All the Land of the Hittites

February 26, 2014

Following the death and 30-day period of mourning for Moses (Deut. 34), Yahweh spoke words of encouragement to his successor, Joshua:

After the death of Moses the LORD’s servant, the LORD spoke to Joshua son of Nun, who had served Moses: “Moses My servant is dead. Now you and all the people prepare to cross over the Jordan to the land I am giving the Israelites. I have given you every place where the sole of your foot treads, just as I promised Moses.  Your territory will be from the wilderness and Lebanon to the great Euphrates River– all the land of the Hittites— and west to the Mediterranean Sea” (Joshua 1:1-4, CSB).

Holman’s Christian Standard Bible (Study Bible) has the following notation regarding the expression, “land of the Hittites”:

The land of the Hittites seems not to refer to the Hittite Empire of modern Turkey but the Egyptian and later Assyrian usage of this term to describe the region controlled by the Hittites in the western part of modern Syria. These lands and boundaries identify Canaan as it was known both to the Bible (Gn 10:19; Nm 13:17,21-22; 34:3-12) and to Egyptian writers of the second millennium B.C.

In numerous passages the Hittites are mentioned as one of several groups populating the land of Canaan. For example, Joshua told the Israelites, “You will know that the living God is among you and that He will certainly dispossess before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites” (Joshua 1:10; cf. Gen. 15:20; Deut. 7:1, and etc.).

The Ankara (Capitol of modern Turkey) Museum is of international renown for its collection of Hittite artifacts. The relief below shows three Hittite warriors.

Hittite Warriors. Ankara Museum. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Hittite Warriors. Ankara Museum. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

The accompanying placard entitled The Warriors  says, “Three figures with curly hair, and dressed in long tunics with wide belts. The figure at the front holds a spear, which is broken at one end, in his left hand and a leafed tree branch in the right. The figure in the middle clenches his left fist and holds up a tool at head level in his right hand. They are followed by a figure that carries a staff in the left hand. All three wear long swords at the waist.”

The Bible is not a book of fiction. When it mentions people, they were real people, living in real places, participating in real events as recorded in Scripture.


The Kadesh Treaty

March 30, 2010

Numerous references are made in the biblical text to the Hittites. You will remember that Abraham bought the cave and the field of Macpelah from Ephron the Hittite, as a burial place for his family (Gen. 29:49). Hundreds of references are made to Egypt and the Egyptians.  The oldest known treaty between two nations is the “Kadesh Treaty,” an agreement between the Hittites and the Egyptians.

You may be surprised to learn that until fairly recently, many skeptics ridiculed biblical references to the Hittites, saying there was no such people, and the biblical writers were inventing fiction. Now so much information is available on the vast Hittite empire that doctoral degrees may be earned in Hittite studies!

In an article entitled, “Is the Bible Trustworthy?” (The Apologetics Study Bible) Walter Keiser wrote:

Archaeology has helped to show that the culture, persons, and events of the Old Testament are trustworthy. Archaeology has done much to further the cause of showing the reliability of the OT. Where there were alleged missing persons mentioned in the OT, but not known from external sources, such as King Sargon in Isaiah 20:1, or Governor Sanballat of Samaria (Neh 2:10), or kings David, Ahab, Jehu, and Hezekiah, Menahem, and even a prophet, Balaam, in each case spectacular finds have vindicated the claims of the OT. In like manner, where the OT claimed there were peoples such as the Hittites or the Horites, later finds vindicated the presence of these as well as other allegedly missing peoples.

The treaty is called the Kadesh Treaty, as Kadesh (sometimes spelled Qadesh) on the Orontes River was the battle site for these two major forces in 1274 B.C.  See map here for location of Kadesh.

Kadesh, scene of battle Hittites vs Egyptians. Source: bibleatlas.org

Both the Hittites and the Egyptians wrote their own version of the battle, each suggesting a more favorable outcome for their respective country; this is especially true of the Egyptian version.  Most scholars believe the battle was a stalemate.  Pictured below is a photo of the Kadesh Treaty, written in Akkadian, in Istanbul’s Archaeology Museum.

Kadesh Treaty, Istanbul Archaeology Museum. Photo by Leon Mauldin

The king of the Hittite Empire was Hattusilis III; the Egyptian king was Rameses II. In summary, the treaty states that neither of these nations would battle one another.  Further, if another nation were to attack either of them, they would rise to their assistance against the aggressor.

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