Taanach (1 Chronicles 7)

Bilderesultat for ancient taanach

Illustration: the highway running through the Jezreel Valley

The city of Taanach is located about 8 km southeast of Megiddo in the foothills above the Valley of Jezreel. It guraded one of the major passes inland from the coastal trade route known as the Via Maris. The king of Taanach was one of the many Canaanites whom Joshua defeated during the conquest (Joshua 12:21). The city was assigned to the tribe of Manasseh, although its members found themselves unable to dislodge the Canaanite inhabitants (Joshua 17:11-12, Judges 1:27, 1 Chronicles 7:29).

1 Chronicles 6:61 tells us that the Levites were given ten cities, Joshua 21:25  identifies one of them as Taanach from the territories of Manasseh. Deborah and Barak led the Israelites against Sisera at Taanach by the waters of Megiddo (Judges 5:19). That the city lay in a swampy area of the valley assisted in the Israelite defeat of Sisera’s army, since his chariots could not have travelled efficiently in the swamp. Taanach is again mentioned in Solomon’s delegation od administrative centres (1 Kings 4:12).

This city also appears in extra-biblical texts. The Egyptian Thutmose III cited Taanach in his description of the battle against Megiddo and the surrounding area in the mid-fifteenth century B.C. It is listed on a temple at Karnak with the names of other nearby towns that pharaoh Shishak conquered in the tenth century B.C., during the reign of Rehoboam. The church historian Eusebius recorded a large population there in the fourth century A.D., but by the fourteenth century Taanach had been reduced in size to a small village.

Archaeological investigation have revealed occupation layers at Taanach dating back to the Earky Bronze Age. At that time (mid-third century B.C.) the city already had a protective wall and glacis. Later the wall was widened and larger stones incorporated into it. Because there is evidence of metal-working, as well as of the presence of scribes, scholars have suggested that Taanach served as a production centre during the Iron Age. Others have posited that it may have been a chariot garrison. Several dwellings and a tower (all dating from the twelfth to ninth centuries B.C.) have yielded loomweights, tools, pottery and an earlier Akkadian archive, as well as two cult stands. After this period the site seems to have been inhabited only intermittently until the third century B.C., when it once again became a thriving city.


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