Rashi's commentary on Tractate Sanhedrin 44b implies that Terah and his forefathers originated from Canaan. He references the mention of 'your Amorite father' - presumably citing Ezek 16:3 - 'Thus says the Lord YHWH to Jerusalem: Your origin and your birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite, and your mother a Hittite.'

This seems to dismiss the pretty important point that we trace Terah's lineage to Shem, not Canaan, and we are told that he lived in Ur Kasdim (in modern day Iraq) and Haran (probably Turkey), possibly having been from the latter before he lived in Ur, according to Nachmanides. With that said, we don't hear where the rest of Arphaxad's in-between descendants lived - I suppose members of that line could have travelled to Canaan and settled there for a few generations before moving (back) to the Chaldees. Of course, it's not impossible that some of the largely unmentioned wives within that lineage had Canaanite heritage.

I had always understood the rebuke to be a reference to Jerusalem as a city having its foundation in Canaanite culture, since it was previously a Jebusite city before David's takeover (although why it references Amorites and Hittites rather than Jebusites is another question) and as an accusation that the population in Ezekiel's day are behaving more like descendants of that culture rather than Israelite culture (accounting for there still being some descendants of Canaanites present at the time, albeit assimilated). I'm still more persuaded by this concept than by Rashi's comment, but I'm curious if anyone knows of any further rabbinical writings (Midrash etc) giving Abraham's forefathers an earlier connection to the land of Canaan?

The closest I've found so far is the story in the Book of Jubilees, where we are told that Ham had allocated to Canaan a land west of the Nile (Jubilees 9:1), and all Noah's sons agreed to invoke a curse on anyone who tries to seize land that was not allocated to them (Jubilees 9:14-15). But Canaan violated this agreement and instead chose to squat in the land delineated to Shem and his descendants, and so Canaan brought upon himself the full force of this second curse (Jubilees 10:29-35) in addition to the one inflicted on him by Noah.

  • 1
    Is Rashi actually saying that Terah was descended from Canaan, as opposed to simply living in Canaanite lands?
    – Avraham
    Commented Apr 25, 2023 at 22:28
  • @Avraham I personally assume he musta have meant simply living there, but it's not clear Chabad put it as 'Some say that Terah and his forefathers originated from Canaan (Rashi to Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 44b)’ chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/4529921/jewish/… And the commentary on Sefaria translates as 'Your Amorite father - Terah and his ancestors came from Canaan'. sefaria.org/Sanhedrin.44b.5?lang=bi&with=Rashi&lang2=en
    – ANH
    Commented Apr 25, 2023 at 22:57
  • 2
    See Rashi on Genesis 12:6, where he says that (part) of the land of Canaan belonged originally to Shem and his descendants - like it says in the Midrash in Beraishis Rabbah 56 on Genesis 22:14, that Shem was the king of Shalem/Moriah which is modern day Jerusalem
    – שלום
    Commented Apr 25, 2023 at 23:15
  • @שלום Ok, so Rashi on Genesis 12:6 seems to match Jubilees: 'They (the Canaanites) were gradually conquering the land of Israel from the descendants of Shem, for it had fallen to the share of Shem when Noah apportioned the earth amongst his sons, for it is said (Genesis 14:18) “And Melchizedek) king of Salem (Jerusalem)”. For this reason the Lord said to Abram (Genesis 12:7) “to thy seed will I give this land” — “I will in some future time return it to thy children who are descendants of Shem”.'
    – ANH
    Commented Apr 25, 2023 at 23:25
  • @שלום And similarly, it looks like Beraishis Rabbah 56 on Genesis 22:14 cements this by claiming that G-d named Jerusalem thus to honour both Abraham and Shem (identified with Malchizedek), who named (what would become) Jerusalem as 'Yirah' and 'Shalem', respectively?
    – ANH
    Commented Apr 25, 2023 at 23:25


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