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 updated edition.
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