Monday, January 25, 2016

Abraham and the Hittites

Alice C. Linsley

Genesis 23 recounts how Abraham the Habiru (Hebrew, from Akkadian "abru" - priest) did business with local Hittites in Canaan. They recognize Abraham's high status. They speak of him as "a great prince among us" (Gen. 23:6).

The Hittites are designated the "sons" of Heth/Het (Gen. 23:2-11) and one of the clans of Canaan (Gen. 10:15). The clan of Het lived near Kirtiath-Arba or Hebron (Genesis 23:3,7), the northern boundary of Abraham's territory and the location of Sarah's settlement. It was here that Abraham purchased a cave tomb for Sarah's burial. Typically, such cave tombs were a chamber reached through a vertical shaft which could be sealed by a stone slab, as shown in the image below.

It is likely that the deed to the cave with these tombs was part of the property that Abraham passed to his son Isaac (Gen. 25:5–6). According to Genesis 49:29, the cave tombs that Abraham bought with the field of Ephron were used to bury Isaac, Rebekah, and Leah.

The term "Hittite" in reference to Abraham is an anachronism. Abraham lived before the time of the ascendancy of the Hittites in Anatolia and Northern Syria around BC 1800. There is evidence of their existence as early as BC 1900, which places them closer to the time of Abraham (BC 2039-1964).

As with all the archaic rulers, the Hittite rulers were known for their stone work and metal work. Royal tombs made of stone have been discovered in Alaca Hüyük and Horoztepe in Anatolia, dating to c. 2400–2200. The word tepe means hill in Turkish. This can be a reference to the kar of the ancient rulers. "Horoz-tepe" is a reference to the Horite ruler-priests living in Anatolia. They were devotees of Horus and his mother Hathor/Hesi. Since these fortified hills were places of burnt offerings, the term kar is often associated with charcoal and soot. The Turkish kara means "black." In Magyar, korom refers to soot, as does the Korean word kurim. Among the Nilotic Luo, kar specifies a place with boundaries.

They are referenced in ancient texts as the Nes. In addition to stone work, they were smiths who introduced iron work to Anatolia. They called themselves the Nes, Neshi or Nehesi (NS) and their language was called Nesli. These ancient stone masons built tombs and temples, and the metal workers fashioned weapons and symbols of royal authority. Many magnificent artifacts have been recovered from these tombs, including this magnificent sun disk from Alaca Hüyük.

In southern Anatolia (modern Turkey) royal stone masons built Catalhoyuk beginning in 7500 BC. The Turkish words catal means fork and hoyuk means mound.) This was a settlement built on two mounds (east and west) and a channel of the Çarşamba River once flowed between them. The houses excavated in Catalhoyuk date between 6800-5700 B.C. Recent excavations have identified a shrine or small temple on the eastern side. At Horoztepe, in northern Anatolia, they built royal tombs dating from 2400–2200 BC. These are richly furnished with finely crafted artifacts in bronze, gold, and silver.

The words Hittite and Het share the same primitive root HT. HT is the Hebrew and Arabic root for copper - nahas-het.  As an adjective, HT means shining bright, like burnished copper. Nahash (NS) refers to a serpent. The HT copper smiths ranged from Timnah to Anatolia. The serpent image was sacred for them, just as it was for Moses the Horite ruler who fashioned a bronze serpent and set it on the standard (Numbers 21:9).

The Neshi appear to be in the same R1b haplogroup as Abraham. Their point of origin is not the Black Sea region, as often speculated, but the region of the Upper Nile Valley and Paleo-Lake Chad, shown on the map below. At one time these water system were interconnected. The Neshi still function as priests in Igboland (Nigeria).

Nehesi means "one who serves Hesi." Hesi was another name for Hathor, Horus' mother. Throughout the ancient world fortified mounds with water sources known (the ancient kar) were dedicated to both Horus and Hathor. Tell-Hesi, a 25-acre archaeological site in Israel, is an example. It was the first major site excavated in Palestine, first by Flinders Petrie in 1890 and later by Frederick Jones Bliss in 1891 and 1892.

Hathor was regarded as the patroness of metal workers. A temple dedicated to Hathor was discovered at the southwestern edge of Mt. Timnah by Professor Beno Rothenberg of Hebrew University. Timnah is the site of some of world's oldest copper mines. The oldest mines - about 6000 years - were worked almost continuously until the Roman Period. Ancient rock carvings have been found here showing warriors in chariots, holding stone axes and metal shields.

Hittite writings

For a long time, little was known about the Hittites other than what could be gathered from the Bible. In 1834, archeologist Charles Texier stumbled upon the ruins of Hattusha (Hattusa), a principal Hittite settlement in modern-day Boğazköy (Boghazkoy). In 1884 William Wright discovered a script that speaks of a "people of Hattusa." For the large part, Hittite court records were written using Akkadian cuneiform, the script of Nimrod's territory. Nimrod was a Kushite ruler. Nimrod was known as Sharru-Kin which means “the righteous king.” His Akkadian name Šarru-kīnu is usually translated “the true king.”

In 1915 the Czech linguist, Bedřich Hrozný announced the results of his study of the Hittite language in a lecture at the Near Eastern Society of Berlin. His book, The Language of the Hittites; Its Structure and Its Membership in the Indo-European Linguistic Family, begins with: "The present work undertakes to establish the nature and structure of the hitherto mysterious language of the Hittites, and to decipher this language [...] It will be shown that Hittite is in the main an Indo-European language."

There are many connections between ancient Nilotic words and those found in Anatolia, Northern India and Serbia were the Kushite Saka ruled for many thousands of years. Vad means “to speak” in Sanskrit. The root VD also refers to seeing. In Ancient Egyptian vidjet refers to the Eye of Horus, the son of the Creator. In Serbian, vidjet means "to see."

The collapse of the Hittite Empire at the end of the late Bronze Age is consistent with developments elsewhere that may have been triggered by extensive regional drought. Learn more about the Bronze Age collapse and new evidence of droughts in the region.


DManA said...

What was a Hittite (Uriah) doing serving King David?

Alice C. Linsley said...

The Hittites were known to produce great warriors. Uriah likely was the commander of the chariots. The Hittites were masters of the war chariots that carried 3 men. One drove the horses, another used the weapons which included bow and arrow, spear and axe, and the third served a defensive role with the shield.

David had Edomite ancestry and the Edomites and the Hittites intermarried. Esau of Edom married 2 Hittite women: "When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite." (Gen. 26:34). These Hittite women were kin to the people of Seir, the Horite (Gen. 36).

The Edomites and the Hittites have common patrilineal ancestry. Sheba the Elder was the brother of Eber. Both rulers were descendants of Noah. Sheba was descended from Noah through Ham and Eber was descended from Noah through Shem. Keep in mind that the ruling lines of Ham and Shem intermarried.

David arranged for the death of Uriah, the Hittite. The Bible does not sanitize the lives of these rulers. Some, like Moses and David, stand as examples of divine grace, received through repentance. Both men were guilty of murder.

Uriah was married to Bathsheba. Bathsheba means "daughter/female descendant of Sheba" and Sheba was a royal priestly house. A ruler named Sheba opposed David. He was pursued by Joab to the city of Abel-beth-maachah (2 Samuel 20) where he was eventually beheaded.

In Canaan, one of the three-clan confederations consisted of Sheba, Jebu/Yebu and Joktan. Joktan was the name of Abraham's first born son by his cousin wife, Keturah. Keturah resided in Beersheba. Beer-Sheba means the "well of Sheba." Beersheba is where Abraham lived out his final years. This is also where Isaac married Rebekah. Jacob offered sacrifice at Beersheba before he journeyed into Egypt (Gen. 46:1-5).