The People of Canaan/Israel at the time of Joshua • Transjordan • Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites, and Arameans (all related to the Israelites) • Israel • Canaanites • Philistines • Unrelated to the Israelites
The People of Canaan/Israel at the time of Joshua • “And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites.” (Josh 3:10) • We know that the Hittites in Canaan originally immigrated from the powerful Hittite empire in modern-day Turkey. The Amorites from modern-day Syria. • We are unsure of whether the Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, and Jebusites were different ethnic groups from the Canaanites, or different clans of Canaanites. What is clear is that the Biblical authors often used the broader term “Canaanite” to refer to any of these seven groups (cf. Gen 36:2-3).
Canaanites • Canaanite Language • Hebrew comes from Canaanite. This makes sense when we remember that Abraham would have learned Akkadian as a boy in Ur (Babylonian city); he would have learned Canaanite when he moved to Canaan. Over time, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would have developed their own distinct language, but it would still be related to Canaanite. • This means that Joshua and the Israelites would have been able to communicate with the inhabitants of Canaan
Canaanites • Canaanite Culture • Good engineers, built fortified/walled cities • The majority of Canaanites lived in these walled cities, though these cities were typically small (less than 20 acres) • Advanced craftsmen • Prominent merchants (the word “kenaa’an” eventually came to refer to “merchant, trader”) • Invented a simple alphabet; our ability to read and write can be traced directly back to the Canaanite alphabet • Each city was ruled by an independent king, likely with different cities entering into defensive treaties when threatened
Canaanites • Canaanite Religion • “When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. 10 There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, 12 for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you. 13 You shall be blameless before the Lord your God, 14 for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do this. (Deut 18:9-14)
Canaanites • Canaanite Religion • El – chief god (name literally means “god”) • Asherah/Astarte/Ashtoreth (wife of El; goddess of love and war) • Baal – (god of rain, thunder, lightning, and fertility; name literally means “lord”) • Anat (sister of Baal • Yam (god of the sea) • Mot (god of underworld, death, and sterility) • Kothara-wa-Khasis (god of crafts)
Canaanites • Canaanite Religion • Most of the Canaanite religious myths centered around Baal (as the bringer of rain, he was also seen as the giver of life) and Mot (death). Baal was born in spring, reigned in summer and fall, was killed by Mot at the beginning of winter, and then reborn in the spring. • The polytheism of the Canaanites would become the major problem for the Israelites over the next 1000 years. God will eventually send Israel into exile because of this. See 2 Kings 17:7-20.
2 Kings 17:7-20 7 And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods 8 and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had practiced. 9 And the people of Israel did secretly against the Lord their God things that were not right. They built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city. 10 They set up for themselves pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, 11 and there they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom the Lord carried away before them. And they did wicked things, provoking the Lord to anger, 12 and they served idols, of which the Lord had said to them, “You shall not do this.” 13 Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.”
2 Kings 17:7-20 14 But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God. 15 They despised his statutes and his covenant that he made with their fathers and the warnings that he gave them. They went after false idols and became false, and they followed the nations that were around them, concerning whom the Lord had commanded them that they should not do like them. 16 And they abandoned all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made for themselves metal images of two calves; and they made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. 17 And they burned their sons and their daughters as offeringsand used divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. 18 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only. 19 Judah also did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the customs that Israel had introduced. 20 And the Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel and afflicted them and gave them into the hand of plunderers, until he had cast them out of his sight.
Canaanites • The Israelite problem with being influenced by Canaanites predates the time of Joshua. • Lot, nephew of Abraham, had the same problem. He chose land that was next to the city of Sodom, thus being influenced by Canaanite culture. • Abraham chose land that was further from the cities, living a more pastoral lifestyle which was not as influenced by the urban Canaanites.
Philistines • The Philistines of Canaan were predominantly descended from a group of people called the Peleset or Sea Peoples. • The Sea Peoples represented several different groups of people who came in several waves from lands adjacent to the Aegean Sea, the Balkans, and the southern coast of the Black Sea in search of new territory. • They attacked the Hittites, north of Canaan • They attacked the Egyptians, south of Canaan • They eventually settled in the southern coastal plain of Canaan.
Philistines Sea Peoples defeated by Egyptians
Philistines • The Philistines is Israel’s most common enemy during the period of the Judges, Saul, and David. David’s wars against the Philistines will essentially eliminate them as a major threat, though they continue to exist and occasionally fight against the southern nation of Judah.
Philistines • During the period of the Judges, Saul, and David, the Philistines are centered in five cities: Ekron, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gaza, and Gath. Jerusalem
Philistines • Philistine Military • Armor of Goliath: “5 He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekelsof bronze. 6 And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. 7 The shaft of his spear was like a weaver's beam, and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron. And his shield-bearer went before him.” (1 Sam 17:5-7) • His spear “like a weaver’s rod” probably refers to a leash of cord wrapped around the spear shaft, with a loop into which he inserted one or more fingers. When the spear was thrown, it would spin, thus flying farther and straighter. • His spear tip was made of iron; during the period of the Judges, the Philistines had iron and the Israelites only had bronze (iron is stronger than bronze), giving the Philistines the advantage. But by the time of Samuel, Saul, and David, the Israelites had developed steel (an alloy of iron and carbon, which is stronger than iron alone), giving them the advantage.
Philistines • Philistine Military • Used both infantry (men fought in groups of four) and chariots. Chariots would be pulled by two horses, with two six-spoked wheels, and operated by crews of three soldiers each armed with two long spears (they didn’t use bowmen on chariots like the Egyptians). • Chariots could dominate a field of battle if it was flat (like on Israel’s coast) but were a liability in the Shephelah (foothills) and mountains. This helps explain why the Israelites dominated the mountains, the Philistines dominated the plains, and their battles were fought in the wadis (dry river beds) that cut through the foothills.
Philistines • Philistine Religion • Worshipped Canaanite gods • Dagon – father of Baal, principal god of the Philistines • Asherah/Astarte/Ashtoreth (wife of El; goddess of love and war) • Baal-zebub (god of Ekron; “lord of the flies”; though this might be a derogatory name given by the Israelites, with his actual name being Baal-zebul (Lord Baal))