["The Hittites": Letter of F. W. Newman to the Editor of The Times.]

 

        Sir, — An interesting summary of recent discoveries concerning an ancient Hittite Empire in The Times of January 23 refers to me by name, and, unawares, no doubt, misrepresents me.

        From boyhood up, I believed the Book of Kings and Judges more than the rumours of the Greeks, and therefore in my mature years was slow to believe in an Assyrian Empire which held mastery in Syrian in the æra of the Hebrew Judges and earlier Kings. Your contributor treats me as having impugned the Hebrew books on the ground that we read nothing of Hittite power in Greek and Latin writers. I am not aware that I ever did so, or was likely to do so.

        He says that I regarded I. Kings, x., 29, as unhistorical. I know no passage in which I have treated it otherwise than in my "Hebrew Monarchy," p. 115, 3d edition. There I simply state that we hereby learn "an interesting fact," that independent Hittite princes lived in the midst of the Israelites. I do not intimate, nor did I feel, any doubt as to the truth. I now suppose I was wrong in interpreting them to live in Palestine itself.

        He justly says that I regard the narrative in II. Kings, vii., as "unhistorical;" but if he had my book before him he is unfair in his representation. I have compared the narrative of the siege of Samaria to Josephus's narrative of the siege of Jerusalem. The whole tone of it convinces me (and, I think, would convince any competent mind that is not preoccupied by dogmatic beliefs) that it cannot be accepted as history, yet has at bottom an important historical event. In a note I add that the imputation of fear from the Kings of the Hittites and Kings of the Egyptians does not exhibit the writer's acquaintance with the times in a very favourable light. I said not a word about the silence of Greek or Latin writers, nor did I attempt to damage the general credibility of the Hebrew Book of Kings, which, in comparison to the Chronicles, I think truthful and valuable.

I am, respectfully yours,        
F. W. NEWMAN