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In history the Amorites is the name given by the Israelites to the earlier inhabitants of Palestine. They were regarded as a powerful people, giants in stature "like the height of the cedars," who had occupied the land east and west of the Jordan river.

The Biblical usage appears to show that the terms "Canaanites" and "Amorites" were used synonymously, the former being characteristic of Judaean, the latter of Ephraimite and Deuteronomic writers. A distinction is sometimes maintained, however, when the Amorites are spoken of as the people of the past, whereas the Canaanites are referred to as still surviving.

The old name is an ethnic term, evidently to be connected with the terms Amurru and Amar, used by Assyria and Egypt respectively. In the spelling Mar-tu, the name is as old as the first Babylonian dynasty, but from the 15th century BC and downwards its syllabic equivalent Amurru is applied primarily to the land extending northwards of Palestine as far as Kadesh[?] on the Orontes.

The term "Canaan," on the other hand, is confined more especially to the southern district (from Gebal to the south of Palestine). But it is possible that the terms at an early date were interchangeable, Canaan being geographical and Amorite ethnical. The wider extension of the use of Amurru by the Babylonians and Assyrians is complicated by the fact that it was even applied to a district in the neighbourhood of Babylonia. If the people of the first Babylonian dynasty (about 21st century BC) called themselves "Amorites," as Ranke seems to have shown, it is possible that some feeling of common origin was recognized at that early date.

Historically, the Amorites seem to have been linked to the Jerusalem region, and the Jebusites[?] may have been a subgroup of them. One possible etymology for "Mount Moriah" is "Mountain of the Amorites," with the initial A, represented by a glottal stop, dropping out.

Initial text from 1911 encyclopedia -- Please update as needed

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