Biblical Archaeology Review 1:4, December 1975

Hazor and the Battle of Deborah—Is Judges 4 Wrong?

By Yohanan Aharoni

The article on Hazor in the March 1975 issue of the BAR (“Yigael Yadin on ‘Hazor, The Head of All Those Kingdoms,’” BAR 01:01) appears to endorse Yadin’s conclusion that the references to Hazor and its king Jabin in Judges 4 constitute “a late and inaccurate gloss.” Don’t reject the historicity of the Biblical text so easily.

Yadin seeks to base his arguments that the battle of Deborah and Barak could not have been fought against the army of Jabin king of Hazor—and that therefore the references to Jabin and Hazor must be a “late and inaccurate gloss”—on the thirteenth century destruction of Hazor, as established by the archaeological evidence.

As Yadin puts it in Hazor (the Schweich lectures, p. 108): “The thirteenth century date [for the destruction of Hazor], which cannot be doubted, poses a very serious challenge … to those who would like to fix Deborah’s battle before the destruction described in Joshua.”

This thirteenth century destruction of Hazor undoubtedly represents the Israelite conquest of the great Canaanite center of the north. If the battle of Deborah and Barak described in Judges 4 (in prose) and in Judges 5 (in poetry) occurred after this destruction of Hazor, obviously Sisera and his army could not have been fighting on behalf of Jabin, king of Hazor, for Hazor was ex hypothesi then in ruins.

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