Archaeology News And Notes -- By: Anonymous
BSP 5:4 (Autumn 1992) p. 122
Archaeology News And Notes
Name Of Jabin Found At Hazor
A fragment of a clay tablet addressed to Jabin, king of Hazor, was found this past summer in excavations at Hazor. Although the Jabin of the tablet is neither of the Jabins mentioned in the Bible, it attests to the fact that Jabin was a dynastic name at Hazor.
The king of Hazor at the time of the Conquest in ca 1400 BC was named Jabin according to Joshua 11:1. In the days of Deborah and Barak, nearly 200 years later, the name of the king of Hazor was also Jabin (Jgs 4; Ps 83:9). This has been a problem to Biblical scholars. If Jabin was killed and his city burned by the Israelites at the time of the Conquest, how could Deborah and Barak battle Jabin king of Hazor nearly 200 years later? The solutions proposed by critics are numerous, but they all assume one thing: the Bible has things mixed up here and there must be a textual problem.
The obvious solution is that there were two different kings with the same name. But scholars never consider that possibility; the Bible must be wrong, they assert. The carrying on of dynastic names was a common practice in antiquity and is well attested. The fact that there were 11 kings in Egypt with the name Ramesses is readily accepted by historians, but if there are two kings with the same name in the Bible, that becomes a major textual problem!
Thanks to the discoveries of archaeology, it is now clear that the name Jabin at Hazor was a dynastic name used over many centuries. Rather than being a problem, the Bible’s use of this name for the kings of Hazor reflects an intimate knowledge of the politics of Canaan in the Late Bronze Age.
The first extra-Biblical reference to a king named Jabin at Hazor was found at Mari (see G. Herbert Livingston’s article on Mari in this issue, pp. 105-108). A text from the 18th century BC records shipments of tin from Mari to “Ibni-Addad king of Hazor.” The form of the name in this text is Accadian; the West Semitic form would be “Yabni-Haddad.” Biblical Jabin (Yabin) is simply a shortened form of this same name.
The tablet found at Hazor is 2x2 cm (less than 1x1 in) and represents less than half the original. Written in Old Babylonian, and thus dated to the 18th-17th centuries BC, it is addressed to Ibni-Addu, king of Hazor. Again, the name Ibni corresponds to Jabin (Yabin) in the Bible. The letter was written by an appointee of the king and concerns the transfer of a woman from one place to another. Exhibiting a high-quality style and writing, the clay tablet unquestionably was a royal document executed by a skilled scribe.
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