The "People of the Land" (עַם־הָאָרֶץ)

The term עַם־הָאָרֶץ ('am ha'ares "people of the land") seems to refer to different groups in different contexts. In some places it indicates "Canaanites" (the pre-conquest owners of the "promised land"). However, pre-exilic usage in the monarchy suggests that "landed people" might be a better translation.

Notice at how this group functions in texts like 2 Kgs 11:13-20; 21:24; 23:30,35; Jer 1:18; 34:19; 37:2; 44:21.

By contrast in the post-exilic period the expression comes to mean the opposite, the 'am-ha'ares are the poor and despised, especially those who were left by the conquerors and not carried into exile!

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