Highlanders, or hillmen, the name given to the descendants of
one of the sons of Canaan (Gen. 14:7), called Amurra or Amurri
in the Assyrian and Egyptian inscriptions. On the early
Babylonian monuments all Syria, including Palestine, is known as
“the land of the Amorites.” The southern slopes of the mountains
of Judea are called the “mount of the Amorites” (Deut. 1:7, 19, 20). They seem to have originally occupied the land stretching
from the heights west of the Dead Sea (Gen. 14:7) to Hebron (13.
Comp. 13:8; Deut. 3:8; 4:46-48), embracing “all Gilead and all
Bashan” (Deut. 3:10), with the Jordan valley on the east of the
river (4:49), the land of the “two kings of the Amorites,” Sihon
and Og (Deut. 31:4; Josh. 2:10; 9:10). The five kings of the
Amorites were defeated with great slaughter by Joshua (10:10).
They were again defeated at the waters of Merom by Joshua, who
smote them till there were none remaining (Josh. 11:8). It is
mentioned as a surprising circumstance that in the days of
Samuel there was peace between them and the Israelites (1 Sam. 7:14). The discrepancy supposed to exist between Deut. 1:44 and
Num. 14:45 is explained by the circumstance that the terms
“Amorites” and “Amalekites” are used synonymously for the
“Canaanites.” In the same way we explain the fact that the
“Hivites” of Gen. 34:2 are the “Amorites” of 48:22. Comp. Josh. 10:6; 11:19 with 2 Sam. 21:2; also Num. 14:45 with Deut. 1:44.
The Amorites were warlike mountaineers. They are represented on
the Egyptian monuments with fair skins, light hair, blue eyes,
aquiline noses, and pointed beards. They are supposed to have
been men of great stature; their king, Og, is described by Moses
as the last “of the remnant of the giants” (Deut. 3:11). Both
Sihon and Og were independent kings. Only one word of the
Amorite language survives, “Shenir,” the name they gave to Mount
Hermon (Deut. 3:9).