DNA analysis reveals Lebanese people to be direct descendants of biblical Canaanites

A new study by two researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Britain concludes that the Lebanese are descendants of the biblical Canaanites.

PTo reach this conclusion, archaeologists sequenced the DNA present in the bones of five Canaanite people who lived in the area during the Bronze Age. These people are said to have died in the ancient biblical city of Sidon. Their skeletons are dated from 3 to 750 years old. The genetic analyzes were then compared to those of 3 current Lebanese, and those of more than 650 other people who lived in antiquity, gathered in a database. The findings, published July 99 in the American Journal of Human Genetics, suggest that the Lebanese today are descendants of the Canaanites.

The Middle East is often described as the cradle of civilization. The Canaanites of the Bronze Age, later known as the Phoenicians, introduced many aspects of the society we know today: they created the first alphabet, established colonies in the Mediterranean, and were mentioned several times in the Bible.

According to archaeologists Marc Haber and Chris Tyler-Smith,

“Canaanite ancestry was widespread in the region, and several probably culturally different groups shared the same ancestral background. "

Their studies revealed a "Large overlap" between the DNA of the Canaanites and that of the Lebanese. Over 90% of current Lebanese ancestry may be Canaanites, with a small additional proportion coming from a different Eurasian population.

Dr Claude Doumet-Serhal, co-author and director of the Sidon excavation site in Lebanon, said:

“For the first time, we have genetic evidence for substantial continuity in the region, from the Canaanite population from the Bronze Age to the present day. These results are consistent with the continuity observed by archaeologists. Collaborations between archaeologists and geneticists greatly enrich both fields of study and can answer questions about ancestry in ways that experts in any field cannot answer on their own. "

According to scientists, this finding refutes the biblical account. They believe that the Bible "reports the destruction of the Canaanite cities and the annihilation of the people", relying on the text of Deuteronomy 20: 16-17.

As for the cities of these peoples which the Lord your God gives you to possess, you will not let a living soul remain there. You will completely exterminate the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perezians, the Hivites and the Jebusites to dedicate them to the Lord, as the Lord your God has commanded you ...

But for Rabbi Pinchas Winston, interviewed by Breaking Israel News, not only does this discovery not refute the Bible but it confirms it.

“Despite the commandments of the Torah, even in biblical times, the Canaanites were not wiped out […] The Israelites were allowed to make agreements with them, allowing them to remain in the land. If they were fleeing out of the country, it was not after being driven out. "

However, the people of Manasseh did not succeed in dispossessing the inhabitants of these cities and the Canaanites remained in the land. Even when the Israelites had increased their power, they imposed drudgery on them, but did not dispossess them.
Joshua 17: 12-13

The men of Manasseh did not dispossess the inhabitants of Beth-Sheân, Taanak, Dor, Yibleam, Megiddo and the localities which depended on these cities. The Canaanites therefore continued to maintain themselves in this region. When the Israelites became stronger, they imposed drudgery on them, but they did not dispossess them.
Judges 1: 27-28


Image credit: Sidon-Dr Claude Doumet Serhal Excavation

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