The Hittites, or Hethites, descended from Heth the son of Canaan (Gen. x. 15). In their extreme southern distribution they inhabited the hill country of Judea, as well as a larger area to the north of Palestine, Hamath and Kadesh, on the Orontes, being their most southerly points there. Bible mention of them is frequent, but slight, and from other sources very little was known of this tribe till recently.
The Higher Critics did not hesitate to speak of the “unhistorical tone” of such passages as 2 Kings vii. 6, and point blank denied that the Hittites could ever have “compared in power with the Kings of Judah”.
Recent discoveries have put the critics to shame, for it is now known that the Hittites were strong enough to contend on equal terms with the great Powers of Egypt and Assyria. They are known on Egyptian monuments as Kheta, or Khata, and are prominent in the Tel-el-Amarna tablets. Assyrian inscriptions also mention the Hittites, against whom it is evident that Tiglath-Pileser and Shalmaneser, great as they were, did not always prosper in battle. Carchemish, on the Euphrates, was the Hittite capital and fortress in the south, while Kadesh, on the Orontes, was the northern capital (Josh. i. 4).
C. A. Ladson
- Tel-el-Amarna tablets: Amarna correspondence or Amarna tablets, (EA, for “El Amarna”): 382, of which 358 tablets have been published by the Norwegian Assyriologist Jørgen Alexander Knudtzon’s in his work, Die El-Amarna-Tafeln, which came out in two volumes (1907 and 1915) and remains the standard edition to this day.
These tablets shed light on the culture and language of the Canaanite peoples in pre-biblical times. The letters, though written in Akkadian, are heavily coloured by the mother tongue of their writers, who spoke an early form of Canaanite, the language family which would later evolve into its daughter languages, Hebrew and Phoenician.
- Kadesh, modern Tall an-Nabī Mind, ancient city on the Orontes (Al-ʿĀṣī) River in western Syria. The site is located about 15 miles (24 km) southwest of Homs.