Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Who Lived In Canaan Before the 12 Tribes of Jacob?


Nadene Goldfoot               Noah on the Ark, father of Shem, Ham and Japheth                                              
                                                                           Moses with the 10 Commandments

2,000 BCE:  G-d said to Abram (Abraham), "Go for yourself from your land, from your relatives, and from your father's house to the land that I will show you.  And I will make of you a great nation....and you shall be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse;  and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you.  

1311 BCE:  Moses was told by G-d, "from the hand of Egypt and to bring it up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Hivvite, and the Jebusite.  (Exodus 3:2-17)

Before the Israelite conquest of Canaan around 1271 BCE, which was 3,285 years ago,we see that there was not one people occupying the promised land but 7 of them and also others in the surrounding territory.
1. Canaanites.  They lived in the land of Canaan, and traditionally descended from Canaan, son of Ham, son of Noah. Noah's sons were Shem, Ham and Japheth.  the Israelites were descended from Shem.   Canaanites were divided into 10 peoples who occupied the land between the Nile and the Euphrates Rivers.  The name "Canaan" appears in inscriptions from the 15th century BCE and from the 14th century.  The people who lived in Syria applied it to themselves.

Their origin appears to have been a mixture of Horites, Hittites, and Hebrews.  They date back to the Hyksos period in the 17th century BCE.  The Hyksos were semitic peoples who overran Egypt after the destruction of the Middle Kingdom.  Excavations in Egypt have found pieces with names similar to Hebrew.  They ruled in Egypt from about 1720 to 1580 BCE when the Israelites had entered and treated them  well.  The time of being slaves began after the expulsion of the Hyksos which means rulers of the foreign lands.   Canaanites were almost all killed or assimilated by the Israelites in the 13th century BCE when Joshua led them into the land.  G-d had told Moses that was to be their Holy Land.  The Philistines also attacked and killed the remnant of them in battle in the 12th century BCE and the Arameans in the north during the 11th century.  The remnants were under the rule of Kings David and Solomon and so were absorbed this way.  Later, the name of the Canaanites was saved only among the Sidonians and Phoenicians.

2.  Hittites were an ancient people living in Asia Minor.  They were powerful and this power extended southward to Syria in the 15th Century BCE.  Their main kingdom which started about 1650  fell in about 1200 BCE during the time of the Exodus. They lived in what is now Turkey.   Small Hittite kingdoms continued to flourish in northern Syria and the Eland along the Euphrates River.  These states were overrun by the Armenians and the Assyrians.

The Bible connects the Hittites with the Canaanites and shows that some lived in Canaan in an early period.  Abraham bought the cave at Machpelah from Hittites.  Esau took wives from the Hittite people.  The Hittites were one of the 7 peoples from whom the Israelites conquered Canaan.  Later, King David of Israel (1010 -970 BCE) had Hittite warriors, and his son, King Solomon (961-920 BCE) , had Hittite wives.

3.Amorites. They were one of the ancient people there.  What happened to them?  They were either killed or assimilated into the Israelites.  "Amorites" is mentioned in cuneiform and hieroglyphic sources where its significance is not constant.  Sometimes it was used as an ethnographic term meaning the Western Semitic tribes, and on others it was a geographical term, naming the whole area of Syria and what became to be called after 135 CE as Palestine.

From the middle of the 2nd millenium, and Abraham was born in the 2nd millennium BCE, there was an Amorite state in central and southern Syria which included the Lebanese Mountains and important harbor towns.  It was an important link between Egypt and Mesopotamia.  Egypt and the Hittites fought and struggled against each other, and the Hittites annexed it.

Amorites, dating from the days of Abraham, were living on both sides of the Jordan River, especially in mountainous regions.  Moses led the conquest of 2 Amorite kingdoms; Heshbon and Bashan.  At this period, the Amorites were no longer a pure western Semitic group but were mixed with other strains living in the same area, like the Horites and the Hittites.

Rabbinic and medieval literature spoke of "the ways of the Amorite."  They were talking about the folk-practices that were so alien to the spirit of Judaism.

4. Perizzites were one of the 7 Canaanite peoples living in Canaan before the Israelite conquest under Joshua. Their descendants were made tributary by King Solomon, so they hadn't all been killed.  Tributary means paying tribute to another to acknowledge submission to obtain protection or to buy peace.  A state that pays tribute to a conqueror.

5. Hivites were one of the 7 nations living in Canaan when the Israelites took possession of the land.  Gibeon was one of their main cities.  Joshua was forced to enter into a league with the Gibeonites under fraudulent means which was extended to the other Hivite cities.  Some of the Hivites lived in northern Canaan near Mt. Hermon.  (Josh. 9:17).   (Josh. 11:3).

6. Jebusites were a Canaanite people who settled in the land before the Israelite conquest.  They lived in the hill region around Jerusalem which they called Jebus.  Joshua defeated a Jebusite-led coalition.  Jerusalem was occupied only in the reign of King David.  The last Jebusite king was Araunah.  They remained in the city under King David and became tributary under King Solomon, so they had  paid a tribute to buy peace.   In the course of time, they were assimilated into the Israelite people. (Sam. 5:6-7), II Sam. 24:15).  

Arameans were a group of Semitic tribes who invaded the Fertile Crescent in the 2nd half of the 2nd millennium BCE in the time of Abraham and roamed between the Persian Gulf and the Amanus Mountains.  Aram and Israel had a common ancestry and the Israelite patriarchs were of Aramaic origin and maintained ties of marriage with the tribes of Aram. In fact, Shem's 5th child was Aram, so they were closely related, being from siblings of Shem.    In Akkadian sources of the 12th century BCE, the Arameans achieved considerable political importance not long after when independent Aramean states and princedoms like Aram-Dammesek, Aram-Naharaima, Aram-Zobah came into being in Syria and Mesopotamia.  The Aramaic language spread among the people where they lived and became current throughout western Asia.  The Aramean deity in Syria was Hadad, god of wind, rain, thunder and lightning.  Aran-Dammesek was the most important Aramean kingdom in Syria from the 10th to 8th centuries BCE and was called after its capital DAMASCUS.

Then you shall call out and say before Hashem, your G-d, "The Aramean sought to destroy my father; and he went down to Egypt and sojourned

 there, few in number; and he became there a nation - great, strong and numerous."

DEUTERONOMY (26:5)  This declaration is a brief sketch of Jewish history, which shows that the Land could never have been given to Israel without G-d's loving intervention.  The Aramean is the deceitful Laban, who deceived and  pursued our forefather Jacob.  (Rashi).  Updated 4/10/14.

Horites were another ancient people who originated south of the Caucasian mountains.  They invaded Syria and Canaan in the 17th century BCE, which would be just a little after Abraham's time of the 20th century BCE.  They mixed Akkadian mythology with their own tradition and were responsible for bringing Sumero-Akkadian culture to the Hittites.

They lived near Mt. Seir in Abraham's time but their land was conquered by the Edomites.  Egyptian documents from the 16th century call Canaan "Haru" whereas before it had been known as "Rutenu."  Scholars have identified the Haru with the Horites and believe that they were pushed back by the Amorites and Canaanites to the Mt. Seir region where they were later driven by the Edomites.  It was not always a peaceful area even then.

Edomites lived in Edom, which was also called Idumea.  It was a country in southeast part of Canaan which was also called  Seir since Mt. Seir was there.   It was mountainous and fortified easily for this reason.  The land was fertile.  It was south of the Dead Sea and bordered on the Red Sea at Eilat (Elath) and Ezion Geber.  The Edomites were Semites originally, traditionally the descendants of Esau, and lived by hunting.  Esau was the son of Isaac and the oldest twin of Jacob.  The patriarchs of Judaism were Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Esau had become Jacob's enemy over a fight about their birthright and receiving the firstborn blessing.  Jacob had tricked him into giving it to him, instead.  Esau was out to kill him for this causing Jacob to flee to Haran and not returning for 20 years.  The relationship between these 2 brothers symbolizes the relationship between the 2 nations developing into 2 hostile camps.  In the Talmud, Esau was synonymous with villainy and violence.  Esau in late Hebrew literature implies a course materialist.

They had forced out the Horites who were living there and were organized along tribal lines headed by a chieftain called an Allooph.  They later turned themselves into a monarchy with a king.  They were the traditional enemies of the Israelites.  They fought Israel's first king Saul and were defeated by King David who partly annexed their land.  They  regained their independence during King Jehoram of Israel's  reign but wars between the 2 states  happened often.  In the 8th century they became vassals of Assyria.  Assyria had attacked Israel in 721 BCE and carried off 10 of the 12 tribes.

When the 1st Temple was destroyed, the Edomites plundered and looted with the Babylonians who had attacked in 597 and 586 BCE.  They were then driven out from Seir by the Nabateans and so occupied southern Judah during or after the period of the Exile.  The Edomites were conquered by John Hyrcanus who forced them to convert to Judaism, and from then on they were a part of the Jewish people.  John was the son and successor of Simon the Hasmonean and ruled from 135 to 104 BCE.  He had been governor of Gezer, but after his father and 2 brothers were murdered by his brother-in-law Ptolemy, escaped to Jerusalem where he took over the power.  He became a high priest. but had a breach between himself and the Pharisees and was closer to the Sadducees.  In the end he calmed the country and his last years were peaceful.

King Herod (73-4 BCE)  was one of the descendants of the Edomites. He was the son of Antipater the Idumean by his Nabatean wife, Cypros.    During the Roman General Titus' siege of Jerusalem, they marched in to reinforce the extremists and killed all they suspected of having tendencies towards peace.  The name shows up in the Talmud as a synonym for an oppressive government, especially Rome.  It was used for Christian Europe as well.

Nabateans were people of Arab extraction who lived in Edom in the 6th century BCE.  Their capital was at Petra (Rekem).  They were nomads originally but soon learned to develop agriculture under almost desert conditions by an elaborate system of water conservation.  They fostered caravan trade and established a chain of agricultural settlements across the Negev Desert.  When the Seleucid Empire was falling apart, the Nabateans extended their power up to and including Damascus.  They came into conflict with Alexander Yannai.  The Romans overpowered them in 63 BCE.  their country was annexed in 106 CE and became the Provincia Arabia.  The Nabateans developed a remarkable Arab-Hellenistic culture, especially in their rose-red rock-cut city of Petra.  Petra lies in southern Jordan today and is their main city of interest.  It's now a UNESCO World Heritage center.

Hebrews, or in Hebrew called Ivrim, a descendant of Eber, grandson of Shem or one who comes from the other side of the River (Euphrates) in Hebrew-ever ha-nahar).  Abraham is called "the Hebrew" in (Gen 14:13).  The terms was later used interchangeably with Israelites in (Exod. 9:1).  Whether the Habiru and the Hebrews are the same is debatable, but it looks like it's true.  Hebrew was used instead of Jew in Europe but Israelite was more common.  Hebrew was the origin of Ebreo and Yevrei, the Italian and Russian words for Jew.

The only people remaining today from this time are the Jewish people who absorbed the remnants of the people who were living in Canaan at the time of the Exodus.  They are were either killed or absorbed into the Israelites.

Resource: The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia

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