It is well-documented that the ancient Israelite tribes came into contact with Indo-European groups in Canaan such as the Philistines (P'lishtim) (most likely migrants from Crete), and later the Greeks (Yavanim) after the invasion of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BCE.

But were there contacts prior to these examples? The Israelites are recorded as dealing with Hittites in Canaan as early as Abraham (Genesis 23), even involving intermarriage by Esau and Solomon (26:34, 27:46, 36:2; 1 Kings 11:1), later on Ezekiel even describes the Israelites as descending from a Hittite progenitress (16:3, 45)! They were employed as mercenaries (1 Samuel 26:6, 2 Samuel 11:6; 2 Kings 7:6) and are described as residing in the hill-country of central Canaan (Exodus 3:8, 17, 13:5, 23:23, 28, Numbers 13:29) and between the Euphrates and the Mediterranean (Joshua 1:4; Judges 1:26). What sort of impact did this have on society?

Is there any evidence of contact with other groups, such as the Indo-European elements of Mitanni, or with the Indo-Iranians (e.g., in language, pottery, customs, weaponry, etc)?

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    Not sure if the Bible is your best - and most true-full source - in this matter. The Old Testament is written by, for, and about Jews, and while it's nicely crafted piece of propaganda, it doesn't always mesh with other sources (eg. written records by Egypt and Babylon) nor archeological evidence. It is after all in part justification and encouragement for the stealing of land already settled by other people back then. Commented Aug 16, 2015 at 20:51
  • @BaardKopperud, are there other sources that would have pertinent information? Unfortunately, the Mitanni did not leave written records, and Hittite writings are fragmentary or minimal. The Greek sure left a lot, but that unfortunately dates to a much later time period. Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 8:35
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    You know the Persians (essentially the entire axis the Torah was written around) were Indo-European too, right?
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 17:50
  • @T.E.D., thanks for commenting! Sure do, there's been interesting work done in that area lately, eg by Secuda and Knoppers; I presume you're referring to the Persian Empire, which was the social & political context for the first coalescence and widespread dissemination of the Hebrew corpus. But the PE expanded into the ANE the 2nd half of the 1st millennium on, much later than I'm interested in (2nd to start of 1st millennium BCE). (And yes, some parts of those Hebrew texts are dated to Late Bronze/Early Iron Ages). I'm more interested in Hittite, Egyptian, neo-Assyrian, Mycaenean etc sources Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 19:35
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    I'm not sure what the question is. The title of the question is whether or not the Israelites had contact with Indo-Europeans, but the first and second paragraphs establish that they did and then ask whether or not this contact influenced their society, and the final paragraph asks whether or not they had contact with Indo-Iranians. Which one of those questions do you want answered?
    – Shimon bM
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 5:00

3 Answers 3


Taken in the spirit it was asked, as I take it, I would suggest looking into the Hurrians, who Biblical scholars have associated with the Horites and Hivites mentioned in the Bible. However, there is something quite unique about the Hurrians in that apparently, according to language at least, they were neither Semitic nor Indo-European, yet once occupied a sizeable portion of the ANE and penetrated down into Canaan at one point to settle, which is why the Hivites are mentioned in the list of nations which Israel would have to drive out of the land.

According to the Wikipedia article on the Hurrians:

The Hurrians spoke an ergative, agglutinative language conventionally called Hurrian, which is unrelated to neighbouring Semitic or Indo-European languages, and may have been a language isolate.

The Hurrians also had a presence in the Mittannian Empire. The aforementioned article mentions the following:

Texts in the Hurrian language in cuneiform have been found at Hattusa, Ugarit (Ras Shamra), as well as in one of the longest of the Amarna letters, written by King Tushratta of Mitanni to Pharaoh Amenhotep III.

Edward Lipiński in an article titled "Hurrians and Their Gods in Canaan" in the Polish journal Rocznik Orientalistyczny (2016) mentions:

The first appearance of Hurrians and of personages bearing Indo-Aryan names in citystates of ancient Canaan can be dated to the late 16th century B.C. and be related to the expansive influence of the Mittannian empire.

Hurrian names are attested on tablets that have been discovered in Canaan, such as in Hebron. So that is at least one ancient people group who Israel had contact with from the northern ANE who penetrated southward into the Semitic lands.

As for possible biblical tie-ins aside from the conquest of Canaan it has been suggested that remnants of the Hurrian population continued until the time of King David, as in the article by Aharon Kempinski for Biblical Archaeology Review (1979) titled "Hittites in the Bible: What Does Archaeology Say?", which mentions the following:

The evidence from Jerusalem, however, for the identification of the Jebusites as a Hittite tribe is insufficient. The pre-Davidic population more likely included mainly Hurrian (a population whose origin was in southeastern Anatolia) elements. ... Remnants of the Hurrian population may have dwelled in ancient Israel up to the time of David. The title for the king of pre-Davidic Jerusalem is ha-Aravna (2 Samuel 24-16). This title has been metathesized (that is, the letters were transposed) from ewri-na, which means “the lord” in Hurrian.

I've seen other articles about the Hurrians in Canaan in the past but that is just a sampling of the information available.


I do not think there was a lot of contact, but for what it worth, it is usually assumed that Proto-Indo-European words for "six" su̯ecs and "seven" septm were borrowed from a Semitic language.

There were other borrowings, like the Semitic word for wine, but it can more easily be explained by trade rather than direct contact.


https://phoenician-language.weebly.com/home/creators-of-sanskrit-language What Evidence is there to Prove the Phoenician were Sanskrit Speakers? There is not much left of the Phoenician history, culture, lifestyle, where they lived or what they looked like. What we have left with, is their writing, due to Cleopatra recording on the Rosetta stone. Beforehand the Phoenician writing system was unknown to the world. It was kept among the Greeks and the Macedonian. Yet all writing system today evolved from Phoenician writing. Phoenician Language HOME ABOUT PRESS CONTACT THE ORIGIN OF SANSKRIT LANGUAGE, TAROT, CHESS, GYPSY CARD, PLAYING CARD... Picture The Creators of Sanskrit Language. Who Were They? 10/18/2016 0 Comments

Picture The creators of Sanskrit and hieroglyphic writing were ancient people, who suddenly disappeared two thousand years ago, the Phoenicians.

​ ​They were also known as Edomites, from the Sanskrit word Edhini (the base word for Eden), which means Earth. Yet, according to google search "Edomites means "red", and is derived from Esau, the elder son of Isaac, because he was born "red all over". That is wrong. Hebrew as every other languages contain Sanskrit words, but it has nothing to do with Sanskrit. The Greek language however, has more Sanskrit words then any other languages combined, which means they must of been in close proximity to the Phoenicians, or rather they entered Greece later on, whilst the Phoenicians already settled there, forming communities all over Greece, without calling it 'their' country. What Evidence is there to Prove the Phoenician were Sanskrit Speakers? There is not much left of the Phoenician history, culture, lifestyle, where they lived or what they looked like. What we have left with, is their writing, due to Cleopatra recording on the Rosetta stone. Beforehand the Phoenician writing system was unknown to the world. It was kept among the Greeks and the Macedonian. Yet all writing system today evolved from Phoenician writing. Rosetta Stone

​ - Reading (visible part) of the Rosetta stone, I found a line, "doska tat', which is a Sanskrit word and it means 'THE ONE WITH STRONG ARMS'. It can mean a "protector", a father figure, or a leader who is able to defend and look after his people.

There is more proof than the Rosetta stone alone, the writing system for example. The Greeks were the first to use Phoenician writing. It is explained that the Phoenicians traded knowledge, and that is how they got access to it. What about the Greek language or mythological characters? Did they trade that as well? All the names and characters in Greek mythology is Phoenician, that is SANSKRIT. enter image description hereenter image description here

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    It's not at all clear what of the above is quoted text and what, if anything, you've written yourself. You should edit it using the mark-up tools to clearly show what text is actually quotations and remove the non-relevant text from the webpage that you copied.
    – Steve Bird
    Commented Jan 4, 2021 at 22:24
  • You may want to check your most recent edit, you seem to have added the same image twice.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 14:31

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