The Hittites were an ancient people group that existed as early as the time of Abraham in the Old Testament. Descended from Heth the son of Canaan (Genesis 10:15), they ruled areas of Syria and eastern Turkey early in their history. First mentioned specifically in Genesis 15:20, the Lord promised Abraham the land of the Hittites would one day belong to him.
What do we know about the Hittites?
In Genesis 23, Abraham buried his wife Sarah among the Hittites in Hebron, indicating that at least some of the Hittites lived in this area during his lifetime. Abraham's grandson Esau married two Hittite women (Genesis 26:34), something that his mother Rebekah despised (Genesis 27:46). The same tomb bought from Hittites by Abraham was the burial place of many key figures in Genesis—Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah (Genesis 49:31-32; Genesis 50:12-14).
In Exodus, the Hittites were mentioned as one of the groups God would remove in order for the Israelites to live in the Promised Land: "I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites" (Exodus 3:8).
During the time of David, Ahimelech the Hittite and Uriah the Hittite were both mentioned as people who served in his army. Uriah was an important figure as he was one of David's mighty men and his wife Bathsheba was the woman with whom David had an affair. David later set Uriah up to die in battle (2 Samuel 11).
Second Kings 7:6 notes, "For the Lord had made the army of the Syrians hear the sound of chariots and of horses, the sound of a great army, so that they said to one another, 'Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Egypt to come against us.'" At this time, the Hittites continued to have some influence; "kings" would have been leaders of areas of some significance.
Outside of the Bible, archaeological discoveries have also been made to confirm the existence of the Hittites and provide additional information about this group. Their religion, for example, was polytheistic, believing in many gods. A leader named King Telepinus also left records that in some ways resemble the covenant language found in the books of Moses. This group existed as early as the 15th to 16th centuries BC, with modern finds affirming the mention of the Hittites in the Bible.
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