Canaan

Canaan

Overview
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, Palestine
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

, Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, and the western parts of Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

. Canaan was of geopolitical importance in the Late Bronze Age Amarna period
Amarna Period
The Amarna Period was an era of Egyptian history during the latter half of the Eighteenth Dynasty when the royal residence of the pharaoh and his queen was shifted to Akhetaten in what is now modern-day Amarna...

 as the area where the spheres of interest of the Egyptian and Hittite Empires converged. Canaan is historically attested throughout the 4th millennium BC; the later Amarna Letters
Amarna letters
The Amarna letters are an archive of correspondence on clay tablets, mostly diplomatic, between the Egyptian administration and its representatives in Canaan and Amurru during the New Kingdom...

 use , while sources of the Egyptian New Kingdom mention numerous military campaigns conducted in .
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Canaan'
Start a new discussion about 'Canaan'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, Palestine
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

, Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, and the western parts of Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

. Canaan was of geopolitical importance in the Late Bronze Age Amarna period
Amarna Period
The Amarna Period was an era of Egyptian history during the latter half of the Eighteenth Dynasty when the royal residence of the pharaoh and his queen was shifted to Akhetaten in what is now modern-day Amarna...

 as the area where the spheres of interest of the Egyptian and Hittite Empires converged. Canaan is historically attested throughout the 4th millennium BC; the later Amarna Letters
Amarna letters
The Amarna letters are an archive of correspondence on clay tablets, mostly diplomatic, between the Egyptian administration and its representatives in Canaan and Amurru during the New Kingdom...

 use , while sources of the Egyptian New Kingdom mention numerous military campaigns conducted in . In modern usage, the name is often associated with the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

, where the "Land of Canaan" extends from Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 southward to the "Brook of Egypt
Brook of Egypt
The Brook of Egypt is the name used in some English translations of the Bible for the Hebrew Nachal Mitzrayim used for the river defining the westernmost border of the Land of Israel. Popular Bible commentaries identify it with Wadi El-Arish although the identification is problematic...

" and eastward to the Jordan River Valley
Jordan Valley (Middle East)
The Jordan Valley forms part of the larger Jordan Rift Valley. It is 120 kilometers long and 15 kilometers wide, where it runs from Lake Tiberias in the north to northern Dead Sea in the south. It runs for an additional 155 kilometer south of the Dead Sea to Aqaba, an area also known as Wadi...

.

Much of the modern knowledge about Canaan stems from excavation in this area. Canaanite culture apparently developed in situ from the Circum-Arabian Nomadic Pastoral Complex, which in turn developed from a fusion of Harifian
Harifian
The Harifian is a specialized regional cultural development of the Epipalaeolithic of the Negev Desert. It corresponds to the latest stages of the Natufian culture. Like the Natufian, it is characterized by semi-subterranean houses. These are often more elaborate than those found at Natufian sites...

 hunter gatherers with Pre-Pottery Neolithic B
Pre-Pottery Neolithic B
Pre-Pottery Neolithic B is a division of the Neolithic developed by Dame Kathleen Kenyon during her archaeological excavations at Jericho in the southern Levant region....

 (PPNB) farming cultures, practicing animal domestication, during the 6,200 BC climatic crisis
8.2 kiloyear event
The 8.2 kiloyear event is the term that climatologists have adopted for a sudden decrease in global temperatures that occurred approximately 8,200 years before the present, or c. 6,200 BCE, and which lasted for the next two to four centuries...

. Linguistically, the Canaanite languages
Canaanite languages
The Canaanite languages are a subfamily of the Semitic languages, which were spoken by the ancient peoples of the Canaan region, including Canaanites, Israelites and Phoenicians...

 form a group within the Northwest Semitic languages
Northwest Semitic languages
The Northwest Semitic languages form a medium-level division of the Semitic language family. The languages of this group are spoken by approximately eight million people today. The group is generally divided into three branches: Ugaritic , Canaanite and Aramaic...

; its best-known member is the Hebrew language
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

, being mostly known from Iron Age epigraphy
Epigraphy
Epigraphy Epigraphy Epigraphy (from the , literally "on-writing", is the study of inscriptions or epigraphs as writing; that is, the science of identifying the graphemes and of classifying their use as to cultural context and date, elucidating their meaning and assessing what conclusions can be...

.
The various Canaanite nations of the Bronze to Iron Ages are mentioned in the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

, Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

n and Ancient Egyptian texts
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

. The Late Bronze Age state of Ugarit
Ugarit
Ugarit was an ancient port city in the eastern Mediterranean at the Ras Shamra headland near Latakia, Syria. It is located near Minet el-Beida in northern Syria. It is some seven miles north of Laodicea ad Mare and approximately fifty miles east of Cyprus...

 (modern Ras Shamra in Syria) is considered quintessentially Canaanite archaeologically, even though its Ugaritic language
Ugaritic language
The following table shows Proto-Semitic phonemes and their correspondences among Ugaritic, Arabic and Tiberian Hebrew:-Grammar:Ugaritic is an inflected language, and as a Semitic language its grammatical features are highly similar to those found in Classical Arabic and Akkadian...

 does not belong to the Canaanite group proper.

Nomenclature


Ancient Canaan included the region between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, although sometimes it was used to refer to other regions east of the Jordan.

In the north, Lebanon, bordered by the Litani river to the watershed of the Orontes river, was known by the Egyptians as upper Retenu
Retenu
Retjenu , was an Ancient Egyptian name for Canaan and Syria. It covered the region from the Negev Desert north to the Orontes River. The borders of Retjenu shifted with time, but it generally consisted of three regions. The southernmost was Djahy, which had about the same boundaries as Canaan...

.
Between Lebanon and Syria, Canaan was bordered to the North by Hazor, Aram
Aram (Biblical region)
Aram is the name of a region mentioned in the Bible located in central Syria, including where the city of Aleppo now stands.-Etymology:The etymology is uncertain. One standard explanation is an original meaning of "highlands"...

 and Kadesh
Kadesh
This article is about Kadesh in the lands of the Amurru, bordering on Damascus Syria up to Hammath; see also Kadesh or Kedesh Kadesh was an ancient city of the Levant, located on or near the headwaters or ford of the Orontes River...

, which included the lands of the Amorites. In Egyptian campaign accounts, the term Djahi was used to refer to the watershed of the Jordan river. Many earlier Egyptian sources also mention numerous military campaigns conducted in Ka-na-na, just inside Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

.

In Biblical usage, the name was confined to the country West of the Jordan, the Canaanites being described as dwelling "by the sea, and along by the side of the Jordan," (Numbers 33:51; Joshua 22:9)
and was especially identified with Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

 (Isaiah 23:11).

The Biblical narrative makes a point of the renaming of the "Land of Canaan" to the "Land of Israel
Land of Israel
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

" as marking the Israelite conquest of the Promised Land
Promised land
The Promised Land is a term used to describe the land promised or given by God, according to the Hebrew Bible, to the Israelites, the descendants of Jacob. The promise is firstly made to Abraham and then renewed to his son Isaac, and to Isaac's son Jacob , Abraham's grandson...

.

Etymology


The English term Canaan ' onMouseout='HidePop("54102")' href="http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/International_Phonetic_Alphabet">/'keɪnən/
International Phonetic Alphabet
The International Phonetic Alphabet "The acronym 'IPA' strictly refers [...] to the 'International Phonetic Association'. But it is now such a common practice to use the acronym also to refer to the alphabet itself that resistance seems pedantic...

 since c. 1500, thanks to the Great Vowel Shift
Great Vowel Shift
The Great Vowel Shift was a major change in the pronunciation of the English language that took place in England between 1350 and 1500.The Great Vowel Shift was first studied by Otto Jespersen , a Danish linguist and Anglicist, who coined the term....

) comes from the Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 , via Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

  Khanaan and Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 . It appears as in the Amarna letters
Amarna letters
The Amarna letters are an archive of correspondence on clay tablets, mostly diplomatic, between the Egyptian administration and its representatives in Canaan and Amurru during the New Kingdom...

 (second half of the 2nd millennium BCE), and is found on coins from Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

 in the last half of the 1st millennium. The Bible derives the name from an eponymous ancestor, Canaan son of Ham, reflected in , Kana'an, the generic Northwest Semitic term for the region.

The etymology is uncertain. One explanation is that it has an original meaning of "lowlands", from a Semitic root "to be low, humble, depressed". This has been interpreted to be in contrast with Aram
Aram (Biblical region)
Aram is the name of a region mentioned in the Bible located in central Syria, including where the city of Aleppo now stands.-Etymology:The etymology is uncertain. One standard explanation is an original meaning of "highlands"...

, or "highlands".

An alternative suggestion derives the term from Hurrian Kinahhu, purportedly referring to the colour purple
Purple
Purple is a range of hues of color occurring between red and blue, and is classified as a secondary color as the colors are required to create the shade....

, so that Canaan and Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

 would be synonyms ("Land of Purple"), but it is just as common to assume that Kinahhu was simply the Hurrian rendition of the Semitic .

Mesopotamian references


Certain scholars of the Eblaite material (dated 2350 BC) from the archive of Tell Mardikh see the oldest reference to Canaanites in the ethnic name ga-na-na which provides a third millennium reference to the name Canaan.

Canaan is mentioned in a document from the 18th century BC found in the ruins of Mari
Mari, Syria
Mari was an ancient Sumerian and Amorite city, located 11 kilometers north-west of the modern town of Abu Kamal on the western bank of Euphrates river, some 120 km southeast of Deir ez-Zor, Syria...

, a former Sumer
Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

ian outpost in Syria, located along the Middle Euphrates
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

. Apparently Canaan at this time existed as a distinct political entity (probably a loose confederation of city-states). A letter from this time complains about certain "thieves and Canaanites (i.e. Kinahhu)" causing trouble in the town of Rahisum.

Tablets found in the Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

n city of Nuzi
Nuzi
Nuzi was an ancient Mesopotamian city southwest of Kirkuk in modern Al Ta'amim Governorate of Iraq, located near the Tigris river...

 use the term Kinahnu ("Canaan") as a synonym for red or purple dye, laboriously produced by the Kassite
Kassite
Kassite is a rare mineral with formula CaTi2O42. It crystallizes in the orthorhombic crystal system and forms radiating rosettes and pseudo-hexagonal tabular crystals which are commonly twinned. Crystals are brownish pink to pale yellow and are translucent with an adamantine luster...

s from murex
Murex
Murex is a genus of medium to large sized predatory tropical sea snails. These are carnivorous marine gastropod molluscs in the family Muricidae, commonly calle "murexes" or "rock snails"...

 shells as early as 1600 BC and on the Mediterranean coast by the Phoenicians from a byproduct of glassmaking. Purple cloth became a renowned Canaanite export commodity which is mentioned in Exodus. The dyes may have been named after their place of origin. The name 'Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

' is connected with the Greek word for "purple", apparently referring to the same product, but it is difficult to state with certainty whether the Greek word came from the name, or vice versa. The purple cloth of Tyre in Phoenicia was well known far and wide and was associated by the Romans with nobility and royalty.

Anne Killebrew has shown that cities such as Jerusalem were large and important walled settlements in the Middle Bronze
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 IIB and Iron Age IIC periods (ca. 1800–1550 and 720–586 BCE), but that during the intervening Late Bronze
Bronze Age collapse
The Bronze Age collapse is a transition in southwestern Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age that some historians believe was violent, sudden and culturally disruptive...

 (LB) and Iron Age
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

 I and IIA/B Ages sites like Jerusalem were small and relatively insignificant and unfortified towns.

References to Canaanites are also found throughout the Amarna letters
Amarna letters
The Amarna letters are an archive of correspondence on clay tablets, mostly diplomatic, between the Egyptian administration and its representatives in Canaan and Amurru during the New Kingdom...

 of Pharaoh Akenaton circa 1350 BC, and a reference to the "land of Canaan" is found on the statue of Idrimi
Idrimi
Idrimi was the king of Alalakh in the 15th century BC.Idrimi was a Hurrianised Semitic son of the king of Aleppo who had been deposed by the new regional master, Barattarna, king of the Mitanni. Nevertheless he succeeded in regaining his seat and was recognized as a vassal by Barattarna. Idrimi...

 of Alalakh
Alalakh
Alalakh is the name of an ancient city-state near modern Antakya in the Amuq River valley of Turkey's Hatay Province.Now represented by an extensive mound, the name of the modern archaeological site is Tell Atchana.-History:...

 in modern Syria. After a popular uprising against his rule, Idrimi was forced into exile with his mother's relatives to seek refuge in "the land of Canaan", where he prepared for an eventual attack to recover his city. Texts from Ugarit
Ugarit
Ugarit was an ancient port city in the eastern Mediterranean at the Ras Shamra headland near Latakia, Syria. It is located near Minet el-Beida in northern Syria. It is some seven miles north of Laodicea ad Mare and approximately fifty miles east of Cyprus...

 also refer to an individual Canaanite (*kn'ny), suggesting that the people of Ugarit, contrary to much modern opinion, considered themselves to be non-Canaanite.

Archaeological excavations of a number of sites, later identified as Canaanite, show that prosperity of the region reached its apogee during this Middle Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 period, under leadership of the city of Hazor, at least nominally tributary to Egypt for much of the period. In the north, the cities of Yamkhad and Qatna
Qatna
Qatna is an archaeological site in the Wadi il-Aswad, a tributary of the Orontes, 18 km northeast of Homs, Syria. It consists in a tell occupying 1 km², which makes it one of the largest Bronze Age towns in western Syria...

 were hegemons of important confederacies
Confederation
A confederation in modern political terms is a permanent union of political units for common action in relation to other units. Usually created by treaty but often later adopting a common constitution, confederations tend to be established for dealing with critical issues such as defense, foreign...

, and it would appear that Biblical Hazor was the chief city of another important coalition
Coalition
A coalition is a pact or treaty among individuals or groups, during which they cooperate in joint action, each in their own self-interest, joining forces together for a common cause. This alliance may be temporary or a matter of convenience. A coalition thus differs from a more formal covenant...

 in the south. In the early Late Bronze Age, Canaanite confederacies were centered on Megiddo
Megiddo (place)
Megiddo is a tell in modern Israel near Megiddo Kibbutz, known for its historical, geographical, and theological importance especially under its Greek name Armageddon. In ancient times Megiddo was an important city-state. Excavations have unearthed 26 layers of ruins, indicated a long period of...

 and Kadesh
Kadesh
This article is about Kadesh in the lands of the Amurru, bordering on Damascus Syria up to Hammath; see also Kadesh or Kedesh Kadesh was an ancient city of the Levant, located on or near the headwaters or ford of the Orontes River...

, before again being brought into the Egyptian Empire.

Greco-Roman historiography



In the 6th century BC, Hecataeus of Miletus affirms that Phoenicia was formerly called χνα, a name that Philo of Byblos
Philo of Byblos
Philo of Byblos was an antiquarian writer of grammatical, lexical and historical works in Greek. He is chiefly known for his Phoenician history assembled from the writings of Sanchuniathon.-Life:...

 subsequently adopted into his mythology as his eponym for the Phoenicians: "Khna who was afterwards called Phoinix". Quoting fragments attributed to Sanchuniathon
Sanchuniathon
Sanchuniathon is the purported Phoenician author of three lost works originally in the Phoenician language, surviving only in partial paraphrase and summary of a Greek translation by Philo of Byblos, according to the Christian bishop Eusebius of Caesarea...

, he relates that Byblos
Byblos
Byblos is the Greek name of the Phoenician city Gebal . It is a Mediterranean city in the Mount Lebanon Governorate of present-day Lebanon under the current Arabic name of Jubayl and was also referred to as Gibelet during the Crusades...

, Berytus and Tyre were among the first cities ever built, under the rule of the mythical Cronus
Cronus
In Greek mythology, Cronus or Kronos was the leader and the youngest of the first generation of Titans, divine descendants of Gaia, the earth, and Uranus, the sky...

, and credits the inhabitants with developing fishing, hunting, agriculture, shipbuilding and writing.

The southern highlands of the region were later named Judea
Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

 after the kingdom of Judah
Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

, while the coastal region came to be known as Παλαιστίνη in Greek (Latin Palaestina), from the name of the Philistines
Philistines
Philistines , Pleshet or Peleset, were a people who occupied the southern coast of Canaan at the beginning of the Iron Age . According to the Bible, they ruled the five city-states of Gaza, Askelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath, from the Wadi Gaza in the south to the Yarqon River in the north, but with...

. That name was extended to a larger area in the 2nd century, with the establishment of the Roman province of Syria Palaestina
Syria Palaestina
Syria Palæstina was a Roman province between 135CE and 390CE. It had been established by the merge of Roman Syria and Roman Judaea, following the defeat of the Bar Kokhba Revolt in 135 CE. In 193 Syria-Coele was split to form a separate provincial locality...

.

Saint Augustine
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

 also mentions that one of the terms the seafaring Phoenicians called their homeland was "Canaan". This is further confirmed by coins of the city of Laodicea
Latakia
Latakia, or Latakiyah , is the principal port city of Syria, as well as the capital of the Latakia Governorate. In addition to serving as a port, the city is a manufacturing center for surrounding agricultural towns and villages...

 in modern day Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, that bear the legend, "Of Laodicea, a metropolis in Canaan"; these coins are dated to the reign of Antiochus IV (175–164 BC
164 BC
Year 164 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Torquatus and Longinus...

) and his successors.
Augustine also records that the rustic people of Hippo
Hippo Regius
Hippo Regius is the ancient name of the modern city of Annaba, in Algeria. Under this name, it was a major city in Roman Africa, hosting several early Christian councils, and was the home of the philosopher and theologian Augustine of Hippo...

  retained the Punic
Punic language
The Punic language or Carthagian language is an extinct Semitic language formerly spoken in the Mediterranean region of North Africa and several Mediterranean islands, by people of the Punic culture.- Description :...

 self-designation Chanani.

Prehistory


One of the earliest settlements in the region was at Jericho
Jericho
Jericho ; is a city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank of the Palestinian territories. It is the capital of the Jericho Governorate and has a population of more than 20,000. Situated well below sea level on an east-west route north of the Dead Sea, Jericho is the lowest permanently...

 in Canaan. The earliest settlements were seasonal, but, by the Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

, had developed into large urban centres. By the Early Bronze Age other sites had developed, such as Ebla
Ebla
Ebla Idlib Governorate, Syria) was an ancient city about southwest of Aleppo. It was an important city-state in two periods, first in the late third millennium BC, then again between 1800 and 1650 BC....

, which by ca. 2300 BC was incorporated into the Akkadian empire of Sargon the Great and Naram-Sin of Akkad
Akkad
The Akkadian Empire was an empire centered in the city of Akkad and its surrounding region in Mesopotamia....

 (Biblical Accad). Sumerian references to the Mar.tu ("tent dwellers" – considered to be Amorite
Amorite
Amorite refers to an ancient Semitic people who occupied large parts of Mesopotamia from the 21st Century BC...

) country West of the Euphrates date from even earlier than Sargon, at least to the reign of Enshakushanna
Enshakushanna
Enshakushanna was a king of Uruk in the later 3rd millennium BC who is named on the Sumerian king list, which states his reign to have been 60 years. He conquered Hamazi, Akkad, Kish, and Nippur, claiming hegemony over all of Sumer...

 of Uruk. The archives of Ebla show reference to a number of Biblical sites, including Hazor, Jerusalem, and as a number of people have claimed, to Sodom and Gomorrah
Sodom and Gomorrah
Sodom and Gomorrah were cities mentioned in the Book of Genesis and later expounded upon throughout the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament and Deuterocanonical sources....

 mentioned in Genesis as well. The collapse of the Akkadian Empire saw the arrival of peoples using Khirbet Kerak Ware pottery, coming originally from the Zagros Mountains
Zagros Mountains
The Zagros Mountains are the largest mountain range in Iran and Iraq. With a total length of 1,500 km , from northwestern Iran, and roughly correlating with Iran's western border, the Zagros range spans the whole length of the western and southwestern Iranian plateau and ends at the Strait of...

, east of the Tigris
Tigris
The Tigris River is the eastern member of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of southeastern Turkey through Iraq.-Geography:...

. It is suspected by some that this event marks the arrival in Syria and Canaan of the Hurrians
Hurrians
The Hurrians were a people of the Ancient Near East who lived in Northern Mesopotamia and adjacent regions during the Bronze Age.The largest and most influential Hurrian nation was the kingdom of Mitanni. The population of the Hittite Empire in Anatolia to a large part consisted of Hurrians, and...

, possibly the people later known in the Biblical tradition as Horites
Horites
Horites or Horim were a cave-dwelling people mentioned in the Torah inhabiting areas around Mount Seir. They have been identified with Egyptian references to Khar , which concern a southern region of Canaan...

.

Today it is thought that Canaanite civilization is a response to long periods of stable climate interrupted by short periods of climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

. During these periods, Canaanites profited from their intermediary position between the ancient civilisations of the Middle East — Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

, Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

 and Minoan Crete — to become city states of merchant princes along the coast, with small kingdoms specializing in agricultural products in the interior. This polarity, between coastal towns and agrarian hinterland, was illustrated in Canaanite mythology by the struggle between the storm god, variously called Teshub
Teshub
Teshub was the Hurrian god of sky and storm. He was derived from the Hattian Taru. His Hittite and Luwian name was Tarhun , although this name is from the Hittite root *tarh- to defeat, conquer.- Depiction and myths :He is depicted holding a triple...

 (Hurrian) or Ba'al Hadad
Baal
Baʿal is a Northwest Semitic title and honorific meaning "master" or "lord" that is used for various gods who were patrons of cities in the Levant and Asia Minor, cognate to Akkadian Bēlu...

 (Aramaean) and Ya'a, Yaw
Yam (god)
Yam, from the Canaanite word Yam, meaning "Sea", also written "Yaw", is one name of the Ugaritic god of Rivers and Sea. Also titled Judge Nahar , he is also one of the 'ilhm or sons of El, the name given to the Levantine pantheon...

, Yahu or Yam
Yam (god)
Yam, from the Canaanite word Yam, meaning "Sea", also written "Yaw", is one name of the Ugaritic god of Rivers and Sea. Also titled Judge Nahar , he is also one of the 'ilhm or sons of El, the name given to the Levantine pantheon...

, god of the sea and rivers. Early Canaanite civilization was characterized by small walled market towns, surrounded by peasant farmers growing a range of local horticultural products
Horticulture
Horticulture is the industry and science of plant cultivation including the process of preparing soil for the planting of seeds, tubers, or cuttings. Horticulturists work and conduct research in the disciplines of plant propagation and cultivation, crop production, plant breeding and genetic...

, along with commercial growing of olives, grapes for wine
Wine
Wine is an alcoholic beverage, made of fermented fruit juice, usually from grapes. The natural chemical balance of grapes lets them ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes, or other nutrients. Grape wine is produced by fermenting crushed grapes using various types of yeast. Yeast...

, and pistachios, surrounded by extensive grain
GRAIN
GRAIN is a small international non-profit organisation that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems. Our support takes the form of independent research and analysis, networking at local, regional and...

 cropping, predominantly wheat
Wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

 and barley
Barley
Barley is a major cereal grain, a member of the grass family. It serves as a major animal fodder, as a base malt for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods...

. Harvest in early summer was a season when transhumance
Transhumance
Transhumance is the seasonal movement of people with their livestock between fixed summer and winter pastures. In montane regions it implies movement between higher pastures in summer and to lower valleys in winter. Herders have a permanent home, typically in valleys. Only the herds travel, with...

 nomadism was practiced — shepherds staying with their flocks during the wet season and returning to graze them on the harvested stubble, closer to water supplies in the summer. Evidence of this cycle of agriculture is found in the Gezer Calendar
Gezer calendar
The Gezer calendar is a tablet of soft limestone inscription, dating to the 10th century BCE. Scholars are divided as to whether the script and language are Phoenician or paleo-Hebrew, which were linguistically very similar in this period....

 and in the Biblical cycle of the year.

Periods of rapid climate change generally saw a collapse of this mixed Mediterranean farming system; commercial production was replaced with subsistence agricultural foodstuffs; and transhumance pastoralism
Pastoralism
Pastoralism or pastoral farming is the branch of agriculture concerned with the raising of livestock. It is animal husbandry: the care, tending and use of animals such as camels, goats, cattle, yaks, llamas, and sheep. It may have a mobile aspect, moving the herds in search of fresh pasture and...

 became a year-round nomadic pastoral activity, whilst tribal groups wandered in a circular pattern north to the Euphrates, or south to the Egyptian delta with their flocks. Occasionally, tribal chieftains would emerge, raiding enemy settlements and rewarding loyal followers from the spoils or by tariffs levied on merchants. Should the cities band together and retaliate, a neighbouring state intervene or should the chieftain suffer a reversal of fortune, allies would fall away or inter-tribal feuding would return. It has been suggested that the Patriarchal tales of the Bible reflect such social forms. During the periods of the collapse of Akkad
Akkad
The Akkadian Empire was an empire centered in the city of Akkad and its surrounding region in Mesopotamia....

 and the First Intermediary Period in Egypt, the Hyksos invasions and the end of the Middle Bronze Age in Babylonia, and the Late Bronze Age collapse, trade through the Canaanite area would dwindle, as Egypt and Mesopotamia withdrew into their isolation. When the climates stabilized, trade would resume firstly along the coast in the area of the Philistine and Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

n cities. The Philistines, while an integral part of the Canaanite milieu, do not seem to have been ethnically homogenous with the Canaanites; the Hurrians
Hurrians
The Hurrians were a people of the Ancient Near East who lived in Northern Mesopotamia and adjacent regions during the Bronze Age.The largest and most influential Hurrian nation was the kingdom of Mitanni. The population of the Hittite Empire in Anatolia to a large part consisted of Hurrians, and...

, Hittites
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

, Aramaeans
Aramaeans
The Aramaeans, also Arameans , were a Northwest Semitic semi-nomadic and pastoralist people who originated in what is now modern Syria during the Late Bronze Age and the Iron Age...

, Moab
Moab
Moab is the historical name for a mountainous strip of land in Jordan. The land lies alongside much of the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. The existence of the Kingdom of Moab is attested to by numerous archeological findings, most notably the Mesha Stele, which describes the Moabite victory over...

ites, and Ammon
Ammon
Ammon , also referred to as the Ammonites and children of Ammon, was an ancient nation located east of the Jordan River, Gilead, and the Dead Sea, in present-day Jordan. The chief city of the country was Rabbah or Rabbath Ammon, site of the modern city of Amman, Jordan's capital...

ites are also considered distinct from generic Canaanites or Amorites, in scholarship or in tradition (although in the Biblical Book of Nations, "Heth", (Hittites) are a son of Canaan). As markets redeveloped, new trade routes that would avoid the heavy tariffs of the coast would develop from Kadesh Barnea, through Hebron
Hebron
Hebron , is located in the southern West Bank, south of Jerusalem. Nestled in the Judean Mountains, it lies 930 meters above sea level. It is the largest city in the West Bank and home to around 165,000 Palestinians, and over 500 Jewish settlers concentrated in and around the old quarter...

, Lachish
Lachish
Lachish was an ancient Near East town located at the site of modern Tell ed-Duweir in the Shephelah, a region between Mount Hebron and the maritime plain of Philistia . The town was first mentioned in the Amarna letters as Lakisha-Lakiša...

, Jerusalem, Bethel
Bethel
Bethel was a border city described in the Hebrew Bible as being located between Benjamin and Ephraim...

, Samaria
Samaria
Samaria, or the Shomron is a term used for a mountainous region roughly corresponding to the northern part of the West Bank.- Etymology :...

, Shechem
Shechem
Shechem was a Canaanite city mentioned in the Amarna letters, and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an Israelite city of the tribe of Manasseh and the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel...

, Shiloh through Galilee
Galilee
Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

 to Jezreel, Hazor and Megiddo. Secondary Canaanite cities would develop in this region. Further economic development would see the creation of a third trade route from Eilath, Timna
Timna
Timna is an ancient city in Yemen, the capital of the Qataban kingdom; it is distinct from a city in Southern Israel that shares the same name....

, Edom
Edom
Edom or Idumea was a historical region of the Southern Levant located south of Judea and the Dead Sea. It is mentioned in biblical records as a 1st millennium BC Iron Age kingdom of Edom, and in classical antiquity the cognate name Idumea was used to refer to a smaller area in the same region...

 (Seir
Seir
Seir . It is sometimes used as an alternative term for a goat, as in Seir La'Azazel .* Seir - "Prince" in Ancient Egyptian, a name used by the Egyptians to refer the god of the dead known to the Greeks as Osiris...

), Moab
Moab
Moab is the historical name for a mountainous strip of land in Jordan. The land lies alongside much of the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. The existence of the Kingdom of Moab is attested to by numerous archeological findings, most notably the Mesha Stele, which describes the Moabite victory over...

, Ammon
Ammon
Ammon , also referred to as the Ammonites and children of Ammon, was an ancient nation located east of the Jordan River, Gilead, and the Dead Sea, in present-day Jordan. The chief city of the country was Rabbah or Rabbath Ammon, site of the modern city of Amman, Jordan's capital...

 and thence to Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 and Palmyra
Palmyra
Palmyra was an ancient city in Syria. In the age of antiquity, it was an important city of central Syria, located in an oasis 215 km northeast of Damascus and 180 km southwest of the Euphrates at Deir ez-Zor. It had long been a vital caravan city for travellers crossing the Syrian desert...

. Earlier states (for example the Philistines and Tyrians in the case of Judah
Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

 and Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, for the second route, and Judah and Israel for the third route) tried generally unsuccessfully to control the interior trade.

Eventually, the prosperity of this trade would attract more powerful regional neighbors, such as Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

, Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

, the Babylonians, Persians, Ancient Greeks and Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

, who would attempt to control the Canaanites politically, levying tribute, taxes and tariffs. Often in such periods, thorough overgrazing would result in a climatic collapse and a repeat of the cycle (e.g. PPNB, Ghassulian
Ghassulian
Ghassulian refers to a culture and an archaeological stage dating to the Middle Chalcolithic Period in the Southern Levant...

, Uruk
Uruk
Uruk was an ancient city of Sumer and later Babylonia, situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates river, on the ancient dry former channel of the Euphrates River, some 30 km east of modern As-Samawah, Al-Muthannā, Iraq.Uruk gave its name to the Uruk...

, and the Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 cycles already mentioned). The fall of later Canaanite civilization occurred with the incorporation of the area into the Greco-Roman world (as Iudaea province), and after Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 times, into the Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 and proto-Muslim Ummayad Caliphate
Caliphate
The term caliphate, "dominion of a caliph " , refers to the first system of government established in Islam and represented the political unity of the Muslim Ummah...

. Aramaic, one of the two lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

s of Canaanite civilization, is still spoken in a number of small Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

n villages, whilst Phoenician Canaanite disappeared as a spoken language in about 100 AD.

Late Bronze Age



During the 2nd millennium BC
2nd millennium BC
The 2nd millennium BC marks the transition from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age.Its first half is dominated by the Middle Kingdom of Egypt and Babylonia. The alphabet develops. Indo-Iranian migration onto the Iranian plateau and onto the Indian subcontinent propagates the use of the chariot...

, Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

ian texts use the term Canaan to refer to an Egyptian province, whose boundaries generally corroborate the definition of Canaan found in the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

, bounded to the west by the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

, to the north in the vicinity of Hamath in Syria, to the east by the Jordan Valley
Jordan Valley (Middle East)
The Jordan Valley forms part of the larger Jordan Rift Valley. It is 120 kilometers long and 15 kilometers wide, where it runs from Lake Tiberias in the north to northern Dead Sea in the south. It runs for an additional 155 kilometer south of the Dead Sea to Aqaba, an area also known as Wadi...

, and to the south by a line extended from the Dead Sea
Dead Sea
The Dead Sea , also called the Salt Sea, is a salt lake bordering Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west. Its surface and shores are below sea level, the lowest elevation on the Earth's surface. The Dead Sea is deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world...

 to around Gaza
Gaza
Gaza , also referred to as Gaza City, is a Palestinian city in the Gaza Strip, with a population of about 450,000, making it the largest city in the Palestinian territories.Inhabited since at least the 15th century BC,...

 . Nevertheless, the Egyptian and Hebrew uses of the term are not identical: the Egyptian texts also identify the coastal city of Qadesh
Kadesh
This article is about Kadesh in the lands of the Amurru, bordering on Damascus Syria up to Hammath; see also Kadesh or Kedesh Kadesh was an ancient city of the Levant, located on or near the headwaters or ford of the Orontes River...

 in Syria near Turkey as part of the "Land of Canaan", so that the Egyptian usage seems to refer to the entire levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

ine coast of the Mediterranean Sea, making it a synonym of another Egyptian term for this coastland, Retenu
Retenu
Retjenu , was an Ancient Egyptian name for Canaan and Syria. It covered the region from the Negev Desert north to the Orontes River. The borders of Retjenu shifted with time, but it generally consisted of three regions. The southernmost was Djahy, which had about the same boundaries as Canaan...

.

There is uncertainty about whether the name Canaan refers to a specific ethnic group wherever they live, the homeland of this ethnic group, or a region under the control of this ethnic group, or perhaps any of the three.

At the end of what is referred to as the Middle Kingdom
Middle Kingdom of Egypt
The Middle Kingdom of Egypt is the period in the history of ancient Egypt stretching from the establishment of the Eleventh Dynasty to the end of the Fourteenth Dynasty, between 2055 BC and 1650 BC, although some writers include the Thirteenth and Fourteenth dynasties in the Second Intermediate...

 era of Egypt, was a breakdown in centralised power, the assertion of independence by various nomarchs and the assumption of power in the Delta by Pharaohs of the 17th Dynasty. Around 1674 BC, these rulers, whom the Egyptians referred to as "rulers of foreign lands" (Egyptian, ), hence "Hyksos
Hyksos
The Hyksos were an Asiatic people who took over the eastern Nile Delta during the twelfth dynasty, initiating the Second Intermediate Period of ancient Egypt....

" (Greek), came to control Lower Egypt
Lower Egypt
Lower Egypt is the northern-most section of Egypt. It refers to the fertile Nile Delta region, which stretches from the area between El-Aiyat and Zawyet Dahshur, south of modern-day Cairo, and the Mediterranean Sea....

 (northern Egypt), evidently leaving Canaan an ethnically diverse land.

Among the migrant tribes who appear to have settled in the region were the Amorites. In the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

, we find Amorites mentioned in the Table of Peoples (Gen. 10:16–18a). Evidently, the Amorites played a significant role in the early history of Canaan. In Gen. 14:7 f., Josh. 10:5 f., Deut. 1:19 f., 27, 44, we find them located in the southern mountain country, while in Num. 21:13, Josh. 9:10, 24:8, 12, etc., we hear of two great Amorite kings residing at Heshbon
Heshbon
Heshbon was an ancient town located east of the Jordan River in the modern Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and historically within the territories of Ammon and Ancient Israel....

 and Ashtaroth, east of the Jordan. However, in other passages such as Gen. 15:16, 48:22, Josh. 24:15, Judg. 1:34, etc., the name Amorite is regarded as synonymous with "Canaanite"—only "Amorite" is never used for the population on the coast.

In Egyptian inscriptions Amar and Amurru are applied strictly to the more northerly mountain region east of Phoenicia, extending to the Orontes
Orontes River
The Orontes or ‘Āṣī is a river of Lebanon, Syria and Turkey.It was anciently the chief river of the Levant, also called Draco, Typhon and Axius...

. In the Akkadian Empire, as early as Naram-Sin's reign (ca. 2240 BC), Amurru was called one of the "four quarters" surrounding Sumer, along with Subartu
Subartu
The land of Subartu or Subar is mentioned in Bronze Age literature...

, Akkad
Akkad
The Akkadian Empire was an empire centered in the city of Akkad and its surrounding region in Mesopotamia....

, and Elam
Elam
Elam was an ancient civilization located in what is now southwest Iran. Elam was centered in the far west and the southwest of modern-day Iran, stretching from the lowlands of Khuzestan and Ilam Province, as well as a small part of southern Iraq...

, and Amorite dynasties also came to dominate in Mesopotamia, including at Babylon and Isin. Later on, Amurru became the Assyrian
Assyrian people
The Assyrian people are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia...

 term for the interior of south as well as for northerly Canaan. At this time the Canaanite area seemed divided between two confederacies, one centred upon Tel Megiddo in the Jezreel Valley
Jezreel Valley
-Etymology:The Jezreel Valley takes its name from the ancient city of Jezreel which was located on a low hill overlooking the southern edge of the valley, though some scholars think that the name of the city originates from the name of the clan which founded it, and whose existence is mentioned in...

, the second on the more northerly city of Kadesh
Kadesh
This article is about Kadesh in the lands of the Amurru, bordering on Damascus Syria up to Hammath; see also Kadesh or Kedesh Kadesh was an ancient city of the Levant, located on or near the headwaters or ford of the Orontes River...

 on the Orontes River
Orontes River
The Orontes or ‘Āṣī is a river of Lebanon, Syria and Turkey.It was anciently the chief river of the Levant, also called Draco, Typhon and Axius...

.

In the centuries preceding the appearance of the Biblical Hebrews, Canaan and Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 became tributary to the Egyptian Pharaoh
Pharaoh
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace...

s, although domination by the sovereign was not so strong as to prevent frequent local rebellions and inter-city struggles. Under Thutmose III
Thutmose III
Thutmose III was the sixth Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty. During the first twenty-two years of Thutmose's reign he was co-regent with his stepmother, Hatshepsut, who was named the pharaoh...

 (1479–1426 BC) and Amenhotep II
Amenhotep II
Amenhotep II was the seventh Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty of Egypt. Amenhotep inherited a vast kingdom from his father Thutmose III, and held it by means of a few military campaigns in Syria; however, he fought much less than his father, and his reign saw the effective cessation of hostilities...

 (1427–1400 BC), the regular presence of the strong hand of the Egyptian ruler and his armies kept the Syrians and Canaanites sufficiently loyal. Nevertheless, Thutmose III reported a new and troubling element in the population. Habiru
Habiru
Habiru or Apiru or ˁpr.w was the name given by various Sumerian, Egyptian, Akkadian, Hittite, Mitanni, and Ugaritic sources to a group of people living as nomadic invaders in areas of the Fertile Crescent from Northeastern Mesopotamia and Iran to the borders of Egypt in Canaan...

 or (in Egyptian) 'Apiru, are reported for the first time. These seem to have been mercenaries
Mercenary
A mercenary, is a person who takes part in an armed conflict based on the promise of material compensation rather than having a direct interest in, or a legal obligation to, the conflict itself. A non-conscript professional member of a regular army is not considered to be a mercenary although he...

, brigands
Brigandage
Brigandage refers to the life and practice of brigands: highway robbery and plunder, and a brigand is a person who usually lives in a gang and lives by pillage and robbery....

 or outlaw
Outlaw
In historical legal systems, an outlaw is declared as outside the protection of the law. In pre-modern societies, this takes the burden of active prosecution of a criminal from the authorities. Instead, the criminal is withdrawn all legal protection, so that anyone is legally empowered to persecute...

s, who may have at one time led a settled life, but with bad-luck or due to the force of circumstances, contributed a rootless element of the population, prepared to hire themselves to whichever local mayor or princeling prepared to undertake their support. Although Habiru (a Sumerian
Sumerian language
Sumerian is the language of ancient Sumer, which was spoken in southern Mesopotamia since at least the 4th millennium BC. During the 3rd millennium BC, there developed a very intimate cultural symbiosis between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism...

 ideogram glossed as "brigand" in Akkadian
Akkadian language
Akkadian is an extinct Semitic language that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. The earliest attested Semitic language, it used the cuneiform writing system derived ultimately from ancient Sumerian, an unrelated language isolate...

), and sometimes (an Akkadian word) had been reported in Mesopotamia from the reign of Shulgi
Shulgi
Shulgi of Urim was the second king of the "Sumerian Renaissance". He reigned for 48 years, dated to 2029 BCE–1982 BCE...

 of Ur III, their appearance in Canaan appears to have been due to the arrival of a new state in Northern Mesopotamia based upon Maryannu
Maryannu
Maryannu is an ancient word for the caste of chariot-mounted hereditary warrior nobility which dominated many of the societies of the Middle East during the Bronze Age.The term is attested in the Amarna letters written by Haapi...

 aristocracy
Aristocracy
Aristocracy , is a form of government in which a few elite citizens rule. The term derives from the Greek aristokratia, meaning "rule of the best". In origin in Ancient Greece, it was conceived of as rule by the best qualified citizens, and contrasted with monarchy...

 of horse drawn charioteers, associated with the Indo-Aryan
Indo-Aryans
Indo-Aryan is an ethno-linguistic term referring to the wide collection of peoples united as native speakers of the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-Iranian family of Indo-European languages...

 rulers of the Hurrians
Hurrians
The Hurrians were a people of the Ancient Near East who lived in Northern Mesopotamia and adjacent regions during the Bronze Age.The largest and most influential Hurrian nation was the kingdom of Mitanni. The population of the Hittite Empire in Anatolia to a large part consisted of Hurrians, and...

, known as Mitanni
Mitanni
Mitanni or Hanigalbat was a loosely organized Hurrian-speaking state in northern Syria and south-east Anatolia from ca. 1500 BC–1300 BC...

. The Habiru seem to have been more a social class than any ethnic group. One analysis shows that the majority were, however, Hurrian, though there were a number of Semites and even some Kassite adventurers amongst their number. The reign of Amenhotep III
Amenhotep III
Amenhotep III also known as Amenhotep the Magnificent was the ninth pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty. According to different authors, he ruled Egypt from June 1386 to 1349 BC or June 1388 BC to December 1351 BC/1350 BC after his father Thutmose IV died...

, as a result was not quite so tranquil for the Asiatic province, as Habiru/'Apiru contributed to greater political instability. It is believed that turbulent chiefs began to seek their opportunities, though as a rule could not find them without the help of a neighboring king. The boldest of the disaffected nobles was Aziru
Aziru
Aziru was the Canaanite ruler of Amurru, modern Lebanon, in the fourteenth century BC. He was the son of Abdi-Ashirta, the previous Egyptian vassal of Amurru and a direct contemporary of Akhenaten.The dealings of Aziru are well-known from the Amarna letters...

, son of Abdi-Ashirta
Abdi-Ashirta
Abdi-Ashirta was the ruler of Amurru, a new kingdom in southern Syria subject to nominal Egyptian control, that was in conflict with King Rib-Hadda of Byblos....

, a prince of Amurru, who even before the death of Amenhotep III, endeavoured to extend his power into the plain of Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

. Akizzi
Akizzi
Prince Akizzi was the ruler of Qatna in the fourteenth century BC. Prince Akizzi wrote three of the Amarna letters correspondence.-References:...

, governor of Katna
Katna
Kątna is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Długołęka, within Wrocław County, Lower Silesian Voivodeship, in south-western Poland. Prior to 1945 it was in Germany....

–(Qatna
Qatna
Qatna is an archaeological site in the Wadi il-Aswad, a tributary of the Orontes, 18 km northeast of Homs, Syria. It consists in a tell occupying 1 km², which makes it one of the largest Bronze Age towns in western Syria...

?) (near Hamath), reported this to the Pharaoh, who seems to have sought to frustrate his attempts. In the next reign, however, both father and son caused infinite trouble to loyal servants of Egypt like Rib-Addi
Rib-Hadda
Rib-Hadda was king of Byblos during the mid fourteenth century BCE. He is the author of some sixty of the Amarna letters all to Akhenaten...

, governor of Gubla
Byblos
Byblos is the Greek name of the Phoenician city Gebal . It is a Mediterranean city in the Mount Lebanon Governorate of present-day Lebanon under the current Arabic name of Jubayl and was also referred to as Gibelet during the Crusades...

 (Gebal), not the least through transferring loyalty from the Egyptian crown to that of the expanding neighbouring Hittites
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

 under Suppiluliuma I
Suppiluliuma I
Suppiluliuma I was king of the Hittites . He achieved fame as a great warrior and statesman, successfully challenging the then-dominant Egyptian empire for control of the lands between the Mediterranean and the Euphrates....

.

Egyptian power in Canaan thus suffered a major setback when the Hittites
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

 (or Hatti) advanced into Syria in the reign of Amenhotep III, and became even more threatening in that of his successor, displacing the Amurru and prompting a resumption of Semitic migration. Abd-Ashirta and his son Aziru, at first afraid of the Hittites, afterwards made a treaty with their king, and joining with other external powers, attacked the districts remaining loyal to Egypt. In vain did Rib-Addi send touching appeals for aid to the distant Pharaoh, who was far too engaged in his religious innovations to attend to such messages.

In the el Amarna letters
Amarna letters
The Amarna letters are an archive of correspondence on clay tablets, mostly diplomatic, between the Egyptian administration and its representatives in Canaan and Amurru during the New Kingdom...

 (~1350 BC) sent by governors and princes of Canaan to their Egyptian overlord Akhenaten
Akhenaten
Akhenaten also spelled Echnaton,Ikhnaton,and Khuenaten;meaning "living spirit of Aten") known before the fifth year of his reign as Amenhotep IV , was a Pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt who ruled for 17 years and died perhaps in 1336 BC or 1334 BC...

 (Amenhotep IV) in the 14th century BC—commonly known as the Tel-el-Amarna tablets—we find, beside Amar and Amurru (Amorites), the two forms Kinahhi and Kinahni, corresponding to Kena and Kena'an respectively, and including Syria in its widest extent, as Eduard Meyer
Eduard Meyer
Eduard Meyer was a German historian.-Biography:Meyer was born at Hamburg and educated at the Gelehrtenschule des Johanneums and later at the universities of Bonn and Leipzig. After completing his studies, he spent one year in Istanbul. In 1879, he went to the University of Leipzig as privatdocent...

 has shown. The letters are written in the official and diplomatic Akkadian language
Akkadian language
Akkadian is an extinct Semitic language that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. The earliest attested Semitic language, it used the cuneiform writing system derived ultimately from ancient Sumerian, an unrelated language isolate...

, though "Canaanitish" words and idioms are also in evidence.

In the El Amarna letters
Amarna letters
The Amarna letters are an archive of correspondence on clay tablets, mostly diplomatic, between the Egyptian administration and its representatives in Canaan and Amurru during the New Kingdom...

(~1350 BC), we meet with the Habiri in northern Syria. Itakkama
Etakkama
Etakkama, as a common name, but also, Aitukama, Atakama, Etakama, and Itakama is the name for the 'mayor' of Qidšu, of the 1350-1335 BC Amarna letters correspondence....

 wrote thus to the Pharaoh,
"Behold, Namyawaza
Biryawaza
Biryawaza was king of Damascus in the middle fourteenth century BC. In the Amarna letters, he was ordered by his Egyptian overlords to take armed action against Labaya's sons ....

 has surrendered all the cities of the king, my lord to the in the land of Kadesh
Kadesh
This article is about Kadesh in the lands of the Amurru, bordering on Damascus Syria up to Hammath; see also Kadesh or Kedesh Kadesh was an ancient city of the Levant, located on or near the headwaters or ford of the Orontes River...

 and in Ubi
Upu
Upu, also called Apu , was the region surrounding Damascus of the 1350 BC Amarna letters. Damascus was named Dimašqu/Dimasqu/ etc. Upu, also called Apu (and Ubi or Upi by some authors), was the region surrounding Damascus of the 1350 BC Amarna letters. Damascus was named Dimašqu/Dimasqu/ etc. Upu,...

. But I will go, and if thy gods and thy sun go before me, I will bring back the cities to the king, my lord, from the Habiri, to show myself subject to him; and I will expel the ."

Similarly Zimrida
Zimredda (Sidon mayor)
Zimredda , also Zimr-Edda or Zimr-Eddi was the mayor of Siduna, in the mid 14th century BC. His name means, "Protection/Protector" Hadad, " protector Hadad", "The protector is Hadad", "Protector-Hadad", etc. He is mentioned in several of the Amarna letters, in the late Rib-Hadda series, and later...

, king of Sidon
Sidon
Sidon or Saïda is the third-largest city in Lebanon. It is located in the South Governorate of Lebanon, on the Mediterranean coast, about 40 km north of Tyre and 40 km south of the capital Beirut. In Genesis, Sidon is the son of Canaan the grandson of Noah...

- (named 'Siduna'), declared, "All my cities which the king has given into my hand, have come into the hand of the Habiri." The king of Jerusalem, Abdi-Heba
Abdi-Heba
Abdi-Heba was a local chieftain of Jerusalem during the Amarna period . Abdi-Heba's name can be translated as "servant of Hebat", a Hurrian goddess. Some scholars believe the correct reading is Ebed-Nob...

, reported to the Pharaoh,
"If (Egyptian) troops come this year, lands and princes will remain to the king, my lord; but if troops come not, these lands and princes will not remain to the king, my lord."

Abdi-heba's principle trouble arose from persons called Iilkili and the sons of Labaya
Labaya
Labaya was a Habiru, possibly Canaanite, warlord who lived contemporaneously with Pharaoh Akhenaten . Labaya is mentioned in several of the Amarna Letters , which is practically all scholars know about him...

, who are said to have entered into a treasonable league with the Habiri. Apparently this restless warrior found his death at the siege of Gina
Gina (Canaan)
Gina, mentioned in the Amarna Letters, was a town in ancient Canaan. The citizens of Gina were responsible for the death of Labaya. The town was later known as Beth-Hagan and was probably located roughly on the spot of the modern town of Jenin....

. All these princes, however, maligned each other in their letters to the Pharaoh, and protested their own innocence of traitorous intentions. Namyawaza, for instance, whom Itakkama (see above) accused of disloyalty, wrote thus to the Pharaoh,
"Behold, I and my warriors and my chariots, together with my brethren and my , and my Suti
Sutean
The Suteans were a tribe who lived throughout the Levant and Canaan circa 1350 BC. They are mentioned in eight of the 382 Amarna letters. Like the Habiru, they traditionally worked as mercenaries....

 ?9 are at the disposal of the (royal) troops to go whithersoever the king, my lord, commands."

Bronze Age collapse



Just after the Amarna period a new problem arose which was to trouble the Egyptian control of Canaan. Pharaoh Horemhab campaigned against Shasu
Shasu
Shasu is an Egyptian word for pastoral nomads who appeared in the Levant and Arabia from the fifteenth century BCE all the way to the Third Intermediate Period. The name evolved from a transliteration of the Egyptian word š3sw, meaning "those who move on foot", into the term for Bedouin-type...

(Egyptian = "wanderers") or living in nomadic pastoralist tribe
Tribe
A tribe, viewed historically or developmentally, consists of a social group existing before the development of, or outside of, states.Many anthropologists use the term tribal society to refer to societies organized largely on the basis of kinship, especially corporate descent groups .Some theorists...

s, who had moved across the Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 to threaten Egyptian trade through Galilee
Galilee
Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

 and Jezreel. Seti I
Seti I
Menmaatre Seti I was a Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt , the son of Ramesses I and Queen Sitre, and the father of Ramesses II...

 (ca. 1290 BC) is said to have conquered these
Shasu
Shasu
Shasu is an Egyptian word for pastoral nomads who appeared in the Levant and Arabia from the fifteenth century BCE all the way to the Third Intermediate Period. The name evolved from a transliteration of the Egyptian word š3sw, meaning "those who move on foot", into the term for Bedouin-type...

, Semitic nomads living just south and east of the Dead Sea
Dead Sea
The Dead Sea , also called the Salt Sea, is a salt lake bordering Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west. Its surface and shores are below sea level, the lowest elevation on the Earth's surface. The Dead Sea is deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world...

, from the fortress of Taru (Shtir?) to "
Ka-n-'-na". After the near collapse of the Battle of Kadesh
Battle of Kadesh
The Battle of Kadesh took place between the forces of the Egyptian Empire under Ramesses II and the Hittite Empire under Muwatalli II at the city of Kadesh on the Orontes River, in what is now the Syrian Arab Republic....

, Rameses II had to campaign vigorously in Canaan to maintain Egyptian power. Egyptian forces penetrated into Moab
Moab
Moab is the historical name for a mountainous strip of land in Jordan. The land lies alongside much of the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. The existence of the Kingdom of Moab is attested to by numerous archeological findings, most notably the Mesha Stele, which describes the Moabite victory over...

 and Ammon
Ammon
Ammon , also referred to as the Ammonites and children of Ammon, was an ancient nation located east of the Jordan River, Gilead, and the Dead Sea, in present-day Jordan. The chief city of the country was Rabbah or Rabbath Ammon, site of the modern city of Amman, Jordan's capital...

, where a permanent fortress garrison (Called simply "Rameses") was established.

After the collapse of the Levant under the so called "Peoples of the Sea" Ramesses III
Ramesses III
Usimare Ramesses III was the second Pharaoh of the Twentieth Dynasty and is considered to be the last great New Kingdom king to wield any substantial authority over Egypt. He was the son of Setnakhte and Queen Tiy-Merenese. Ramesses III is believed to have reigned from March 1186 to April 1155 BCE...

 (ca. 1194 BC) is said to have built a temple to the god Amen
Amun
Amun, reconstructed Egyptian Yamānu , was a god in Egyptian mythology who in the form of Amun-Ra became the focus of the most complex system of theology in Ancient Egypt...

 to receive tribute from the Levant. This was described as being built in Pa-Canaan, a geographical reference whose meaning is disputed, with suggestions that it may refer to the city of Gaza or to the entire Egyptian-occupied territory in Asia.

Some believe the "Habiru" signified generally all the nomadic tribes known as "Hebrews," and particularly the early Israelites, who sought to appropriate the fertile region for themselves. However, the term was rarely used to describe the Shasu
Shasu
Shasu is an Egyptian word for pastoral nomads who appeared in the Levant and Arabia from the fifteenth century BCE all the way to the Third Intermediate Period. The name evolved from a transliteration of the Egyptian word š3sw, meaning "those who move on foot", into the term for Bedouin-type...

. Whether the term may also include other related peoples such as the Moabites, Ammon
Ammon
Ammon , also referred to as the Ammonites and children of Ammon, was an ancient nation located east of the Jordan River, Gilead, and the Dead Sea, in present-day Jordan. The chief city of the country was Rabbah or Rabbath Ammon, site of the modern city of Amman, Jordan's capital...

ites and Edomites is uncertain. It may not be an ethnonym
Ethnonym
An ethnonym is the name applied to a given ethnic group. Ethnonyms can be divided into two categories: exonyms and autonyms or endonyms .As an example, the ethnonym for...

 at all; see the article Habiru
Habiru
Habiru or Apiru or ˁpr.w was the name given by various Sumerian, Egyptian, Akkadian, Hittite, Mitanni, and Ugaritic sources to a group of people living as nomadic invaders in areas of the Fertile Crescent from Northeastern Mesopotamia and Iran to the borders of Egypt in Canaan...

 for details.

Iron Age





By the Early Iron Age, the southern Levant came to be dominated by the kingdoms of Israel and Judah
History of ancient Israel and Judah
Israel and Judah were related Iron Age kingdoms of ancient Palestine. The earliest known reference to the name Israel in archaeological records is in the Merneptah stele, an Egyptian record of c. 1209 BCE. By the 9th century BCE the Kingdom of Israel had emerged as an important local power before...

, besides the Philistine
Philistines
Philistines , Pleshet or Peleset, were a people who occupied the southern coast of Canaan at the beginning of the Iron Age . According to the Bible, they ruled the five city-states of Gaza, Askelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath, from the Wadi Gaza in the south to the Yarqon River in the north, but with...

 city-states on the Mediterranean coast, and the kingdoms of Moab
Moab
Moab is the historical name for a mountainous strip of land in Jordan. The land lies alongside much of the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. The existence of the Kingdom of Moab is attested to by numerous archeological findings, most notably the Mesha Stele, which describes the Moabite victory over...

, Ammon
Ammon
Ammon , also referred to as the Ammonites and children of Ammon, was an ancient nation located east of the Jordan River, Gilead, and the Dead Sea, in present-day Jordan. The chief city of the country was Rabbah or Rabbath Ammon, site of the modern city of Amman, Jordan's capital...

 and Aram-Damascus east of the Jordan River, and Edom
Edom
Edom or Idumea was a historical region of the Southern Levant located south of Judea and the Dead Sea. It is mentioned in biblical records as a 1st millennium BC Iron Age kingdom of Edom, and in classical antiquity the cognate name Idumea was used to refer to a smaller area in the same region...

 to the south.
The northern Levant was divided into various petty kingdoms, the so-called Syro-Hittite states
Syro-Hittite states
The states that are called Neo-Hittite, or more recently Syro-Hittite, were Luwian, Aramaic and Phoenician-speaking political entities of the Iron Age northern Syria and southern Anatolia that arose following the collapse of the Hittite Empire around 1180 BC and lasted until roughly 700 BC...

 and the Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

n city-states.

The entire region was conquered by the Neo-Assyrian Empire during the 8th century BC.

Canaan in the Hebrew Bible




The Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

 lists borders for the land of Canaan. Numbers 34:2 includes the phrase "the land of Canaan as defined by its borders." The borders are then delineated in Numbers 34:3–12.
The term "Canaanites" in Biblical Hebrew is applied especially to the inhabitants of the lower regions, along the sea coast and on the shores of Jordan, as opposed to the inhabitants of the mountainous regions. By the time of the Second Temple, "Canaanite" in Hebrew had come to be not an ethnic designation, so much as a general synonym for "merchant", as it is interpreted in, for example, Job 40:30, or Proverbs 31:24.

John N. Oswalt notes that "Canaan consists of the land west of the Jordan and is distinguished from the area east of the Jordan." Oswalt then goes on to say that in Scripture Canaan "takes on a theological character" as "the land which is God's gift" and "the place of abundance".

The Hebrew Bible describes the Israelite conquest of Canaan in the "Former Prophets
Nevi'im
Nevi'im is the second of the three major sections in the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh. It falls between the Torah and Ketuvim .Nevi'im is traditionally divided into two parts:...

" (Nevi'im Rishonim [נביאים ראשונים] ), viz. the books of Joshua, Judges, 1st & 2nd Samuel, 1st & 2nd Kings.
These five books of the Old Testament canon give the narrative of the Israelites after the death of Moses and Joshua leading them into Canaan.
In 586 BC, the Israelites in turn lost the land to the Babylonians. These narratives of the Former Prophets are also "part of a larger work, called the Deuteronomistic History".

Biblical Canaanites


The part of the book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

 often called the Table of Nations describes the Canaanites as being descended from an ancestor called Canaan , saying :

Canaan is the father of Sidon
Sidon
Sidon or Saïda is the third-largest city in Lebanon. It is located in the South Governorate of Lebanon, on the Mediterranean coast, about 40 km north of Tyre and 40 km south of the capital Beirut. In Genesis, Sidon is the son of Canaan the grandson of Noah...

, his firstborn; and of the Hittites
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

, Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, Hivites
Hivites
The Hivites were one group of descendants of Canaan, son of Ham, according to the Table of Nations in .- History : does not list the Hivites as being in the land that was promised to the descendants of Abraham...

, Arkites, Sinites
Sinites
Sinites can refer to:*A Canaanite tribe mentioned in the Tanakh, particularly the Book of Genesis.*Some scholars refer to Chinese tribes as Sinites....

, Arvadites, Zemarites, and Hamathites. Later the Canaanite clans scattered, and the borders of Canaan reached [across the Mediterranean coast] from Sidon toward Gerar as far as Gaza, and then [inland around the Jordan Valley] toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha.


The Biblical scholar, Richard Friedman
Richard Elliott Friedman
Richard Elliott Friedman is a biblical scholar and the Ann and Jay Davis Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Georgia. He joined the faculty of the UGA Religion Department in 2006. Prior to his appointment there, he was the Katzin Professor of Jewish Civilization: Hebrew Bible; Near...

, argues that this part of Genesis showing the origin of the Canaanites was written by the hypothetical Priestly Source
Priestly source
The Priestly Source is one of the sources of the Torah/Pentateuch in the bible. Primarily a product of the post-Exilic period when Judah was a province of the Persian empire , P was written to show that even when all seemed lost, God remained present with Israel...

.

The Sidon
Sidon
Sidon or Saïda is the third-largest city in Lebanon. It is located in the South Governorate of Lebanon, on the Mediterranean coast, about 40 km north of Tyre and 40 km south of the capital Beirut. In Genesis, Sidon is the son of Canaan the grandson of Noah...

 whom the Table identifies as the firstborn son of Canaan has the same name as that of the coastal city of Sidon, in Lebanon. This city dominated the Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

n coast, and may have enjoyed hegemony over a number of ethnic groups, who are said to belong to the "Land of Canaan".

Similarly, Canaanite populations are said to have inhabited:
  • the Mediterranean coastlands , including Lebanon
    Lebanon
    Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

     corresponding to Phoenicia
    Phoenicia
    Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

      and the Gaza Strip
    Gaza Strip
    thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

     corresponding to Philistia .
  • the Jordan Valley
    Jordan Valley (Middle East)
    The Jordan Valley forms part of the larger Jordan Rift Valley. It is 120 kilometers long and 15 kilometers wide, where it runs from Lake Tiberias in the north to northern Dead Sea in the south. It runs for an additional 155 kilometer south of the Dead Sea to Aqaba, an area also known as Wadi...

     .


The Canaanites are said to have been one of seven regional ethnic divisions or "nations" driven out before the Israelites following the Exodus
The Exodus
The Exodus is the story of the departure of the Israelites from ancient Egypt described in the Hebrew Bible.Narrowly defined, the term refers only to the departure from Egypt described in the Book of Exodus; more widely, it takes in the subsequent law-givings and wanderings in the wilderness...

. Specifically, the other nations include the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Perizzites
Perizzites
Perizzites - villagers; dwellers in the open country, the Girgashite Canaanite nation inhabiting the fertile regions south and south-west of Carmel."They were the graziers, farmers, and peasants of the time."...

, the Hivites
Hivites
The Hivites were one group of descendants of Canaan, son of Ham, according to the Table of Nations in .- History : does not list the Hivites as being in the land that was promised to the descendants of Abraham...

, and the Jebusites .

According to the Book of Jubilees, the Israelite conquest of Canaan, and the curse, are attributed to Canaan's steadfast refusal to join his elder brothers in Ham's allotment beyond the Nile, and instead "squatting" on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, within the inheritance delineated for Shem.

One of the 613 mitzvot
613 mitzvot
The 613 commandments is a numbering of the statements and principles of law, ethics, and spiritual practice contained in the Torah or Five Books of Moses...

 (precisely n. 596) prescribes that no inhabitants of the cities of six Canaanite nations, the same as mentioned in 7:1, minus the Girgashites, were to be left alive.

While the Hebrew Bible contrasts the Canaanites ethnically from the Ancient Israelites, some modern scholars, particularly "Biblical minimalists", consider the kingdoms of Israel and Judah to be a subset of Canaanite culture on archaeological and linguistic grounds.

List of Canaanite rulers



Names of Canaanite kings or other figures mentioned in historiography or known through archaeology
Confirmed archaeologically
  • Ebrium, king of Ebla
    Ebla
    Ebla Idlib Governorate, Syria) was an ancient city about southwest of Aleppo. It was an important city-state in two periods, first in the late third millennium BC, then again between 1800 and 1650 BC....

  • Ibbi-Sipish
    Ibbi-Sipish
    Ibbi-Sipish was the fifth king of Ebla. He was the son of the most powerful king of Ebla, Ibrium, and the first to succeed in a dynastic line, breaking with the tradition of an elected 7 year rule....

    , his son, king of Ebla
    Ebla
    Ebla Idlib Governorate, Syria) was an ancient city about southwest of Aleppo. It was an important city-state in two periods, first in the late third millennium BC, then again between 1800 and 1650 BC....

  • Ili-ilimma, father of Idrimi, king of Halab
    Aleppo
    Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

  • Idrimi
    Idrimi
    Idrimi was the king of Alalakh in the 15th century BC.Idrimi was a Hurrianised Semitic son of the king of Aleppo who had been deposed by the new regional master, Barattarna, king of the Mitanni. Nevertheless he succeeded in regaining his seat and was recognized as a vassal by Barattarna. Idrimi...

    , king of Alalakh
    Alalakh
    Alalakh is the name of an ancient city-state near modern Antakya in the Amuq River valley of Turkey's Hatay Province.Now represented by an extensive mound, the name of the modern archaeological site is Tell Atchana.-History:...

  • Ammittamru I of Ugarit
    Ugarit
    Ugarit was an ancient port city in the eastern Mediterranean at the Ras Shamra headland near Latakia, Syria. It is located near Minet el-Beida in northern Syria. It is some seven miles north of Laodicea ad Mare and approximately fifty miles east of Cyprus...

     (Amarna letters)
  • Niqmaddu II
    Niqmaddu II
    Niqmaddu II was the second ruler and king of the Ancient Syrian city of Ugarit, reigning ca. 1350-15 BC and succeeding his father Ammishtamru I...

     of Ugarit
    Ugarit
    Ugarit was an ancient port city in the eastern Mediterranean at the Ras Shamra headland near Latakia, Syria. It is located near Minet el-Beida in northern Syria. It is some seven miles north of Laodicea ad Mare and approximately fifty miles east of Cyprus...

     (Amarna letters) (1349–1315 BC)
  • Arhalba of Ugarit
    Ugarit
    Ugarit was an ancient port city in the eastern Mediterranean at the Ras Shamra headland near Latakia, Syria. It is located near Minet el-Beida in northern Syria. It is some seven miles north of Laodicea ad Mare and approximately fifty miles east of Cyprus...

     (1315–1313 BC)
  • Niqmepa
    Niqmepa
    Niqmepa was the fourth King of Ugarit, a city-state in northwestern Syria. Niqmepa was a contemporary of Mursili II and Hattusili III, the great Hittite kings, as well as Horemheb and Seti I of Egypt. His reign is well documented by cuneiform texts found at Ugarit. He ruled for about fifty years ...

     of Ugarit
    Ugarit
    Ugarit was an ancient port city in the eastern Mediterranean at the Ras Shamra headland near Latakia, Syria. It is located near Minet el-Beida in northern Syria. It is some seven miles north of Laodicea ad Mare and approximately fifty miles east of Cyprus...

     (1313–1260 BC)
  • Ammittamru II of Ugarit
    Ugarit
    Ugarit was an ancient port city in the eastern Mediterranean at the Ras Shamra headland near Latakia, Syria. It is located near Minet el-Beida in northern Syria. It is some seven miles north of Laodicea ad Mare and approximately fifty miles east of Cyprus...

     (1260–1235 BC)
  • Ibiranu
    Ibiranu
    The letter of prince Piha-walwi of Hatti to Ibiranu of Ugarit  is a Hittite diplomatic text of the 13th century BC.Piha-walwi complains to Ibiranu, the ruler of Ugarit, that he had not seek an audience with the Hittite king, presumably Tudhaliya IV, asking him to rectify this immediately and to...

     of Ugarit
    Ugarit
    Ugarit was an ancient port city in the eastern Mediterranean at the Ras Shamra headland near Latakia, Syria. It is located near Minet el-Beida in northern Syria. It is some seven miles north of Laodicea ad Mare and approximately fifty miles east of Cyprus...

     (1235–1220 BC)
  • Ammurapi
    Ammurapi
    Ammurapi was the last Bronze Age ruler and king of the Ancient Syrian city of Ugarit, from ca. 1215 to 1180 BC. Ammurapi was a contemporary of the Hittite King Suppiluliuma II. He wrote a vivid letter in response to a plea for assistance from the king of Alashiya which has been preserved...

     of Ugarit
    Ugarit
    Ugarit was an ancient port city in the eastern Mediterranean at the Ras Shamra headland near Latakia, Syria. It is located near Minet el-Beida in northern Syria. It is some seven miles north of Laodicea ad Mare and approximately fifty miles east of Cyprus...

     (1215–1185 BC)
  • Aziru
    Aziru
    Aziru was the Canaanite ruler of Amurru, modern Lebanon, in the fourteenth century BC. He was the son of Abdi-Ashirta, the previous Egyptian vassal of Amurru and a direct contemporary of Akhenaten.The dealings of Aziru are well-known from the Amarna letters...

    , ruler of Amurru
    Amurru kingdom
    Amurru was an Amorite kingdom located at the territory of modern Lebanon during the 14th–12th centuries BCThe first documented leader of Amurru was Abdi-Ashirta, under whose leadership Amurru was part of the Egyptian empire...

     (Amarna letters)
  • Labaya
    Labaya
    Labaya was a Habiru, possibly Canaanite, warlord who lived contemporaneously with Pharaoh Akhenaten . Labaya is mentioned in several of the Amarna Letters , which is practically all scholars know about him...

    , lord of Shechem
    Shechem
    Shechem was a Canaanite city mentioned in the Amarna letters, and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an Israelite city of the tribe of Manasseh and the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel...

     (Amarna letters)
  • Abdikheba, mayor of Jerusalem (Amarna letters)
  • Šuwardata
    Šuwardata
    Šuwardata, also Šuardatu, was the 'mayor' of Qiltu, during the 1350-1335 BC Amarna letters correspondence...

    , mayor of Qiltu (Amarna letters)

Biblical characters
  • Canaan, son of Ham (Gen. 10:6)
  • Sidon
    Sidon
    Sidon or Saïda is the third-largest city in Lebanon. It is located in the South Governorate of Lebanon, on the Mediterranean coast, about 40 km north of Tyre and 40 km south of the capital Beirut. In Genesis, Sidon is the son of Canaan the grandson of Noah...

    , son of Canaan (Gen. 10:15)
  • Heth
    Heth
    -People:* Children of Heth, a Canaanite nation in the Hebrew Bible, purportedly named after Heth, son of Canaan, son of Ham, son of Noah* figures in the Book of Mormon:** Heth , an early Jaredite** Heth a later Jaredite...

    , firstborn son of Canaan (Gen. 10:15)
  • Cronos
    Cronus
    In Greek mythology, Cronus or Kronos was the leader and the youngest of the first generation of Titans, divine descendants of Gaia, the earth, and Uranus, the sky...

     (Ilus), founder of Byblos
    Byblos
    Byblos is the Greek name of the Phoenician city Gebal . It is a Mediterranean city in the Mount Lebanon Governorate of present-day Lebanon under the current Arabic name of Jubayl and was also referred to as Gibelet during the Crusades...

     according to Sanchuniathon
    Sanchuniathon
    Sanchuniathon is the purported Phoenician author of three lost works originally in the Phoenician language, surviving only in partial paraphrase and summary of a Greek translation by Philo of Byblos, according to the Christian bishop Eusebius of Caesarea...

  • Mamre
    Mamre
    Mamre , full Hebrew name Elonei Mamre , refers to a Canaanite cultic shrine dedicated to the supreme, sky god of the Canaanite pantheon, El. Talmudic sources refer to the site as Beth Ilanim or Botnah. it was one of the three most important "fairs", market place or caravanserai, in Palestine...

    , an Amorite chieftain (Gen. 13:18)
  • Makamaron, king of Canaan (Jubilees 46:6)
  • Sihon
    Sihon
    Sihon, according to the Old Testament, was an Amorite king, who refused to let the Israelites pass through his country. The Bible describes that as the Israelites in their Exodus came to the country east of the Jordan, near Heshbon, King of the Amorites refused to let them pass through his...

    , king of Amorites (Deut 1:4)
  • Og
    Og
    Og, according to the bible, was an Amorite king of Bashan who, along with his army, was slain by Moses and his men at the battle of Edrei...

    , king of Bashan
    Bashan
    Bashan or Basan is a biblical place first mentioned in , where it is said that Chedorlaomer and his confederates "smote the Rephaim in Ashteroth", where Og the king of Bashan had his residence. At the time of Israel's entrance into the Promised Land, Og came out against them, but was utterly routed...

     (Deut 1:4)
  • Adonizedek
    Adonizedek
    Adonizedek Adonizedek Adonizedek (variously transliterated as Adoni-zedec or Adoni-Zedek (in Hebrew, Adoni-Tzedek) was, according to the Book of Joshua, king of Jerusalem at the time of the Israelite invasion of Canaan...

    , king of Jerusalem (Josh. 10:1)
  • Debir
    Debir
    A Biblical word, debir may refer to:noun* The debir , the inner-most part of the Holy of Holies in Solomon's Temple.Personal name...

    , king of Eglon
    Eglon, Canaan
    Eglon was a Canaanite city, whose king Debir joined a confederacy against Gibeon when that city made peace with Israel. The five kings involved were slain and Eglon was later conquered and its inhabitants condemned to destruction. It was thereafter included in the territory of the Tribe of Judah....

     (Josh. 10:3)
  • Jabin
    Jabin
    Jabin is a Biblical name meaning 'discerner', or 'the wise'. It may refer to:* A king of Hazor, at the time of the entrance of Israel into Canaan , whose overthrow and that of the northern chief with whom he had entered into a confederacy against Joshua was the crowning act in the conquest of the...

    , name of two kings of Hazor (Josh. 11:1; Judges 5:6)


Rulers of Tyre
  • Abibaal
    Abibaal
    Abibaal was a king of Tyre in the 10th century BC, father of the famous Hiram I. The only information known about him is derived from two passages in Josephus's Against Apion, i.17 and i.18. All that is said in these passages is that he preceded his son Hiram on the throne of Tyre...

     990–978 BC
  • Hiram I
    Hiram I
    Hiram I , according to the Hebrew Bible, was the Phoenician king of Tyre. He reigned from 980 to 947 BC, succeeding his father, Abibaal. Hiram was succeeded as king of Tyre by his son Baal-Eser I...

     978–944 BC
  • Baal-Eser I
    Baal-Eser I
    Baal-Eser I was a king of Tyre. His father, Hiram I, was a contemporary of David and Solomon, kings of Israel...

     (Balbazer I) 944–927 BC
  • Abdastratus 927–918 BC
  • Methusastartus 918–906 BC
  • Astarymus
    Astarymus
    Astarymus was a king of Tyre and the third of four brothers who held the kingship. The only information available about him comes from Josephus’s citation of the Phoenician author Menander of Ephesus, in Against Apion i.18...

     906–897 BC
  • Phelles
    Phelles
    Phelles was a king of Tyre and the last of four brothers who held the kingship. The only information available about Phelles comes from Josephus’s citation of the Phoenician author Menander of Ephesus, in Against Apion i.18...

     897–896 BC
  • Eshbaal I 896–863 BC
  • Baal-Eser II
    Baal-Eser II
    Baal-Eser II , also known as Balbazer II and Ba‘l-mazzer I, was a king of Tyre, the son of Ithobaal I.The primary information related to Baal-Eser II comes from Josephus’s citation of the Phoenician author Menander of Ephesus, in Against Apion i.18. Here it is said that “Ithobalus, the priest of...

     (Balbazer II) 863–829 BC
  • Mattan I
    Mattan I
    Mattan I ruled Tyre from 840 to 832 BC, succeeding Baal-Eser II of Tyre/Sidon.He was the father of Pygmalion , king of Tyre from 831 to 785 BC, and of Dido. As such, he may be the same person as Virgil's The Aeneid character Belus II...

     829–820 BC
  • Pygmalion
    Pygmalion of Tyre
    Pygmalion was king of Tyre from 831 to 785 BC and a son of King Mattan I .During Pygmalion's reign, Tyre seems to have shifted the heart of its trading empire from the Middle East to the Mediterranean, as can be judged from the building of new colonies including Kition on Cyprus, Sardinia , and,...

     820–774 BC
  • Eshbaal II 750–739 BC
  • Hiram II 739–730 BC
  • Mattan II 730–729 BC
  • Elulaios 729 694 BC
  • Abd Melqart 694–680 BC
  • Baal I
    Baal I
    Baal I was the king of Tyre . His name is the same as that of the Phoenician deity, Baal. He was tributary to the Assyrians, who had conquered the rest of Phoenicia, and sent his son Yehawmelek to Ashurbanipal with heavy tribute. He also may have assisted the Assyrians in their war against Elam.-...

     680–660 BC
  • Tyre may have been under control of Assyria and/or Egypt for 70 years
  • Eshbaal III 591–573 BC—Carthage
    Carthage
    Carthage , implying it was a 'new Tyre') is a major urban centre that has existed for nearly 3,000 years on the Gulf of Tunis, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC...

     became independent of Tyre in 574 BC
  • Baal II 573–564 BC (under Babylonian overlords)
  • Yakinbaal 564 BC
  • Chelbes 564–563 BC
  • Abbar
    Abbar
    Abbar is a name.People with this given name include:* Abbar , king of TyrePeople with this surname include:* Samir Abbar , Algerian footballer* Mohammed bin Ali Al Abbar, United Arab Emirati businessman...

     563–562 BC
  • Mattan III and Ger Ashthari 562–556 BC
  • Baal-Eser III 556–555 BC
  • Mahar-Baal 555–551 BC
  • Hiram III 551–532 BC
  • Mattan III (under Persian Control)
  • Boulomenus
  • Abdemon
    Abdemon
    Abdemon , was one of the kings of Cyprus at the end of the fifth century BC. He was of Phoenician origin and was born either in Tyre or Kition on Cyprus. Around 415 BC, Abdemon deposed the Phoenician ruler of Salamis on Cyprus. Evagoras, who allegedly came from a Greek dynasty , had to leave the...

     c.420–411 BC


Archaeological sites


Tel Kabri
Tel Kabri
Tel Kabri is an archaeological site on the grounds of Kibbutz Kabri, near the city of Nahariya, Israel.Tel Kabri is notable for its Minoan-style frescoes, the only such frescoes ever discovered in Israel....

 contains the remains of a Canaanite city from the Middle Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 (2000–1550 B.C.). The city, the most important of the cities in the Western Galilee
Galilee
Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

 during that period, had a palace at its center. Tel Kabri is the only Canaanite city that can be excavated in its entirety because after the city was abandoned, no other city was built over its remains. It is notable because the predominant extra-Canaanite cultural influence is Minoan
Minoan civilization
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century BC to the 15th century BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of the British archaeologist Arthur Evans...

; Minoan-style frescoes decorate the palace.

See also

  • Amarna letters–localities and their rulers
    Amarna letters–localities and their rulers
    This is a list of the "Amarna letters" –Text corpus, categorized by: Amarna letters–localities and their rulers. It includes countries, regions, and the cities/or 'city-states' ...

  • Canaanite religion
    Canaanite religion
    Canaanite religion is the name for the group of Ancient Semitic religions practiced by the Canaanites living in the ancient Levant from at least the early Bronze Age through the first centuries of the Common Era....

  • History of the name Palestine
  • Land of Israel
    Land of Israel
    The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant, also known as Canaan and Palestine, Promised Land and Holy Land. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the...

  • Names of the Levant
    Names of the Levant
    Over recorded history, there have been many names of the Levant, a large area in the Middle East. These names have applied to a part or the whole of the Levant. On occasion, two or more of these names have been used at the same time by different cultures or sects. As a natural result, some of...

  • Qemant
    Qemant
    The Qemant are a small ethnic group in Ethiopia, who, despite their close historical and ethnic relationship, should not be confused with the Beta Israel....


Further reading


External links