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Media outlets mistakenly claim new study disproves Biblical account of Canaanites

(Wikimedia Commons/Ani Nimi)The Canaanite gate in Tel Dan, North Israel.

Various media outlets have mistakenly declared in their headlines that a newly released human genetics study disproves a Biblical account about the Canaanites.

The study, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics last week, suggested that the Canaanites, which was commanded by God to be annihilated in the Bible, has living descendants in present-day Lebanon.

Several media outlets published reports claiming in their headlines that the study disproves the Biblical account found in the Old Testament.

"The Bible got it wrong: Ancient Canaanites survived and their DNA lives in modern-day Lebanese," a Pulse headline published last week declared.

"Bronze Age DNA disproves the Bible's claim that the Canaanites were wiped out: Study says their genes live on in modern-day Lebanese people," the headline from U.K.'s the Daily Mail stated.

The Telegraph, which also published a story claiming that the study disproves the Bible, issued a correction and modified its headline.

"The original version of this story erroneously said the Bible claimed the Canaanites were wiped. However, elsewhere in the Bible, it says the elimination was not successful," the correction from the news website reads.

The research that prompted the headlines was conducted by a team of geneticists and archaeologists who sequenced five whole genomes from individuals, which are roughly around 3,700 years old, from the city of Sidon, a major Canaanite city-state on the Eastern Mediterranean coasts. The ancient genomes were compared with those of 99 individuals from present-day Lebanon. The researchers found that the present-day Lebanese "derive most of their ancestry from a Canaanite-related population."

The team noted in the study that there are still uncertainties regarding the origin of the Canaanites as well as the fate of the population because few textual records have survived. Most of their history is based on the Hebrew Bible, ancient Egyptian and Greek records as well as archaeological excavations.

God's call to annihilate the Canaanites is recorded in Deuteronomy 20:17, but the Book of Judges indicates that they lived on beyond the invasion.

"When Israel became strong, they pressed the Canaanites into forced labor but never drove them out completely. Nor did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites living in Gezer, but the Canaanites continued to live there among them," a verse from the first chapter of the book states.

Radio host and author Michael Brown argued that the results of the study actually confirm the Biblical account, noting that the Israelites were not able to carry out God's orders to annihilate the Canaanites.

Greg Koukl, founder and president of Stand to Reason, noted in an earlier article that the Israelites were not able to complete their conquest of Canaan, citing Judges 3 which stated that the "sons of Israel lived among the Canaanites."

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