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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.As mentioned already, archaeology reveals that the very peak of Hazor’s might throughout the entire Canaanite era was achieved at this time, which is confirmed by the epigraphical evidence from the Amarna Letters, in which Hazor’s king is the only Canaanite ruler referred to as a king in letters written to the Egyptian pharaoh.Considering Hazor’s exalted status in Canaan from the middle of the 14th century BC through the second third of the 13th century BC, a period of over 100 years, Hazor represented the most imposing national threat to the Israelites in the Promised Land.Yadin betrays his commitment to this conclusion when he notes that “[t]he narrative in the Book of Joshua is therefore the true historical nucleus, while the mention of Jabin in Judges 4 must have been a later editorial interpolation.”.
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.
The intentional nature of the desecration of these statues and vessels is clear: “This was a systematic annihilation campaign, against the very physical symbols of the royal ideology and its loci of ritual legitimation.” Moreover, Yadin went as far as to make a connection between this particular destruction and the text of Joshua 11: “This destruction is doubtless to be ascribed to the Israelite tribes, as related in the Book of Joshua.”In Sharon Zuckerman’s wonderful article that whets the appetite of all those awaiting the disclosure of Canaanite Hazor’s cuneiform archive(s), she challenges the notion that the Israelites were the actual culprits behind the destruction of the final Canaanite city of the Late Bronze Age, arguing that an internal revolt instead led to the city’s annihilation.
This long-time senior staff member at the Hazor excavations suggests that Hazorite rulers and elites enforced a dominant ideology, which the populace contested, resisted, and ultimately revolted against due to the political and religious impositions.
In light of the emphasis on this fortified city and its unequivocal regional influence, the “cutting off” also must include Hazor, not purely the death of its king.
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.