A recent news story emerged regarding sequencing ancient human DNA found in bones thought to be about 4,000 years old. The DNA was found in Sidon, Lebanon, on the shore of the Mediterranean.1 This area of the world corresponds to the ancient Phoenician civilization that descended from the Canaanites mentioned in the Bible. Numbers 13:29 notes their specific location, saying, “The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan.”
The researchers involved in the DNA sequencing project found that greater than 90 percent of modern Lebanese ancestry is probably from the original Canaanites, with the rest coming from other Eurasian groups.2 Not surprisingly, those skeptical of the Bible and quick to criticize it claimed these results somehow disproved the Scriptures. For example, a Cell Press news article said, “Were they [the Canaanites] annihilated like the Bible says?” 1
But the Bible does not describe annihilation!
While God commanded the Israelites to eliminate the Canaanites from the land they were given, the Bible clearly documents that the Israelites disobeyed God and refused to follow the instructions recorded in three different places (Joshua 17:12-13, Judges 1:27-33, Judges 2:1-3). As it turns out, the Canaanites got a big break and survived just fine.
Here’s a striking passage from the Bible that records God stating He would let the prior inhabitants of Canaan continue to live in the land because of Israel’s disobedience:
Then the Angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said: “I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you. And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this? Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in your side, and their gods shall be a snare to you. (Judges 2:1-3)
Once again science confirms the Scriptures as being historically accurate—this time with the aid of new technologies that help sequence ancient DNA. We await the next discovery.
- Who were the Canaanites? Ancient human DNA evidence yields answers. EurekAlert! Posted on eurekalert.org July 27, 2017, accessed August 3, 2017.
- Haber, M. et al. Continuity and Admixture in the Last Five Millennia of Levantine History from Ancient Canaanite and Present-Day Lebanese Genome Sequences. American Journal of Human Genetics. Published online before print July 27, 2017. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2017.06.013 >
Article posted on August 14, 2017.
*Jeffrey Tomkins is Director of Life Sciences at the Institute for Creation Research and earned his Ph.D. in genetics from Clemson University, where he worked as a research technician in a plant breeding/genetics program. After receiving his Ph.D., he worked at a genomics institute and became a faculty member in the Department of Genetics and Biochemistry at Clemson.