|am'-o-rits (bitter; a rebel; a babbler, dwellers
on the summits, mountaineers, highlanders)
RELATED: Bashan, Canaanite(s), Og
Easton's Bible Dictionary
or hillmen, the name given to the descendants of one of the sons of Canaan ( Genesis
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" ( Deuteronomy
1:7 , 1:19
). They seem to have originally occupied the land stretching from the heights
west of the Dead Sea ( Genesis
14:7 ) to Hebron (Genesis
14:13. Comp Genesis
13:8 ; Deuteronomy
3:8 ; 4:46
), embracing "all Gilead and all Bashan" ( Deuteronomy
3:10 ), with the Jordan valley on the east of the river ( Deuteronomy
4:49 ), the land of the "two kings of the Amorites," Sihon and Og ( Deuteronomy
31:4 ; Joshua
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 ( Joshua
11:8 ). It is mentioned as a surprising circumstance that in the days of Samuel
there was peace between them and the Israelites ( 1
Samuel 7:14 ).
The discrepancy supposed to exist between Deuteronomy
1:44 and Numbers
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 Genesis
34:2 are the "Amorites" of Genesis
48:22 . Compare Joshua
10:6 ; 11:19
Samuel 21:2 ; also Numbers
14:45 with Deuteronomy
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" ( Deuteronomy
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 ( Deuteronomy
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
bitter; rebel; a babbler
Smith's Bible Dictionary
on the summits, mountaineers), One of the chief nations who possessed the land
of Canaan before its conquest by the Israelites. As dwelling on the elevated portions
of the country, they are contrasted with the Canaanites, who were the dwellers
in the lowlands; and the two thus formed the main broad divisions of the Holy
Land, ( Numbers 13:29 ) and see ( Numbers 14:7 ; Deuteronomy 1:7 , 1:20 ) "mountain
of the Amorites;" ( Deuteronomy 1:44 ; Joshua 5:1 ; 10:6 ; 11:3 ) They first occupied
the barren heights west of the Dead Sea, at the place called afterwards Engedi.
From this point they stretched west to Hebron. At the date of the invasion of
the country, Sihon, their then king, had taken the rich pasture land south of
the Jabbok. This rich tract, bounded by the Jabbok on the north, the Arnon on
the south, the Jordan on the west and "the wilderness" on the east, ( Judges 11:21
, 11:22 ) was, perhaps in the most special sense the "land of the Amorites," (
Numbers 21:31 ; Joshua 12:2 , 12:3 ; 13:10 ; Judges 11:21 , 11:22 ) but their
possessions are distinctly stated to have extended to the very foot of Hermon,
( Deuteronomy 3:8 ; 4:48 ) embracing "Gilead and all Bashan," ( Deuteronomy
3:10 ) with the Jordan valley on the east of the river. ( Deuteronomy
4:49 ) After the conquest of Canaan nothing of importance is heard of the Amorites
in the Bible.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
('emori, always in the singular like the Babylonian Amurru from which it is taken;
We hear of them on the west shore of the Dead Sea (Genesis
14:7), at Hebron (Genesis 14:13), and Shechem (Genesis 48:22), in Gilead and Bashan
(Deuteronomy 3:10) and under Hermon (Deuteronomy 3:8 ; 4:48). They are named instead
of the Canaanites as the inhabitants of Palestine whom the Israelites were required
to exterminate (Genesis 15:16; Deuteronomy 20:17; Judges 6:10; 1 Samuel 7:14;
1 Kings 21:26; 2 Kings 21:11); the older population of Judah is called Amorite
in Joshua 10:5 , 6, in conformity with which Ezekiel (16:3) states that Jerusalem
had an Amorite father; and the Gibeonites are said to have been "of the remnant
of the Amorites" (2 Samuel 21:2).
On the other hand, in Numbers 13:29 the Amorites are described as dwelling in
the mountains like the Hittites and Jebusites of Jerusalem, while the Amalekites
or Bedouins lived in the south and the Canaanites on the seacoast and in the valley
of the Jordan. Lastly, we hear of Sihon, "king of the Amorites," who had conquered
the northern half of Moab (Numbers 21:21 - 31; Deuteronomy 2:26 - 35).
1. Varying Use of the Name Explained:
Assyriological discovery has explained the varying use of the name. The Hebrew
form of it is a transliteration of the Babylonian Amurru, which was both sing.
and plural. In the age of Abraham the Amurru were the dominant people in western
Asia; hence Syria and Palestine were called by the Babylonians "the land of the
Amorites." In the Assyrian period this was replaced by "land of the Hittites,"
the Hittites in the Mosaic age having made themselves masters of Syria and Canaan.
The use of the name "Amorite" in its general sense belongs to the Babylonian period
of oriental history.
2. The Amorite Kingdom:
The Amorite kingdom was of great antiquity. About 2500 BC it embraced the larger
part of Mesopotamia and Syria, with its capital probably at Harran, and a few
centuries later northern Babylonia was occupied by an "Amorite" dynasty of kings
who traced theft descent from Samu or Sumu (the Biblical Shem), and made Babylon
their capital. To this dynasty belonged Khammu-rabi, the Amraphel of Genesis 14:1.
In the astrological documents of the period frequent reference is made to "the
king of the Amorites." This king of the Amorites was subject to Babylonia in the
age of the dynasty of Ur, two or three centuries before the birth of Abraham He
claimed suzerainty over a number of "Amorite" kinglets, among whom those of Khana
on the Euphrates, near the mouth of the Khabur, may be named, since in the Abrahamic
age one of them was called Khammu-rapikh and another Isarlim or Israel. A payment
of a cadastral survey made at this time by a Babylonian governor with the Canaanite
name of Urimelech is now in the Louvre. Numerous Amorites were settled in Ur and
other Babylonian cities, chiefly for the purpose of trade. They seem to have enjoyed
the same rights and privileges as the native Babylonians. Some of them were commercial
travelers, but we hear also of the heads of the great firms making journeys to
the Mediterranean coast.
In an inscription found near Diarbekir and dedicated to Khammu-rabi by Ibirum
(= Eber), the governor of the district, the only title given to the Babylonian
monarch is "king of the Amorites," where instead of Amurru the Sumerian Martu
(Hebrew moreh) is used. The great-grandson of Khammu-rabi still calls himself
"king of the widespread land of the Amorites," but two generations later Babylonia
was invaded by the Hittites, the Amorite dynasty came to an end, and there was
once more a "king of the Amorites" who was not also king of Babylonia.
The Amorite kingdom continued to exist down to the time of the Israelite invasion
of Palestine, and mention is made of it in the Egyptian records as well as in
the cuneiform Tell el-Amarna Letters, and the Hittite archives recently discovered
at Boghaz-keui, the site of the Hittite capital in Cappadocia. The Egyptian conquest
of Canaan by the kings of the XVIIIth Dynasty had put an end to the effective
government of that country by the Amorite princes, but their rule still extended
eastward to the borders of Babylonia, while its southern limits coincided approximately
with what was afterward the northern frontier of Naphtali. The Amorite kings,
however, became, at all events in name, the vassals of the Egyptian Pharaoh. When
the Egyptian empire began to break up, under the "heretic king" Amenhotep IV,
at the end of the XVIIIth Dynasty (1400 BC), the Amorite princes naturally turned
to their more powerful neighbors in the north. One of the letters in the Tell
el-Amarna correspondence is from the Pharaoh to his Amorite vassal Aziru the son
of Ebed-Asherah, accusing him of rebellion and threatening him with punishment.
Eventually Aziru found it advisable to go over openly to the Hittites, and pay
the Hittite government an annual tribute of 300 shekels of gold. From that time
forward the Amorite kingdom was a dependency of the Hittite empire, which, on
the strength of this, claimed dominion over Palestine as far as the Egyptian frontier.
The second successor of Aziru was Abi-Amurru (or Abi-Hadad), whose successor bore,
in addition to a Semitic name, the Mitannian name of Bentesinas. Bente-sinas was
dethroned by the Hittite King Muttallis and imprisoned in Cappadocia, where he
seems to have met the Hittite prince Khattu-sil, who on the death of his brother
Muttallis seized the crown and restored Bente-sinas to his kingdom. Bente-sinas
married the daughter of Khattu-sil, while his own daughter was wedded to the son
of his Hittite suzerain, and an agreement was made that the succession to the
Amorite throne should be confined to her descendants. Two or three generations
later the Hittite empire was destroyed by an invasion of "northern barbarians,"
the Phrygians, probably, of Greek history, who marched southward, through Palestine,
against Egypt, carrying with them "the king of the Amorites." The invaders, however,
were defeated and practically exterminated by Ramses III of the XXth Egyptian
Dynasty (1200 BC). The Amorite king, captured on this occasion by the Egyptians,
was probably the immediate predecessor of the Sihon of the Old Testament.
3. Sihon's Conquest:
Egyptian influence in Canaan had finally ceased with the invasion of Egypt by
the Libyans and peoples of the Aegean in the fifth year of Meneptah, the successor
of Ramses II, at the time of the Israelite Exodus. Though the invaders were repulsed,
the Egyptian garrisons had to be withdrawn from the cities of southern Palestine,
where their place was taken by the Philistines who thus blocked the way from Egypt
to the north. The Amorites, in the name of their distant Hittite suzerains, were
accordingly able to overrun the old Egyptian provinces on the east side of the
Jordan; the Amorite chieftain Og possessed himself of Bashan (Deuteronomy 3:8),
and Sihon, "king of the Amorites," conquered the northern part of Moab.
The conquest must have been recent at the time of the Israelite invasion, as the
Amorite song of triumph is quoted in Numbers 21:27 - 29, and adapted to the overthrow
of Sihon himself by the Israelites. 'Woe unto thee,' it reads, 'O Moab; thou art
undone, O people of Chemosh! (Chemosh) hath given thy sons who escaped (the battle)
and thy daughters into captivity to Sihon king of the Amorites.' The flame that
had thus consumed Heshbon, it is further declared, shall spread southward through
Moab, while Heshbon itself is rebuilt and made the capital of the conqueror:
"Come to Heshbon, that the city of Sihon (like the city of David, 2 Samuel 5:9)
may be rebuilt and restored. For the fire has spread from Heshbon, the flame from
the capital of Sihon, devouring as far as Moab (reading 'adh with the Septuagint
instead of 'ar), and swallowing up (reading bale'ah with the Septuagint) the high
places of Arnon." The Israelite invasion, however, prevented the expected conquest
of southern Moab from taking place.
4. Disappearance of the Amorite Kingdom:
After the fall of Sihon the Amorite kingdom disappears. The Syrians of Zobah,
of Hamath and of Damascus take its place, while with the rise of Assyria the "Amorites"
cease to be the representatives in contemporary literature of the inhabitants
of western Asia. At one time their power had extended to the Babylonian frontier,
and Bente-sinas was summoned to Cappadocia by his Hittite overlord to answer a
charge made by the Babylonian ambassadors of his having raided northern Babylonia.
The Amorite king urged, however, that the raid was merely an attempt to recover
a debt of 30 talents of silver.
5. Physical Characteristics of the Amorites:
In Numbers 13:29 the Amorites are described as mountaineers, and in harmony with
thins, according to Professor Petrie's notes, the Egyptian artists represent them
with fair complexions, blue eyes and light hair. It would, therefore, seem that
they belonged to the Libyan race of northern Africa rather than to the Semitic
stock. In western Asia, however, they were mixed with other racial elements derived
from the subject populations, and as they spoke a Semitic language one of the
most important of these elements would have been the Semites. In its general sense,
moreover, the name "Amorite" included in the Babylonian period all the settled
and civilized peoples west of the Euphrates to whatever race they might belong.
Hugo Winckler, Mitteilungen der deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft (1907), No. 35,
Berlin; Sayce, The Races of the Old Testament, Religious Tract Soc., 1890.
A. H. Sayce
amorite, amurra, amurri, bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, canaan descendants, define, highlanders, mountaineers