PERIZZITES (Heb. פְּרִזִּי), pre-Israelite inhabitants of Palestine, who lived in the neighborhood of Shechem (Gen. 13:7; 34:30; Josh. 17:15; Judg. 1:4, 5), in particular in Bezek (Khirbat Ibzīq, northeast of Shechem). The Perizzites are listed among the traditional group of six (sometimes five or seven) pre-Israelite peoples of the Promised Land (Ex. 3:8, 17; Deut. 7:1; Josh. 3:10, et al.) but, unlike the others, are not included among the descendants of Canaan (Gen. 10:15–17). The origin of the term Perizzite is still unknown. Some scholars have surmised a connection with the word perazot, "unwalled towns or suburbs"; others, on the basis of the element brz in their name, that is found in the (Sumerian) Akkadian parzi (llu) and the West Semitic barzel, meaning "iron," suggest that the Perizzites were migrating metalworkers. Others, basing themselves on the fact that Pire/izzi is attested as the name of an envoy sent by King Tushratta of Hurri-Mitanni to Egypt, identify the Perizzites as an Anatolian ethnic group who reached Canaan, perhaps as migrating workers or slaves, as part of the political agreement between the Hittites and Egypt during the 18th Dynasty. The sources are the el-amarna tablets nos. 27, 28, and 29. On no. 27 there is a hieratic Egyptian note: Pirasi. Other forms of the same personal name in Egyptian transliterations are Pirisija, Pirisim, names of slaves. There is also the Nuzi-Hurrian personal name Pirzu. These occurrences of the name support the tentative conclusion that the Perizzites, who, in the Bible, are indeed separated from Canaanites, are of Anatolian-Hurrian origin. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: W.F. Albright, in: jpos, 2 (1922), 110–39; idem, Vocalization of the Egyptian Syllable Orthography (1934), 43; H.L. Ginsberg and B. Maisler (Mazar), in: JPOS, 14 (1934), 234–67; I.J. Gelb et al., Nuzi Personal Names (1943), 115; Alt, Kl Schr, 3 (1959), 38; W. Held, Beziehungen Aegyptens mit Vorderasien (1962), 378, nos. 17–18; P. Welten, in: ZDPV, 81 (1965), 138. (Pinhas Artzi and Irene Grumach)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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