Love of the Land

For the week ending 8 November 2003 / 13 Heshvan 5764

Eretz Canaan

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

The name most commonly used in the Torah for the Jewish homeland is Eretz Canaan. The occupants of the land before its conquest by the Israelites were seven nations, foremost of whom were the Canaanites.

Founder of his nation was Canaan, the grandson of Noach who cursed him that he and his descendants would forever be a slave to the descendants of Noachs other sons, Shem and Yephet. The Canaanites and the other nations lost their claim to the land they inhabited because of their sinful ways but it was Noachs curse which helped win a lawsuit over possession of the land.

During the reign of Alexander of Macedon who ruled over this part of the world, the Canaanites laid claim to the land which the Torah itself describes as the land of Canaan their ancestor. Citing the same biblical source, a Jewish sage reminded them that they had been condemned to slavery by their ancestor Noach and that the property of a slave is legally that of the owner.

The Canaanites had no rebuttal and fled in shame.

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