“This is what the Lord says: Let not the wise boast of their wisdom, or the strong boast of their strength, or the rich boast of their riches….” (Jeremiah 9; 22)
The scriptures include many historical stories, teaching us lessons applicable to our own life in the 21st century. Many times, the entire story is written in one place, but sometimes the story stretches over hundreds of years, with different episodes scattered around the bible. The latter require a retrospective point of view to learn the lessons concealed in them.
Such is the story of the city of Hazor:
- We first meet Hazor as a leading Canaanite kingdom - “the head of all these kingdoms” (Joshua, 11; 10).
- About 150 years later we read (Judges 4) about Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor, whose army commander, Sisera, had nine hundred chariots fitted with iron and had cruelly oppressed the Israelites for twenty years, until his army was defeated by 10,000 warriors led by Barak the son of Abinoam and Deborah the prophet and he himself was killed by Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite.
- Eventually, some 500 years later we meet the fate of Hazor: “Concerning Kedar and the kingdoms of Hazor…. this is what the Lord says…. Hazor will become a haunt of jackals, a desolate place forever. No one will live there; no people will dwell in it.” (Jeremiah 49; 28)
Even the strongest, most fortified city described as “the head of all these kingdoms” should not boast on its strength because it will fall, despite its power, if this is God’s will.
The excavations of Tel Hazor portray the events described in the Bible:
Hazor is the largest biblical-era site in Israel. It covers about 200 acres comprising of two parts: an upper city (acropolis) and a large lower city. For comparison, the second largest biblical era site – Tel Dan – covers merely 60 acres. Hazor’s population in the second millennium B.C.E (the Bronze Age, or the Canaanite period) is estimated at about 20,000, making it the largest and most important city in the entire region. Its size and strategic location on the international trade route connecting Egypt and Arabia to Mesopotamia made it the most strategically important site for controlling northern part of the Land of Israel.
File:Tel hatzor.JPG. (2020, September 13). Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. Retrieved 14:17, August 29, 2022 from https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Tel_hatzor.JPG&oldid=458137563.
Hazor was at its peak during the Canaanite period, prior to the conquest of the land by the Israelites. Excavations exposed a massive destruction layer dated to 1230 B.C.E attributed to Joshua: “At that time Joshua turned back and captured Hazor and put its king to the sword because Hazor had been the head of all these kingdoms. Everyone in it they put to the sword. They totally destroyed them…and he burned Hazor itself.” (Joshua 11; 10). Such destruction layer was not found in any other Canaanite city: “Yet Israel did not burn any of the cities built on their mounds—except Hazor, which Joshua burned.” (Joshua 11; 13)
Later, the Jabin Dynasty appears to have recovered power and restored the city. The heavy defeat of their army at the hands of Deborah and Barak led to their final downfall. (Judges 4)
The semi-nomadic Israelite settlement in the upper city, approximately 150 years after the destruction of the Canaanite city, was replaced by a well-fortified city during the Solomonic era (970-931 B.C.E). The city was further extended and fortified by King Ahab (871-852 B.C.E) and Jeroboam II (786-746 B.C.E). Ahab also built an impressive water system consisted of a 150 feet deep shaft cut through rock and a 80 feet tunnel leading to the groundwater level. This impressive water system demonstrates the importance and the power of King Ahab and the city of Hazor at that time.
File:Hatzor-WaterTunnel.jpg. (2020, October 30). Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. Retrieved 14:18, August 29, 2022 from https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Hatzor-WaterTunnel.jpg&oldid=507627058.
Jeremiah prophecy on Hazor materialized in 732. B.C.E during the conquest of the northern kingdom of Israel by the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III: “In the time of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came and took Ijon, Abel Beth Maakah, Janoah, Kedesh and Hazor” (2 Kings 15;29). The city was completely destroyed, its residents were banished and it remained desolated till today.
File:Tilglath pileser iii.jpg. (2022, March 18). Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. Retrieved 14:18, August 29, 2022 from https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Tilglath_pileser_iii.jpg&oldid=640771618.
- Winter: Sun-Thu and Saturdays: 08:00-16:00; Friday: 08:00-15:00
- Summer: Sun-Thu and Saturdays: 08:00-17:00; Friday: 08:00-16:00
Directions: From route 90 turn East towards Ayelet Hashahar