When you are in Israel on a Christian Israel Tour with Immanuel Tours, you will not only notice the Jewish history, but Israel has layers and layers of history (literally!). There have been several well known civilizations who’ve been in Israel over the millinea and well documented in not only history and archeology, but also the Bible. This includes the land and people of Canaan.
Where was Canaan?
Canaan was located in the southern Levant, including areas of modern day Israel, the West Bank. Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.
Well-known Canaanite cities included Jericho, Tel Hazor, Ashkelon, Beit Shemesh, Megiddo, Gibeon, Tel Lachish, Gezer, Timnah and more.
Who Were the Canaanites?
Modern archeology and historians take most of the knowledge of the people group form the writing references of other groups. The Egyptians and the Hebrews both speak of the Canaanites.
According to researchers and historians, there is a good possibility that there was not a central government or unification to Canaan, but instead is considered a more generic term for the people who lived in the area. They were likely more less tribes who shared many similarities in lifestyle and culture but were not actually unified, much like other tribal areas. This is corroborated in the Bible in Joshua chapter 3. Due to these city-state, tribal institutions, there was no uniform defense either, and although some alliances were attempted, nothing substantial was unified in order to be able to defend the land of Canaan against the Hebrews.
While there were cities, it was overall an agrarian culture, as was most of the fertile area. They, like most cultures of the area and day were polytheistic, however they believed there was a creator god known as El who lived on a mountain in the area. Baal sometimes replaced El. They also believed in Asherah which many will recognize for the “Asherah Pole” used in her worship.
What Does the Bible Say about Canaan?
Canaan is said in the Bible to be named for the grandson of Noah. He is mentioned in Genesis 9:24-27 When the son of Ham and his descents were cursed for Ham’s treatment of his father.
Isaac, Rebekah, Esau and Jacob lived in the land of Canaan and in Genesis 28:6, Jacob commanded Jacob to not marry a Canaanite woman, expressing his disapproval of them. This reference continues to show the curse of Ham’s descendants.
Jacob and his wives and concubines had children that included Rachel’s son Joseph that all lived in Canaan.
Generations passed and the Hebrews ended up in Egypt and then returned to the land crossing the Jordan after Moses died. At this point, a series of battles took place as the Promised Land was conquered.
What Sites are Associated with Canaan Today?
When you are on your Christian Holy Land pilgrimage you will be at sites that you may not realize was part of Canaan in its day. These are generally sites that have several layers of civilization shown.
- Jericho- Jericho is one of the most well known parts of Canaan. The ruins there show that it is truly one of the oldest city ruins in the world.
- Laish- In the Tel Dan Nature Preserve there is a fantastic Bronze age city gate that you can’t imagine until you see it in person! This gate was built during the time of Canaan, including the time of Abraham.
- Tel Megiddo- Before Megiddo was associated with King Solomon, it was a vibrant Canaanite city. It was actually conquered by the Egyptians from the Canaanites before becoming part of the Northern Israelite kingdom. You don’t want to miss this ancient area with layers and layers of history including the first battle recorded in history and where Christians believe the last battle will take place!