[b-hebrew] H-XT-Y at II Samuel 11: 3

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Wed Jul 28 11:13:18 EDT 2010

H-XT-Y at II Samuel 11: 3
The Biblical Hebrew word H-XT-Y, which appears for example at II Samuel 11: 
3, has been difficult to understand.  In the early 17th century AD, the KJV 
translators decided to translate XTY as “Hittite”, to the consternation of 
modern Hittite scholars:
“How then did the term ‘Hittite’ come about?  It arose initially out of a 
few scattered biblical references to a Canaanite people after the end of the 
Bronze Age.  The term was subsequently adopted by scholars to refer to the 
Late Bronze Age kingdom in Anatolia.  As far as we know, the Late Bronze Age 
‘Hittites’ never used an ethnic or political term to designate themselves…
.  They simply called themselves ‘people of the Land of Hatti’.  That is, 
they identified themselves by the region in which they lived….”  Trevor 
Bryce, “The Kingdom of the Hittites” (1998), at pp. 18-19.
I myself question Bryce’s assertion that these people are Canaanites who 
post-date the Late Bronze Age.  But they’re certainly not the Hittites from 
eastern Anatolia, that’s for sure.  On the linguistic side, if a reference to 
the people of eastern Anatolia had been the primary intent of the Biblical 
authors, one might have expected XTT, with two tavs, not one.  For example, 
all the references to Hatti in the Amarna Letters have two T’s, making this a 
3-syllable word.  For example:  (1) KUR.xa-at-ta, at EA 363: 11;  (2) 
KUR.xa-at-ti, at EA 197: 24;  and (3) KUR.xa-at-te, at EA 196: 10, 17.  The 
logogram KUR is always there, making certain that this is a reference to a 
country, not “an ethnic or political term”.
The yod/Y at the end of H-XT-Y is a Hebrew suffix, not part of the root.  
We know that from other Biblical references to these same people as BNY XT, 
where the second word is simply XT, with no yod/Y.  As noted by eminent 
Hittite scholars Harry A. Hoffner and Trevor Bryce (the two biggest names in the 
field), the Hebrews are routinely portrayed in the Bible as interacting with 
the XT people in the heart of Canaan, being a place where no Hittite ever 
was, that’s for sure.  I agree with university scholars that the XT people 
are not the Hittites from eastern Anatolia.  But then who are these XT people? 
 It’s not likely, is it, that the XT people are utterly fictional, having 
no historical counterpart whatsoever?  Though that may be the view of 
university scholars, wouldn’t the rest of us want to take a look for ourselves, to 
see if we can figure out who the X-T people were historically, perhaps 
focusing on X-T as being a key linguistic clue?
One possible avenue to explore is a people who historically have many 
attested personal names that begin with XT, and who at least for a short time 
(perhaps in the Late Bronze Age) lived throughout Canaan as prominent members 
of the ruling class.  Well-known scholar Edward Lipinski comments on II 
Samuel 11: 3 in a succinct paragraph here:
The moderators have instructed me not to re-hash my own theories as to 
these matters, so I won’t.  But might I simply ask what other people on the 
b-hebrew list make of those mysterious Biblical references to the XT people?  
Who are the H-XT-Y at II Samuel 11: 3?  Should we be looking for an historical 
people in Canaan with attested names out the wazzoo beginning with X-T?  
Assuming that the moderators are right in ruling out, in advance, any further 
consideration of my own theories of the case (and the moderators are 
certainly correct that most people on the b-hebrew list already know how I would 
approach this question, looking for an historical people in Late Bronze Age 
Canaan who historically have many attested theophoric names that begin with 
X-T, and refusing to assume, without examination, that every single Biblical 
reference to the XT people is utterly fictional and has no historical basis 
whatsoever, especially in the face of so many attested names starting with 
X-T of a people who for a time were very prominent members of the ruling class 
throughout Canaan, including Jerusalem, the city of Hebron, etc., etc.), 
then what analysis do you all make of the Biblical XT people?
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list