Ca'naän (Hebrews Kena'an, כּנ - עִן, perhaps low; Sept. and N.T. Χαναάν; Josephus Χανάανος), the name of a man and of a country peopled by his descendants.
1. The fourth son of Ham, and grandson of Noah (Ge 10:6; 1Ch 1:8; comp. Josephus, Ant. 1:6, 4). B.C. post 2514. The transgression of his father Ham (Ge 9:22-27), to which some suppose Canaan to have been in some way a party, gave occasion to Noah to pronounce that doom on the descendants of Canaan which was, perhaps, at that moment made known to him by one of those extemporaneous inspirations with which the patriarchal fathers appear in other instances to have been favored. SEE BLESSING. That there is no just ground for the conclusion that the descendants of Canaan were cursed as an immediate consequence of the transgression of Ham, is shown by Professor Bush, who, in his Notes on Genesis, has fairly met the difficulties of the subject. SEE HAM.
The posterity of Canaan was numerous. His eldest son, Zidon, founded the city of the same name, and was father of the Sidonians and Phoenicians. Canaan had ten other sons, who were fathers of as many tribes, dwelling in Palestine and Syria (Ge 10:15-19; 1Ch 1:13). It is believed that Canaan lived and died in Palestine, which from him was called the land of Canaan. SEE CANAANITE.
2. The simple name "Canaan" is sometimes employed for the country itself — more generally styled "the land of C." It is so in Zep 2:5; and we also find "Language of C." (Isa 19:18); "Wars of C." (Jg 3:1); "Inhabitants of C." (Ex 15:15); "King of C." (Jg 4:2,23-24; Jg 5:19); "Daughters of C." (Ge 28:1,6,8; Ge 36:2); "Kingdoms of C." (Ps 135:11). In addition to the above, the word occurs in several passages where it is concealed in the Auth. Vers. by being translated. These are, Isa 23:8, "traffickers," and 23:11, "the merchant city;" Ho 12:2, "He is a merchant;" Zep 1:11, "merchant-people." SEE COMMERCE.
Land Of Canaan
(אֶרֶוֹ כּנִעִן, according to some, from its being lew; see 2Ch 28:19; Job 40:12, among other passages in which the verb is used), a name denoting the country west of the Jordan and Dead Sea (Ge 13:12; De 11:30), and between those waters and the Mediterranean; specially opposed to the "land of Gilead" — that is, the high table-land on the east of the Jordan (Nu 32:26,32; Nu 33:51; Jos 22:32; see also Ge 12:5; Ge 23:2,19; Ge 31:18; Ge 33:18; Ge 35:6; Ge 37:1; Ge 48:4,7; Ge 49:30; Nu 13:2,17; Nu 33:40,51; Jos 16:2; Jg 21:12). True, the district to which the name of "low land" is thus applied contained many very elevated spots: Shechem (Ge 33:18), Hebron (Ge 23:19), Bethel (Ge 35:6), Bethlehem (Ge 48:7), Shiloh (Jos 21:2; Jg 21:12), which are all stated to be in the "land of Canaan." But, high as the level of much of the country west of the Jordan undoubtedly is, there are several things which must always have prevented it from leaving a marked impression of general elevation. These are,
(1), that remarkable, wide, maritime plain over which the eye ranges for miles from the central hills, a feature of the country which cannot be overlooked by the most casual observer, and which impresses itself most indelibly on the recollection;
(2), the still deeper and more remarkable and impressive hollow of the Jordan valley, a view into which may be commanded from almost any of the heights of Central Palestine; and,
(3), there is the almost constant presence of the long high line of the mountains east of the Jordan, which, from their distance, have the effect more of an enormous cliff than of a mountain range-looking down on the more broken and isolated hills of Canaan, and furnishing a constant standard of height before which every thing is dwarfed. These considerations are based upon the supposition that the name was derived from the natural features of the country. But this is not countenanced by Scripture. Canaan was the son of Ham. He and his whole family colonized Western Syria, and while the whole region took his name, different sections of it were called after his sons (Ge 10:15-20). Aram was a son of Shem, and him descendants colonized the country of Aram (Ge 10:21-31). On the other hand, Aram cannot, at least ab, solutely, be termed a "highland region." It comprised the vast plains along the banks of the Euphrates, and westward to the Orontes and Anti- Libanus. Canaan, on the whole, however, is rather a hilly country, with strips of plain along the coast. In one passage it is distinguished from the low valley of the Jordan (Ge 13:12). In short, the terms Aram and Canaan, if bestowed with any reference to the comparative elevation of the respective countries, have a merely relative significance; the latter lying nearer the sea-boast, while the former — especially that part of it where the Hebrew patriarchs originated — is situated toward the interior head- waters of the great river Euphrates. SEE ARAM.
The extent and boundaries of Canaan are given with tolerable exactness in the Bible. On the west the sea was its border from Sidon to Gaza (Ge 10:19). On the south it was bounded by a line running from Gaza to the southern end of the Dead Sea, including the Judaean hills, but excluding the country of the Amalekites (Ge 10:19; Nu 13:29). The Jordan was the eastern boundary; no part of Canaan lay beyond that river (Nu 33:51; Ex 16:35, with Joshua v. 12; 22:11. See Reland, Palest. p. 3 sq.). On the north, Canaan extended as far as Hamath, which was also the utmost boundary of the "land of promise" (Ge 17:8; Nu 34:8). The coast from Sidon northward to Arvad, and' the ridge of Lebanon, were inhabited by Canaanites, though they do not appear to have been included in Canaan proper (Ge 10:15-19. See Bochart, Opp. 1:308 sq.; Roland, Palcest. p. 3 sq.). For geographical and other details, SEE PALESTINE.
The word "Canaan," in a few instances, such as Zep 2:5, and Mt 15:22, was applied to the low maritime plains of Philistia and Phoenicia (comp. Mr 7:26; and see Gesenius on Isa 23:11). In the same manner, by the Greeks, the name Χνᾶ was used for Phoenicia, i.e. the sea-side plain north of the "Tyrian ladder" (see the extract in Reland, Palcest. p. 7, and Gesenius, Thesaur. p. 696), and by the later Pnoenicians, both of Phoenicia proper and of the Punic colonies in Africa (Kenrick, Phanicia, p. 40, 42, 460). The name occurs in this sense on the Egyptian monuments as well as on Phoenician coins (Eckhel, Doctr. Numbers 4:409), and was not even unknown to the Carthaginians (Gesenius, Gesch. d. Hebrews Sprach. p. 16). The Sept. in two cases, in like manner, renders the Hebrew by χώρα τῶν Φοινίκων (Ex 16:35; Jos 5:12; comp. v. 1), as they do "Canaanites" by Φοίνικες. Agaie, in Nu 13:29, "The Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of the Jordan." In 2Sa 24:7, the Canaanites are distinguished from the Hivites, though the latter were descended from Canaan; and in several passages the Canaanites are mentioned with the Hittites, Amorites, Jebusites, etc., as if they constituted a special portion of the population (Ex 3:8; De 7:1; Jos 3:10). The most probable explanation of these limited applications of the name is, that while some of the tribes which inhabited Syria retained for their territories the name of their common ancestor Canaan, others preferred taking, as a distinctive appellation, the name of some subsequent head or chief of the tribe. The very same practice prevails to this day among the great tribes of Arabia. SEE CANAANITE.