Canaan ( Northwest Semitic kn'n, Alalakh ki- in-a- Nimki, Akkadian Luki -na -ah- numMEŠ, Assyrian Kurki -na- ah -hi and Kurki -na- hi, Babylonian Kurki -na -ha - aau, Hurrian Kurki -na -a -ah- hi, Hittite KUR Uruki -na- ah -ha, Arabic کنعان (Kan ʿ ān ), Hebrew כְּנַעַן ( Canaan ), Egyptian p3 -k - 3-n- ˁ -n- ˁ, Kena Phoenician, Greek Χανααν ( Canaan )) was mainly used in antiquity as a designation of the southwest -Syrian region and after the attacks of the Sea Peoples on the territory of Palestine ( Peleset ) expanded.

The changed political circumstances was the then new geographical allocation through Egypt invoice. While it was still called under Pharaoh Merneptah Canaan as an independent territory was under Ramses III. the political map in the supremacy of the Philistines: "messenger to Canaan in the country Palastu ".

The use of the name Canaan is still occupied under Seleucus I, who named himself as "the L' dk ' in Canaan ." The Roman occupation replaced " Canaan " by the name Syria.


The exact interpretation of the name of Canaan remains unclear. In Egyptian texts, the name Canaan is mostly occupied with negative Titulierungen: "cops and Canaanites, rebellious inhabitants of Canaan ."

The derivation from the later Aramaic, Hebrew and Arabic language using the root kn ' enables interpretations: " The writhing, the Crooked, the humble, the humiliated, the outcasts, the subjugated " and " Back Drawn ".


Before the arrival of the Israelites or Hebrews and their fusion with the native inhabitants of Canaan was inhabited by Amurritern, Hebrew and Aramaic tribes, Hurrians, Canaanites, and the actual Semitic tribes of the desert ( Moabites, Edomites, Ammonites ). To the north, Lebanon and on the Syrian coast, there were early Phoenician city-states. The Canaanite languages ​​formed a dialect continuum of the North West Semitic languages.

In the 2nd millennium BC, Canaan was for the most part under Egyptian rule until the Egyptians lost from the 12th century BC gradually take control of Syria and Palestine.

Some time lag penetrated the Syrians from Syria to the south. At the same occurred in the Egyptian sources "new" groups in Canaan itself to: the Israelites in central Israel and other nations on the periphery of cultivated land, such as the Moabites. In a time of diminishing external pressure to several native States could form, which was connected in sequence with a distinct ethno-genesis. The Israelite state of the early kings is opposed among the Phoenicians and Philistines a similar trend to the " territorial state ", here continued to form city-states, the largest political units.

The land of Canaan in biblical context

For the first time appeared the name of Canaan in Genesis. 9.18 on. There he is mentioned as the son of Ham, who in turn was one of three sons of Noah. Specifically, the son of Ham is Canaan in Genesis. 10.6 listed again. In the course of the text shows that the Canaanites originated as an ethnic group.

According to the report of the Book of Genesis (chapters 12ff ) in the Torah being the Abraham and his descendants the Promised Land ( Promised Land ). The non-Israelite inhabitants of the Canaanite city-states are called Canaanites.

Centuries after the supposed promise in Mesopotamia, after the exodus from Egypt, probably from the 15th or 13th century BC, the land of Canaan was allegedly partly conquered by the Israelite tribes and partly settled peacefully - the biblical accounts, on both directions ( trumpets Of Jericho ). However, modern research doubted the historicity of this land grab that can no archaeological evidence. In addition, the biblical account, which was created centuries after the alleged events, a series of statements that appear contradictory according to the current state of research (: → conquest of Canaan cf ) contains.

The warning of the fertility gods of Canaan, especially Ba'al ( Bel ) in all its varieties, their rites and images, those mentioned in the Bible high places, bull and calf idols ( golden calf ), pervades all the older strata of the Old Testament. For the time of Solomon the worship of the goddess of love ( Asherat ) is used ( see also Canaanite or Ugaritic religion).

In the Bible, Moses is spoken of as the land of Canaan in the second book, " flowing with milk and honey " in the.