsequently allotted to the tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh. (See EXODE).

After the death of Moses, the Israelites crossed the Jordan, and, under the conduct of Joshua, took possession of the greater part of the Promised Land, and destroyed its inhabitants.. Several cities, however, still held out, particularly Jebus, afterward Jerusalem, which was not taken till the time of David (2 Samuel 5:6), and Sidon, which seems never to have yielded to the tribe of Asher, to whom it was nominally allotted (Judges 1:31). Scattered portions also of the Canaanitish nations escaped,, and were frequently strong enough to harass, though not to dispossess, the Israelites. The inhabitants of Gibeon, a tribe of the Hivites, made peace by stratagem, and thus escaped the destruction of their fellow-countrymen. Individuals from among the Canaanites seem, in later times, to have united themselves, in some way, to the Israelites, and not only to have lived in peace, but to have been capable of holding places of honor and power: thus Uriah, oneof David's captains, was a Hittite (1 Chronicles 11:41). In the time of Solomon, when the kingdom had attained its highest glory and greatest power, all the remnants of these nations were made tributary, and bond- service was exacted from them (1 Kings 9:20). The Girgashites seem to have been either wholly destroyed or absorbed in other tribes. We find no mention of them subsequent to the book of Joshua; and the opinion thatthe Gergesenes, or Gadarenes, in the time of our Lord, were their descendants, has little evidence, except the similarity of names, to support it (Rosenmü ller, Scholia in Genesis 10:16; Reland, Palcestina, 1:27, p.138). The Anakites were completely destroyed by Joshua except in three cities, Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod (Joshua 11:21-23); and the powerful nation of the Amalekites, many times defeated and continually harassing the Israelites, were at last totally destroyed by the tribe of Simeon (1 Chronicles 4:43). Even after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity there were survivors of five of the Canaanitish nations, with whom alliances had been made by the Jews, contrary to the commands which had been given them. Some of the Canaanites, according to ancient tradition (see D'Herbelot, Biblioth. Orient. s.v. Falasthin), left the land ofCanaan on the approach of Joshua, and emigrated to the coast of Africa (to Armenia, according to Ritter, Erdk. 7:585).. Procopius (De Bello Vandalico, 2:10) relates that there were in Numidia, at Tigisis (Tingis),two columns, on which were inscribed, in Phoenician characters, "We are those who fled from the face of Joshua, the robber, the son of Naue." (See Bochart, Phaleg, 1:24; Michaelis, Laws of Moses, art. 31, vol. i, p. 176, Smith's transl.; Bachiene, I, 2, I sq.; Michaelis, Spicileg. 1:166 sq.; Hamelsveld, 3:31 sq.) (See PHOENICIA).

4. Characteristics. Beyond their chariots (see above) we have no clew to any manners or customs of the Canaanites. Like the Phoenicians, they were probably given to commerce, and thus the name doubtless became in later times an occasional synonym for a merchant (Job 41:6;Proverbs 31:24; comp. Isaiah 23:8; Isaiah 23:11; Hosea 12:2;Zephaniah 1:11. See Kenrick, Phoenicia, p. 232). Under the name Kanr'ma they appear on the Egyptian monuments, distinguished by a coat of mail and helmet, and the use of spears, javelins, and a battle-axe similar to that of Egypt (Wilkinson, 1:403, abridgm.).

Of the language of the Canaanites little can be said. On the one hand, being if the genealogy of Genesis 10 be rightly understood Hamites, there could be no affinity between their language and that of the Israelites who were descendants of Shem. On the other is the fact that Abram and Jacob, shortly after their entrance to the country, seem able to hold converse with them, and also that the names of Canaanite persons and places which we possess are translatable into Hebrew. Such are Melchizedek, Hamor, Shechem, Sisera, Ephrath, and also a great number of the names of places. (For an examination of this interesting but obscure subject, see Gesenius, Hebr. Spr. p. 223-225.) (See CANAAN, LANGUAGE OF). The "Nethinim," or servants of the Temple, seem to have originated in the dedication of captives taken in war from the petty states surrounding the Israelites. (See NETHINIM). If this was the case, and if they were maintained in number from similar sources, there must be many non- Israelite names in the lists of their families which we possess in Ezra 2:43-54; Nehemiah 7:46-56. Several of the names in these catalogues, such as Sisera, Mehunim, Nephushim, are the same as those which we know to be foreign, and doubtless others would be found on examination. The Gibeonites especially were native Canaanites, who, although reduced to a state of serfdom, were allowed to exist among the Israelites. (See GIBEONITE).

5. Conquest of Canaan. The arbitrary and forcible invasion of the land of Canaan by the Israelites, the violent and absolute dispossession

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Canaainite'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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