The Canaanites were a group of ancient people who lived in the land of Canaan, an area which according to the Bible encompassed parts of modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria. They are frequently mentioned in the Hebrew Bible and are known for their significant role in the history and culture of this region.
Relationship to Noah
Regarding their relationship to Noah, according to the biblical narrative, the Canaanites were descendants of Canaan, who was a son of Ham, one of Noah’s three sons. This lineage is detailed in the Book of Genesis, specifically in the “Table of Nations” in Genesis 10, which describes the origins of the various groups known to the ancient Hebrews.
Giants, descendants of Anak
As for associations with giants, this is a more complex and less direct aspect of their history. There are references in the Bible to groups of large people or “giants,” such as the Nephilim mentioned in Genesis 6:4, or the Anakim, who are described in the Book of Numbers (13:33) as the descendants of Anak and living in the land of Canaan.
The archaeological and historical understanding of the Canaanites is quite rich but doesn’t typically involve literal interpretations of giants. Instead, it focuses on their culture, economy, and interactions with neighboring civilizations, such as the Egyptians, Hittites, and later the Israelites. The Canaanites were known for their cities, trade networks, and the development of the Phoenician alphabet, which greatly influenced later alphabets.
Development of the Phoenician Alphabet
The Canaanites, particularly the Phoenicians, a subgroup of the Canaanites, are credited with developing one of the world’s first alphabets. This Phoenician alphabet is the ancestor of most modern alphabets, including the Greek and Latin scripts. The evidence for this comes from inscriptions and artifacts dating back to around 1050 BCE, found in the region of ancient Phoenicia (modern-day Lebanon and parts of Syria and Israel).
A servant of servants
24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
26 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.Genesis 9:24-27
In the context of Genesis 9:25, Canaan is depicted as being destined to be a “servant of servants” to his uncles, Shem and Japheth, and their descendants. This is part of the curse Noah pronounces on Canaan after Noah’s son Ham, who is Canaan’s father, sees Noah naked and tells his brothers, Shem and Japheth, who then cover their father without looking at him.
It could be interpreted to mean that Canaan is to be the lowest ranking in a hierarchy where everyone is considered a servant to some degree. In this view, Shem and Japheth, and their descendants, would be in a higher position of servitude, while Canaan and his descendants would be at the lowest level. Now the question is who are Shem and Japheth serving?