EXCERPT “The presence of Hittites in the narratives of Israelite beginnings is thus rhetorical and ideological rather than historical.” -John Van Seters. The appearance of the term “Hittites” in English Bible translations has been an apologetic, archaeological and historical problem for quite some time. Many claim that references to the Hittites in the Old Testament are either errors or fictional anachronisms. In this important article, Dr. Bryant Wood proposes that the solution to this problem is a linguistic one. Based on a detailed assessment of the original Hebrew text, and an evaluation of the archaeological evidence pertaining to the Hittite and neo-Hittite kingdoms, Dr. Wood concludes our English translations require correction. Once this is accomplished, we once again find the Bible is accurate and trustworthy.
The name Hittite(s) appears forty-eight times in contemporary English Bibles, stemming from the reformation Geneva Bible published in 1560. All Eng. translations prior to the Geneva Bible had Hethite(s) rather than Hittite(s), based on the Latin Vulgate. The Roman Catholic Douay English translation of the OT is the only modern English version to retain Hethite(s) from the Vulgate. Both names are Anglicized transliterations of the masculine singular gentilic חִתִּי (ḥittî) derived from חֵת (ḥēt). The two names also are used to represent the three additional gentilics of:
1. חֵת (ḥēt)
2. חִתִּית (ḥittît) (feminine singular)
3. חִתִּים (ḥittîm) (masculine plural), and
4. חתִּיֹּת (ḥittîyōt) (feminine plural)
Should it be Hethite(s), Hittite(s), or a combination of the two? We shall answer that question by examining the usage of the four gentilic forms of חֵת (ḥēt) in the Hebrew Bible.
There was a time when historians scoffed at the name Hittite(s) in the OT since it was not known outside the Bible. Archaeological discoveries in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Turkey and Syria from the early nineteenth century on, however, have revealed an Indo-European group scholars have dubbed “Hittites” (as opposed to “Hethites”), who established an empire in Anatolia that became a major power in the ancient Near East. But a serious problem remains….
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