Who were the Hittites? Is it true that they are unknown and unmentioned outside of the Bible?
UK Apologetics Reply:
The Hittites had been an undiscovered middle-eastern group for centuries. This caused some Bible sceptics to ridicule the Old Testament, suggesting that the Hittites were just a fanciful Hebrew invention.
However, time moves on. Nobody now doubts that the Hittites were a very real group of people. Archaeology has established the existence of these peoples beyond any doubt. There appear to have been at least two main groups: a. Hittites (who inhabited Anatolia, part of modern Turkey), and b. Neo-Hittites (mainly confined to the hill country of northern Syria). These peoples were active around 1400-1190BC.
The idea of a Hittite nation had been scoffed at by Bible-deniers for over a hundred years until positive proof of their existence became firmly established. It is now known that these warlike people were even able to challenge mighty Egypt.
It is often suggested that these two groups were unrelated but it is far more likely that this was one large, major group of people, but with the main force and presence based in the mountains of Anatolia. Their ancient city site has now even been discovered and excavated, it was a huge city with huge fortifications in the most unpromising mountainous country. Interestingly, a recent BBC 4 television programme actually referred to this city at some length (source: 'Lost Cities of the Ancients - The Dark Lords of Hattusha,' 8PM, BBC4, March 29th, 2012).
Many Old Testament references to these people seem to suggest that they were a 'thorn in the flesh' to the Israelites rather than a major force but the association of Hittite kings with Solomon's trade in horses and their involvement in the conflicts of Syria and Israel suggest a more major force, and the more modern view is that the Hittites - at the height of their powers - were even able to challenge Egypt. It is now known that they were able to fight Rameses II and his Egyptian army to a standstill at Kadesh in one particular campaign.
The sudden disappearance of the Hittite people from history has been a puzzle but it is now generally thought that their kingdom became seriously weakened due to persistent civil wars between rival Hittite factions.
But no archaeologist/historian worth their salt now challenges the fact that these were a warlike people who were around at the time of the Israelite's entrance into the Promised Land.
Yet again, the Bible record is corroborated!
Robin A. Brace. March 31st, 2012.