The Hittites were an ancient people (mentioned throughout the Old Testament of the Bible as “the children of Heth” or Hethites) whose empire (or allied city-states) was located in the Middle East- notably around the areas of modern-day Turkey, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. In many ways they were your typical bronze age civilization, all of which spun off from the Sumerian and Babylonian civilizations. Perhaps their only distinction was a slight difference in architecture and dress fashions. They had a cuneiform writing style, where writing was cut into clay and then hardened. And they had their own system of law and morality, as is evidenced below.
Taken from a clay Hittite Law Tablet. The term “does evil with” means to have carnal relations with.
“If a man does evil with a head of cattle, it is a capital crime and he shall be
If a man does evil with a sheep, it is a capital crime and he shall be killed.
If anyone does evil with a pig, he shall die
If a man does evil with a horse or mule, there shall be no punishment.
If an ox leaps at [attempts to take the top sexually] a man, the ox shall dies, but the man shall not die. A sheep may be proffered in the man’s stead and they shall kill that.
If a pig leaps at a man there shall be no punishment.”
Now we have no way of knowing how often these laws were called into effect. But they must have been enough occurrences for the authorities of the day to codify it into law and literally chisel the proclamations in stone. A few colleagues have chafed at the harsh punishment (death) of the infractors, which may say more about them than they wished, but one has to remember that this was essentially frontier law and harshness was the only way for the populace to take the lawmakers seriously. If you slap on fine on a guy for molesting a pig, it would be almost seen as an endorsement of the act. A slap and a wink. You hang him, people know you mean business.
What I find most fascinating is not what wasn’t allowed, but what was. Sure I can see how being raped by a pig or a ox would not be the man or woman’s fault. And while the person is spiritually unclean, hence the need to substitute a sheep (or scapegoat) to sacrifice for forgiveness, they aren’t going to be whacked for bending over at the wrong time.
But apparently there are certain animals where it is accepted to have romantic relations with, the horse and the mule. Well perhaps accepted is too strong a term, it is more understood that on a long journey a man must relieve his sexual urges somewhere. Or is it that a man will eventually grow to have a certain fondness for an animal to which so much of his life and livelihood depend, and then on a moonlit night, after the vino has been flowing, if something should happen… well, these things happen.