Tel Hazor 311.
(photo credit: BiblePlaces.com)
Wayne Stiles is an author who has never recovered from his travels in Israel—and loves to write about them from his desk in Texas.
asked the helicopter pilot to fly to Hazor so that I could take video
of the site. Before long we hovered over a modern town with houses,
streets, and parks. The pilot and I exchanged awkward glances, and I
clarified what I wanted, “I meant Tel Hazor.” He still looked confused.
After five minutes of searching the area, we finally saw it.
Two hundred acres huge, rising from the floor of the Hula Basin, ancient
Hazor looms as Israel’s largest tell. How could the pilot not have
known where it was?
I had to marvel at how times have changed.
What was once the land’s most important city has somehow gotten lost in
the weeds of contemporary minds.
Along the ancient international highway, geographical chokepoints
required all travelers to pass well-fortified cities. Among these, Hazor
was the most important in northern Israel. All two hundred acres of Tel
Hazor were occupied during the Canaanite period. In fact, Hazor stood
as the largest city in Canaan during the Middle and Late Bronze Ages
(2200-1400 BC). No one entered the land from the north without passing
The day I was at Tel Hazor, beautiful yellow flowers
grew atop the tell. It struck me strange that life would grow where so
many people in history had died.
Before the conquest under
Joshua, “Hazor formerly was the head of all these kingdoms” (Joshua
11:10). Hazor was the only city Joshua burned in the northern campaign
(Joshua 11:1–15). Modern archeologists have uncovered a Canaanite temple
with a central niche where a male deity figurine sat on a throne. Stratum XV of the tell had a large burn layer that corresponds with
Joshua’s destruction of Hazor around 1400 BC.
hundred years after Joshua, Hazor rose again to prominence during the
years of the Judges of Israel. Deborah and Barak defeated Hazor’s
general, Sisera, in the Valley of Jezreel and burned Hazor once again
Because of the city’s strategic location, King
Solomon later fortified Hazor—as well as Megiddo and Gezer (1 Kings
9:15). The tripartite city gates that Solomon built in these cities
still stand. All three gates are nearly identical. During the time of
the divided kingdom, the Israelites at Hazor dug a forty-meter deep
shaft that reached the water table.
In 885 BC, Ben-hadad of Aram
invaded Israel via Hazor. As the first line of defense for the north,
Hazor was also one of the first cities to fall when the Assyrians
invaded (2 Kings 15:29). Under the boot of the Assyrian leader,
Tiglath-Pileser III, Hazor was razed in 732 BC. It never recovered.
By the first century when Jesus passed Hazor on His way north to Caesarea Philippi, Tel Hazor stood as a mere police fort.
Today, even helicopter pilots struggle to find it. How to Get There:
From Tiberias, travel north on Route 90 about 31 km. After the Mahanayim Junction, turn right toward Tel Hazor. What to Do There:
the Upper and Lower Cities, including Solomon’s gate, the stables, the
water system, and the remains of Canaanite buildings. Across the street
by Kibbutz Ayelet Hashahar, the Hazor Museum offers explanations of the
twenty-one occupation levels discovered during the tell’s numerous
excavations. You can even volunteer to serve during the seasonal
excavations. Video provided by Insight for Living.Read Wayne’s blog and subscribe to his weekly Podcast at www.waynestiles.com.
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