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Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Definition of Hebrew Names


By Jeff A. Benner

The name Canaan refers to the son of Ham, the son of Noah as well as the descendants of Canaan who settled the land west of the Jordan River. The Hebrew for this name is כנען pronounced kena'an. It is derived from the root כנע (Kena) meaning "to be brought down by a heavy load". By extension this word can also mean subdue or humble. Canaan and his descendants are continually being "brought down". Canaan was cursed by Noah and his descendants were subdued and conquered by Israel as God had promised in Deuteronomy 9:3.

Know therefore this day, that Jehovah thy God is he who goeth over before thee as a devouring fire; he will destroy them, and he will bring them down before thee: so shalt thou drive them out, and make them to perish quickly, as Jehovah hath spoken unto thee. (ASV)

The phrase "Bring down" is the Hebrew word כנע (Kena) in the context of the conquest of the Canaanites. God used Israel to "bring down low" (Kena) the people who are "brought down low" (Kena'an).

The word כנען (kena'an) can also mean a "merchant" as in Hosea 12:7 (verse 8 in the Hebrew Bible) as a merchant is one who carries heavy loads.

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