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HIVITES (Heb. חִוִי), the sixth of the 11 peoples or tribes descended from the sons of Canaan (Gen. 10:17) and one of the seven nations residing in Canaan at the time of the Conquest (Ex. 3:8, 17; 13:5; 23:23, 28; 33:2; 34:11; Deut. 7:1; 20:17; Josh. 3:10; 9:1; 11:3; 12:8; 24:11; Judg. 3:35; i Kings 9:20 = ii Chron. 8:7). Most of the references to the Hivites occur in Genesis and Joshua, among the least historical sections of the Bible. Yet it is likely that some such group was known to ancient Israel. In the stories set in the "patriarchal period" the Hivites dwelt at Shechem (Gen. 34:2). In accounts of the Conquest of Canaan they were associated with the four towns of Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim (Josh. 9:17), and with the land of Mizpah at the foot of Mt. Hermon (Josh. 11:3). According to the Book of Joshua, the Hivites of the four towns were exempt from Israel's holy war against the seven nations by a solemn treaty (Josh. 9:19; see *Gibeonites). Those who lived in the land of Mizpah were likewise unaffected, insofar as the area below Mt. Hermon was the limit of Joshua's conquest (Josh. 11:17; Judg. 3:3).

The term Hivites is unattested in extra-biblical sources. The suggestion that the Hivites are the Greek Achaeans, known from the Iliad, who appear in Egyptian documents as akioasha, seems linguistically dubious. E.A. Speiser noted the absence of any reference to the *Hurrians (Horites), who played a major role in Israelite history, in the biblical lists of Canaanite nations. He called attention to Hurrian personal names associated with Shechem and with other areas whose inhabitants the Bible calls Hivites. He further noted the juxtaposition of the Hurrian Jebusites and the Hivites in all but two of the biblical references to the latter. Thus he concluded that Hivite was a biblical term for Hurrian. Speiser supported his identification of the biblical Hivites with the Hurrians by reference to Genesis 36:2, and 36:20, where the terms Hivite and Horite are apparently used interchangeably. In the former verse Zibeon is called a Hivite, in the latter, a Horite. Other examples of the apparent interchange of the terms Hivite and Horite may be found by comparing the Masoretic Text and the Septuagint. Thus in Genesis 34:2 and Joshua 9:7 the Septuagint reads Horites for the Hivite of the Masoretic Text. These alternations have been the subject of considerable discussion. Some claim that the differences between the Masoretic Text and Septuagint are the result of the former's attempt to harmonize the narratives with the list of Canaanite nations in Genesis 10. It is difficult, however, to draw any conclusions from variants in the Septuagint.

Both Grintz and Speiser suggested a close connection between Hurrians and Hivites. Grintz, therefore, explained the Gibeonites' claim to have come "from a far country" (Josh. 9:6, 9) in the light of the Hurrians' origin in the area north of Mesopotamia and east of Asia Minor. Speiser, who found the name Ḫu-ú-ia among Hurrian names in Mesopotamia, suggested that the latter name, which passed into Hebrew as Hivite, became the general Hebrew term for Hurrian because the term Horite had been preempted for the pre-Edomite population of Seir (Gen. 36:20). S. Ahituv connects the Hivites with the land Ḫume, known from Neo-Babylonian sources. The Hebrew form with waw is linguistically defensible.


E. Meyer, Die Israeliten und ihre Nachbarstämme (1906), 328–45; I.Z. Horowitz, Ereẓ Yisrael u-Shekhenoteha (1923); E.A. Speiser, in: aasor, 13 (1933), 26–31; S. Loewenstamm, in: em, 3 (1958), 45–47; Y.M. Grintz, Moẓa'ei Dorot (1969), 130–82, 290–308. add. bibliography: S. Ahituv, Joshua (1995), 93.

[Mayer Irwin Gruber]

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