“Hazor formerly was the head of all those kingdoms”—thus wrote the chronicler of the Book of Joshua (11:10), and the source before him was undoubtedly reliable and accurate. During the thirty excavation seasons conducted at the site of ancient Hazor, it became clear that this was the largest and most important city-state in the Land of Israel in the second millennium BCE. At its floruit, Hazor spanned approximately 200 acres, ten times the size of Jerusalem in the days of Kings David and Solomon. In letters sent by the kings of Canaanite cities to the king of Egypt, uncovered in the archive of the city of Amarna in Egypt, Jabin, the ruler of Hazor, is the only one to be called “king”. The Ceremonial Palace built in the center of Hazor is the largest and most impressive public structure to have been built in that period in the Land of Israel, and the magnificent finds uncovered within it point to extensive commercial, cultural, and artistic ties with the centers of power in the region, from Babylon in the east, through the Hittite kingdom and Egypt, all the way to Cyprus and Greece in the west. Hazor’s days of grandeur came to an end with its fall into the hands of the Israelite tribes that settled the land, following which the entire land was settled: “Joshua took all that land: the hill country, and all the Negeb... the lowland, and the Arabah... even from Mount Halak, that goeth up to Seir, even unto Baalgad in the Valley of Lebanon under Mount Hermon” (Joshua 11:16–17). Following its reestablishment in the days of the United Monarchy, Israelite Hazor was no longer “the head of all those kingdoms”. The capital of the United Monarchy was Jerusalem, and when it was divided, Samaria became the capital of the Kingdom of Israel. Nonetheless, Hazor was of the utmost importance in those days too: the excavation of the archaeological strata from the Israelite period revealed fortifications, public structures and residential buildings dating from the tenth–eighth centuries BCE, until the destruction of the city in 732 BCE during the campaign of the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III (II Kings 15:29) and the deportation of the people of Hazor and the Galilee—events that marked the beginning of the end for the Kingdom of Israel in its entirety. The visitor to Israelite Hazor has the unique opportunity to witness the reliability of the Biblical historiography first-hand and to cast his eyes upon the structures attributed to the days of the monarchs of the Kingdom of Israel, from Solomon, through Ahab and Jeroboam II, until the days of Pekah son of Remaliah. Amnon Ben-Tor, Professor Emeritus of the Archaeology of Israel, the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, participated in the excavations of Yadin’s expedition to Hazor in the 1950s and 1960s. For the past 25 years he has directed the renewed excavations at the site. Professor Ben-Tor, born in Jerusalem, studied archaeology and Jewish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he received his Ph.D. in 1968. From then until his retirement in 2004, he taught archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Hazor Canaanite Metropolis, Israelite City

  • Author

    A. Ben-Tor

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    232 pages, 19X25 cm, hard cover. ISBN 978-965-221-101-9

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