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The Ancient Roots of Israel in Canaan *

IsraelPalestine For Critical Thinkers: #1

Canaan – Where?

Canaan was a Semitic language region in the Ancient Near East during the late 2nd millennium BCE. Canaan was a large and prosperous country (in some periods independent, in others a tributary to Egypt) roughly corresponding to present-day Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel.

Amarna tablet EA 9 Author: BigEars42 - Canaan
Amarna tablet EA 9
Author: BigEars42

This Cuniform Letter EA 9 was sent by Burna-Buriash II to Tutankhamun; “All the Canaanites wrote to Kurigalzu saying “come to the border of the country so we can revolt and be allied with you.”

The name Canaan is found in cuneiform, Egyptian, and Phoenician writings from the 15th century BCE. The source of the name Canaan may have derived from the Hurrian word for `purple’. The Greeks knew the Canaanites as `Phoenicians’ –  (Greek for `purple’. The Phoenicians of the city of Tyre created purple dye. The renaming of the Land of Canaan as the Land of Israel marks the Israelite conquest of the Promised Land.

Canaan in the Bible

The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put and Canaan.(Genesis 10, 6)

Canaan was the father of Sidon his firstborn, and of the Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, Hivites, Arkites, Sinites,  Arvadites, Zemarites and Hamathites.  (Genesis 10, 15)

Locations of Canaan's descendants
Locations of Canaan’s descendants

Canaanites were both settled and nomadic living west of the Jordan River, by the sea, and along by the side of the Jordan. Canaan and the Canaanites are mentioned some 160 times in the  Bible, in the Pentateuch and the books of Joshua and Judges.

Excavations have unearthed the remains of important Canaanite cities: Bet Sheʾan, Gezer, Hazor, Jericho, Jerusalem, Lachish, Megiddo, and Shechem.

In the Book of Joshua, Canaanites are included in a list of nations to exterminate,

And Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites. (Joshua 3:10)

Later they were described as a group which the Israelites had annihilated.

Then you crossed the Jordan and came to Jericho. The citizens of Jericho fought against you, as did also the Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites, but I gave them into your hands. (Joshua 24:11)

Canaan and why it’s important to go back in time to understand the issues taking place there today. A discussion how archaeologists and historians have used the Bible as a guide for their discoveries in the region, while working to distinguish facts from legends.

Ancient Roots


IsraelPalestine For Critical Thinkers is an educational series devoted to an open-ended discussion and analyses of the context and history of the modern-day issues facing the region. Its intent is to inform audiences and create a space for critical thinkers to engage in enlightened discussions. Your host, Richard Bass takes you through the story of this land and its peoples—a story now 4,000 years old.

Jewish Timeline – A Brief History of the Jewish People on One Page

Approved and recommended by the Israeli Ministry of Education.

6,000 Years of Jewish history & legacy at a glance on a one-page infographic.
The poster-chart combines different fields on a single timeline such as demography, literature, Jewish and World events, traditions, historical figures and more.

Read more here.


Canaan in the Second Millennium B.C.E.

Stories from Ancient Canaan, Second Edition

Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan: A Historical Analysis

The Land of Canaan in the Late Bronze Age

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