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The Archaeological Evidence at Hazor

It has become fashionable among many of today’s scholars to disbelieve the obvious.  While Biblical archaeologists in the 18th and 19th centuries let the evidence from their digs guide them to logical conclusions, modern intellectuals have a pre-set belief system that they seem unwilling to abandon, even in the face of massive contrary evidence.

 An example of this is exemplified in the story of Joshua’s destruction of Hazor.

 An article in Wikipedia sums up the modern view: “Some archaeologists believe that the Israelites emerged simply as a subculture within Canaanite society, and thus that the Israelite conquest of Canaan did not happen as detailed in the Bible; most Biblical scholars believe that the Book of Joshua conflates several independent battles between disparate groups, over multiple centuries, and artificially attributes them to a single leader--Joshua.”

 Neither the Biblical text nor the archaeological record supports that conclusion.

In Joshua 11: 10-13, the scripture reads: “And Joshua at that time turned back, and took Hazor, and smote the king thereof with the sword: for Hazor beforetime was the head of all those kingdoms.  And they smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them: there was not any left to breathe: and he burnt Hazor with fire. And all the cities of those kings, and all the kings of them, did Joshua take, and smote them with the edge of the sword, and he utterly destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the LORD commanded. But as for the cities that stood still in their strength, Israel burned none of them, save Hazor only; that did Joshua burn.” (KJV)

Between 1955 and 1968, Israeli archaeologist Yigael Yadin excavated Hazor. He found temples, palaces, and fortifications and dated the oldest part of the city from 2000-1200 B.C. Later excavations uncovered cuneiform tablets, cylinder seals, bronze swords, armor, and “the largest basalt statue of a Canaanite god ever found at a Biblical site in Israel.” But what he found next stunned archaeologists.

At a level between 1500 and 1200 B.C., Yadin found evidence of the total destruction of the city by fire. (When excavated, none of the surrounding cities displayed any evidence of a fiery conquest.) This coincides to the last detail with the Biblical description of the conquest of Hazor.

However, modern archeologists scoffed at the find. They countered that the Egyptians may have actually destroyed Hazor. But archaeologist Amnon Ben-Tor who is currently excavating Hazor disputes this. The intentional smashing of statues of Egyptian kings which were found in the site, he states, makes this unlikely. Next the scholars claimed that “sea-peoples” may have destroyed the city (even though it is seven miles inland). But not one single sherd of their distinctive pottery has ever been found there. Well, then, maybe the Canaanites themselves destroyed the city and burned it to the ground. Ben-Tor, however, states that Hazor was much too strong for the smaller cities surrounding it to have inflicted that much damage to the city.

The most logical conclusion is the Biblical version. As Joshua entered Canaan, he began to conquer the land city by city. When he came to Hazor he by-passed it for a time because it was the largest and most powerful city in the region. Eventually, after destroying the surrounding city-states, Joshua circled back and met Jabin, king of Hazor, in battle. The Israelites decisively defeated Jabin, killed him, and burned Hazor to the ground.

Despite the disbelief of some scholars, the archaeological record accurately reflects the Biblical account. 

Check out the following website for a more detailed description of the finds at Hazor.