HITTITES

The Middle Eastern political power known as the Hittite Empire lasted from about 1800 to 1200 BC. It extended from northern Palestine across Syria and into Asia Minor. Tidal, king of Goiim, was possibly a Hittite king of the era before the Empire was fully established (Gen 14:1). Even after the Empire had collapsed, Syria was still sometimes referred to as the land of the Hittites. Likewise the people of various states and cities in Syria still called themselves Hittites (Josh 1:4; 2 Sam 24:6; 1 Kings 10:29; 11:1; 2 Kings 7:6).

However, the Hittites most often mentioned in the Bible are not those of the ancient Hittite Empire in the north, but those of smaller tribal groups in Canaan. They were probably the descendants of migrants from earlier Hittite kingdoms, and formed one of the many tribal groups that occupied Canaan before the conquering Israelites drove them out (Gen 15:20; Exod 3:8; 23:28; Deut 7:1; Josh 3:10; Ezra 9:1). The main area where the Hittites of Canaan lived was the central mountain region. This included the towns of Bethel, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron and Beersheba (Gen 23:2-16; 26:34; Judg 1:23,26; 2 Sam 23:39; Ezek 16:3). The Hittites were among the many Canaanite groups whom Solomon used as slaves in his building programs (1 Kings 9:20-21). Eventually they were absorbed into the Israelites and so ceased to be a distinct racial group.

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