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The importance of Hazor’s contribution to the debate on the timing of the Exodus cannot be underestimated, as “Hazor provides the only possible evidence for an Israelite conquest of Canaan in the late 13th century” BC.[ Hazor—strategically located on the Great Trunk Road, which is the main commercial highway that cut through Canaan and was part of the principal military route throughout the Late Bronze Age (1550–1200 BC)—thus is at the center of the debate over the timing of the Exodus, since it was both destroyed by Joshua and destroyed in the 13th century BC.
The biblical text requires that the former is true, while archaeology requires that the latter is true.
Undoubtedly, one of the hottest topics in the field of OT biblical studies in recent years is the dating of the Exodus. Essentially, there are two prevailing positions: the early Exodus view, which contends that the Israelite Exodus transpired during the middle of the 15th century BC, and the late Exodus view, which purports that the Israelites actually left Egypt nearly 200 years later, during the 13th century BC.
On the side of the latter view, biblical archaeologists such as James Hoffmeier contend that a 13th century BC Exodus better fits the material evidence, in large part due to alleged connections between sites mentioned in the biblical text—such as the store-city of Raamses (Exod ), which he asserts “is likely to be equated with the Delta capital built by and named for Ramesses II, that is, Pi-Ramesses”—and excavated or identifiable sites in Egypt.
Certainly the Israelites’ fight was not a personal vendetta against the king himself, as a man, but rather against the city of Hazor and its influence in northern Canaan.
In truth, exterminating Hazor’s king alone would be a hollow and meaningless victory for the agents of God’s wrath (Deut 7:1–2).
The strength of Jabin’s army and that of the lesser vassal-cities of the surrounding area was what the Israelites finally overcame, resulting in the king’s death.
Hoffmeier fails to recognize the main issue in the Conquest narratives of Joshua and Judges: the defeat of The king’s death indubitably is logically connected to the Conquest—and to the subsequent destruction and/or innocuous rendering—of Hazor.
The Israelites experienced a decisive and final victory over Hazor, which eradicated its powerful king and eliminated Hazor’s influence over the territory of northern Canaan, where its sovereignty had posed a suppressive threat to the expanding Israelites.As for the destruction under Joshua, Josh clearly states that “he [Joshua] burned the city [of Hazor] with fire.” Most archaeologists who accept the historicity of the biblical account thus link the massive conflagration of the final Late Bronze Age city of Hazor to the fiery destruction accomplished under Joshua.Moreover, they commonly connect the later story of the seemingly independent defeat of Hazor’s King Jabin, which is recorded in Judges 4, to the destruction described in Joshua 11.In the introduction to the king list, a common type of record kept by Ancient Near Eastern (hereafter ANE) conquerors, the text notes that “these are the kings of the land, whom the sons of Israel killed, and whose land they possessed” (Josh 12:1).For the biblical writer of Joshua, the smiting of a king is inextricably bound to the acquisition and possession of his land.