Tel Hazor

Tel Hazor's location

The living quarters and the palace pergula in the background of Tel Hazor's excavation area
The living quarters and the palace pergula in the background of Tel Hazor's excavation area

Tel Hazor's location is unique; situated west of the mountains of Upper Galilee and east of the Golan Heights.


Nearby is the Hula Valley with rich soil and water from the Hazor Stream. In ancient times, the most important routes passed by Hazor. One road connected the Land of Israel to Babylon and another led to Phoenicia (today’s modern Lebanon).


Hazor in the Holy Scriptures

In the Scriptures, Hazor was regarded as one of the most important cities of the Land.

 "The head of all those kingdoms" (Joshua 11:10)

The king of Hazor's word carried weight with the other kings of the Canaanite city and he had authority to call them together for battle.


 The Book of Joshua 11 tells us:


"And it came to pass, when Jabin king of Hazor heard these things, that he sent to Jobab king of Madon, to the king of Shimron, to the king of Achshaph, and to the kings who were from the north, in the mountains, in the plain south of Chinnereth, in the lowland, and in the heights of Dor on the west, to the Canaanites in the east and in the west, the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Jebusite in the mountains, and the Hivite below Hermon in the land of Mizpah. 


So they went out, they and all their armies with them, as many people as the sand that is on the seashore in multitude, with very many horses and chariots. And when all these kings had met together, they came and camped together at the waters of Merom to fight against Israel" (Joshua 11:1-5).


 Perhaps Joshua understood the special position of the king of Hazor as he decided to assault the city.


"Joshua turned back at that time and took Hazor, and struck its king with the sword; for Hazor was formerly the head of all those kingdoms. And they struck all the people who were in it with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them. There was none left breathing. Then he burned Hazor with fire" (Joshua 11:10-11).


 After the destruction of the city, it was abandoned for 150 years.


The authority of the king of Hazor continued to be recognized and later, the Scriptures referred to the "king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor" (Judges 4:1).


 The city was resettled in the times of Judges during 11th century BC, but this period is poor in material culture so little is known. 


 During the height of King Solomon's reign, he expanded and fortified the cities located along the ancient trade routes and it was the most prosperous time of Hazor’s history.

"And this is the reason for the labor force which King Solomon raised: to build the house of the Lord, his own house, the Millo, the wall of Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer" (1 Kings 9:15).


 The end came for Hazor, as well as many other cities in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, when the Assyrian Army invaded the Land led by King Tiglath Pileser III in 732 BC. 


"In the days of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath -Pileser, king of Assyria came and took Ijon, Abel Beth Maaca, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor, Gilead and Galilee, all the Land of Naphtali; and he carried them captive to Assyria" (2 Kings 15:29).


 The last mention of Hazor is in the Book of Maccabees (11:67) which records the war between the Maccabees' leader, Jonathan, and the Greek military leader, Demetrius, that took place in the "plain of Hazor" (147 BC).  

The history of Hazor clearly shows how the warnings of the prophets of the Bible came true. One of the four major prophets, Isaiah, predicted the destruction of the Kingdom of Israel.


" Woe to the Assyrians, the road of My anger, in whose hand is the club of My wrath! I send them against a godless nation..." (Isaiah 10:5).

History of Hazor

 Excavations of the iving quarters at Tel Hazor
Excavations of the iving quarters at Tel Hazor

The Tel (or ancient mound) of Hazor encompasses a territory of 200 acres. During the archaeological survey, over 20 layers of habitation were unearthed including a layer with obvious signs of fire damage which confirms the Biblical narrative about Joshua burning the Canaanite city.


The history of Hazor can be divided into the Canaanite period (during the Bronze Age) and the Israelite period (during the Iron Age).


The name of the city is also mentioned in Egyptian written sources that date back to the 18th century BC (the Execration Texts). Also, 20 documents were discovered which show Hazor had links with Mari, an important city located on the banks of the legendary Euphrates River (source: The Mari Archive).


Hazor is mentioned in the list of military campaigns of the Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep the 4th and in 2 letters which were written by the king of Hazor Abdi-Tirshi (El Amarna Archive, 14th century BC).


In the Canaanite period, Hazor was the largest city in the Land of Israel with around 150,00 residents. The upper city arose 120 feet above the Hula Valley and the lower city was surrounded by an earthen rampart.

The king of Hazor, Jabin was a head of all Canaanite city-states who gathered and went against the israelite tribes led by Joshua. (Joshua 11:1-12)

Archaeology indeed proves hazor was destryed by fire.

After the destruction Hazor was not populated for 150 years. 

Then in the times of the Israelite Judges  ( 11 th century BC), the city was renewed.

In the times of king Solomon and Unite monarchy over Israel Hazor was extended.

Especially extensive construction in the city went on in the times of king Ahab ( 9 th century BC) who also was a great builder. The water system, different public buildings and the citadel construction attributed to the period of king Ahab.

And finally Hazor was destryed during the conquest of Tiglath Pileser the Third in 732 BC.

Archaeological Research

Sofisticated water system discovered at Tel  Hazor
Sofisticated water system discovered at Tel Hazor

In 1875, Leslie Parter from Ireland was the first to identify Tel Hazor or Tel el Qedah (in Arabic) followed by excavation performed by renowned British archaeologist John Garstang in 1928.


The most extensive excavations were carried out by the famous Israeli archaeologists, Yigael Yadin (1950s-1960s), and Ammon Ben Tor (1990s-2000s).


 Today, Tel Hazor National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and visitors may take a walk through the remains of the impressive city and see a Canaanite palace, places of worship and the city’s waterwork system. There is also a breathtaking view of the Hula Valley and Mount Hermon. 

Tel HAZOR palace

The pergula covers the area of the excavated palace from the Canaanite period ( 14 - 13 century BC). The high place ( bamah in Hebrew) was found in the western section of the palace. Even the throne room was discovered in the center of the ruined palace. There were also found clay tablets statues and jewelry. The palace was burnt in the 13 th century BC.

The water system

The water system was built in order  to make sure there was regular water supply to the city's population during the siege, when they were not to able to leave the premices of the city's walls and reach the nearest springs.

The deapth of the shaft that leads to the spring is 45 m ( 147 feet).