Hivites

Hivites

The Hivites were one of the sons of Canaan according to the Table of Nations in Genesis 10. We know of the Hivites primarily as one of seven main people groups living in the land of Canaan upon the arrival of the Hebrews in the book of Joshua. They are typically referred to among the Seven Nations to be removed from the land of Canaan: Hittites (Neo-Hittites), Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. (Deuteronomy 7:1)

Origins

In the Table of Nations (Genesis 10) the Hivites descended from Canaan son of Ham. A possible origin of the name may come from the Hebrew word "chava" ( חוה ) which means "tent dweller". There appears to be a possible connection between the Hivites and the Horites; in Genesis 36:2 a Hivite named Zibeon is described later in the same chapter as a Horite. Others claim that this resulted from a scribal error as both Hivites (Hebrew: חוי ) and Horites (Hebrew: חרי) differ in spelling by one letter of roughly similar shape.

Location

The Hivites dwelt in the mountainous regions of Canaan stretching from Lebanon –specifically Lebo Hamath (Judges 3) - and Mt. Hermon (Joshua 11) in the north to the central Benjamin plateau in the Hill country just north of Jerusalem. Within this region we find specific enclaves of Hivites mentioned in the Bible. Genesis 34 describes Hivites ruling the region of Shechem. Further south there were the four Hivite towns – Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth and Kiriath Jearim – involved in the deception of Israel (Joshua 9).

Cultural distinctiveness

Several key features can be inferred about the cultural distinctiveness of the Hivite peoples. First, in Genesis 34:14 we find that the Hivites are one of the few peoples living in the land of Canaan that did not practice male circumcision. Circumcision, as a practice was quite common among the peoples existing in the land of Canaan. Egyptians, Edomites, Ammonites, Moabites, and other various proto-Canaanite tribes practiced male circumcision along with the Hebrews. Other than Israel’s arch-nemesis – the Philistines – the Hivites appear to be an exception to the rule of circumcision which does lend them quite a distinction among the tribes of Canaan during this time period.

The Hivites continued to exist as a distinct people group at least until the time of David and Solomon (1 Kings 9:20) as their population was recorded in a regional census taken at this time. Here they are described as part of the slave labor for Solomon and his many building projects. In Joshua 9 Joshua ordered the Hivites of Gibeon to be wood gatherers and water carriers for the Temple of YHWH. Though no evidence of Hivite involvement in the Temple cult of YHWH can be found in later passages. It can be assumed the Hivite cultural distinctiveness was wiped away between the combined efforts of the Assyrian (8th century BCE) and Babylonian (6th century BCE) population deportations.

References

*Barker, Burdick, Stek, Wessel, Youngblood (Eds.). (1995). "The New International Version Study Bible." (10th Ann ed). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

*Bright, John. (2000). "A History of Israel." (4th ed.). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

*DeVaux, Roland. (1997). "Ancient Israel." (John McHugh, Trans.) Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

*Freedman, David Noel (Ed.). (2000). "Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible." (pp. 597) Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

*Wood, Millard, Packer, Wiseman, Marshall (Eds.). (1996). "New Bible Dictionary" (3rd ed.) (pp. 477). Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press.


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