Glossary: Canaan

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Earth (either the present earth or the new one)


  • The word “Canaan” itself in the Hebrew means “lowland,” which already gives some clue as to it’s meaning, seeing as earth is below God’s heaven.
  • In Exodus 20, God says that their days would be long upon “the land” which He was giving them. The land the Lord was giving them was Canaan (Genesis 17:8). But then when Paul quotes the same verse, he uses the word “earth.”

Exodus 20:12 (KJV) Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee [Canaan].

Ephesians 6:2-3 (KJV) Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.

  • God promises Abram that he would be heir of the land of Canaan, but when Paul quotes this same verse, he says that Abram was being made “heir of the world.”

Genesis 15:6-7 (KJV) And he [Abram] believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. 7 And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land [Canaan, Gen. 17:8] to inherit it.

Romans 4:13 (KJV) For the promise, that he [Abram] should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

  • When Israel went to spy out the land of Canaan, God refused to let them go in. But then God changes His language and says “all the earth” will be filled with my glory (no longer referring to Canaan, but the new earth) , and “they shall not see the earth which I sware…” So God uses His refusal to let them see Canaan as a symbol of how they would never see the new earth due to their unbelief.

Numbers 14:21 (KJV) But as truly as I live, all the earth[in hebrew: erets] shall be filled with the glory of the LORD. Verse 23) Surely they shall not see the land [referring to earth – erets] which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it…

  • Here, the writer of Hebrews speaks about Abraham living in Canaan as a stranger, dwelling in tents. This is a symbol of how he, and all who believe, dwell in the current earth as strangers, dwelling in our earthly flesh (tents); waiting for the new earth. Notice that it says Abraham dwelt in “the land of promise” as a stranger (Canaan at the time), but then later says all of these people were strangers “on the earth.” 

Hebrews 11:8-10 (KJV) By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place [Canaan, symbolic of earth] which he should after receive for an inheritance [new earth], obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he sojourned [lit. as a stranger] in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city [new earth] which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. VERSE 13) These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth [instead of symbolically referring to Canaan].

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