Amorites

AMORITES


“But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” (Genesis 15:16 NKJV)

WHO
 The Amorites were descendants of Canaan, the son of Ham: “The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan … Canaan begot Sidon his firstborn, and Heth; the Jebusite, the Amorite, and the Girgashite; the Hivite, the Arkite, and the Sinite; the Arvadite, the Zemarite, and the Hamathite. Afterward the families of the Canaanites were dispersed.” (Genesis 10:6-18 NKJV)
 The word translated as “Amorite” has many possible meanings. It may come from the root word ‘amar which means “to say, to publish” (‘Emoriy OT:559 Strong's Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary)
 The Amorites are also thought to be called “Amarru”. The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible states, “Akkadian cuneiform inscriptions mention a relatively uncivilized people called Amurruƒ (translation of the Sumerian Mar-tu), perhaps named for a storm god” (“Amorites” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible)
 One dictionary indicates the name may mean “mountain dwellers” (OT:567 Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon) Yet this appears to be based on the passage describing WHERE the Amorites lived in the land of Canaan: “The Amorites dwell in the mountains.” (Numbers 13:29 NKJV)

WHAT
 The Amorites demonstrated great learning. According to the Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible “Archaeological investigations there from 1933 to 1960 uncovered more than 20,000 clay tablets written in Akkadian but full of Amorite words and expressions. The tablets were found in a magnificent 300-room palace of the Amorite king, Zimri-lim. who ruled Mari in the 18th century B.C. until the city fell to King Hammurabi of Babylon. Hammurabi, also an Amorite, was known for his development of agriculture and for his famous law code.” (“Amorites” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible)

WHERE
 It is not useful to attempt to understand where the Amorites lived BEFORE the confusion of tongues, for the entire earth was settled in one area: “Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there.” (Genesis 11:1-2 NKJV) Once the confusion of tongues occurred, all the peoples of the world, including the ancestors of the Amorites, left Babel and settled in various areas.
 The Amorites appear to have settled within Canaan: And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon as you go toward Gerar, as far as Gaza; then as you go toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha.” (Genesis 10:18 NKJV) The Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary states, “The Old Testament frequently uses ‘Amorites’ as a synonym for Canaanites in general.” (“Amorites” Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary)
 The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament states of the Amorites, “They are designated in place of the Canaanites as the people whom Israel was to destroy … The Amorite kingdom spread over the greater part of Mesopotamia and Syria-Palestine, the latter being designated as the ‘land of the Amorites.” (OT:567 Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament)
 Some Amorites lived on the western side of the Dead Sea. This group was attacked by the same army that kidnapped Lot: “In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him came and attacked the Rephaim … Then they turned back and came to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and attacked all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who dwelt in Hazezon Tamar … Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. They also took Lot, Abram's brother's son who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.” (Genesis 14:5-12 NKJV) The Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary states that the place called Hazezon Tamar is also known as En Gedi, “A city near the Dead Sea identified as EN GEDI” (“HAZAZON TAMAR” Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary) The Keil and Delitzsch Commentary states, “Engedi, on the western side of the Dead Sea.” (Genesis 14:1-12 Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament)
 Some of the Amorites settled on the EASTERN side of the Jordan River. The Smith's Bible Dictionary states of a place called Heshbon, “The capital city of Sihon king of the Amorites. It stood on the western border of the high plain. The ruins of Hesban, 20 miles east of the Jordan, on the parallel of the northern end of the Dead Sea mark the site, as they bear the name; of the ancient Heshbon.” (“HESHBON” Smith's Bible Dictionary)

WHEN
The Amorites were judged with destruction at the time the Israelites conquered Canaan.
 At the time of Abraham, not all Amorites were considered wicked, for three were friends of Abraham: “Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, for he dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner; and they were allies with Abram.” (Genesis 14:13 NKJV)
 Yet their wickedness would be considered “complete” when the fourth generation after the descendants of Abraham would go into captivity: “But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” (Genesis 15:16 NKJV)

WHY
The Amorites were judged because their wickedness became full
 The word translated as “wickedness” mean “perversity, depravity, iniquity, guilt or punishment of iniquity” (‘avon OT:5771 Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon)
 The word translated as “complete” means “complete, perfect, whole, full” (shalem OT:8003 Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon)
At the time of Abraham, the wickedness of the Amorites was NOT full. Yet it became full by the time the Israelites came back to the land of Canaan. There were several ways in which the fullness of their wickedness was demonstrated as the Jews returned to Canaan:
 The Amorite king Sihon attacked the Israelites: “Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, saying, ‘let me pass through your land. We will not turn aside into fields or vineyards; we will not drink water from wells; but we will go by the King's Highway until we have passed through your territory.’ But Sihon would not allow Israel to pass through his territory. So Sihon gathered all his people together and went out against Israel in the wilderness, and he came to Jahaz and fought against Israel. Then Israel defeated him with the edge of the sword, and took possession of his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, as far as the people of Ammon; for the border of the people of Ammon was fortified. So Israel took all these cities, and Israel dwelt in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon and in all its villages. For Heshbon was the city of Sihon king of the Amorites.” (Numbers 21:21-26 NKJV)
 The Amorite king Og also attacked the Israelites: “And they turned and went up by the way to Bashan. So Og king of Bashan went out against them, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei. Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Do not fear him, for I have delivered him into your hand, with all his people and his land; and you shall do to him as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon.’ So they defeated him, his sons, and all his people, until there was no survivor left him; and they took possession of his land.” (Numbers 21:33-35 NKJV)