Who were the Canaanite tribes in the Bible? What does the Bible, secular history and archeology say about these tribes?
While there was the overarching area identified the population as “the Canaanites”, in reality this was a tribal area and although they lived in the same geographical area, they were actually tribal groups without any central unifying governments or kingdoms. When the Israelites had to defeat the Canaanites, they were not fighting unified Canaanites, but rather defeating these groups, mostly one at a time.
So who were these tribes of Canaan?
All of the tribes of the area are believed to be the descendants of Canaan, the son of Ham, and grandson of Noah. They all laid under the what is known as the “Curse of Canaan”.
Hivites- The Hivites are one of the groups in the Bible who’s existence is only marked by its inclusion in the Bible. It’s important to note though that it doesn’t mean they didn’t exist. Man in the area could have been part of smaller bands that were simply family tribes, grouped under the Canaanite descriptor.
Girgashites- Again, a tribe not mentioned in other texts, this however was listed as a tribe that Joshua laid waste too. There is a thought however that this tribe was part of what was listed as Qaraqisha, allies of the Hittites in their wars with Ramses ii.
Jebusites- The Jebusites are among the most famous tribes in Canaan. They are described by the Bible as being part of the Amorites, whom God The Jebusites are who David, future King of Israel, defeated in order to take over Jerusalem. The Jebusites were a people that ended up living among the Judeans for generations until eventually being indistinguishable.
Amorites- The Amorites are known as one of the most evil of all of the tribes of Canaanites. They were tall and strong as Cedars according to the book of Amos. The Amorites are also one of the most well-documented. Sumarian texts detail their existence, They are the tribe that founded Babylon. They are believed to be specifically detestable due to their practice of sacrificing their own children. They worshiped Amarru and lived west of the Dead Sea.
Hittites- The Hittites derived from what is today known as Turkey, before moving into the Levant. Much of their history is recorded in cuneiform. This tribe is known for one of it’s most famous descendants, Uriah the Hittite. What is notable for Uriah is that it clearly states that he is a Hittite, but he is a faithful soldier of David’s. Some believe that this likely means Bathsheba may have also been a Canaanite of some sort, which is a overall wonderful story of hose a cursed people, and a sinner can still be redeemed and have a part in the story of Christ and the Kingdom!
Perizzites- Perizzites were a tribe noted by their fight with Joshua. They were said to have been there from around the time of Abraham.
Anakites- The Anakites are said to have been a tribe of terrifying, giant-sized warriors. They are said to have lived near Hebron and when Joshua’s scouts saw the Anakites, they shook and didn’t want to fight them for the Promised Land.
After Joshua defeated them, small remnants fled to Philistine towns, including Gath, Ashdod and Gaza. Due to this, many believe Goliath was actually an Anakite descendant, living in the Philistine tribes.
Philistines- The Philistines lived in Ashkelon, Gaza, Ashdod, Gath and Ekro. There is no Philistine historical texts, however there are the accounts in the Bible in addition to texts written but the Egyptians and Assyrians.
The remnants of these tribes are found throughout Israel. Though the canaanites are not the chosen people, they do play a big part in the history of the Holy Land. We hope you will visit the Holy Land soon with Immanuel Tours!