Archeological Discoveries and Their Bearing on Old Testament Part II -- By: Merrill F. Unger

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 112:446 (Apr 1955)
Article: Archeological Discoveries and Their Bearing on Old Testament Part II
Author: Merrill F. Unger


Archeological Discoveries and Their Bearing on Old Testament
Part II

Merrill F. Unger

Archeology and the Resurrection of the Horite’s and the Hittites

Among great archeological discoveries which have significant bearings upon the Old Testament must be listed the recovery of the language and culture of the ancient Horites and Hittites. Until comparatively recent times these peoples, who were once prominent on the stage of Old Testament history, were known only from scattered Biblical passages. Since secular history appeared silent concerning the existence of these ethnic groups, the Scriptural allusions to them were customily regarded with critical suspicion and references to them were commonly dismissed as historically unreliable. But the last half century in the case of the Hittites and the last quarter of a century in the case of the Horites have changed this situation completely. In the case of both the Horites and the Hittites archeology has demonstrated its ability to rediscover whole nations and resurrect ancient peoples and cultures from the grave in which they have been buried for millennia.

The Horites—The Solution to a Biblical Puzzle

In the Pentateuchal books there are a number of references to an enigmatic people named Horites, who in the Authorized Version of Deuteronomy 2:12, 22 are called Horims. These people were defeated by Chedorlaomer and the invading Mesopotamian army (Gen 14:6). They were governed by chieftains (Gen 36:29–30). They are said to have been destroyed by Esau’s descendants (Deut 2:12, 22). This unknown people

used to be thought of as a very local and restricted group of cave dwellers, the name Horite being derived from Hebrew hor (hole or cave). Other than this etymological description, the Horites remained completely obscure, not appearing outside the Pentateuch or in extra-Biblical literature.

Within the last thirty-five years, however, archeology has brought to light evidences of the Hurrians (the Biblical Horites), who now occupy a prominent place on the stage of ancient history. It is now known that this ethnic group not only existed but played a far-reaching role in ancient Near Eastern cultural history. As a result of the discovery of the Hurrians, the popular etymology which connects them with troglodytes, or cave dwellers, has generally been abandoned.

The Hurrians were non-Semite...

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