Who Are the Amorites?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, May 30, 2016 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

We’re in week three of our series on looking at other nations referred to in the Bible, and this week we’re looking at the Amorites. You can read about the Canaanites here, and the Amalekites here.

The Amorites were the descendants of one of the sons of Canaan (Genesis 10:15-18). We see them first mentioned in context in Genesis 14:7 where they were conquered, but not destroyed. In Genesis 14:13, we note that Abram (later known as Abraham) was an ally with Mamre, an Ammonite. Abram helped Mamre get his kingdom back, but later on the Amorites became enemies of Israel.

In Joshua 10:5-10 we read that the 5 kings of the Amorites were defeated by Joshua, and they were again defeated in Joshua 11 “until no survivors were left” (verse 8).

We read a little more about the Amorites in Judges 1:34-36. There we learn that they had trapped the weaker Israeli tribe of Dan, but then the tribes of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) were able to overpower them. In the time of Solomon in 1 Kings 9:20-21, we see that the Amorites were still around, and they were made to be slave labor to the Israelites.

So wait - the Amorites were all destroyed in Joshua 11, but then we’re still hearing about them in Judges and 1 Kings, which came later chronologically? What’s the deal with that? Well, the name Amorite is often used synonymously with the name Canaanite, and the Canaanites were a nation for a lot longer than these first Amorites we read about. It’s like saying I’m an Ohioan and an American; both are correct, but one is a little more specific. There were lots of Canaanites, and the Amorites were one specific group of them, and somewhere in history the two names got mingled together and mixed up until they essentially meant the same people.

The Amorites occupied the land of Syria, including Palestine. They were warlike mountaineers. The Egyptians represented them in their hieroglyphics as people with fair skin, light hair, blue eyes, and pointed beards. The Amorites controlled the land of Babylon from 2000-1595 B.C. The most famous Amorite (who you still may not have heard of) was Hammurabi. Hammurabi wrote a code of laws, which was his version of how people should live. Hammurabi’s code is sometimes compared with the Ten Commandments, since they are similar in nature of being ancient rules for living; however, the Ten Commandments were given by God, and Hammurabi was a regular man, though an important one in his day.

The Amorites are one example of how names can get confused over the course of history. Archaeologists and historians do their best to piece together who’s who and what happened in history, and the Bible is a valuable resource in tracking some of these ancient nations.

[Note: Much of this material was taken from the Easton Dictionary of the Bible and the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary.]

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