More Words to Live By & Mitanni

Finger Pointing UpMoses was rather strict in his words, I would think that after all they saw and heard they’ll walk with You properly.  Won’t they?

Moses reminded the Israelites of the Ten Commandments, the statutes, and Your judgments, about the Covenant You had made with them when they were on Mount Horeb.  

1 Mitanni culture
Mitanni culture of the ancient house of Niszibisz (now Nusaybin city).
The Mitanni controlled trade routes down the Khabur to Mari and up the Euphrates from there to Charchamesh.

For a time they also controlled the Assyrian territories of the upper Tigris and its headwaters at Nineveh, Arbil, Assur and Nuzi.

Their allies included Kizuwatna in southeastern Anatolia, Mukish which stretched between Ugarit and Quatna west of the Orontes to the sea, and the Niya which controlled the east bank of the Orontes from Alalah down through Aleppo, Ebla and Hama to Qatna and Kadesh.

To the east, they had good relations with the Kassites.

The land of Mitanni in northern Syria extended from the Taurus mountains to its west and as far east as Nuzi (modern Kirkuk) and the river Tigris in the east. In the south, it extended from Aleppo across (Nuhashshe) to Mari on the Euphrates in the east.

Its center was in the Khabur River valley, with two capitals: Taite and Washshukanni called Taidu and Ushshukana respectively in Assyrian sources.

The whole area allows agriculture without artificial irrigation; cattle, sheep and goats were raised.

It is very similar to Assyria in climate, and was settled by both indigenous Hurrian and Amoritic-speaking (Amurru) populations.

He also reminded them that You had talked to them face to face out of the midst of the fire (Deut 5-6).  Moses then told them:

When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;

And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them.

Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.

For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. 

But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.

For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. 

2. Cylinder Seal with Two Heroes and a Tree
Cylinder Seal with Two Heroes and a Tree
Mass-produced seals made of soft, ceramic-like materials that could be glazed in bright colors were introduced during the Mitannian period.

These seals have less complex compositions, emphasizing repetitive patterns.

This one shows facing males holding a stylized tree.

To the side, winged griffins appear above reclining horned animals.

The griffins, mythical creatures portrayed in the art of Greece, the Levant, and Egypt, reflect the international environment of the Near East during this period.

Date: Between 1500 and 1300 B.C.

The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in Number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people:

But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face.  

Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.

Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the LORD thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he swear unto thy fathers: 

And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he swear unto thy fathers to give thee. 

Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle.

And the LORD will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee. 

And thou shalt consume all the people which the LORD thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them: neither shalt thou serve their gods; for that will be a snare unto thee (Deut 7:1-16).

3. Hourrites
The Mitanni kingdom was a contemporary and the enemy of the Hittites.
It was founded by the Hourrites, a people originally from the South Caspian Sea.

The Hourrites exercised considerable influence over the religion of the Hittites, and spread the use of two-wheel chariots and the breeding of horses throughout the Near East.

Moses reminded them that for forty years God fed them, gave them water, their clothes never got dirty, and their feet never got sore (Deut 8:2-4).


Centered beyond the Euphrates River in the Kharbur Valley of northern Mesopotamia, the kingdom of Mitanni encompassed a league of Indo-European Hurrian states.

It became the most powerful kingdom in Mesopotamia and Syria during much of the 15th through the 14th centuries B.C., the probable time frame for the Israelite exodus and con­quest.

4. Cuneiform tablet
Cuneiform tablet containing a letter from Tushratta of Mitanni to Amenhotep III (of 13 letters of King Tushratta).

Although Mitanni is never mentioned it in the Bible, its economic and cultural influence unquestionably affected the perspectives and lifestyles of the Biblical world during the latter half of the second millen­nium B.C.

And this kingdom’s documented customs and social conditions enhance the credibility of corresponding Biblical accounts of events during this period.

The details of Mitanni’s history have for the most part been lost with the onrush of time, but a basic outline is clear.

Tensions with Egypt to the south colored Mitanni’s early years, but these stresses were eclipsed by Mitannian expansion during the latter half of the fifteenth century B.C.

5.Seal of King Shaushatar
Seal of King Shaushatar of Mitanni.

A dynastic marriage between Mitanni and Egypt around the turn of the ensuing century brought peace to the region, as well as thriving commerce, industry and arts.

But this harmony was shattered when northern neighbors, the Hittites under the leadership of King Suppiluliuma, began to subjugate a number of Mitanni’s vassal states to the west.

Seeing Mitanni’s political situa­tion in turmoil, the eastern kingdom of Assyria took advantage of her deteriorating circumstances to descend upon Mitanni, cap­turing her capital and ending Mitannian domination.

Retaining little influence or power after this defeat, Mitanni still survived as a kingdom at least into the mid-13th century B.C.

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