Canaan(redirected from Canaan, Canaanites)
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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.
REFERENCESD’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.