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The land known as Canaan was situated in the territory of the southern Levant, which today encompasses Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Jordan, and the southern portions of Syria and Lebanon. Throughout time, many names have been given to this area including Palestine, Eretz-Israel, Bilad es-Shem, the Holy Land and Djahy. The earliest known name for this area was "Canaan."

The inhabitants of Canaan were never ethnically or politically unified as a single nation. They did, however, share sufficient similarities in language and culture to be described together as "Canaanites."

Israel refers to both a people within Canaan and later to the political entity formed by those people. To the authors of the Bible, Canaan is the land which the tribes of Israel conquered after an Exodus from Egypt and the Canaanites are the people they disposed from this land. The Old Testament of the Bible (also known as Tanak) is principally concerned with the religious history of Israel in Canaan.

In addition to the stories of the Bible, archaeology has provided us with another perspective for viewing the cultures of Canaan and Ancient Israel. This perspective is built upon the social and historical context of the material remains which these peoples have left behind. Through studying these remains, we may better understand the cultures of the ancient Canaanites and Israelites.




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