(hay' zawr) Place name meaning, “enclosed settlement.” 1. Hazor was located in upper Galilee on the site now known as tell el-Qedah, ten miles north of the Sea of Galilee and five miles southwest of Lake Huleh.
The site of Hazor is composed of a 30-acre upper tell or mound rising 40 meters above the surrounding plain and a 175-acre lower enclosure which was well fortified. These dimensions make Hazor the largest city in ancient Canaan. Estimates set the population at its height at over 40,000.
The upper tell had twenty-one separate levels of occupation beginning between 2750 and 2500 B.C. and continuing down to the second century B.C. Canaanites occupied Hazor until Joshua destroyed it. The Israelites controlled it until 732 B.C. when the Assyrians captured the city. Hazor then served as a fortress for the various occupying powers until the time of the Maccabees.
The lower enclosure had five levels of occupation beginning about 1750 B.C. and continuing until Joshua destroyed it. It was never rebuilt.
Hazor's location was strategic both economically and militarily. It overlooked the Via Maris, the major overland trade route from Egypt to the north and east, and thus became a major trading center. It is mentioned extensively in both Egyptian and Mesopotamian records in conjunction with the other major trading cities of the day. Hazor also overlooked the Huleh Valley, a critical defense point against armies invading from the north.
Joshua 12:19 relate how Jabin, king of Hazor, rallied the forces of the northern cities of Canaan against Joshua. Hazor was “the head of all those kingdoms” (Joshua 11:10), that is, it was the dominant city-state of the Canaanite kingdoms. Joshua defeated the Canaanite forces, slew the leaders, including Jabin, and burned the city of Hazor. Modern archaeology lends support to this biblical account. The size and location of the city of Hazor, as well as references to it in other ancient literature, would indicate that Hazor probably controlled a vast portion of Canaan. Yadin's excavation of Hazor indicated that the city was destroyed by fire in the second third of the thirteenth century B.C.
The next mention of Hazor in the Old Testament is troublesome. In
Judges 4:1 we again find a Jabin as king of Canaan ruling from Hazor. His troops led by Sisera of Harosheth-hagoyim were routed by Deborah and Barak. Some Bible students see a discrepancy between this story and the story in Joshua, saying Jabin was killed generations earlier and Hazor destroyed and taken into Israelite control. The traditional solution to this discrepancy stresses that Jabin is referred to in the past tense—”who reigned in Hazor.” Jabin was not alive at the time of the battle with Deborah, but Sisera had previously been commander of Jabin's forces. Hazor need not exist at this time as Sisera lived at Harosheth-ha-goiim (location unknown.) A different solution on the basis of archaeological excavations claims the story concerning Jabin in Joshua is accurate. The city was destroyed by Joshua and was not rebuilt as a city until the time of Solomon. The most ancient account of the defeat of Sisera by Deborah and Barak appears in the poetic account of
Judges 5:1, which mentions neither Jabin nor Hazor (compare
1 Samuel 12:9). This approach sees
Judges 4:1 as a later account influenced by the story in Joshua. The straight biblical narrative seems to assume Joshua destroyed but did not occupy it, though it was allotted to Naphtali: (Joshua 19:36). The Canaanite dynasty of Jabin maintained or regained control with one or more kings named Jabin.
1 Kings 9:15 mentions that Solomon rebuilt the walls of Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer. Excavations have discovered conclusive evidence to support this short portion of Scripture. Two layers of Israelite occupation of Hazor between the destruction of the Canaanite city by Joshua and the rebuilding of the city by Solomon show merely semi-nomadic Israelite encampments, evidenced by tent or hut foundation rings, cooking pits, and storage pits. Apparently, no formal city or fortifications existed during the time of the Judges. The city was clearly rebuilt at the time of Solomon, evidenced by the characteristiclly Solomonic gate structures, that is, casehymate walls and a six-chamber gatehouse (three on each side) with two square towers. Comparing the gates at Hazor with those at Gezer and Megiddo, Yadin found them to be identical in both design and dimension. The Solomonic city was much smaller than the Canaanite city. It only covered half of the upper tell.
2 Kings 15:29 records that Tiglath-pileser III, king of Assyria, captured Hazor and carried its people captive to Assyria. The evidence of this destruction is very great. No less than three feet of ashes and rubble cover the ruins left by this destruction. Prior to the Assyrian invasion, Hazor had been greatly enlarged and strengthened by King Ahab of Israel in anticipation of the attack. The city had grown to fill the entire upper tell. Its fortifications had been strengthened and enlarged, and a special water shaft and tunnel 40 meters deep was dug down to the water table to bring the water supply inside the city.
2. Town in tribal inheritance of Judah (Joshua 15:23), probably to be read with earliest Greek translation as Hazor-Ithnan. This may be modern el-Jebariyeh.
3. Town in southern part of tribal inheritance of Judah, probably to be read as Hazor-Hadattah (Joshua 15:25) with most modern translations. This may be modern el-Hudeira near the Dead Sea's southern end.
4. Town identified with Hezron (Joshua 15:25). See Hezron.
5. Town where part of tribe of Benjamin lived in time of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 11:33). This may be modern khirbet Hazzur four miles north northwest of Jerusalem.
6. Name of “kingdoms” that Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon threatened (Jeremiah 49:28-33). Apparently, small nomadic settlements of Arab tribes are meant. Such settlements would still have rich treasures the Babylonian king coveted.