Taking the Promised Land

moses-and-the-promised-landBack in the 70’s I attended an Aglow retreat where the speaker gave a message that has stayed with me all these years. It had to do with the tribes that inhabited the Promised Land and were to be driven out. It is one of those wonderful truths hidden in the Old Testament that might be missed.

God told Abraham[1], Isaac and Jacob and then Moses, Joshua and the nation of Israel that He would give them the Promised Land. We pray, “Thy kingdom come in[2] earth as it is in heaven.”  My body is my earth, my Promised Land, the earth that can begin to know His kingdom not as pie in the sky someday, but NOW. Like the nation of Israel there are some things that have to be moved out to make room for God’s Kingdom. Their conquest was natural, ours is spiritual.

This is a good place to mention that driving out these tribes (demonic spirits) is a process. In Exodus 23:30 God told Israel, “Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land.”[3] Paul in Philippians 2:12-13 says, “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling…” adding “…for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

I believe we can find an excellent overview of what God intends to do in our lives by taking a look at the meanings of the names of the tribes that Israel was told had to be driven from the Promised Land.


We read in Deuteronomy 7:1, When the Lord your God brings you into the land which you go to possess, and has cast out many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven[4] nations greater and mightier than you. But note, God does not tell Israel that they are the ones who drive them out; HE DOES IT! The same is true for us. However, like the Israelites we have a part in taking our land through obedience, yielding, faith…those things that come out of a living relationship with Him. Let’s see what has to go.[5]

The name Hittite means fear with its root from Heth meaning terror. Heth was the father of the Hittite nation. The Hittites represent our fears. The only fear that has any place in our lives is fear of the Lord. When we know Him and are related to Him that fear is more awe and respect than terror. We know the meaning of fear that the Lord would clear out. It consists of a multitude of areas including fear of man, uncontrolled situations, but particularly physical death.  “God is love.” “Perfect love casts out fear.”[6]

The name Amorite means a sayer, publicity, prominence from the root amar – to say, speak, utter. They think highly of themselves and talk a good game but their life does not back up their words. Further understanding comes from God speaking in Amos 2:9, Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars and he was as strong as the oaks, yet I destroyed his fruit above and his roots beneath. Amorites represent our pride and rebellion, reminiscent of Satan and the consequences of choosing our way over God’s. Proverbs 16:18 states, “Pride goes before a destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

The name Canaanite means merchant from the root Canaan – a trafficker. While there is nothing wrong with being a merchant, the word trafficker brings up very negative connotations.[7] Materialism, doing anything for profit is primary here. God warns through 1 Timothy 6:10a,  “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil…”

The name Girgashite means the dwelling on clayey soil with no known root. The Gergashites have to do with our flesh. It is the focus on the earthly, temporal things and produces a disdain for those that are spiritual and eternal. Romans 9:6-8 says, For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

The name Perrezite means belonging to a village from the root prz – village, country, unwalled.  This tribe roamed never bothering to secure their dwellings by building walls and cities. They represent those whose lives are not secured by salvation. Isaiah 60:18, Violence shall no longer be heard in your land, neither wasting nor destruction within your borders; But you shall call your walls Salvation, And your gates Praise. Isaiah 26:1b, We have a strong city; God will appoint salvation for walls and bulwarks. 2 Corinthians 7:10, For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. We need to put on the whole of God’s armor including the helmet of salvation.

The name Hivite means showers of life; livers from the presumed root hwh – life giving, living place – by implication an encampment or village.  It was the Hivite village of Gibeon that deceived the Israelites into thinking they were from far away and through their lie secured a covenant where they were allowed to live, but as servants of Israel. (Joshua 11:19) By making a covenant based on a lie Israel lived with a corrupting influence camped among them. I believe Hivites represent deception and lying influence. We face the same issue. As it says in 1 Corinthians 15:33, Do not be deceived:Evil company corrupts good habits.”

The name Jebusite means a place trodden down – a threshing floor from the root Jebus – buwc – to trample (literally or figuratively); be polluted, defile, desecrate. The Jebusite would  beat us down by guilt and condemnation until our faith, hope and trust in God are destroyed. Jebus was an early name for Jerusalem, God’s holy city, the center of Israel. The Jebusites held Jerusalem and worshiped other gods until David defeated them.[8] Our land is held captive until Jesus delivers us. It is on the threshing floor that our faith is tried and the wheat is separated from the chaff.


These seven spirits are greater and mightier than we are, but over and over He promises to drive them out. If we had been able to do it ourselves there would be no need for a Savior. God has chosen to deliver us from these demonic spirits who seek to destroy us. Will we cooperate and let Him do it?


[1] Genesis 17:8, Genesis 26:3, Genesis 35:12, Exodus 6:8 and Joshua 1:2-3, Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”

[2] The Hebrew word epi can be translated “in” or “on”

[3] If you read Exodus 23:20-33 you will get a fantastic and more detailed picture of what, why and how God plans  your life

[4] The number seven represents completeness

[5] The derivation of each name is backed up by Strong’s, Gesenius, The Theological Word Book of the Old Testament, J. B. Jackson – http://www.bibliquest.org/Auteurs_divers/Jackson-Noms_propres.htm and a variety of research. The interpretation of the meaning comes from research along with the witness of the Holy Spirit in my study.

[6] 1 John 4:8, 1 John 4:18

[7] I was taught that the Canaanites meant bent knee – bowing to other gods. Canaan was the father of all of these tribes and horrific pagan worship was true for all of them but I can’t back it up from the derivation of the name Canaanite.

[8] 1 Chronicles 11


  1. This is very interesting! I’ve never heard this before. As for Canaanite meaning either “trafficker” or “bending the knee to other gods,” since the false god we see worshiped most in western culture is materialism or consumerism either meaning is applicable.


    • Thanks Charis! I really wanted to include the ‘bent knee’ concept and the fact that Canaan is the source of all these demonic spirits and all are truly other gods.


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