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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