🔼The name Hivite: Summary
- Tent Villagers
- From the verb חוה (hawa), to lay out in order to live collectively.
🔼The name Hivite in the Bible
The Hivites were a nation that descended from Canaan, son of Ham, son of Noah (Genesis 10:17). The first time they play an active role in the Bible is when Shechem the Hivite raped Dinah, the daughter of Jacob and Leah, and full blood sister of Simeon and Levi (Genesis 34). The brother's bloody revenge cost them their second and third-born status, and their descendants were condemned to be dispersed in Israel without any land of their own (Genesis 49:5-7). And while Jacob and his family were trying to deal with the Hivite problem, Jacob's brother Esau acquired Oholibamah the Hivite as a wife for himself (for a discussion on whether Oholibamah the Hivite was the same as Oholibamah the Horite, see our article on the name Horite).
When the Israelites escaped Egypt and made it to Canaan, the Hivites were firmly established as one of the seven Canaanite nations (Deuteronomy 1:7), whose complete destruction YHWH promised (by hornets: Exodus 23:23-28; by an angel: Exodus 33:2; by the Israelites themselves: Deuteronomy 20:17, by the power of the Ark of the Covenant: Joshua 3:10-11).
When Joshua and the Israeli army attacked, the nations of Canaan united into a coalition. But the men of the Hivite city Gibeon tricked Israel into saving them and having them serve as slaves (Joshua 9:7, 9:26-27). The coalition (still containing the remaining Hivites) counter struck with a huge army (Joshua 11:4), but eventually (almost) all were slain and (almost) all their cities were taken (Joshua 11:19).
By the time of the judges, the Hivites still lived on and near Mounts Lebanon and Baal-hermon (Judges 3:3), and so did the other Canaanite nations. The Israelites began to intermarry with them and threatened to dissolve, and the Lord sent a long string of enemy kings to oppress them, and corresponding judges to liberate them.
By the time David ordered his ill-fated census, the Hivites were still around in the north of Israel (2 Samuel 24:7). And when Solomon began his great building project, of which the Temple of YHWH was the apex, the Hivites were still going strong enough for Solomon to levy forced laborers of (1 Kings 9:20-21).
🔼Etymology of the name Hivite
Post-Biblical Jewish commentators declared that the name Hivite came from the Chaldean word חויא, meaning Serpent, but that etymology might have been slightly biased. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names and BDB Theological Dictionary suggest relations with the noun חוה (hawa) meaning tent-village:
The verb חוה (hawa) means to lay out in order to live collectively, and describes investing one's personal sovereignty into a living collective like a symbiont. It's mostly translated as to prostrate, which is to submit oneself wholly and bodily to a collective or to the leader of that collective.
Another form of laying out is in proclaiming information that will lead to greater oneness among the hearers. The noun אחוה ('ahwah) means declaration, and is identical to the noun אחוה ('ahawa) meaning brotherhood.
Noun חוה (hawwa) describes a tent village, or the most rudimentary collective that operates as a living, symbiotic whole.
The name Hivite possibly means Tent Villagers (BDB Theological Dictionary and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names). NOBSE Study Bible Name List does not translate this name.