Who Were the Canaanites?

In the King James Bible, the Canaanites were a people descended from Canaan, who received the Curse of Ham when his father looked upon a drunken and naked Noah. The Canaanite name was also used for a cultural movement among Jews in the 1940s that was centered on Palestine.

Canaan was the son of Ham and grandson of Noah, and was cursed with perpetual slavery for Ham's indiscretion. Canaan existed as a nation outside of biblical lore, with the land thought to have roughly occupied the modern territory of Israel and part of Lebanon. The use of the Canaanite name in historical records ends roughly along with the end of the Iron Age.

The Canaanite movement in the 1940s was in opposition to Zionism and was influential in the arts and literature of Israel. A central concept of the movement was that Judaism was a religion rather than a nation, and that Jewish youth should separate to form a Hebrew nation. The movement traced the roots of Israel to the lands of Canaan in antiquity and believed that the peoples of the land of Israel were Hebrew rather than Jewish. This in turn promoted more common cause with other peoples of the Middle East.