The Descendants of Canaan

descendants of Canaan (2)

e) Gen 10:15–20: Although Noah cursed Canaan (Gen 9:20–27), his fertility remained unaffected. This list names eleven of his descendants, second in number only to Joktan.[1]

We’ll examine only the people-groups which significantly affected biblical or Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) history.

The amount of detail in this genealogy corresponds with the importance of these nations in relationship to Israel (Gen 15:17–21; Exod 3:7–8).[2]

Canaanites inhabited portions of the eastern Mediterranean.[3] Today this area lies within Israel, part of Syria, and Lebanon.[4]

“Heth” refers to the Hittites.[5] Two different groups of people bore this name, creating much confusion.[6]

Kings who settled in Syria and Turkey ruled over the Hittite Empire.[7] It reached its apex during ca. 1650–1200 BC.[8]

However, the Semitic names of the Hittites mentioned in the Old Testament point to a different origin, consistent with Canaan.[9]

Heth’s descendants lived in what became Judah (Gen 23:1–6).[10] Esau grieved his parents by marrying a Hittite woman (Gen 26:34–35; Gen 27:46).[11]

Jebusites lived in the area which includes Jerusalem (Judg 19:10–12; Josh 15:63).[12] Eventually, David captured the city and made it his capital (2 Sam 5:4–9).[13]

Most likely, Jebusites appear in this list of Canaan’s progeny because they resided in his territory.[14] They did not descend from him.[15]

Amorites (“of the West”) entered Northwest Mesopotamia in the mid-third millennium BC.[16] They invaded Mari and made it one of their capitals.[17]

In approximately 1960 BC, an alliance of Amorites and Elamites destroyed Ur, the city of Abraham’s birth (Gen 11:27–31). Thus, Hammurabi (reigned 1792–1750 BC), the most famous Amorite king,[18] ruled over the Babylonian Empire.[19]

Amorites had a huge influence on the language, religion, and laws of Canaan.

Among extant ANE law codes, the 18th century BC Code of Hammurabi first established the law of retribution (e.g. “An eye for an eye”). However—unlike in Israel (Cf. Exod 21:18–26)—social class determined the penalty:[20]

If a seignior (free man) held (a debt of) grain or money against a(nother) seignior and distrained (someone as) his pledge and the pledge has then died a natural death in the house of his distrainer, that case is not subject to claim.

If the pledge has died from beating or abuse in the house of his distrainer, the owner of the pledge shall prove it against his merchant, and if it was the seignior’s son, they shall put his son to death; if it was the seignior’s slave, he shall pay one-third mina [eighteen shekels] of silver and also forfeit everything else that he lent.

If a seignior struck a(nother) seignior’s daughter and has caused her to have a miscarriage, he shall pay ten shekels of silver for her fetus. If that woman has died, they shall put his daughter to death.

If by a blow he has caused a commoner’s daughter to have a miscarriage, he shall pay five shekels of silver. If that woman has died, he shall pay one-half mina [twenty-five shekels] of silver.

If he struck a seignior’s female slave and has caused her to a have a miscarriage, he shall pay two shekels of silver. If that female slave has died, he shall pay one-third mina      [eighteen shekels] of silver.[21]

Another Amorite settlement began in Palestine in the second millennium BC. Abraham and Jacob lived near there.[22]

These Amorites scattered throughout the region of the Jordan River and Judah (Gen 14:13; Gen 48:21–22).[23] Moses defeated some of them on Israel’s way to the promised land (Deut 3:8; Num 21:25–26).

The prophet Ezekiel accused Jerusalem’s inhabitants of behaving like the progeny of Amorites and Hittites (Ezek 16:1–3).[24]

Canaanites (Phoenicians) lived along the highway which connected Egypt to Mesopotamia.[25]

They spread from Gerar (Gen 20:1), north of Sidon,[26] down to Gaza.[27]

Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim comprised four municipalities in southeast Canaan, near the Dead Sea.[28] The Lord destroyed those cities during Abraham’s lifetime (Gen 19:24–25; Deut 29:23).[29]

Image via Wikimedia Commons

 

Read Gen 10:15–20. Why do you think Canaan’s genealogy included such detailed information? How would you characterize these nations?

 

 

 

 

Go to The Descendants of Shem

[Related posts include Ancient Near Eastern Genealogies (Gen 5:1); A Renewed Mandate (Gen 9:1); Blood for Blood (Gen 9:5–7); The Sons of Noah (Gen 9:18–19); Noah Planted a Vineyard (Gen 9:20–21); Ham Dishonors His Father (Gen 9:22–23); A Slave of Slaves (Gen 9:24–25); The Descendants of Noah (Gen 10:1); The Descendants of Japheth (Gen 10:2–5); The Descendants of Ham (Gen 10:6–14); The Descendants of Shem (Gen 10:21–31); Seventy Nations (Gen 10:32); A Plain in Shinar (Gen 11:1–2); Let Us Bake Bricks (Gen 11:3); Jesus Sends Seventy (Two) (Luke 10:1–2); Rebellious Angels (Jude 6–7); and Ancient Literature]

[Click here to go to Chapter 11: The Table of Nations (Gen 9:28–10:32)]

 

[1]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 330–1.

[2]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 225.

[3]Walton, Genesis, 368.

[4]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 221.

[5]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 341.

[6]Gregory McMahon, “Hittites in the OT,” ABD 3:231–3, 232.

[7]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 225.

[8]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 341.

[9]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 225.

[10]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 171.

[11]McMahon, “Hittites in the OT,” 231.

[12]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 225.

[13]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 341.

[14]Stephen A. Reed, “Jebus (Place),” ABD 3:652–3, 652.

[15]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 225.

[16]George E. Mendenhall, “Amorites,” ABD 1:199–202, 199.

[17]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 341.

[18]Mendenhall, “Amorites,” 201.

[19]Walton, Genesis, 370.

[20]Huffmon, “Lex Talionis,” ABD 4:321.

[21]Hammurabi, “Code of Hammurabi,” in ANET, 209–14, 175. A mina was worth 50 shekels.

[22]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 341.

[23]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 171.

[24]Mendenhall, “Amorites,” 201–2.

[25]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 171.

[26]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 227.

[27]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 171.

[28]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 227.

[29]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 172.