“Place of Shechem.” The Jews referred to their Temple in Jerusalem as the “Place” (see commentary on John 19:20). Here it refers to a holy site.
“At that time the Canaanites were in the land.” This is much more than just a statement telling us that the children of Ham via Canaan had settled in the Promised Land, although it does explain why Abram could not have the land at this time and God said He would give the land to Abram’s descendants (Gen. 12:7): the land was already occupied by Canaanites. Here in Genesis 12:6, the word Canaanite is being used generically to include all the different evil tribes that occupied Canaan. Later on, the word “Amorite” is used generically to refer to the Canaanites because the Amorites were the dominant tribe in the area where Abraham was (cp. Gen. 15:16).
In this case, the word “Canaanite” was being used as it will be used later in Joshua when the Canaanites were known to be a race that had been genetically marred by demons and had to be destroyed completely (cp. Deut. 7:1; 20:16-18). Genesis 6:4, along with evidence from many other verses, shows that Satan, in order to destroy the human race that could produce the Savior who would destroy him, created a humanoid race of evil people called the Nephilim, the “fallen ones,” who made the earth so corrupt that God had to save it via a worldwide flood. But by the time of Abraham, Satan understood that God had his eye on the land of Israel and Satan wanted to claim that land for himself and destroy God’s people. So Satan made a second attempt at creating the fallen race, and that is why there were Nephilim in the Promised Land when Moses got to the edge of it (Num. 13:33).
E. W. Bullinger writes: “It is evident that from Terah’s and Abraham’s call, Satan knew the line by which ‘the seed of the woman’ (Gen. 3:15) was coming into the world. In [Gen.] chapter 6 he aimed at the whole human race. Now he aims at Abraham and his land. Here is the second explanation of ‘after that’ in [Gen.] 6:4. He [Satan] preoccupies the territory ready to dispute the advance. The Canaanite ‘was then’ – ‘being already’ there (cp. Gen. 13:7). The progeny of the latter attempt to corrupt the race had to be destroyed by the sword of Israel, as those ‘in the days of Noah’ had been by the Flood.”a
Satan is crafty, ruthless, and deadly, and believers are ignorant of him and his devices at their peril. The Bible says Christians are not to be ignorant of Satan and his schemes (2 Cor. 2:11). Although Christians will never defeat Satan in this life, we are called to stand against him and those who follow him in the same way that Jesus did. Although many Christians try to avoid conflict (and it is generally difficult and distasteful), the world is a battleground between Good and Evil, and we are called to “wrestle” against evil (Eph. 6:12) and be good soldiers for the Lord (2 Tim. 2:3). In chapter after chapter in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, believers take a stand against evil, and if evil is to be exposed and held in check, today’s believers must do the same.
[For more on the Nephilim, see commentary on Genesis 6:4.]