Meaning: highlanders, or hill men.
This was the name given to the descendants of one of the sons of Canaan (Genesis 14:7), called Amurra or Amurri in the Assyrian and Egyptian inscriptions. On the early Babylonian monuments, all Syria, including Canaan, is known as “the land of the Amorites.” The southern slopes of the mountains of Judea are called the “mount of the Amorites” (Deuteronomy 1:7, 19-20).
They seem to have originally occupied the land stretching from the heights west of the Dead Sea ( Genesis 14:7) to Hebron ( 13 (compare 13:8; Deuteronomy 3:8; 4:46-48), embracing “all Gilead and all Bashan” ( Deuteronomy 3:10), with the Jordan valley on the east of the river ( 4:49), the land of the “two kings of the Amorites,” Sihon and Og (Deuteronomy 31:4; Joshua 2:10; 9:10).
The five kings of the Amorites were defeated in a great slaughter by Joshua (10:10). They were again defeated at the waters of Merom by Joshua, who smote them till there were none remaining (Joshua 11:8). It is mentioned as a surprising circumstance that in the days of Samuel there was peace between them and the Israelites (1 Samuel 7:14).
The Amorites were warlike mountaineers. They are represented on the Egyptian monuments with fair skins, light hair, blue eyes, curved or hooked noses, and pointed beards. They are supposed to have been men of great stature; their king, Og, is described by Moses as the last “of the remnant of the giants” (Deuteronomy 3:11). Both Sihon and Og were independent kings.
Only one word of the Amorite language survives, “Shenir,” the name they gave to Mount Hermon (Deuteronomy 3:9).
The discrepancy supposed to exist between Deuteronomy 1:44 and Numbers 14:45 is explained by the fact that the terms “Amorites” and “Amalekites” are used synonymously for the “Canaanites.”
In the same way, we explain the fact that the “Hivites” of Genesis 34:2 are the “Amorites” of 48:22. (Compare Joshua 10:6; 11:19 with 2 Samuel 21:2; also Numbers 14:45 with Deuteronomy 1:44.)