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While she notes that the other of the two possible explanations for the destruction is military conquest, she completely rules out this option because “there is no archaeological evidence of warfare, such as human victims or weapons, anywhere in the site.” Zuckerman’s theory aside, most maximalistic archaeologists and conservative biblical scholars attribute this destruction to the Israelites, mainly due to the “intentional desecration of shrines and cultic objects,” including decapitation and the severing of the hands of the cultic figures and idols, which is considered “a practice unique to Israel.” However, Hoffmeier refuses to assign this Israelite destruction to Deborah and Barak, objecting that Wood invented an attack on Hazor not claimed in the text (Judg 4).
Hoffmeier states, “[T]he text is absolutely silent regarding any military action against Hazor itself,” so “there is no basis to believe that the destruction of the final LB IIB (late 13th century) city was caused by Deborah[’s] and Barak’s triumph over Jabin and Sisera.” Hoffmeier correctly observes that the text does not expressly state that these Israelites destroyed the city, but his argument from silence cannot prove that Hazor was not destroyed during the judgeships of Deborah and Barak.
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.
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.
The biblical text requires that the former is true, while archaeology requires that the latter is true.
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.
Even if all of this evidence fails to be persuasive, the text of Joshua 12 should tip the scales for any objective reader.
In this chapter, the author provides a “king list,” which is an account of all of the monarchs defeated by God under the service of Moses and Joshua.