“When the LORD your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you . . .” —Deuteronomy 7:1
from Wayne Stiles
Canaan was Noah’s grandson through the line of Ham. His direct lineage included the “[Hittites] and the Jebusite and the Amorite and the Girgashite” (Gen. 10:15–16).
As a result, “Canaanites” often serves as the general term for the inhabitants of the land—the indigenous people of Canaan (Gen. 12:6; Num. 21:3; Judg. 1:10).
Migrating from Anatolia (modern Turkey), the Hittites settled in the hill country around Hebron. Abraham bought the Cave of Machpelah from Ephron the Hittite (Gen. 23:10).
One of most well known Hittites was Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba and one of King David’s mighty men (2 Sam. 11:3).
Girgashites and Hivites
We know precious little about these people groups, other than they lived near the area of Mount Hermon and the Lebanon mountains (Josh. 11:3; Judges 3:3).
The Amorites came to Canaan from Aram (Syria) and took over much of the hill country. As a result, their name appears numerous times in the Bible in interaction with the Hebrews (Deut. 3:11; Josh. 10:10; 11:8; 1 Sam. 7:14).
The discovery of the Armana Letters—15th-century cuneiform clay tablets discovered in Egypt—have offer scholars insight into the Amorite language (among many other things). These clay tablets also give geographical confirmation of many place names in the land of Israel. (See map below.)
Although little is known about this group, the Perrizzites are listed along as a people the Hebrews were to drive out of the land (Gen. 15:20; Ex. 3:8, 17; 23:23; 33:2; 34:11). However some of them lingered in the land, and Solomon reduced them to servitude (1 Kings 9:20).
Easton’s Bible Dictionary refers to the Perrizzites as “dwellers in the open country, the Canaanitish nation inhabiting the fertile regions south and south-west of [Mount] Carmel. ‘They were the graziers, farmers, and peasants of the time.’”
The Jebusites inhabited Jebus, or ancient Salem—what we know today as the part of Jerusalem called the City of David.
- They were considered a group from the Amorites (Josh. 10:5).
- The Jebusites persisted living in Jebus until David conquered the city 400 years after Joshua—and made it his capital in 1004 B.C. (2 Sam. 5:6-10).
- David purchased the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, a site that became the Temple Mount (2 Samuel 24:16-24).