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KITTIM (Heb. כִּתִּיִּים ,כִּתִּים, the final mem possibly a suffix and not a plural ending), the name of a place and its inhabitants. In the table of nations Kittim is mentioned among the sons of Javan and the brothers of *Elishah (Gen. 10:4). Josephus (Ant. 1:128) identified Kittim with Kition, or Kitti, a Phoenician city on the island of *Cyprus near present-day Larnaca, an identification accepted by most scholars. Many scholars identify Elishah with Cyprus, or with part of it, and in Ezekiel 27:6–7, Elishah is mentioned along with Kittim as a place which traded with Tyre. Kittim is used in connection with Tyre and Sidon in Isaiah 23:1, 12. In these verses Kittim refers not only to a city but also to a land (Isa. 23:1) and to islands (Ezek. 27:6). Jeremiah 2:10 mentions isles of Kittim as the symbol of the western extremity of the world. Apparently the Israelites used the name Kittim to include the islands of the Aegean Sea and even the coastal areas of the Mediterranean Sea (Jos., Ant., 1:128). There is no foundation for the opinion of some scholars that ancient Kittim is in Asia Minor, but various passages in the Bible indicate a connection between Kittim and Assyria. There is an obscure verse in the prophecies of Balaam, which seems to say: "Ships come from the quarter of Kittim; they subject Ashur, subject Eber. They, too, shall perish forever" (Num. 24:24). The proximity of Kittim to Assyria in this verse seems to have been the cause of an alteration in the text of Ezekiel 27:6. The phrase bat-Ashurim in the masoretic text of this verse probably originally read bitʾashurim "with cypress(?) wood" (cf. Isa. 41:19; 60:13), and it is this wood that Ezekiel describes as brought "from the coastlands of Kittim." The very obscure statement of Isaiah 23:12–13 seems to say that Assyria conquered Kittim. In fact, Sargon ii of Assyria had a stele erected at Larnaca in Cyprus and received tributes from its kings. (For an interpretation of Isa. 23:12–13 see Duhm in bibl., and the standard commentaries.) It is evident that Daniel's prediction, "But ships of Kittim shall come against him…" (11:30), is based upon a midrash on Baalam's words which identifies the Kittim with the Romans and Assyria with the Seleucid dynasty of Syria. The identification of Kittim with the Romans was accepted by the Jews in later generations (Targ. Onk., Num. 24:24 "Romans") and served as a basis for eschatological thought in succeeding generations. In i Maccabees 1:1, Macedonia is called Kittim (cf. 8:5), and apparently even this appellation is derived from the Midrashim on Balaam's utterances that are mentioned above.

[Amos Hakham]

(1) The War of the Kittim

In a number of Qumran texts the Kittim appear as the last gentile world power to oppress the people of God. In the Habakkuk Commentary from Cave 1 the prophet's "Chaldeans" are understood to be the Kittim, sent by God to execute His judgment on the godless rulers in Judea but destined, because of their unconscionable rapacity, to be the objects of His judgment in their turn. In a fragmentary commentary on Isaiah from Cave 4, the advance and downfall of the Assyrians (Isa. 10:22ff.) is interpreted as the "war of the Kittim"; an invader who marches from Acre to the precincts of Jerusalem is probably the leader of the Kittim. The "war of the Kittim" is described in detail in the War Scroll; early in this document the sons of light take the field against "the bands of the Kittim of Asshur and with them as helpers those who deal wickedly against the covenant" (1 qm 1:2) and after dealing with them proceed against "the [king] of the Kittim in Egypt" (1 qm 1:4; see *War Scroll). While the word "king" in this last quotation is the conjectural restoration of a lacuna in the text, the context suggests that this is an interpretation of "the king of the south" of Daniel 11:40. Later in the scroll, in what may be an annex to the main work, the fighting men "encamp against the king of the Kittim and the whole host of Belial" (1 qm 15:2). The "Kittim of Asshur" probably had their base in Syria; but Kittim and Asshur seem to be used interchangeably in the scroll: thus, when the sons of Belial are destroyed, "Asshur shall come to his end; none shall help him [a quotation from Dan. 11:45] and the dominion of the Kittim shall pass away, that wickedness may be brought low with no survivor and that there may be no deliverance for all the sons of darkness" (1 qm. 1:6ff.). In such a passage Asshur (Assyria), as in Isaiah, is probably a term to denote the gentile oppressor of Israel, whereas Kittim indicates more precisely where this oppressor comes from. If the arms and tactics specified in the War Scroll are of Roman type, as Y. Yadin argues, the Kittim would be the Romans, as in Daniel 11:30. Likewise, in the Nahum Commentary, Jerusalem remains uncaptured by the kings of Greece "from Antiochus (vii) to the rise of the rulers of the Kittim," who are most probably the Romans.

(2) In the Habakkuk Commentary

The same conclusion is probably indicated by the evidence of the Habakkuk Commentary. There the Kittim are a world power, pursuing a career of conquest and empire from the west. In their irresistible advance they overwhelm all who stand in their way and bring them under their own rule. They take possession of many lands and plunder the cities of the earth; they carry on negotiations with other nations in a spirit of cunning and deceit; they lay their subversive plans in advance and tolerate no opposition in carrying them into execution. Their lust for conquest is insatiable; they mock at kings and rulers; fortress after fortress falls before them. Their leaders follow one another in quick succession: "they come one after another to destroy the earth." This rapid replacement happens "by the counsel of a guilty house." They exact tribute so heavy as to improverish the lands which have to pay it; their methods of warfare do not spare men, women, or the tiniest children. The prophet's description of the Chaldeans as catching men like fish and then paying divine honors to their nets is said to denote the Kittim's practice of offering sacrifice to their standards and worshiping their weapons. This last feature of the Kittim is reminiscent of the fact that Roman military standards were treated as sacred objects, particularly the eagle, the legionary standard, which was kept in a special shrine in the camp and was regarded as affording sanctuary. Titus' victorious legionaries in 70 c.e. offered sacrifice to their eagles against the East Gate of the Temple; but this action was not necessarily an innovation. The successors of Alexander the Great may have had a similar practice, but the evidence in their case is scanty and ambiguous as compared with that for the Romans. While features in the commentator's account of the Kittim could describe other imperial conquerors, the overall impression is particularly appropriate to the Romans. This conclusion is the more confirmed when comparing the commentator's description of the Kittim with the anti-Roman propaganda disseminated throughout the Middle East between 88 and 63 b.c.e. by Mithridates vi of Pontus, of which a sample is provided in his letter to Arsaces xii of Parthia preserved in a fragment of Sallust's Histories. The relevant section of the Habakkuk Commentary is almost an echo of this.

[Frederick Fyvie Bruce]


Luckenbill, Records, 2 (1927), 100–3; N. Slouschz, Oẓar ha-Ketovot ha-Finikiyyot (1942), 66–96; M.H. Segal, in: jbl, 70 (1951), 133ff.; W. Brandenstein, in: Festschrift A. Debrunner (1954), 172ff.; R. North, in: Biblica, 39 (1958), 84–93; W.F. Albright, in: Wright, Bible, 451–2, 458ff.; B. Duhm, Das Buch Jesaia (19224), 170; J.M. Cross, Jr., The Ancient Library of Qumran and Modern Biblical Studies (1958), 92–93. A. Dupont-Sommer, Jewish Sect of Qumran and the Essenes (1954), 14ff.; Rowley, in: pefqs, 88 (1956), 92ff.; G.R. Driver, Judaean Scrolls (1965), 197ff.

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Kittim or Chittim (both: kĬt´Ĭm). 1 Biblical term for Cyprus; often extended to include lands W of Syria. The name originally designated the Phoenician port of Citium in Cyprus. 2 Term appearing in the Dead Sea Scrolls, used of the Romans. The Kittim are referred to as warriors from the west, who capture Jerusalem.

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Chittim (kĬt´Ĭm), variant of Kittim.