Kill them all! Part 3, the Canaanites

In Part 3 of this series (part 1 and part 2Destroy them completely) we discuss the second group of people God vowed to annihilate, the Canaanites. In Genesis 15:18-21 God promised Abraham that his descendants will inherit the land of among others, the Hittites, Perizzites, Amorites, Canaanites and Jebusites.1 We discuss them collectively as the Canaanites.

God gave the Canaanites 400 years of grace to repent of their evil deeds. After that the descendants of Abraham would take over their country. God’s command was, ‘… and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, you must destroy them totally.’ 2

From Joshua 24:11-12 we understand that the Israelites were successful, thus we assume the Canaanites were wiped out. Is that what happened? Not at all according to Scripture:

  • This is a list of all the parts of the land that still remained unconquered. 3
  • This is a summary of the failure of the Israelites to drive out the supposedly ‘dead’ Canaanites. 4
  • There were towns of the Canaanites that were destroyed. However, in Joshua 15:20-63 there is a long list of the towns allotted to the tribe of Judah which gives us an idea of how few were destroyed.

The Canaanites were not annihilated as God commanded. They remained the enemies of Israel for hundreds of years after the command to get rid of them, as seen in the following passages:

  • During the time of the Judges:  The Israelites lived among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.Where did they come from? Were they resurrected from the dead?
  • During David’s time:
  • David conquered Jerusalem from the Jebusites, a nation supposedly completely destroyed.6
  • Uriah, one of David’s trusted warriors, was a Hittite. 7
  • In Solomon’s time:
  • There were still ‘extinct’ nations in the land which the Israelites could not exterminate. 8
  • Shishak of Egypt sacked Gezer and killed the Canaanite inhabitants, giving the town to his daughter who was married to Solomon. 9
  • In Ezra’s time: The Israelites did not keep themselves separate from their neighbours with their detestable practices, like the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, and Amorites. 10

So from the time that Joshua supposedly ‘killed them all’ (around 1,300 BC) to Ezra (458 BC) was 850 years. Then there were still many Canaanites around for many years. The logical conclusion is that the people fled when they heard about the victorious army of God, and returned later on. The conclusion is that those who judge God base their accusations on a few selected verses.

In the next blog we discuss the Midianite problem, especially that the married women and boys had to be killed.


  1. Genesis 15:13-16
  2. Deuteronomy 7:2.
  3. Joshua 13:2-5
  4. Joshua 13:13; 15:63; 16:10; 17:12-13; 19:47
  5. Judges 3:5
  6. 2 Samuel 5:6-7
  7. 2 Samuel 11:3
  8. 1 Kings 9:20-21; 2 Chronicles 8:7-8
  9. 1 Kings 9:16
  10. Ezra 9:1

Author: Gerard and Alida

As you can see in the photo, there are two of us. We live and work together 24/7, studying and enjoying our grandchildren. Our passion is to know and understand what will happen after death. Is there a way to provide for and invest in that?

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