Who are the…
Migrating from their original home, they seem to have reached the Persian Gulf, and to have lived there for some time. They then “spread to the west, across the mountain chain of Lebanon to the very edge of the Mediterranean Sea, occupying all the land which later became Israel, also to the northwest as far as the mountain chain of Taurus.
This group was very numerous, and broken up into a great many peoples, as we can judge from the list of nations (Genesis 10), the ‘sons of Canaan’.” 6 different tribes are mentioned in Exodus 3:8, 17; 23:23; 33:2; 34:11.
The “Canaanites,” as distinguished from the Amalekites, the Anakim, and the Rephaim, were “dwellers in the lowlands” (Numbers 13:29), the great plains and valleys, the richest and most important parts of Israel.
Tyre and Sidon, their famous cities, were the centers of great commercial activity; and hence the name “Canaanite” came to signify a “trader” or “merchant” (Job 41:6; Proverbs 31:24, literally “Canaanites;” compare Zeph. 1:11; Ezek. 17:4).
A more generalized use of the name “Canaanite”
The Israelites, when they were led to the Promised Land, were commanded utterly to destroy the descendants of Canaan then possessing it (Exodus 23:23; Numbers 33:52-53; Deuteronomy 20:16-17. This was to be done “by little and little,” lest the beasts of the field should increase (Exodus 23:29; Deuteronomy 7:22-23).
The history of these wars of conquest is given in the Book of Joshua. The extermination of these tribes, however, was never fully carried out. Jerusalem was not taken till the time of David (2 Samuel 5:6-7). In the days of Solomon bond-service was exacted from the fragments of the tribes still remaining in the land (1 Kings 9:20,21). Even after the return from captivity survivors of five of the Canaanitish tribes were still found in the land.
They were famous as merchants and seamen, as well as for their artistic skill.
The chief object of their worship was the sun-god, who was addressed by the general name of Baal, “lord.” Each locality had its special Baal, and the various local Baals were summed up under the name of Baalim, “lords.”
In the Tell-el-Amarna tablets, Canaan is found under the forms of Kinakhna and Kinakhkhi.
- Canaanite cities include: Eglon, Jebus, Tyre, Sidon (for more, consult our List of Biblical cities)
- About idolatry and false goods in the Bible
- About idols in the Bible