Zechariah 14:21 (KJV): Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts.

Zechariah 14:21 (NAB): And every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holy to the LORD of hosts; and all who come to sacrifice shall take them and cook in them. On that day there shall no longer be any merchant in the house of the LORD of hosts.

What do the LXX and MT say? If they differ, what may be the underlying reason?

At the time Zechariah was written, the likelihood of Canaanites in the Jerusalem temple seems quite remote.

  • 4
    Good question! Seems to me it’s not really a “contradiction” (as tagged) between two Biblical texts as much as it is just a problem of interpretation and translation of one text. (I’m curious to know what you’re thinking when you say, “At the time Zechariah [14] was written...” but we can leave that for answers to sort out.)
    – Susan
    Nov 11, 2015 at 8:34
  • @Susan You're right that I was not expecting a contradiction in the original, but noting one in the interpretations. It seems to me that the Canaanites should have disappeared from Jewish consciousness no later than the Assyrian conquest of Israel, so the reference to when Zech was written. I'm not just looking for a justification of the translations, but why the original would lend itself to this interpretation. Strong's, by itself, is probably not enough. Nov 11, 2015 at 19:55
  • 1
    It's worth mentioning Matthew 15:22 in this regard (not neglecting to note also the differently worded parallel in Mark 7:26). There may be more to "Canaanite" than first meets the eye!
    – Dɑvïd
    Nov 13, 2015 at 23:39

3 Answers 3


The LXX has Χαναναία in Zechariah 14:21, with other forms of the same word found many times elsewhere in the Old Testament, and also once in the New, Matthew 15:22, where the KJV has the same word as the LXX (Strong's G5478).

Looking further at the instances in the LXX (canonical books), it almost disappears after the book of Judges, where it appears in Proverbs 31:24 (KJV as "merchant"), 2 Samuel 23:8 (KJV as "Tachmonite"), 2 Samuel 24:7 (KJV as "the Canaanites"), Hosea 4:18 (obscure connection to the KJV text), Obadiah 1:20 (KJV as "the Canaanites"), Zechariah 11:11 (obscure connection in KJV text as "the poor" of the flock, but the NASB has a footnote "sheep dealers"); and Zechariah 14:21 (KJV as "Canaanite").

The fact that usage of the word dwindles to a trickle beyond Judges, indicates to me that the people group who were once referred to as Χαναναία in the LXX, must have all but disappeared from the land.


From the evidence available to me, the word is best translated Canaanite, and any other rendering would require a footnote to provide some reason for not doing so.


Based on some feedback in the comments, I thought I'd have a closer look at why Χαναναία appears in Hosea, Obadiah and Zechariah. Are the prophets using the word to refer to people they've encountered, or to a people group who have historically been the very antithesis of what God wants Israel to be?

I believe it is the latter.

Hosea 4:18

ᾑρέτισεν | Χαναναίους | πορνεύοντες | ἐξεπόρνευσαν
They chose| Canaanites |to fornicate (with)| to prostitute themselves

ἠγάπησαν | ἀτιμίαν | ἐκ | φρυάγματος | αὐτῶν
They loved| (the) dishonour | from | ?????????? | their

φρυάγματος has no entry in the LXX lexicon, so it is a bit of a mystery. In my initial attempt at this word, I searched for "αγματ" that yielded πραγματος deed, Strong's H4229, which I thought might be a distinct possibility. However, additional feedback from the comments led me to the lexicon at the Greek Word Study Tool, where the word refers to the "snorting" of horses. Some might prefer the figurative use of the word as "insolence", but I think the literal sense works better in the context. So Hosea 4:18 might then read:

They chose Canaanites to fornicate with, prostituting themselves. They delighted in the indignity of their snorting.

It is a direct reference to Israel's willingness, historically -- from the very beginning of her journey into Canaan, even up until the time of Hosea -- to be wooed and ravished by the god's of Canaan instead of remaining faithful to the Lord.

Obadiah 1:20

The context of Χαναναία, here, is: the land that was promised to Israel as a possession, "that of the Canaanites", the people of the Captivity would return to re-possess. As for those who had interfered with the assignment/charge given to Israel to go in and possess the land, "the day of the LORD" was nigh upon them.

Zechariah 11:11

καὶ | διασκεδασθήσεται | ἐν | τῇ | ἡμέρᾳ
And the | ?????????? | in | the | day

ἐκείνῃ| καὶ | γνώσονται | οἱ | Χαναναῖοι
that | also | will know | the | Canaanite

τὰ | πρόβατα | τὰ |φυλασσόμενα | διότι
the | sheepfold | the | guarded | because
λόγος | κυρίου | ἐστίν
word | (of the) Lord | is

διασκεδασθήσεται has no entry in the LXX lexicon, but searching for "διασκ*" yielded διασκορπιζων (scatter, Strong's G1287. A similar looking word appears in the LXX in the previous verse where the KJV has "cut assunder", which indicates to me, it might mean something like "shattered". So, Zechariah 11:11 would then read:

At the shattering [of Beauty] in that day, even the Canaanites will understand that the sheepfold is protected, because of the word (Logos) of the Lord.

Zechariah 14:21

The context of this verse is:

  • the nations will be gathered against Jerusalem, and it will fall;

  • God will come and fight against the invaders;

  • various signs - earthquake, dim light (no night or day), living water flowing from Jerusalem - will mark the day as unique;

  • Then "The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.".

  • Jerusalem will be raised up high, and will be forever secure.

  • Dreadful plagues and panic will strike the nations, but those who survive will come annually to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.

  • Those who refuse to come will suffer great drought.

Zechariah 14:21 concludes this vision of the future: "there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD Almighty."

The impression I get from the usage of Χαναναία in these verses is: Canaanites (Χαναναία) are those whose hearts are set on rebellion against God's rule and authority, who would persist with, and/or encourage others to persist with, the abominable behaviour that caused the land of Canaan to spew its people out.

The reason there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord is: if he be of a Canaanite heart, then his refusal to come will see him destroyed by the plagues and panic and drought of the day of the Lord. If, however, his Canaanite heart were converted and he come to Jerusalem to worship the Lord and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, then he would no longer be of a Canaanite heart, i.e. not a Canaanite.

  • 2
    FYI, most translations footnote it whichever translation they pick. It seems they is not really a strong indication of how to take it, one way or the other.
    – ThaddeusB
    Nov 12, 2015 at 4:56
  • Footnotes would be better used to give some reason for a word choice. I would be inclined to give the translators the benefit of the doubt, that it wasn't just an arbitrary choice.
    – enegue
    Nov 12, 2015 at 5:11
  • enegue Thank you for all your effort - this is getting us closer. If I understand you, the Canaanites began to disappear from Jewish consciousness when they adopted the cultures of their conquerors, which is what I expected. Judges, 2 Samuel and Hosea were definitely pre-Exilic, early enough to actually mean 'Canaanites'. Proverbs is a special case, whether or not 31:10-28 is pre-Exilic material, if only because 31:24 could not refer to Canaanites in the context we see it. Obadiah and Zechariah, being post-Exilic, are a puzzle. Nov 12, 2015 at 5:40
  • Thanks @Dick. Modern day scholars make little mention of the events that are recorded in Joshua and Judges, but their dating of the disappearance of Canaan as a nation pretty-well coincides with the dating of the end of the time of the Judges, around 1070 BC. This lends support to the notion that those who were left following the cleansing of Canaan by Joshua, were likely to have been assimilated by Israel or the other cultures that surrounded them.
    – enegue
    Nov 12, 2015 at 7:38
  • 2 Samuel 21:2 tells us that the Gibeonites, the "remnant of the Amorites", were still among the Israelites during the time of David around 970 BC.
    – enegue
    Nov 12, 2015 at 7:56

The Hebrew term is , and has two semantic options (https://biblehub.com/hebrew/3669.htm).

  1. A collective term for the inhabitants of Canaan. (ex. Ezra 9:1)
  2. Merchants, traders. (ex. Prov. 31:24)

Thus both translations can be justified from the same Hebrew word. The difference then is not one of textual criticism, but of interpretation. The different translations take different approaches to the context. Is it suggesting that there will no longer be a foreigner in the temple, or is it suggesting that there will no longer be a need for a merchant to supply sacrifices at the temple?

Interrelated to this question is that of Zechariah 11:7 and 11, whether לכנעני should be divided into two words לכנ עני (particularly the afflicted) or one word לכנעני (for the canaanites/merchants). In that passage, it seems that the sellers of the sheep are recipients of the Lord's judgment (Zech. 11:4-5). The idea of merchants fits really well in that context.

Personally, I think both Zechariah 11 and 14 should be translated merchants. Some of the benefits of that reading includes:

  1. It unifies Zechariah 11 and 14
  2. It doesn't imply Canaanites in the temple shortly after the return of the exile
  3. The merchants would normally provide animals for sacrifice, which appears to be the context of 14:21

That reminds me of the verse:

And to those who were selling the doves He said, Take these things away from here; do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise. Jn 2:16.

I thought that the Canaanites, Phoenicians, were especial merchants, because of their wide travel by water and colonizing, so that's how they came to be synonym words.

I guess "everybody" is a merchant. I believe the woman in a basket for Shinar in Zech 5 also represents merchandising. And it comes to be a big thing: the prince of Tyre in Ezekiel 28, often associated with Satan, is famed for his merchandizing and wealth. The original Lucifer became very greedy. Tyre was a home or colony of the Phoenicians.

Ultimately in Revelation, a whole chapter is devoted to the destruction of commercialism, this time connected with Babylon (Shinar).

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