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The Challenge of the Canaanites


The negative biblical portrayal of the Canaanites appears to contrast sharply with the wider portrayal of YHWH’s relationship with humanity, and with Israel in particular, raising a challenge for reading these parts of the Bible as scripture. This article considers this portrayal by drawing together key biblical references to the Canaanites into two sections: Canaanites as a whole and as individuals.  Four potential images are evaluated as possible summaries of the biblical portrayal of the Canaanites: sinners, danger, warning and challenge, with the last being the most appropriate. The Canaanites’ proximity to Israel, both geographic and moral, raises both a negative and positive challenge. Israelites can become Canaanites and vice versa, depending on their response to YHWH.

Dr William Ford has had this article on "The Challenge of the Canaanites" published in the Tyndale Bulletin. To read the full article click here