HORITES (hoh' ritess) The pre-Edomite inhabitants of Mount Seir in the southern Transjordan.
The Hebrew word for Horites corresponds to the extrabiblical Hurrians, a non-Semitic people who migrated into the Fertile Crescent about 2000 B.C. The Hurrians created the Mitannian Empire in Mesopotamia about 1500 B.C. and later became an important element in the Canaanite population of Palestine. In locations where there is extrabiblical evidence for Hurrians, the Hebrew term Hivites appears (Genesis 34:2; Joshua 9:7; Joshua 11:3,Joshua 11:19) as a designation for certain elements of the Canaanite population. The Septuagint (the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament), however, substitutes Horites for Hivites in Genesis 34:2 and Joshua 9:7. Also, Zibeon, son of Seir the Horite (Genesis 36:20), is identified as a Hivite in Genesis 36:2. For these reasons, many scholars equate both Horites and Hivites (the names are quite similar in Hebrew) with the extrabiblical Hurrians.
Nevertheless, the Hebrew text only mentions Horites in Mt. Seir where there is no record of Hurrians. Therefore, another suggestion holds that the biblical Horites were not Hurrians, but simply the original cave-dwelling (the Hebrew hor means “cave”) population of Edom (Mt. Seir). The Hivites, according to this theory, should be identified with the extrabiblical Hurrians.
Daniel C. Browning, Jr.
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.