Have you ever wondered why, if Moses wrote the Pentateuch, in Genesis 12:6 and 13:7 the Bible
says (in reference to the time of
Abraham), [T]he Canaanites were then in the land (emp. added). If the
Canaanites occupied the land of Canaan in
Moses day, why would Moses write that they were in the land then (in the days of
Abraham)? Would these verses not make
more sense if we understood them as being written at a time when the Canaanites had been driven
out of the land of Canaan (which was
hundreds of years after the death of Moses)? According to several critics, this is exactly what
the verses are implying (cf. Gottwald,
1959, p. 104; McKinsey, 1995, pp. 361-362). Supposedly, Moses could not have been the author of
the passage; else it would not have
made sense to its original audience.
The phrase the Canaanites were then in the land does not necessarily have to
point to a time after Moses when the
Canaanites no longer were in Canaan. When the careful student takes into consideration the context
of these passages, and the momentous
events of Abraham leaving his homeland and coming to the new region that his descendents one day
would occupy, he or she easily can
understand that the phrase in question refers to this land promise (12:7). The words then in
the land merely are indicating
that the land into which Abram had come was not uninhabited and without a possessor; so that
Abram could not regard it at once as
his own and proceed to take possession of it, but could only wander in it in faith as in a foreign
land (Heb. 11:9) [Keil and
Delitzsch, 1996]. Likely, the Canaanites are mentioned as being in the land at the time of
Abrahams entrance in order to
show the strength of his faith in the promise recorded (Jamieson, et al., 1997). Such
phraseology involves neither a
contradiction nor an absurdity.
Jamieson, Robert, et al. (1997), Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Bible Commentary
(Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch (1996), Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament
(Electronic Database: Biblesoft), new
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