Mitanni (Deuteronomy 2)

entered 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 fifteenth through fourteenth centuries B.C., the probable time frame for the Israelite exodus and conquest. Although Mitanni is never mentioned 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 coloured Mitanni’s early years, but these stresses were eclipsed by Mitannian expansion during the latter half of the fifteenth century B.C. 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 neighbours, 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-thirteenth century B.C.

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