Canaan

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Canaan

(kā`nən). 1 According to biblical ethnography, Canaan was the son of Ham and the ancestor for whom the Canaanites were named. 2 Territory, the same as ancient PalestinePalestine
, historic region on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, at various times comprising parts of modern Israel, the West Bank and Gaza (recognized internationally by nations as independent Palestine), Jordan, and Egypt; also known as the Holy Land.
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, lying between the Jordan, the Dead Sea, and the Mediterranean and sometimes including Transjordan. It was the Promised Land of the Israelites, and after their delivery from Egypt they subjugated it. The land held a number of pre-Israelite peoples listed in several passages in the Bible. See UgaritUgarit
, ancient city, capital of the Ugarit kingdom, W Syria, on the Mediterranean coast N of modern Latakia. Although the name of this city was known from Egyptian and Hittite sources, its location and history were a mystery until the accidental discovery (1928) of an ancient
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; AsherahAsherah
or Asheroth
, Canaanite fertility goddess and the wooden cult symbol that represented her. She is the consort of El in the Ugaritic texts. Several passages in the Bible may refer to the planting of a tree as a symbol of Asherah, or the setting up of a wooden
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; BaalBaal
, plural Baalim
[Semitic,=master, lord], name used throughout the Bible for the chief deity or for deities of Canaan. The term was originally an epithet applied to the storm god Hadad.
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; PhilistiaPhilistia
, region of SW ancient Palestine, comprising a coastal strip along the Mediterranean and a portion of S Canaan. The chief cities of Philistia were Gaza, Ashqelon, Ashdod, Ekron, and Gath; strategically located on the great commercial route from Egypt to Syria, they
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; PhoeniciaPhoenicia
, ancient territory occupied by Phoenicians. The name Phoenicia also appears as Phenice and Phenicia. These people were Canaanites (see Canaan), and in the 9th cent. B.C.
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Canaan

 

the ancient name for the territory of Palestine, Syria, and Phoenicia, before the Israelite conquest. The etymology of “Canaan” has not been precisely determined. It has been suggested that the name meant “purple” and originally referred to Phoenicia, where purple dye was produced. Later, the name was extended to the entire region of Canaan. The population consisted chiefly of Canaanites; non-Semitic peoples included the Hurrians and Hittites.

The known history of Canaan begins in approximately the eighth millennium B.C. During the 16th and 15th centuries B.C., Canaan was politically and economically dominated by Egypt, whose influence began to wane in the 14th century. In the 13th century, after a war between Egypt and the Hittite kingdom, those powers divided Canaan into spheres of influence. The conquest of Canaan by Israelite tribes began in the 13th century B.C. The name “Canaan” was later applied to Phoenicia; the term “Canaanites” sometimes referred to the Poeni, who were the inhabitants of Phoenician colonies in North Africa.

REFERENCES

D’iakonov, I. M. Iazyki drevnei Perednei Azii. Moscow, 1967.
Bohl, F. M. T. Kanaanáer und Hebräer. Leipzig, 1911.
Gray, J. The Legacy of Canaan: The Ras Shamra Texts and Their Relevance to the Old Testament. Leiden, 1957.

Canaan

ancient region on Jordan river; promised by God to Abraham. [O.T.: Genesis 12:5–10]

Canaan

an ancient region between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean, corresponding roughly to Israel: the Promised Land of the Israelites