1. The son of Ham, and grandson of Noah, Ge 9:18. His numerous posterity seem to have occupied Zidon first, and thence spread into Syria and Canaan, Ge 10:15-19; 1Ch 1:13-16. The Jews believe that he was implicated with his father in the dishonor done to Noah, Ge 9:20-27, which was the occasion of the curse under which he and his posterity suffered, Jos 9:23,27; 2Ch 8:7-8.
2. The land peopled by Canaan and his posterity, and afterwards given to the Hebrews. This country has at different periods been called by various names, either from its inhabitants or some circumstances connected with its history. (1.) "The land of Canaan," from Canaan, the son of Ham, who divided it among his sons, each of whom became the head of a numerous tribe, and ultimately of a distinct people, Ge 10:15-20; 11:31. This did not at first include any land east of the Jordan. (2.) "The land of Promise," Heb 11:9, from the promise given to Abraham, that his posterity should possess it, Ge 12:7; 13:15. These being termed Hebrews, Ge 40:15; and (4.) "The land of Israel," from the Israelites, or posterity of Jacob, having settled there. This name is of frequent occurrence in the Old Testament. It comprehends all that tract of ground on each side of the Jordan, which God gave for an inheritance to the Hebrews. At a later age, this term was often restricted to the territory of the ten tribes, Eze 27:17. (5.) "The land of Judah." This at first comprised only the region which was allotted to the tribe of Judah. After the separation of the ten tribes, the land which belonged to Judah and Benjamin, who formed a separate kingdom, was distinguished by the appellation of "the land of Judah," or Judea; which latter name the whole country retained during the existence of the second temple, and under the dominion of the Romans. (6.) "The Holy Land." This name appears to have been used by the Hebrews after the Babylonish captivity, Zec 2:13. (7.) "Palestine," Ex 15:14, a name derived from the Philistines, who migrated from Egypt, and having expelled the aboriginal inhabitants, settled on the borders of the Mediterranean. Their name was subsequently given to the whole country, though they in fact possessed only a small part of it. By heathen writers, the Holy Land has been variously termed Palestine, Syria, and Phoenicia.
Canaan was bounded on the west by the Mediterranean Sea, north by mount Lebanon and Syria, east by Arabia Deserta; and south by Edom and the desert of Zin and Paran. Its extreme length was about one hundred and eighty miles, and its average width about sixty-five. Its general form and dimensions Coleman has well compared to those of the state of New Hampshire. At the period of David, vast tributary regions were for a time annexed to the Holy Land. These included the bordering nations on the east, far into Arabia Deserta; thence north to Tipsah on the Euphrates, with all Syria between Lebanon and the Euphrates. On the south it included Edom, and reached the Red sea at Ezion-geber.
The land of Canaan has been variously divided. Under Joshua it was apportioned out to the twelve tribes. Under Rehoboam it was divided into the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah. It afterwards fell into the hands of the Babylonians, the Greeks, the Syrians, and the Romans. During the time of our Savior, it was under the dominion of the last-mentioned people, and was divided into five provinces: Galilee, Samaria, Judea, Peraea, and Idumaea. Peraea was again divided into seven cantons; Abilene, Trachonitis, Iturea, Gaulonitis, Batanaea, Peraea, and Decapolis. At present, Palestine is subject to the sultan of Turkey, under whom the pashas of Acre and Gaza govern the seacoast and the pasha of Damascus the interior of the country.
The surface of the land of Canaan is beautifully diversified with mountains and plains, rivers and valleys. The principal mountains are Lebanon, Carmel, Tabor, Gilead, Herman, the mount of Olives, etc. The plain of the Mediterranean, of Esdraelon, and of Jericho, are celebrated as the scenes of many important events. The chief streams are the Jordan, the Arnon, the Sihor, the Jabbok, and the Kishon. The lake of Tiberias or Sea of Galilee, and lake Merom. These are elsewhere described, each in its own place.
The general features of the country may here be briefly described. The northern boundary is at the lofty mountains of Lebanon and Hermon, some peaks of which are ten thousand feet high. Around the base of mount Hermon are the various sources of the Jordan. This river, passing through lake Merom and the sea of Galilee, flows south with innumerable windings into the Dead sea. Its valley is deeply sunk, and from its source to the Dead sea it has a descent of two thousand feet. The country between the Jordan valley and the Mediterranean Sea is in general an elevated tableland, broken up by many hills and by numerous deep valleys through which the wintry torrents flow into Jordan and the sea. The tableland of Galilee may be nine hundred or one thousand feet above the Mediterranean. In lower Galilee we find the great and beautiful plain of Esdraelon, extending from mount Carmel and Acre on the west to Tabor and Gilboa, and even to the Jordan on the east. From this plain the land again rises towards the south; mount Gerizim being 2,300 feet, Jerusalem 2,400, and Hebron 2,600 above the sea. On the seacoast, below mount Carmel, a fertile plain is found; towards the south it becomes gradually wider, and expands at last into the great dessert of Paran. From this plain of the seacoast the ascent to the high land of the interior is by a succession of natural terraces; while the descent to the Jordan, the Dead Sea, and Edom, is abrupt and precipitous. The country beyond the Jordan is mountainous; a rich grazing land, with many fertile valleys. Still farther east is the high and desolate plateau of Arabia Deserta.
The soil and climate of Canaan were highly favorable. The heat was not extreme in the deep riverbeds, and on the seacoast; and the climate was in general mild and healthful. The variations of sunshine, clouds, and rain, which with us extend throughout the year, are in Palestine confined chiefly to the winter or rainy season. The autumnal rains usually commence in the latter part of October, and soon after the first showers wheat and barley are sowed. Rain falls more heavily in December; and continues, though with less frequency, until April. From May to October no rain falls. The cold of winter is not severe, and the ground does not freeze. Snows a foot or more deep sometimes occur, and there are frequent hailstorms in winter. The barley harvest is about a fortnight earlier than the wheat, and both are earlier than the wheat, and both are earlier in the plains than on the high land; altogether the grain harvest extends from April to June. In this month and October the heat is great; the ground becomes dry up; and all nature, animate and inanimate, looks forward with longing for the return of the rainy season.
The soil of Canaan was highly productive. The prevailing rock is a chalky limestone, abounding in caverns. It readily formed, and was covered with, a rich mould, which produced, in the various elevations and climates so remarkably grouped together in that small region of the world, an unequalled variety of the fruits of the ground. Olives, figs, vines, and pomegranates grew in abundance; the hills were clothed with flocks and herds, and the valleys were covered with corn. The land of promise was currently described as "flowing with milk and honey." Yet the glowing description given by Moses, De 8:7-9, and the statements of history as to the vast population formerly occupying it, are in striking contrast with its present aspect of barrenness and desolation. The curse brought down by the unbelief of the Jews still blights their unhappy land. Long ages of warfare and misrule have despoiled and depopulated it. Its hills, once terraced to the summit, and covered with luxuriant grain, vines, olives, and figs, are now bare rocks. Its early and latter rains, once preserved in reservoirs, and conducted by winding channels to water the ground in the season of drought, now flow off unheeded to th
(1.) The fourth son of Ham (Ge 10:6). His descendants were under a curse in consequence of the transgression of his father (Ge 9:22-27). His eldest son, Zidon, was the father of the Sidonians and Phoenicians. He had eleven sons, who were the founders of as many tribes (Ge 10:15-18).
(2.) The country which derived its name from the preceding. The name as first used by the Phoenicians denoted only the maritime plain on which Sidon was built. But in the time of Moses and Joshua it denoted the whole country to the west of the Jordan and the Dead Sea (De 11:30). In Jos 5:12 the LXX. read, "land of the Phoenicians," instead of "land of Canaan."
The name signifies "the lowlands," as distinguished from the land of Gilead on the east of Jordan, which was a mountainous district. The extent and boundaries of Canaan are fully set forth in different parts of Scripture (Ge 10:19; 17:8; Nu 13:29; 34:8). (See Canaanites, Palestine.)
From Ham came four main races; Cush (Ethiopia), Mizraim (Egypt), Phut (Nubia), and Canaan (originally before Abraham extending from Hamath in the N. to Gaza in the S.), comprising six chief tribes, the Hittites, Hivites, Amorites, Jebusites, Perizzites, and Girgashites; to which the Canaanites (in the narrow sense) being added make up the mystic number seven. Ten are specified in Ge 15:19-21, including some on E. of Jordan and S. of Palestine. The four Hamitic races occupied a continuous tract comprising the Nile valley, Palestine, S. Arabia, Babylonia, and Kissia. The Phoenicians were Semitic (from Shem), but the Canaanites preceded them in Palestine and Lower Syria. Sidon, Area, Arvad, and Zemara or Simra (Ge 15:19-21) originally were Canaanite; afterward they fell under the Phoenicians, who were immigrants into Syria from the shores of the Persian gulf, peaceable traffickers, skillful in navigation and the arts, and unwar-like except by sea.
With these the Israelites were on friendly terms; but with the Canaanites fierce and war-like, having chariots of iron, Israel was commanded never to be at peace, but utterly to root them out; not however the Arvadite. Arkite, Sinite, Zemarite, and Hamathite. The Semitic names Melchizedek, Hamer, Sisera, Salem, Ephrath are doubtless not the original Canaanite names, but their Hebraized forms. Ham, disliking his father's piety, exposed Noah's nakedness (when overtaken in the fault of intoxication) to his brethren. Contrast Shem and Japhet's conduct (compare 1Co 13:6 and 1Pe 4:8). Noah's prophetic curse was therefore to reach him in the person of Canaan his son (the sorest point to a parent), on whom the curse is thrice pronounced. His sin was to be his punishment; Canaan should be as undutiful to him as he had been to his father Noah.
In Ham's sin lies the stain of the whole Hamitic race, sexual profligacy, of which Sodom and Gomorrah furnish an awful example. Canaan probably shared in and prompted his father's guilt toward Noah; for Noah's "younger son" probably means his "grandson" (Ge 9:24), and the curse being pronounced upon Canaan, not Ham, implies Canaan's leading guilt, being the first to expose to Ham Noah's shame. Canaan's name also suggested his doom, from kaanah, "to stoop." Ham named his son from the abject obedience which he required, though he did not render it himself (Hengstenberg). So Canaan was to be "servant of servants," i.e. the most abject slave; such his race became to Israel (1Ki 9:20-21). Canaan more than any other of Ham's race came in contact with and obstructed Shem and Japhet in respect to the blessings foretold to them.
The Hamitic descent of Canaan was formerly questioned, but is now proved by the monuments. The ancients represent the Canaanites as having moved from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. Mythology connects the Phoenicians' ancestors Agenor and Phoenix with Belus and Babylon, also with Egyptus, Danaus (the Ethiop), and Libya. The Canaanites acquired the Semitic tongue through Semitic and Hamitic races intermingling. Their civilization and worship was Hamite. The Shemites were pastoral nomads, like Seth's race; the Hamites, like Cain's race were city builders, mercantile, and progressive in a civilization of a corrupt kind. Contrast Israel and the Ishmaelite Arabs with the Hamitic Egypt, Babylon, Sidon, etc. The Canaanites were Scythic or Hamite. Inscriptions represent the Khatta or Hittites as the dominant Scythic race, which gave way slowly before the Aramaean Jews and the Phoenician immigrants.
Some think Canaan means "lowland", from Hebrew kana, "to depress." In Eze 17:4; Isa 23:8; Ho 12:7, Canaan is taken in the secondary sense," merchant," because the Hebrew bears that sense; but that was not the original sense. The iniquity of the Amorites was great in Abraham's time, but was "not yet full" (Ge 15:16). In spite of the awful warning given by the doom of Sodom and Gomorrah, Canaanite profligacy at last became a reproach to humanity; and the righteous Ruler of the world required that the land originally set apart for Shem, and where Jehovah was to be blessed as the God of Shem (Ge 9:26), should be wrested from "the families of the Canaanites spread abroad," and encroaching beyond their divinely assigned limits (Ge 10:18). The Hamite races, originally the most brilliant and enlightened (Egypt, Babylon, Canaan), had the greatest tendency to degenerate, because the most disinclined to true religion, the great preserver of men.
The races of Japhet tend to expand and improve, those of Shem to remain stationary. Procopius, Belisarius' secretary, confirms the Scripture account, of the expulsion of the Canaanites, for he mentions a monument in Tigitina (Tangiers) with the inscription, "We are exiles from before the face of Joshua the robber." Rabbi Samuel ben Nachman says: "Joshua. sent three letters to the Canaanites, before the Israelites invaded it, proposing three things: Let those who choose to fly, fly; let those who choose peace, enter into treaty; let those who choose war, take up arms. In consequence, the Girgashites, fearing the power of God, fled away into Africa; the Gibeonites entered into league, and continued inhabitants of Israel; the 31 kings made war and fell." So the Talmud states, says Selden, the Africans claimed part of Israel's land from Alexander the Great, as part of their paternal possession.
It is an undesigned coincidence that the Girgashites are never named (except in Jos 24:11, the recapitulation) as having fought against Israel in the detailed account of the wars. They are enumerated in Jos 24:11 in the general list, probably as having been originally arrayed against Israel (and some may have in the beginning joined those who actually "fought"), but they withdrew early from the conflict; hence elsewhere always the expression is "the Lord cast out the Girgashite," "He will drive out the Girgashite" (De 7:1; Jos 3:10; compare Ge 15:21; Ne 9:8). The warnings given to Israel against defiling themselves with the abominations of the previous occupiers of Canaan show that the Israelites were not ruthless invaders, but the divinely appointed instruments to purge the land of transgressors hopelessly depraved.
Le 18:24; "Defile not yourselves in any of these things, for in all these the nations are defiled that I cast out before you, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants." The Canaanites had the respite of centuries, the awful example of the cities of the plain, and the godly example of Abraham, Melchizedek, and others; but all failed to lead them to repentance. The Israelites, in approaching the cities of the seven doomed nations, were to offer peace on condition of their emigrating forever from their own country, or else renouncing idolatry, embracing the Noachian patriarchal religion, resigning their land and nationality, and becoming slaves. But "there was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel save the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon; all other they took in battle. For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts that they might come against Israel in battle, that He might destroy them utterly and that they might have no favor, but that He might destroy them" (Jos 11:18-20).
All admit that the execution of the law's sentence on a condemned criminal is a duty, not a crime. That God may permit the innocent to suffer with the guilty is credible, because He does constantly in fact and daily experience permit it. The guilty parent often entails on the innocent offspring shame, disease, and suffering. A future life and the completion of the whole moral scheme at the righteous judgment will clear up all such seeming anomalies. The Israelites with reluctance executed the divine justice. So far was the extermination from being the effect of bloodthirstiness, that as soon as the terror of immediate punishment was withdrawn they neglected God's command by sparing the remnant of the Canaanites. The extermination of idolatry and its attendant pollution was God's object. Thus even a Hebrew city that apostatized to idolatry was to be exterminated (Deuteronomy 13).
The Israelites by being made the instruments of exterminating the idolatrous Ca
Son of Ham and grandson of Noah. Ge 9:18-27. Of Canaan Noah said, "Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren," and then is added that he shall be the servant of Shem and of Japheth. It may seem strange that Noah did not curse Ham personally who had not respected his father; but doubtless it was God who, in His government, led Noah, in giving forth the prophecy respecting his three sons in the new world, to visit the conduct of Ham upon his son. God had already blessed Ham along with Noah and had made a covenant with him, how then could he lead Noah to curse him? Ge 9:1,8. Besides, we do not find that all Ham's sons became the servants of Shem; upon Canaan only the curse fell. It was Nimrod, Ham's descendant, who founded the great kingdoms of the East, and we do not read of them being tributary to Israel as Canaan was. God, in the wisdom of His government, led Noah to pronounce the curse upon Canaan, in strong contrast with the blessing of Jehovah upon Shem, which was fulfilled in Israel.
(Ca'nan) (low, flat).
1. The fourth son of Ham,
the progenitor of the Phoenicians [ZIDON], and of the various nations who before the Israelite conquest people the seacoast of Palestine, and generally the while of the country westward of the Jordan.
See Zidon, or Sidon
2. The name "Canaan" is sometimes employed for the country itself.
CANAAN, the son of Ham. The Hebrews believe that Canaan, having first discovered Noah's nakedness, told his father Ham; and that Noah, when he awoke, having understood what had passed, cursed Canaan, the first author of the offence. Others are of opinion that Ham was punished in his son Canaan, Ge 9:25. For though Canaan is mentioned, Ham is not exempted from the malediction; on the contrary, he suffers more from it, since parents are more affected with their children's misfortunes than with their own; especially if the evils have been inflicted through some fault or folly of theirs. Some have thought that Canaan may be put elliptically for the father of Canaan, that is, Ham, as it is rendered in the Arabic and Septuagint translations.
The posterity of Canaan was numerous. His eldest son, Sidon, founded the city of Sidon, and was father of the Sidonians and Phenicians. Canaan had ten other sons, who were fathers of as many tribes, dwelling in Palestine and Syria; namely, the Hittites, the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgasites, the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hemathites. It is believed that Canaan lived and died in Palestine, which from him was called the land of Canaan. Notwithstanding the curse is directed against Canaan the son, and not against Ham the father, it is often supposed that all the posterity of Ham were placed under the malediction, "Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren." But the true reason why Canaan only was mentioned probably is, that the curse was in fact restricted to the posterity of Canaan. It is true that many Africans, descendants of other branches of Ham's family, have been largely and cruelly enslaved, but so have other tribes in different parts of the world. There is certainly no proof that the negro race were ever placed under this malediction. Had they been included in it, this would neither have justified their oppressors, nor proved that Christianity is not designed to remove the evil of slavery. But Canaan alone, in his descendants, is cursed, and Ham only in that branch of his posterity. It follows that the subjugation of the Canaanitish races to Israel fulfils the prophecy. To them it was limited, and with them it expired. Part of the seven nations of the Canaanites were made slaves to the Israelites, when they took possession of their land; and the remainder by Solomon.
CANAAN, LAND OF. In the map it presents the appearance of a narrow slip of country, extending along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean; from which, to the river Jordan, the utmost width does not exceed fifty miles. This river was the eastern boundary of the land of Canaan, or Palestine, properly so called, which derived its name from the Philistines or Palestines originally inhabiting the coast. To three of the twelve tribes, however, Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh, portions of territory were assigned on the eastern side of the river, which were afterward extended by the subjugation of the neighbouring nations. The territory of Tyre and Sidon was its ancient border on the north-west; the range of the Libanus and Anti-libanus forms a natural boundary on the north and north-east; while in the south it is pressed upon by the Syrian and Arabian deserts. Within this circumscribed district, such were the physical advantages of the soil and climate, there existed, in the happiest periods of the Jewish nation, an immense population. The kingdom of David and Solomon, however, extended far beyond these narrow limits. In a north-eastern direction, it was bounded only by the river Euphrates, and included a considerable part of Syria. It is stated that Solomon had dominion over all the region on the western side of the Euphrates, from Thiphsah, or Thapsacus, on that river, in latitude 25 20', to Azzah, or Gaza. "Tadmore in the wilderness," (Palmyra,) which the Jewish monarch is stated to have built, (that is, either founded or fortified,) is considerably to the north-east of Damascus, being only a day's journey from the Euphrates; and Hamath, the Epiphania of the Greeks, (still called Hamah,) in the territory belonging, to which city Solomon had several "store cities," is seated on the Orontes, in latitude 34 45' N. On the east and south-east, the kingdom of Solomon was extended by the conquest of the country of Moab, that of the Ammonites, and Edom; and tracts which were either inhabited or pastured by the Israelites, lay still farther eastward. Maon, which belonged to the tribe of Judah, and was situated in or near the desert of Paran, is described by Abulfeda as the farthest city of Syria toward Arabia, being two days' journey beyond Zoar. In the time of David, the people of Israel, women and children included, amounted, on the lowest computation, to five millions; beside the tributary Canaanites, and other conquered nations.
The vast resources of the country, and the power of the Jewish monarch, may be estimated not only by the consideration in which he was held by the contemporary sovereigns of Egypt, Tyre, and Assyria, but by the strength of the several kingdoms into which the dominions of David were subsequently divided. Damascus revolted during the reign of Solomon, and shook off the Jewish yoke. At his death, ten of the tribes revolted under Jeroboam, and the country became divided into the two rival kingdoms of Judah and Israel, having for their capitals Jerusalem and Samaria. The kingdom of Israel fell before the Assyrian conqueror, in the year B.C. 721, after it had subsisted about two hundred and fifty years. That of Judah survived about one hundred and thirty years, Judea being finally subdued and laid waste by Nebuchadnezzar, and the temple burned B.C. 588. Idumea was conquered a few years after. From this period till the aera of Alexander the Great, Palestine remained subject to the Chaldean, Median, and Persian dynasties. At his death, Judea fell under the dominion of the kings of Syria, and, with some short and troubled intervals, remained subject either to the kings of Syria or of Egypt, till John Hyrcanus shook off the Syrian yoke, and assumed the diadem, B.C. 130. The Asmonean dynasty, which united, in the person of the monarch, the functions of king and pontiff, though tributary to Roman conquerors, lasted one hundred and twenty-six years, till the kingdom was given by Anthony to Herod the Great, of an Idumean family, B.C. 39.
2. At the time of the Christian aera, Palestine was divided into five provinces; Judea, Samaria, Galilee, Perea, and Idumea. On the death of Herod, Archelaus, his eldest son, succeeded to the government of Judea, Samaria, and Idumea, with the title of tetrarch; Galilee being assigned to Herod Antipas; and Perea, or the country beyond Jordan, to the third brother, Philip. But in less than ten years the dominions of Archelaus became annexed, on his disgrace, to the Roman province of Syria; and Judea was thenceforth governed by Roman procurators. Jerusalem, after its final destruction by Titus, A.D. 71, remained desolate and almost uninhabited, till the emperor Hadrian colonized it, and erected temples to Jupiter and Venus on its site. The empress Helena, in the fourth century, set the example of repairing in pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to visit the scenes consecrated by the Gospel narrative; and the country became enriched by the crowds of devotees who flocked there. In the beginning of the seventh century, it was overrun by the Saracens, who held it till Jerusalem was taken by the crusaders in the twelfth. The Latin kingdom of Jerusalem continued for about eighty years, during which the Holy Land streamed continually with Christian and Saracen blood. In 1187, Judea was conquered by the illustrious Saladin, on the decline of whose kingdom it passed through various revolutions, and at length, in 1317, was finally swallowed up in the Turkish empire.
Palestine is now distributed into pashalics. That of Acre or Akka extends from Djebail nearly to Jaffa; that of Gaza comprehends Jaffa and the adjacent plains; and these two being now united, all the coast is under the jurisdiction of the pasha of Acre. Jerusalem, Hebron, Nablous, Tiberias, and in fact,