Contested Conflagration: Joshua And The Conquest Of Hazor -- By: Cambria Jones

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 24:3 (Summer 2011)
Article: Contested Conflagration: Joshua And The Conquest Of Hazor
Author: Cambria Jones


Contested Conflagration: Joshua And The Conquest Of Hazor

Cambria Jones

Introduction

Over the past centuries, the age-old debate over the date of the Israelite Exodus from Egypt and subsequent Conquest of the Promised Land has only increased in force and significance. On one side, esteemed archaeologists like Yigael Yadin, Amnon Ben-Tor, and James Hoffmeier argue for a late date Exodus during the 13th century BC, or Late Bronze Age (LB) III (Petrovich 2008: 489). On the other hand, respected scholars such as Douglas Petrovich, Bryant Wood, and Charles Aling posit an early date Exodus during the 15th century, or LB I. The late date Exodus position suggests possible errors in the history or numerology of the Conquest and Exodus, while the early date position confirms the accuracy of traditional biblical chronology (Aling 2010). Thus, as Petrovich explains, because the dating of the Exodus is inextricably linked to methods of biblical interpretation, its spiritual significance further polarizes these late date and early date sides of the debate (2008: 489-90). Like the waves of the Red Sea in the biblical story of the Exodus, scholars on both sides part with the force of the supernatural.

This controversy seems to become more intricate and intense with each new archaeological discovery, but some of the most hotly contested evidences for an Exodus-Conquest date are those which relate to the destruction dates of Canaanite cities conquered by Joshua and the Israelites following their Exodus from Egypt. Excavation of these cities could help confirm a date for the Conquest established from the biblical record. Many prominent archaeologists and scholars throughout the past century have focused their work and attention on the three cities destroyed during the Israelite Conquest—the cities of Ai, Jericho, and Hazor. Although a relatively large amount of evidence has been excavated from these cities, however, analysis and interpretation of these evidences have not thus far reached a consensus on the late-date/early-date Conquest- Exodus chronology debate (Aling 2010).

Both sides of the debate, however, do agree that the city of Hazor presents the strongest evidence for the consideration of those seeking a Conquest-Exodus date. In fact, scholars representing both the late date and early date positions argue that Hazor provides proof of their respective chronologies. For instance, Hoffmeier states that evidence at the city of Hazor supports a late date Exodus because it, “provides the only possible evidence for an Israelite conquest of Canaan in the late 13th century BC” (Petrovich 2008: 490). Aling, on the other hand, believes that the excavations at Hazor provide undeniable support for an early date conquest and Exodus (2010). Both positions have strong arguments a...

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