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The Destruction of Hazor

In the Book of Joshua 11, the account of a devastation of Hazor is actually, there does seem to evidence, at the archaeological site of Hazor for a massive devastation.  What is important to note is in the Book of Joshua, Hazor is the only city that is mentioned as being burnt by Joshua.  In fact, in the two-hundred acre tel of Hazor, which is the largest archaeological site in Israel today—the tel is the largest tel in Israel today—everywhere archaeologists have excavated, they have found a massive destruction, sometime towards the end of the late Bronze Age, maybe in the mid thirteenth century.  The debate about the date is not settled. 

Now who destroyed Hazor? Of course, this is the $64,000 question.  It certainly could be Joshua, but it could be the Egyptians, it could be the sea peoples or Philistines.  It could also be another Canaanite rival because we know from the Amarna letters that during this period of time, there was constant conflict between these various city-states of the last Bronze Age.  So there’s a lot of possibilities, but I don’t think you can rule out Joshua.

  • Ann E. Killebrew

    Ann E. Killebrew is an associate professor of classics and ancient Mediterranean studies, Jewish Studies, and anthropology at the Pennsylvania State University. She has participated in or directed archaeological projects in Israel, Turkey, and Egypt. Her research focuses on the Bronze and Iron Ages in the eastern Mediterranean, ancient ceramic studies, Roman and Byzantine Palestine, and public archaeology. Killebrew is the author of numerous articles and books, including the award-winning Biblical Peoples and Ethnicity (Society of Biblical Literature, 2005), and the co-editor with Gunnar Lehmann of The Philistines and Other “Sea Peoples” in Text and Archaeology (Society of Biblical Literature, 2013).