Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary 
the posterity of Canaan by his eleven sons, who are supposed to have settled in the land of Canaan, soon after the dispersion of Babel. Five of these are known to have dwelt in the land of Canaan; viz. Heth, Jebus, Hemor or Amor, Girgashi, and Hevi or Hivi; and these, together with their father Canaan, became the heads of so many nations. Sina or Sini was another son of Canaan, whose settlement is not so precisely ascertained; but some authors infer, from the affinity of the names, that the Desert of Sin, and Mount Sinai, were the places of his abode, and that they were so called from him. The Hittites inhabited the country about Hebron, as far as Beersheba, and the brook Besor, reckoned by Moses the southern limits of Canaan. The Jebusites dwelt near them on the north, as far as the city of Jebus, since called Jerusalem. The Amorites possessed the country on the east side of Jordan, between the river Arnon on the south-east, and Mount Gilead on the north, afterwards the lot of Reuben and Gad. The Girgashites lay next above the Amorites, on the east side of the Sea of Tiberias, and their land was afterward possessed by the half tribe of Manasseh. The Hivites dwelt northward, under Mount Libanus. The Perizzites, who make one of the seven nations of the Canaanites, are supposed, by Heylin and others, to be the descendants of Sina or Sini; and it is probable, since we do not read of their abode in cities, that they lived dispersed, and in tents, like the Sycthians, roving on both sides of the Jordan, on the hills and plains; and that they were called by that name from the Hebrew pharatz, which signifies "to disperse." The Canaanites dwelt in the midst of all, and were surrounded by the rest. This appears from the sacred writings to have been the respective situation of those seven nations, which are said to have been doomed to destruction for their idolatry and wickedness, when the Israelites first invaded their country. The learned have not absolutely determined whether the nations proceeding from Canaan's other six sons should be reckoned among the inhabitants of the land of Canaan. The prevalent opinion is, that they were not included. As to the customs, manners, arts, sciences, and language of the seven nations that inhabited the land of Canaan, they must, from the situation they severally occupied, have been very different. Those who inhabited the sea coast were merchants, and by reason of their commerce and wealth, scattered colonies over almost all the islands and maritime provinces of the Mediterranean. ( See Phenicia . ) The colonies which Cadmus carried to Thebes in Baeotia, and his brother Cilix into Cilicia, are said to have proceeded from the stock of Canaan. Sicily, Sardinia, Malta, Cyprus, Corfu, Majorca, Minorca, Gades, and Ebutris, are supposed to have been peopled by the Canaanites. The other Canaanites, whose situation was inland, were employed partly in pasturage, and partly in tillage, and they were also well skilled in the exercise of arms. Those who dwelt in the walled cities, and who had fixed abodes, cultivated the land; and those who wandered about, as the Perizzites seem to have done, grazed cattle: so that among the Canaanites, we discover the various classes of merchants, and, consequently, mariners; of artificers, soldiers, shepherds, and husbandmen. We learn, also, from their history, that they were all ready, however diversified by their occupations or local interests, to join in a common cause; that they were well appointed for war, both offensive and defensive; that their towns were well fortified; that they were sufficiently furnished with military weapons and warlike chariots; that they were daring, obstinate, and almost invincible; and that they were not destitute of craft and policy. Their language, we find, was well understood by Abraham, who was a Hebrew, for he conversed readily with them on all occasions; but as to their mode of writing, whether it was originally their own or borrowed from the Israelites, it is not so easy to determine. Their religion, at least in part, seems to have been preserved pure till the days of Abraham, who acknowledged Melchisedek to be priest of the most high God; and Melchisedek was, without doubt, a Canaanite, or, at least, dwelt at that time in Canaan in high esteem and veneration.
2. But we learn from the Scripture history, that the Hittites in particular were become degenerate in the time of Isaac and Rebekah; for they could not endure the thoughts of Jacob's marrying one of the daughters of Heth, as Esau had done. From this time, then, we may date the prevalence of those abominations which subjected them to the divine displeasure, and made them unworthy of the land which they possessed. In the days of Moses, they were become incorrigible idolaters; for he commands his people to destroy their altars, and break down their images, (statues or pillars,) and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire. And lest they should pervert the Israelites, the latter were strictly enjoined not to intermarry with them; but "to smite them, and utterly destroy them, nor show mercy upon them," Deuteronomy 7:1-5 . They are accused of the cruel custom of sacrificing men, and are said to have made their seed pass through the fire to Moloch, Leviticus 18:21 . Their morals were as corrupt as their doctrine: adultery, bestiality of all sorts, profanation, incest, and all manner of uncleanness, are the sins laid to their charge. "The Canaanites," says Mr. Bryant, "as they were a sister tribe of the Mizraim, resembled them in their rites and religion. They held a heifer, or cow, in high veneration, agreeably to the customs of Egypt. Their chief deity was the sun, whom they worshipped, together with the Baalim, under the titles of Ourchol, Adonis, or Thamuz."
3. When the measure of the idolatries and abominations of the Canaanites was filled up, God delivered their country into the hands of the Israelites, who conquered it under Joshua. However, they resisted with obstinate valour, and kept Joshua employed six years from the time of his passing the river Jordan, and entering Canaan, in the year B.C. 1451, to the year B.C. 1445, the sabbatical year beginning from the autumnal equinox; when he made a division of the land among the tribes of Israel, and rested from his conquests. As God had commanded this people, long before, to be treated with rigour, see Deuteronomy 7:2 , Joshua extirpated great numbers, and obliged the rest to fly, some of them into Africa, and others into Greece. Procopius says, they first retreated into Egypt, but advanced into Africa, where they built many cities, and spread themselves over those vast regions which reach to the straits, preserving their old language with little alteration. In the time of Athanasius, the Africans still said they were descended from the Canaanites; and when asked their origin, they answered, "Canani." It is agreed, that the Punic tongue was nearly the same as the Canaanitish or Hebrew.
4. On the rigorous treatment of the nations of Canaan by the Israelites, to which infidels have taken so many exceptions, the following remarks of Paley are a sufficient reply: The first thing to be observed is, that the nations of Canaan were destroyed for their wickedness. This is plain from Leviticus 18:24 , &c. Now the facts disclosed in this passage sufficiently testify, that the Canaanites were a wicked people; that detestable practices were general among them, and even habitual; that it was for these enormities the nations of Canaan were destroyed. It was not, as some have imagined, to make way for the Israelites; nor was it simply to make away with their idolatry; but it was because of the abominable crimes which usually accompanied the latter. And we may farther learn from the passage, that God's abhorrence of these crimes, and his indignation against them, are regulated by the rules of strict impartiality, since Moses solemnly warns the Israelites against falling into the like wicked courses, "that the land," says he, "cast not you out also, when you defile it, as it cast out the nations that were before you; for whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people," Leviticus 18:28-29 . Now, when God, for the wickedness of a people, sends an earthquake, or a fire, or a plague among them, there is no complaint of injustice, especially when the calamity is known, or expressly declared beforehand, to be inflicted for the wickedness of such people. It is rather regarded as an act of exemplary penal justice, and, as such, consistent with the character of the moral Governor of the universe. The objection, therefore, is not to the Canaanitish nations being destroyed; (for when their national wickedness is considered, and when that is expressly stated as the cause of their destruction, the dispensation, however severe, will not be questioned;) but the objection is solely to the manner of destroying them. I mean there is nothing but the manner left to be objected to: their wickedness accounts for the thing itself. To which objection it may be replied, that if the thing itself be just, the manner is of little signification, of little signification even to the sufferers themselves. For where is the great difference, even to them, whether they were destroyed by an earthquake, a pestilence, a famine, or by the hands of an enemy? Where is the difference, even to our imperfect apprehensions of divine justice, provided it be, and is known to be, for their wickedness that they are destroyed? But this destruction, you say, confounded the innocent with the guilty. The sword of Joshua, and of the Jews, spared neither women nor children. Is it not the same with all other national visitations? Would not an earthquake, or a fire, or a plague, or a famine among them, have done the same? Even in an ordinary and natural death the same thing happens; God takes away the life he lends, without regard, that we can perceive, to age, or sex, or character. "But, after all, promiscuous massacres, the burning of cities, the laying waste of countries, are things dreadful to reflect upon." Who doubts it? so are all the judgments of Almighty God. The effect, in whatever way it shows itself, must necessarily be tremendous, when the Lord, as the Psalmist expresses it, "moveth out of his place to punish the wicked." But it ought to satisfy us; at least this is the point upon which we ought to rest and fix our attention; that it was for excessive, wilful, and forewarned wickedness, that all this befel them, and that it is all along so declared in the history which recites it.
But, farther, if punishing them by the hands of the Israelites rather than by a pestilence, an earthquake, a fire, or any such calamity, be still an objection, we may perceive, I think, some reasons for this method of punishment in preference to any other whatever; always bearing in our mind, that the question is not concerning the justice of the punishment, but the mode of it. It is well known, that the people of those ages were affected by no proof of the power of the gods which they worshipped, so deeply as by their giving them victory in war. It was by this species of evidence that the superiority of their own gods above the gods of the nations which they conquered, was, in their opinion, evinced. This being the actual persuasion which then prevailed in the world, no matter whether well or ill founded, how were the neighbouring nations, for whose admonition this dreadful example was intended, how were they to be convinced of the supreme power of the God of Israel above the pretended gods of other nations; and of the righteous character of Jehovah, that is, of his abhorrence of the vices which prevailed in the land of Canaan? How, I say, were they to be convinced so well, or at all indeed, as by enabling the Israelites, whose God he was known and acknowledged to be, to conquer under his banner, and drive out before them, those who resisted the execution of that commission with which the Israelites declared themselves to be invested, namely, the expulsion and extermination of the Canaanitish nations? This convinced surrounding countries, and all who were observers or spectators of what passed, first, that the God of Israel was a real God; secondly that the gods which other nations worshipped were either no gods, or had no power against the God of Israel; and thirdly, that it was he, and he alone, who possessed both the power and the will, to punish, to destroy, and to exterminate from before his face, both nations and individuals, who gave themselves up to the crimes and wickedness for which the Canaanites were notorious. Nothing of this sort would have appeared, or with the same evidence, from an earthquake, or a plague, or any natural calamity. These might not have been attributed to divine agency at all, or not to the interposition of the God of Israel.
Another reason which made this destruction both more necessary, and more general, than it would have otherwise been, was the consideration, that if any of the old inhabitants were left, they would prove a snare to those who succeeded them in the country; would draw and seduce them by degrees into the vices and corruptions which prevailed among themselves. Vices of all kinds, but vices most particularly of the licentious kind, are astonishingly infectious. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. A small number of persons addicted to them, and allowed to practise them with impunity or encouragement, will spread them through the whole mass. This reason is formally and expressly assigned, not simply for the punishment, but for the extent to which it was carried; namely, extermination: "Thou shalt utterly destroy them, that they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods."
In reading the Old Testament account, therefore, of the Jewish wars and conquests in Canaan, and the terrible destruction brought upon the inhabitants thereof, we are always to remember that we are reading the execution of a dreadful but just sentence, pronounced by Jehovah against the intolerable and incorrigible crimes of these nations; that they were intended to be made an example to the whole world of God's avenging wrath against sins, which, if they had been suffered to continue, might have polluted the whole ancient world, and which could only be checked by the signal and public overthrow of nations notoriously addicted to them, and so addicted as even to have incorporated them into their religion and their public institutions; and that the Israelites were mere instruments in the hands of a righteous Providence for effecting the extirpation of a people, of whom it was necessary to make a public example to the rest of mankind; that this extermination, which might have been accomplished by a pestilence, by fire, by earthquakes, was appointed to be done by the hands of the Israelites, as being the clearest and most intelligible method of displaying the power and the righteousness of the God of Israel; his power over the pretended gods of other nations; and his righteous indignation against the crimes into which they were fallen.
Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible 
CANAANITES . A name given in the J [Note: Jahwist.] document to the pre-Israelitish inhabitants of Palestine ( e.g. Genesis 24:3-7; Genesis 38:2 , Exodus 3:8; Exodus 3:17; Exodus 13:5; Exodus 13:11 , Numbers 14:43; Numbers 14:45; Numbers 21:1; Numbers 21:3 , Judges 1:1; Judges 1:5; Judges 1:17; Judges 1:23; Judges 1:29-30; Judges 1:33 ).
In this usage the P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] document concurs, though the E [Note: Elohist.] document generally calls them ‘ Amorites ’ (wh. see). The E [Note: Elohist.] document ( Numbers 13:29 ) says that the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and the Amorites in the mountains. All the writers unite in calling Palestine the land of Canaan. Opinions differ as to whether the people were named from the land or the land from the people. The earliest usage in the el-Amarna tablets (where it is called Kinaá¸«á¸«i and Kinaá¸«ni ) and in the Egyptian inscriptions of the XlXth dynasty, seems to confine the name to the low land of the coast (cf. KIB [Note: IB Keilinschriftliche Bibliothek.] v. 50.41, 151.50; and MÃ¼ller, Asien und Europa , 205 ff.). The PhÅ“nicians, much later, on their coins called their land Canaan ; and two or three Greek writers testify that they called it Chna ’ (cf. SchrÃ¶der, PhÃ¶n. Sprache , 6 ff.). A view proposed by RosenmÃ¼ller has been held by many modern scholars, viz.: that Canaan means ‘lowland,’ and was applied to the seacoast of Palestine, as opposed to the central range and the Lebanons. If this view were correct, the Canaanites would have received their name after settling in the coast-land. This view has been proved incorrect by Moore ( Proc. of Am. Or. Soc . 1890, p. lxvii ff.). Probably ‘Canaanite’ was a tribal name, and the people gave their name to the land (cf. Paton, Early History of Syria and Palestine , 68). It appears from Deuteronomy 3:9 that the language of the Canaanites differed only dialectically from that of the Amorites. Both peoples were therefore closely related. Probably the Canaanites were a later wave of Amorites. In Isaiah 19:18 Hebrew is called ‘the language of Canaan,’ a statement which is substantiated by the Moabite Stone, the PhÅ“nician inscriptions, and the Hebrew idioms in the el-Amarna tablets. It appears from the latter that the Canaanites had given their name to the country before b.c. 1400. Paton connects their migration with that movement of races which gave Babylonia the Kassite dynasty about b.c. 1700, and which pushed the Hyksos into Egypt. Probably their coming was no later than this.
In Judges 1:1-36 we are told of many Canaanites whom Israel did not at first conquer. After the time of Solomon, however, those resident in the high lands who had not been absorbed into the Israelitish tribes (cf. Israel Â§Â§ 3 , 11 ), were reduced to task-work. The coming of the Philistines pushed the Canaanites out of the maritime plain south of Mt. Carmel, so that ultimately the PhÅ“nicians were the only pure Canaanites left. The leading PhÅ“nician cities were such commercial centres that ‘Canaanite’ afterwards became equivalent to ‘trader’ (cf. Hosea 12:8 , Isaiah 23:8 , Zephaniah 1:11 , Ezekiel 17:4 , Proverbs 31:24 ).
George A. Barton.
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary 
The descendants of Canaan. Their first habitation was in the land of Canaan, where they multiplied extremely, and by trade and war acquired great riches, and sent out colonies all over the islands and coasts of the Mediterranean. When the measure of their idolatries and abominations was completed, God delivered their country into the hands of the Israelites, who conquered it under Joshua. See the previous article. The following are the principal tribes mentioned.
1. The Joshua 11:3 , where it is related that they, along with the united forces of northern Canaan, were defeated by Joshua. They were not, however, entirely driven out of their possessions, Judges 3:3 2 Samuel 24:7 1 Kings 9:20 . There were also Hivites in middle Palestine, Genesis 34:2 Joshua 19:1,7 11:19 .
2. The Numbers 13:29 Joshua 11:3 .
3. The Joshua 24:11 .
4. The Joshua 15:8,63 18:28 . The Benjamites, to whom this region was allotted, did not drive out the Jebusites, Judges 1:21 . David first captured the citadel of Jebus, 2 Samuel 5:6 .
5. The Genesis 14:7 . At a later period, they spread themselves out over all the mountainous country which forms the southeastern part of Canaan, and which was called from them the "mountain of the Amorites," and afterwards the "mountain of Judea,"
Deuteronomy 1:19,20 Numbers 13:29 Joshua 11:3 . On the east side of the Jordan also they had, before the time of Moses, founded two kingdoms, that of Bashan in the north, and another, bounded at first by the Jabbok, in the south. But under Sihon they crossed the Jabbok, and took from the Ammonites and Moabites all the country between the Jabbok and the Arnon; so that this latter stream now became the southern boundary of the Amorites, Numbers 21:13,14,16,26 32:33,39 Deuteronomy 4:46,47 31:4 . This last tract the Israelites took possession of after their victory over Sihon. See Amorites .
6. The Numbers 1:29 , dwelt among the Amorites in the mountainous district of the south, afterwards called the "mountain of Judah." In the time of Abraham they possessed Hebron; and the patriarch purchased from them the cave of Machpelah as a sepulchre, Genesis 23:1-20 25:9,10 . After the Israelites entered Canaan, the Hittites seem to have moved farther northward. The country around Bethel is called "the land of the Hittites," Judges 1:26 . See Hittites .
7. The Genesis 13:7 , they dwelt with the Canaanites, between Bethel and Ai; and according to Genesis 34:30 , in the vicinity of Shechem. See Perizzites .
Besides these seven tribes, there were several others of the same parentage, dwelling north of Canaan. These were the Arkites, Arvadites, Hamathites, and Zemarites. There were also several other tribes of diverse origin within the bounds of Canaan, destroyed by the Israelites; such as the Anakim, the Amalekites, and the Rephaim of giants.
Easton's Bible Dictionary 
Genesis 10 Exodus 3:8,17 23:23 33:2 34:11 Exodus 13:5 Deuteronomy 7:1 Joshua 3:10
The "Canaanites," as distinguished from the Amalekites, the Anakim, and the Rephaim, were "dwellers in the lowlands" ( Numbers 13:29 ), the great plains and valleys, the richest and most important parts of Palestine. Tyre and Sidon, their famous cities, were the centres of great commercial activity; and hence the name "Canaanite" came to signify a "trader" or "merchant" ( Job 41:6; Proverbs 31:24 , lit. "Canaanites;" Compare Zephaniah 1:11; Ezekiel 17:4 ). The name "Canaanite" is also sometimes used to designate the non-Israelite inhabitants of the land in general ( Genesis 12:6; Numbers 21:3; Judges 1:10 ).
The Israelites, when they were led to the Promised Land, were commanded utterly to destroy the descendants of Canaan then possessing it ( Exodus 23:23; Numbers 33:52,53; Deuteronomy 20:16,17 ). This was to be done "by little and little," lest the beasts of the field should increase ( Exodus 23:29; Deuteronomy 7:22,23 ). The history of these wars of conquest is given in the Book of Joshua. The extermination of these tribes, however, was never fully carried out. Jerusalem was not taken till the time of David ( 2 Samuel 5:6,7 ). In the days of Solomon bond-service was exacted from the fragments of the tribes still remaining in the land ( 1 Kings 9:20,21 ). Even after the return from captivity survivors of five of the Canaanitish tribes were still found in the land.
In the Tell-el-Amarna tablets Canaan is found under the forms of Kinakhna and Kinakhkhi. Under the name of Kanana the Canaanites appear on Egyptian monuments, wearing a coat of mail and helmet, and distinguished by the use of spear and javelin and the battle-axe. They were called Phoenicians by the Greeks and Poeni by the Romans. By race the Canaanites were Semitic. They were famous as merchants and seamen, as well as for their artistic skill. The chief object of their worship was the sun-god, who was addressed by the general name of Baal, "lord." Each locality had its special Baal, and the various local Baals were summed up under the name of Baalim, "lords."
Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature 
Ca´naanites, the descendants of Canaan, the son of Ham and grandson of Noah, inhabitants of the land of Canaan and the adjoining districts. A general account of the different nations included in the term is given in the present article, and a more detailed account of each will be found under their respective names.
The Israelites were delivered from Egypt by Moses, in order that they might take possession of the land which God had promised to their fathers. This country was then inhabited by the descendants of Canaan, who were divided into seven distinct nations, viz., the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. All these tribes are included in the most general acceptation of the term Canaanites; but the word, in its more restricted sense, as applied to one tribe, designated those 'who dwelt by the sea, and by the coasts of Jordan' (). Besides these 'seven nations,' there were several tribes of the Canaanites who lived beyond the borders of the Promised Land, northward. These were the Arkites, Sinites, Arvadites, Zemarites, and Hamathites (), with whom, of course, the Israelites had no concern. There were also other tribes of Canaanitish origin (or possibly other names given to some of those already mentioned), who were dispossessed by the Israelites. The chief of these were the Amalekites, the Anakites, and the Rephaim (or 'giants' as they are frequently called in our translation). These nations, and especially the six or seven so frequently mentioned by name, the Israelites were commanded to dispossess and utterly to destroy (; ; ). The destruction, however, was not to be accomplished at once. The promise on the part of God was that he would 'put out those nations by little and little,' and the command to the Israelites corresponded with it; the reason given being, 'lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee' (; ).
The destructive war commenced with an attack on the Israelites, by Arad, king of the Canaanites, which issued in the destruction of several cities in the extreme south of Palestine, to which the name of Hormah was given (). The Israelites, however, did not follow up this victory, which was simply the consequence of an unprovoked assault on them; but turning back, and compassing the land of Edom, they attempted to pass through the country on the other side of the Jordan, inhabited by a tribe of the Amorites. Their passage being refused, and an attack made on them by Sihon, king of the Amorites, they not only forced their way through his land, but destroyed its inhabitants, and proceeding onwards towards the adjoining kingdom of Bashan, they in like manner destroyed the inhabitants of that district, and slew Og, their king, who was the last of the Rephaim, or giants (). The tract of which they thus became possessed was subsequently allotted to the tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh.
After the death of Moses the Israelites crossed the Jordan, and, under the conduct of Joshua, took possession of the greater part of the Promised Land, and destroyed its inhabitants. Several cities, however, still held out, particularly Jebus, afterwards Jerusalem, which was not taken till the time of David (), and Sidon, which seems never to have yielded to the tribe of Asher, to whom it was allotted (). Scattered portions also of the Canaanitish nations escaped, and were frequently strong enough to harass, though not to dispossess, the Israelites. The inhabitants of Gibeon, a tribe of the Hivites, made peace by stratagem, and thus escaped the destruction of their fellow-countrymen. Individuals from among the Canaanites seem, in later times, to have united themselves, in some way, to the Israelites, and not only to have lived in peace, but to have been capable of holding places of honor and power; thus Uriah, one of David's captains, was a Hittite (). In the time of Solomon, when the kingdom had attained its highest glory and greatest power, all the remnants of these nations were made tributary, and bond-service was exacted from them (). The Girgashites seem to have been either wholly destroyed or absorbed in other tribes. We find no mention of them subsequent to the book of Joshua. The Anakites were completely destroyed by Joshua, except in three cities, Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod (); and the powerful nation of the Amalekites, many times defeated and continually harassing the Israelites, were at last totally destroyed by the tribe of Simeon (). Even after the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, there were survivors of five of the Canaanitish nations, with whom alliances had been made by the Jews, contrary to the commands which had been given them. Some of the Canaanites, according to ancient tradition, left the land of Canaan on the approach of Joshua, and emigrated to the coast of Africa. Procopius relates that there were in Numidia, at Tigisis (Tingis), two columns on which were inscribed, in Phoenician characters, 'We are those who fled from the face of Joshua, the robber, the son of Naue.'
The manner in which the Israelites became possessed of the Promised Land has been so frequently brought as an objection to the inspired character of the Old Testament, and indeed is so far removed from the ordinary providential government of God, that it will be proper, in closing this account, to notice the difficulty which has been felt, and to advert to some of the hypotheses by which it is sought to be removed. Many have asserted, in order to alleviate the difficulty, that an allotment of the world was made by Noah to his three sons, and that by this allotment the Land of Promise fell to the share of Shem—that the descendants of Ham were therefore usurpers and interlopers, and that on this ground the Israelites, as the descendants of Shem, had the right to dispossess them. Others justify the war on the ground that the Canaanites were the first aggressors—a justification which applies only to the territory on the other side of the Jordan. Michaelis asserts that the Israelites had a right to the land of Canaan, as the common pasture land of their herdsmen, in consequence of the undisturbed possession and appropriation of it from the time of Abraham till the departure of Jacob into Egypt—that this claim had never been relinquished, and was well known to the Canaanites, and that therefore the Israelites only took possession of that which belonged to them. The same hypothesis is maintained by Jahn. Another ground of justification has been sought in the supposed identity of race of the Egyptian dynasty under which the Israelites were oppressed, with the tribes that overran Canaan—so that the destruction of the latter was merely an act of retributive justice for the injuries which their compatriots in Egypt had inflicted on the Israelites. To all these and similar attempts to justify, on the ground of legal right, the forcible occupation of the land by the Israelites, and the extermination (at least to a great extent) of the existing occupants, it is to be objected, that no such reason as any of these is hinted at in the sacred record. The right to carry on a war of extermination is there rested simply on the divine command to do so. That the Israelites were instruments in God's hand is a lesson not only continually impressed on their minds by the teaching of Moses, but enforced by their defeat whenever they relied on their own strength.
It may be said that this is only shifting the difficulty, and that just in proportion as we exculpate the Israelites from the charges of robbery and murder, in their making war without legal ground, we lower the character of the Being whose commands they obeyed, and throw doubt on those commands being really given by God. This has indeed been a favorite objection of infidels to the divine authority of the Old Testament. Such objectors would do well to consider whether God has not an absolute right to dispose of men as he sees fit, and whether an exterminating war, from which there was at least the opportunity of escape by flight, is at all more opposed to our notions of justice than a destroying flood, or earthquake, or pestilence. Again, whether the fact of making a chosen nation of His worshippers the instruments of punishing those whose wickedness was notoriously great, did not much more impressively vindicate His character as the only God, who 'will not give His glory to another, nor His praise to graven images,' than if the punishment had been brought about by natural causes. Such considerations as these must, we apprehend, silence those who complain of injustice done to the Canaanites. But then it is objected further, that such an arrangement is fraught with evil to those who are made the instruments of punishment, and, as an example, is peculiarly liable to be abused by all who have the power to persecute. As to the first of these objections, it must be remembered, that the conduct of the war was never put into the hands of the Israelites—that they were continually reminded that it was for the wickedness of those nations that they were driven out, and, above all, that they themselves would be exposed to similar punishment if they were seduced into idolatry—an evil to which they were especially prone. As to the example, it can apply to no case where there is not an equally clear expression of God's will.
The Nuttall Encyclopedia 
A civilised race with towns for defence; dependent on agriculture; worshippers of the fertilising powers of nature; and the original inhabitants of Palestine, from which they were never wholly rooted out.
- ↑ Canaanites from Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary
- ↑ Canaanites from Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible
- ↑ Canaanites from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Canaanites from Easton's Bible Dictionary
- ↑ Canaanites from Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature
- ↑ Canaanites from The Nuttall Encyclopedia