« Amon, King of Judah Amorites Amos »


AMORITES, am´ō­raits: According to Gen. x. 15-18; I Chron. i. 13-16, one of the eleven tribes descended from Canaan. They are frequently mentioned in lists of the Palestinian peoples dispossessed by Israel (Gen. xv. 21; Ex. iii. 8; Deut. vii. 1; Josh. iii. 10; etc.). As distinguished from the Canaanites, they seem to have formed the chief part of the population of the west-Jordan highlands (Num. xiii. 29; Deut. i. 7, 19-20, 44; Josh. v. 1, x. 6). In certain passages (particularly in E and D) the term is used as a general designation of the pre-Israelitic peoples of Palestine (Gen. xv. 16; Josh. vii. 7, xxiv. 15, 18; Judges vi. 10; I Sam. vii. 14; II Sam. xxi. 2; I Kings xxi. 26; II Kings xxi. 11; Isa. xvii. 9, LXX.; Ezek. xvi. 3; Amos ii. 9-10). In Judges i. 34-35 the people of the lowlands west of the mountains of Judah are called Amorites. Elsewhere (as in Gen. xiv. 7, 13, xlviii. 22, and in many passages in which the east-Jordan kings, Sihon and Og, are called Amorites) it is doubtful whether or not a particular tribe is meant. The extra-Biblical sources have raised new problems instead of throwing light on the ethnographical question. The “Amara” of the Egyptian inscriptions, who are usually identified with the Amorites, lived in the valley between Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon (cf. W. Max Müller, Asien und Europa, Leipsic, 1893, pp. 218-233). Hence it seems probable that the Amorites moved southward in the fifteenth century B.C.—a movement which may be referred to in the Tell el-Amarna letters (cf. H. Winckler, Geschichte Israels, i., Leipsic, 1895, p. 52).

(F. Buhl.)

The Amorites are mentioned in the Old Testament more frequently than any other people of Palestine except the Canaanites. West of the Jordan they seem to have been confounded the one with the other; but as the Canaanites are never said to have lived east of the Jordan so the Amorites do not appear on the Mediterranean coast-land. The difficult question as to whether or not the two peoples are essentially identical is probably to be decided in the negative, though it is quite possible that the Amorites as well as the Canaanites were a Semitic people. There is, in any case, no sufficient warrant for the assumption of Sayce and others that they were akin to the Libyans. The Babylonian name for Canaan, mat Amurê, “land of the Amorites” shows that at least the eastern side of Palestine was Amoritic at an early date, and it is a plausible supposition that the two related peoples separated in southern Syria, the Canaanites following the coast-land (their proper home) and then spreading eastward to the hill-country, and the Amorites coming gradually southward, mainly east of the Jordan. A learned annotator intimates (Deut. iii. 9) that they were once the dominant people about Anti-Lebanon, as the “Sidonians” or Phenicians were about Lebanon. After their loss of the Moabite country (Num. xxi. 21-35) they were gradually absorbed by the Hebrews, Amorites, and Arameans.

J. F. McCurdy.

Bibliography: A. H. Sayce, The White Race of Ancient Palestine, in Expositor, July, 1888; idem, Races of the O. T., London, 1891; DB, i. 84-85; EB, i. 146-147, 640-643; Meyer, in ZATW, i. (1881) 122 sqq.; J. F. McCurdy, History, Prophecy and the Monuments, §§ 130-131, 3 vols., New York, 1896-1901.

« Amon, King of Judah Amorites Amos »
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