who were the canaanites

Who were the Canaanites in the Bible?

The Canaanites were a Semitic group that settled in Canaan. The Canaanites are known as the people who lived in the “land flowing with milk and honey” until they were defeated by the ancient Israelites and disappeared. However, a new scientific report reveals that the genetic heritage of the Canaanites survives among modern Arab and Jewish civilizations.

In the Bible, the Canaanites were the opponents of the Israelites. The Canaanites were a people descended from Noah’s grandson Canaan, the son of Ham (Genesis 9:18). Noah cursed Canaan because of what his father Ham had done to him (Genesis 9: 20-25). Noah’s curse was that Canaan was to be an enslaved person (Genesis 9: 25-27). At the point when Noah possibly pronounced to express their onymous parent, Canaan, “Reviled be Canaan; a peasant of peasants will he be to welcome twin,” he was legitimizing the Israelite scorn of the Canaanites. 

What was the land of Canaanites?

The land of the Canaanites is called “the land of Canaan.” Other peoples also lived in Canaan (see Numbers chapter 13). After listing the nations descended from Canaan, Genesis 10: 18-19 says: “Then the families of the Canaanites scattered. The borders of the Canaanites went from Sidon in the direction of Gerar to Gaza. And in the order of Sodom, Gomorrah, Adma, and Seboim to Lesa.

Canaan was the land west of the Jordan, as Numbers 33: 51-52 implies: “Speak to the children of Israel and say to them.” When you cross the Jordan and enter the land of Canaan, you will drive out from before you all the country’s inhabitants. You will destroy all their images. You will destroy all their molten metal statues. And you will demolish all their sacred places. “

Canaan was the land God promised to give to Abraham’s descendants (Genesis 12: 7). Going back about 3,800, the postcard is tried to “Yasmah-Adad,” a lord of Mari. And voices that “fugitives and Canaanites” are in a metropolis named “Rahisum.” The lasting one, the memorandum, desires competition or chaos in the municipality.

Canaanites and Israelites

The similarities between the Caananites and the Israelites are remarkable. This suggests that the Canaanites – and therefore also the Phoenicians – were probably not separated from the Israelites as is commonly assumed. If the languages ​​and scripts were similar, they probably shared some culture, art, and religion.

Likely, the Canaanites of the Iron Age (1200-333 BCE) came from the Phoenicians of the Bronze Age (3000-1200 BCE). The name “Canaan” could come from the Hurrian word kinahhu. Both words describe the same reddish-purple color. This would mean that the Israelites and Canaanites had at least one similar term for the same people but in different languages ​​and at other times.

Where did the Canaanites live?

The Canaanites lived by the sea and along the Jordan (Numbers 13:29). Since these peoples were traders, the terms “Canaanite” and “Canaan” were synonymous with “merchant” and “merchants” (see Job 41: 6; Proverbs 31:24; Hosea 12: 7; Zephaniah 1:11 – New Bible Version 1991), of “shopkeeper” (see Isaiah 23: 8 – New International Edition 1991) and of “commerce” only about the term “Canaan” (see Ezekiel 17: 4). Speaking of the sins of Israel, Hosea 12: 7 says, “Ephraim is a merchant who holds false scales in his hand and loves to cheat.”

God commanded the Israelites to drive out all the inhabitants of the land of Canaan. Including the Canaanites (Numbers 33:52:53; Deuteronomy 20:16:17). God said He would drive out the Canaanites and the other peoples little by little so that the Israelites could grow in numbers and take possession of the land (Exodus 23: 28-30). God also said that the Israelites could not destroy those peoples in one fell swoop because the beasts of the field would multiply to their detriment (Deuteronomy 7:22).

After Moses died, Joshua took his place, crossed the Jordan, entered the land of Canaan, and conquered Jericho (Joshua 1-6). Although the long wars against the inhabitants of the land of Canaan, some Canaanites remained in Israel after the land was divided among the twelve tribes, and the Israelites enslaved them (Judges 1: 27-36).

who are the canaanites

Representation of the Canaanites from the Bible

Ancient records

The earliest undisputed mention of the Canaanites comes from fragments of a letter found at Mari’s site. A city in modern-day Syria. Dating back about 3,800 years, the letter is addressed to “Yasmah-Adad,” a king of Mari. And states that “thieves and Canaanites” are in a city called “Racism.” The surviving part of the letter alludes to a conflict or disorder taking place in the city.

Another early text that speaks of the people living in Canaan dates back about 3,500 years. And was written on a statue of Idrimi, a king who ruled a city called “Alalakh” in modern-day Turkey. 

Primary Takeaways

  • The Canaanites appear in the Old and New Testaments, the Torah, and Egyptian and Greek texts. Five thousand years ago (3000 BC), the Canaanites were settled in an area that includes Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, part of Syria, and Jordan. In this Levant, the country of Canaan is very commercial, and its influence is significant. Its relations with Egypt are strong.
  • In the end, we know very little about this nation because the Canaanites left very few written traces, rare clay tablets bearing texts. After 2000 years of existence, they disappeared from history and gave way to their successors, the Phoenicians.


The Canaanites play an essential role in the story of the Israelites’ conquest of their “Promised Land,”, especially in the Book of Joshua. Still, the ancient Hebrew Scriptures contain almost no factual information about them. The Canaanites are the villains of history because they live on the land promised to the Israelites by Yahweh. But the identity of the ancient inhabitants of the land of Canaan is a matter of controversy.

The earliest definite reference to the Canaanites is a Sumerian text in Syria from the 18th century BCE that mentions Canaan. Egyptian documents from the reign of Senusret II (1897-1878 BC) reference kingdoms in the region organized as fortified city-states and led by warrior chiefs. It was the same period that the Greek city of Mycenae was similarly fortified and organized.