The Canaanites were actually a collection of peoples that included the Ammonites, Amorites, Edomites, Midianites, and Moabites,. The Ammonite tribe lived on the east side of the Dead Sea, just south of Mount Nebo. The Amorites lived to their north. The Amorites eventually conquered the Ammonites and pushed them back to the east, across the Trans-Jordan. South of the Ammonites lived the Moabites, and to their south were the Edomites, who dwelt just north of Petra and east of the Arabah depression (the dry portion of the Dead Sea rift, leading to the Gulf of Aqaba. The Amalekites lived on the west side of the depression. West of the Sea of Galilee was the land of Hebron. Midian, home of the Midianites, where Moses met and married Zipporah, daughter of Jethro, was south of Petra and east of Arabah. It consisted of rich pastureland which rimmed the Sinai.


Religion in the ancient Near East was closely tied to place and politics. Deities were associated with particular places, such as cities and eventually nations.  Temples functioned quite literally as the god's house, where the god resided in the form of a cult statue.

Priests and followers fed, clothed and cared for the deity in a series of rituals and offerings. Chief among the god's adherents was the king or city-ruler. As builder of the temple and chief official in the cult, the king had a special relationship with the god. This association between place, deity and royalty made religion a powerful factor in defining group identities in the ancient Near East.

The earliest Canaanite temples of the Bronze Age consisted of a broad room, open porch and court. Facing the entrance in the broad room was a stone altar for sacrifices. Over time, temples developed into tripartite buildings, consisting of an entrance porch and a main room with a cult niche, sometimes called the "Holy of Holies." Excavated temples reveal cult objects such as libation tables, incense altars, cylindrical offering stands, seals and bronze figurines. A few temples have produced tall basalt stele and seated statues of a male god.

Source: University of Pennsylvania Museum

See EL.


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