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APROPOS of the announcement that Captain Conder claims to have in a measure discovered the key to the Hittite inscriptions, the following remarks have recently appeared :

“The Hittites of the Bible were one of the most powerful of the tribes who inhabited Canaan in patriarchal times ; and it is probable that the Old Testament allusions to them refer, for the most part, to the branch which at that period had migrated from Northern Syria and settled near Hebron, in Southern Palestine. Abraham purchased his burial-place, the cave of Machpelah, 'in the field of Ephron the Hittite.' To this race, too, belonged Judith and Bashemath, Esau's wives. Ahimelech, David's companion, was a Hittite ; so too was Uriah ; and there were Hittite princesses amongst Solomon's wives. But of the Hittites of the north, the Bible tells us little. There is not much doubt, however, that they were identical with the Kheta of the Egyptian monuments and the Khatti of the Assyrian tablets, and that their dynasties belonged to prehistoric ages. Whether they were Turanians or no, they were certainly at a very early epoch a dominant race who ruled the Semitic tribes around them.

“The Egyptian sculptors represented them with a Tartar type of physiognomy. They wore pointed boots instead of sandals, and had pigtails. In the 18th and 19th Egyptian dynasties the great capitals of the Kheta were Carchemish on the Euphrates and Kedesh on the Orontes. The site of the latter city was identified beyond a doubt by Captain Conder in

As early as 1600 B.C.,--that is, before the Hebrew conquest of Canaan,—the extension of the Kheta southwards was checked by the Egyptians at the Battle of Megiddo ; while Rameses II., about 1361 B.C., besieged and took Kadesh. The sculptures at Abu Simbel represent this


great battle, and in them the Egyptian sculptors have, as usual, introduced an element of caricature. Rameses appears driving the Hittites into the

and on the opposite bank their half-drowned chief is being held head downwards by his followers, who are endeavouring to revive him by this primitive and still popular method. The terms of the treaty subsequently concluded between Rameses and Kheta Sar were engraved on a silver plate, and also inscribed on the outer walls of the temple at Karnak. From the Egyptian description of this document we know that, although the Hittite names were not Šemitic, they worshipped Ashtoreth and Set, the gods of the Syrians, Assyrians, and Phoenicians. These seem, moreover, to have been the generic names of local deities. Set appears, too, to have been identical with the Egyptian deity of that name,—the God of Night, whose emblem was an ass with tail raised. The mountains and rivers of Khetaland were also invoked as divinities. The tablet further shows how advanced were their military tactics ; and among their allies have been recognised the Mysians, the Dardanians, the men of Carchemish and Aleppo, the inhabitants of Mesopotamia, and of the island of Aradus. It was a confederacy of Syria and Chaldea, Phænicia, and Asia Minor against the Pharaohs. At this period, indeed, the Hittites were nearly equal in power to the Egyptians, and the treasures which Rameses took at Kadesh prove that they were nearly as wealthy a people. Nor do their wealth and power seem to have much diminished until they were totally eclipsed by the rising power of Babylon.

“But we have shown that in still earlier times than those of which we have any record the Hittites were probably a yet more powerful race. There are not wanting grounds to justify the belief that their empire at one time

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extended to the borders of Egypt. Although it is thought from the evidence of the Hittite proper names, that some of the tribes north of Carchemish and Aleppo were of the sanie race, we have no proof that they ever spread north of the Taurus chain. To the south, however, as well as at Hebron, there are philological traces of the tribe having lived at some epoch or other at Hit on the Euphrates, at Tell Hatteh near Kadesh, and even at Kefr Hatteh in Philistia. From all this it will be seen that there is plenty of room for believing that Hittite record, if it is ever known, may take us back to prehistoric times. As to the inscriptions which are at present known to be in this script, there are five basaltic texts in relief at Hamath, one at Aleppo, six at Jerabis. At Ibreez there is a bas-relief. There is an inscription on the so-called statue of Sesostris at Karabel, and another on the statue of the weeping Niobe on Mount Sipylos. There are texts at Boghaz Keui, and at Eyuk, which is not far inland from the shores of the Black Sea. A stone bowl has lately been found at Babylon with an incised inscription of the same character as the Hamath stones. Upon this Captain Conder, in his recent volume on “Syrian Stone Lore," tentatively based the conjecture that the key to the language might be found in Babylonia. Then there are the terra seals, discovered by Sir Henry Layard in the Record Chamber of Sennacherib's Palace at Kounyunjik, which are now in the British Museum ; and the silver boss of Tarkondemos, with Hittite and cuneiform inscription, of which fortunately an electrotype fac-simile was taken, although the original was rejected by the British Museum as a forgery and is now helieved to have been lost. All these examples have established the fact that this writing was used by a people who spread themselves over Asia Minor, Northern Syria, and Mesopotamia, possibly before Egypt was a Power. It will be of great interest to know whether Mr. Gladstone's conjecture that they were identical with the Kötelí, of Homer—the only allusion to them which has ever been detected in classic history--can be supported. Above all will it be interesting to see how far the arguments whereby Dr. Wright has endeavoured to assign to “The Empire of the Hittites’ its true place in ancient history can be verified." --St. James's Gazette.


CANAAN, ANCIENT AND MODERN, WITH REFERENCE TO THE LIGHT THROWN BY RECENT RESEARCH ON THE MOVEMENTS OF THE HITTITES.A casual observer might go through the land of Canaan, from Dan to Beersheba, and see not a vestige that could recall the story of a buried past beyond the epoch of the struggles of the Crusades. But take the spade and turn up the soil that hardly hides the form and outline of some buried monument of man's former industry, and then listen round the oamp-fire to the stories and traditions of the simple fellaheen, the natives of the district, light soon dawns on many an obscure allusion of history. Some name, last written down, perhaps, in the Doomsday Book of Joshua, and never since recurring in the registers of the nation, strikes the ear, and imparts freshness and reality to what might have seemed a musty record, as it comes from the lips of an untaught peasant, to whom that name has come down from his fathers through the lapse of four thousand years. Thus, as the eye of the Bible student looks on Palestine to-day, he clothes the narratives of the past with the surroundings of the present. Now, the first glimpse which history gives of the land of Canaan is to be found in the story of the wanderings of Abraham and the pastoral patriarchs.

What the land must then have appeared to the travellers from the East we may infer from examining the fragments, scarcely touched by the profane hands of the builder or the colonist, which remain in the eastern parts of the country in Gilead and Bashan. From Damascus to Egypt there are but two towns of any importance,-Es, Salt (Ramoth-gilead) and Kirak, the ancient Kir, or Kir Moab. These and a few villages comprise the whole settled population. No terraces scarp the hill-sides. Only here and there are the open plains disturbed by the plough. Scattered timber, more park-like than forest, clothes the mountain in irregular clumps from base to summit. The date palm still waves in the Jordan valley, on the east side. The Balm-ofGilead, the arbutus, sweet bay, and oleaster, cover the lower ranges. Above them, as we ascend, we find the olive ; higher up the evergreen oak or ilex, then the Turkey oak ; while clumps of pine, about identical with the Scotch fir, crown the summit of Gilead. In the open glades the nomad Arab pitches his black tent; while his flocks and herds, camels, sheep, and goats, with a few horned cattle, depasture the neighbourhood, and disturb the gazelles and deer which at other times browse unmolested. The only cultivated land consists of unfenced patches round the towns and villages.

Such must have been the character and such the inhabitants of western Canaan when Abram first. pitched in the plain of Shechem.

Fair indeed, and lovely, must that land of promise have looked to the eyes of the pilgrims just come from the bare and monotonous plains of Mesopotamia, as they threaded its labyrinth of well-wooded hills and narrow

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valleys with their purling brooks, and camped among the exuberant verdure of the moist plains. We find but few traces of towns or cities at that early epoch,-only Shechem and Hebron in Canaan proper. A dense population cultivated the seething tropical valley of the Jordan, and the shores of the Dead Sea. Phænicians and Philistines fringed the coast-line with their settlements, but these did not touch the Canaanite who was then in the land. The Canaanites were . scarcely yet an organised nation, like their neighbours. They seem to have been rather a collection of village communities who recognised the supremacy of the Hittite invaders. The country was not lawless. It was the highway of the great commercial route or caravan road between the empires of Chaldæa and Egypt, and the few allusions in Scripture point to industrious and peaceful communities. Such certainly were Shechem and Hebron.

Recent research has cast a flood of light on the movements of the Hittites who then ruled at Hebron ; and we know from Egyptian records that, not long before the time of Abram, they had pushed from Northern Syria, halted for some little time at Hebron, and then moved on to Egypt, where they established for some generations the dynasty of the Hyksos or shepherd kings. Hence the significance of that passing remark in Numbers xiii. 22 : “Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt." Zoan was the capital of the Hyksos dynasty, and the Hittites had paused seven years at Hebron before making their further advance. Through this country Midianite traders could conduct their caravans of precious merchandise without danger. The pastoral chieftain from beyond the Euphrates could lead his flocks where he would, so long as he refrained from interfering with the wells, the earliest kind of real property in history; for cultivation had not yet extended beyond the environs of the few settlements. That land was of considerable value, is shown by the purchase of the burying-ground of Machpelah from Ephron,—the first legal conveyance recorded in history.

Very different was the state of Canaan four hundred and fifty years later, when conquered by Joshua. The population must have increased enormously. The whole country was thickly studded with walled towns. Places which, like Bethel, had been but a name in the days of Abraham, were now considerable cities. Scripture gives but one incidental hint of the changes which had occurred meanwhile. Hebron and Kirjath-Sepher, which had been Hittite in the time of the patriarchs, were now Amorite, and the name of the latter changed to Debir, while in Joshua's time, the Hittites were found in the mountains. The Egyptian annals explain this. A century before the Exodus, the Shepherd, or Hyksos, dynasty having been overthrown, Thothmes III., and after him Ranieses II., prosecuted great Campaigns against the Hittites, invading Canaan and Syria, driving their hereditary foes out of Hebron, and overrunning the country as far as the Euphrates, but making no permanent conquests.

The period before Thothmes was the epoch of Canaanite development ; for we find, in the Egyptian records, a list of over a hundred places sub

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mitting, given in the same topographical order in which the names occur in the book of Joshua. With the exception of a few strongholds, and some remote and inaccessible districts, the Israelites occupied the walled towns and the villages built by the Canaanites, and completed the subduing or terracing of the hill-sides, which their predecessors had begun. It was this terracing which, in its ultimate results, has reduced the country to the state in which we now see it. From the density of the population, every foot of ground was valuable. The hill-sides were girdled with terraces, like flights of steps, from the base to the crest of each rounded knoll, on the top of which was perched the little town. The primeval forest everywhere disappeared, and its place was taken by the precious olive tree, the evergreen foliage of which attracted the spring showers. Along the edges of the terraces ran the little cemented channels, which conducted the rainfall to the cisterns with which the whole country is honeycombed. On each step of the terraces, corn in spring, and a second crop of vegetables in summer, were raised ; while fig-trees occupied every corner, and the vine was trailed over every stone-heap. The land was utilised as it is in Malta to-day.

But, in after ages, war and neglect have done their work. We have no reason to believe that the material prosperity of the country ever suffered more than temporary checks from the wars and captivities till the final destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. Even after this, though the Jew was driven out, a considerable population remained, till the ruthless devastation and massacres by Chosroes, the Persian invader, A. D. 594, swept the land with the besom of destruction. The olive-trees—at least, those which had been spared by Titus-were cut down. With them disappeared the fertility of the land. There was no man left to repair the terraces or keep open the water-channels. Over the treeless hills the clouds in spring passed without shedding their showers, while the winter rains, descending in impetuous torrents, soon washed down the terrace embankments, and carried the earth into the valleys, leaving the rocky sides barren and bare, while the hollows were choked to a depth of many feet with rich alluvial soil. Thus by the reckless wickedness of man has God's curse been accomplished.

Yet, as after some great flood, we find in nooks and corners some waifs and strays of what existed before, stranded in the eddies of the backwater ; and as the waves of successive invasions of India have-stranded on the hills and in the secluded valleys the remains of the Dravidians and other earlier races, so it has been in Canaan. The Israelite indeed has utterly disappeared ; for the few Jews to be found in colonies in Jerusalem and some of the towns are all immigrants who have returned since the time of the Crusades from Spain or Germany or Poland. But while the nomad population of the plains is of Arab descent from the followers of the Khalif Omar, and the fellaheen, or agricultural population of the villages is of Syrian origin, the descendants of the Christian settlers after Constantine, we find traces of the old Canaanite or Hittite in the retired mountain villages east of the central ridge, to be recognised by their somewhat Ethiopian physiognomy, and by some old heathen local customs, such as sacrificing under a sacred tree or

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