Hazor (Joshua 11)

Hazor  was the largest city-state in Canaan at the time of the conquest, dominating the upper Galilee region. This ancient site, located in the Southwestern corner of the Hula Valley, approximately 14 km north-northeast of the Sea of Galilee, comprised an “upper city” (acropolis) of approximately 26 acres and a “lower city” of about 162 acres. It was heavily fortified with stone and mud bricks walls as wide as 7,3 m. One of more important discoveries at Hazor was made by a tourist in 1962 – a clay tablet with the name of the city on it.

After the armies of the Canaanite northern coalition were defeated at Merom – most likely Tell el-Khureibeh, 14,5 km west of Hazor – Joshua captured Hazor and put it to the torch. Evidence of destruction by fire at the time of the conquest (late fifteenth century B.C.) has been discovered in many places at the site. Three temples from the same period have been excavated: the Long Temple in the upper city and the Orthostat and Square temples in the lower. All three had been violently destroyed, in keeping with God’s command to “break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles” (Exodus 34:13). Two of the temples, the Long Temple and the Square Temple, were so severely damaged that they were never rebuilt.

Soon after its detruction, however, the city as a whole was restored. The ruler of Hazor was the only leader referred to as king in the Amarna Letters, correspondence from the Vanaanite rulers to the pharaoh of Egypt in the mid-fourteenth century B.C. This special recognition demonstrates Hazor’s importance in comparison to the other Canaanite city-states, as well as the accuracy of the Biblical phrase “head over all these kingdoms” (Joshua 11:10). Canaanite Hazor met its end when Deborah and Barek detroyed the city in late thirteenth century B.C.


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