Burning off the dross

What explains the “ites” in the Bible?

A first look through Genesis, well actually all of Torah (first 5 books of the Holy Bible) often astounds the reader with a collection of names, such as: Hamites, Japhethites, Caananites, Jebusites, Hittites, Amorites, Girgashites, Hivites, Sinites, Arvadites, Hamathites, Zemarites, Perrizites, etc.

They all end with the suffix ‘ites’. What does this suffix mean?

The first two names I listed above (Hamites, and Japhethites) come from Noah’s sons. Japheth was oldest, followed by Shem, and then Ham – his youngest. It’s also pretty easy to see Caanan in there – the son of Ham. How is this suffix related to these people? Well it turns out – that’s what ‘ites’ is all about.

Lately, I’ve been studying Ancient Hebrew over at

The origin of so many words is fascinating. And the more you understand the root words of Hebrew, and the origin of the Aleph-Bet the more amazing the Bible becomes. The hint for the meaning of ‘ites’ (properly pronounced ‘eet’) comes from this page on the Hebrews.

A good translation is “people of “, along the lines of descendants, or people groups. The root name is a primary node in terms of the branch of a tree, and identifies your clan-relationship – your people.

As for the people of Shem – they are shemyt – semites.

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