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Kanaanite meaning

Κανανιτης

Source: http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Kanaanite.html

🔼The name Kanaanite in the Bible

There's only one Kanaanite mentioned in the Bible, namely Simon the Kanaanite (Matthew 10:4, Mark 3:18), whom the Lukan author calls the Zealot (Luke 6:15, Acts 1:13); one of Jesus' lesser known disciples. Many translations of the Bible insist on calling this man a Canaanite (or Cananite or Cananaean), to considerable and ultimately unnecessary confusion. The Greek word for the ethnonym Canaanite is Χαναναιος (Chananaios), whereas our friend Simon was a Κανανιτης (Kananites), which in Greek is quite obviously a wholly different word, and which should be transliterated with a K and not a C.

The name Kanaanite is not explained in the Bible, and over the centuries a few theories have been forwarded. Perhaps a Kanaanite was a Canaanite after all, and since the name Canaanite was also used to describe a merchant, Simon the Kanaanite might have been Simon the Merchant. This theory isn't very satisfying, also since it doesn't explain why Matthew and Mark would call this man a merchant (and why?), whereas Luke specifies him as a Zealot.

Simon's epithet also brings to mind in stead of Canaanite or Zealot, the ethnonym Kenite (which is, in the Septuagint, indeed spelled with a Κ). It's perhaps possible that this Simon was a scribe of the tradition of the mysterious Kenite families of the Tirathites, the Sucathites and the Shimeathites (1 Chronicles 2:55 — note that the name Simon and the family-name Shimeathite derive from the same root). It wouldn't be too wild a guess to assume that Jesus wanted His outfit to consist of a diverse portfolio of talents, which certainly would have included a record keeper. In that case, this Simon might even be a candidate for being the author of the elusive Q-gospel, which supposedly lies at the root of the synoptic gospels.

The shortcoming of this entertaining theory, however, is that it is unfortunately not sustained by a shred of evidence. And it doesn't explain why Simon would be a crucial scribe in two of the gospels (and never actually noted to be one), and a Zealot in another and in Acts.

The solution to the mystery of the Kanaanite lies most likely in the etymology of it:

🔼Etymology of the name Kanaanite

We only have the word Kanaanite in Greek, but chances are excellent that it derives from the Hebrew verb קנא (qana'), meaning to be jealous:

🔼Kanaanite meaning

The most plausible explanation for the epithet Kanaanite is that it is the Hebrew original for the Greek name Zealot (like the Hebrew word Messiah is the Hebrew original for the Greek word Christ). In other words: the name Kanaanite probably means Zealot or Jealous One.