Who Were The Hittites In The Bible?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Who were the Hittites mentioned in the Bible?  What is it important that we know?

The Hittite’s Long History

The Hittites have been around for a very, very long time as “Canaan was the father of Sidon his firstborn, and of the Hittites” (Gen 10:15) and existed long before Abraham but up to the time of Abraham’s birth and life (Gen 15:20).  The Hittites generously allowed Abraham to bury his wife Sarah on their land for free, although Abraham insisted on paying them for it (Gen 23:10-12). The Hittites were living in part of what was called Canaan but later, the Promised Land and to which they would have to be removed when Israel took over the land (Ex 3:8, 17).

Who Were The Hittites In The Bible

The Historicity of the Hittites

For many years Bible skeptics kept bringing up the fact the Hittites were a myth and that these people only existed in the Bible…that is until archaeologists uncovered evidence of such a nation.  The Hittites have apparently been around for many centuries and stayed in power up until the 15th and 16th centuries.  Uriah the Hittite was one of the most powerful warriors in King David’s army (2 Sam 11:3) and even long after the nation of Israel returned from captivity hundreds of years later, the Hittites were still a formidable nation to deal with (Ezra 9:1).  The Hittites were a pagan nation that was obsessed with worshiping a multitude of gods that were related to nature like wind, fire, ice, the sky, thunder, the earth and dozens of other nature entities. Part of the reason God wanted the Hittites out of the Promised Land was so that they wouldn’t pollute the Israelites worship and mix their false, pagan gods with the one true God (Ex 23).

The historical evidence now available that the Hittite kingdom did indeed exist continues to pile up in archaeological and paleontological digs that both dates and confirms what the Bible has recorded for hundreds of years.  Archaeological evidence for the Hittites was discovered in former Assyrian territory and contained entire sets of royal archives with cuneiform tablets or with letterings like that of our alphabet.  These pagan people were extremely steeped in the worship of false gods but fortunately, they were allowed to intermarry and became absorbed into the surrounding cultures and today, you’d find it impossible to find any descendants of the Hittites.

The Hittites Empire

During the 13th to 14th century BC , the Hittite empire reached nearly as far and wide as the Roman Empire did and wrapped around all of the Middle East, the upper and lower regions of the Mediterranean, into North Africa and as far north as Greece and well beyond where Babylon was once located, past the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.  The Hittites were well known by the Egyptians and well acquainted with using chariot power in war.  The vastness of their empire at one time put them in control of the many trade routes throughout Asia-Minor and into regions beyond Greece.  They were not typically at war with Israel and had in fact aligned with them as trading partners.  The empire finally collapsed around 1178 BC.

The Hittites Origins

The Bible says that the Hittites were descendants of Hith which were also known as the Hethites.  Going back far enough it is thought that they are descendants of the Canaanites or at least part of those nations associated with Canaan.  There honestly isn’t a whole lot of information on their origins outside of the Bible and who exactly Hith is a descendant of although they possibly connect with Abraham’s family line, given the fact that Abraham came many years after Hith was born.  There is one apparent genealogical reference to Hittites as being related to Canaan so it would be logical to assume that Hith, the father of the Hittites or Hethites was a descendant of Canaan as we read in what is one of the first full genealogies in the Bible going all the way back to Adam (1 Chro 1:1) up to Abraham (1 Chro 1:27-28) extending to the children of Israel (1 Chro 2:1) all the way through to David and Solomon (1 Chro 3:1-10) and beyond.  First Chronicles 1:13-15 shows that “Canaan was the father of Sidon his firstborn, and of the Hittites” so the son of Cush, who was the son of Noah, was a great-grandfather of Canaan and Canaan the grandfather of Hith.  Hith’s father was Sidon, who himself was the son of Canaan.  The Hittites or Hethites preceded Abraham but not by too many years since the lifespans were still so long then so the Hittites preceded Abraham by only a few generations and so were a nation by the time Abraham lived.  Nations are typically families grown large, just like Abraham was the father of Israel and the many Arab nations.  So, Canaan was the father of Sidon who was the father of Hith and thus Hith was the father of the Hittites and no wonder that they felt right at home in Canaan.

Conclusion

There is still a lot we don’t know yet about the Hittites but archaeological evidence continues to surface every year and with each passing year we are learning more about them and this evidence reveals what was already recorded in the Bible long ago, showing that Bible skeptics that scoffed at the so-called mythological reports of the Hittites are now having to eat those words because we now know in fact that they did exist.  If only they had first turned to the Book of Genesis, these skeptics could have saved themselves a lot of time and embarrassment.

Related reading: Does Archaeology Support the Bible?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Charles hoffman May 18, 2015 at 9:56 am

the Hittites were mostly Sunni

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Rob October 29, 2016 at 6:15 pm

Bible skeptics still scoff at the Bible because they claim that the Hittites mentioned in the Bible cannot be the same as the Hittites of Anatolia….

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