Tag Archives: Hazor

Defending the City at the City Gate

Often times the gate of an ancient city was located at a low point that was easily approached—via an incline ramp—from outside the city.


View of the model of the six–chamber gate that was discovered at Megiddo. The initial excavators dated it to the days of King Solomon but today its dating is disputed—and some still prefer a Solomonic date.

Note how there are outer and inner gate houses—with a courtyard between them.  Also note how towers abound in the gate houses and associated structures.  As a city was being defended, the courtyard between the two gate houses could be viewed as a killing field whereby defenders could shoot down from their towers and wound and/or kill the attackers with arrows and/or spears.  Even if attackers were merely incapacitated, they would lie there bleeding and moaning and other attackers—in the deafening bloody chaos—would have to climb over their bodies in order to try to gain entrance to the city.  Of course they themselves were vulnerable to same the fate as their “colleagues.”  This must have had a detrimental effect on the second wave’s enthusiasm to attack the city!

In addition, as the attackers attempted to make their way through the inner gate, they would have to break down its outer door.  They would then be confronted with another killing field between the six chambers (three on each side) of the inner gate.  In this area, defenders could be positioned directly above the attackers—shooting arrows down on them.


Model of the six–chamber gate (Solomonic) at Hazor. The dark green gate is located in the lower left portion of the image.  (Outside the citadel is to the upper left of the gate)  This particular gate has two projecting towers—one on each side.  A double (casemate) wall is attached to the gate (also dark green).

As for “doors”—there does not seem to be too much physical evidence for how the gates were “sealed/closed.”  However, we do know that in other structures that a pair of doors each swung on columns that could pivot in a socket.  More on this, next post.

For some brief comments on the dating to the six–chamber gate at Megiddo Click Here.  More on gates to follow.

Monday on the Mount — Exodus 15 and Deuteronomy 12

Although Jerusalem is not actually mentioned in the first five books of the Bible, there are certainly strong hints of “things to come.”  For example, after crossing the Reed Sea, Moses and all Israel celebrated the Lord’s work by singing a song that included the following:

Exodus 15:11  “Who among the gods is like you, O LORD?
Who is like you—majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory, working wonders?  . . .
13 “In your unfailing love you will lead
the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them
to your holy dwelling . . .
17  You will bring them in and plant them
on the mountain of your inheritance
the place, O LORD, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, your hands established.  18  The LORD will reign
for ever and ever.”

From this passage it is clear that the Lord is leading His people to the Land of Canaan, to the mountain of His inheritance, His dwelling, His sanctuary!  Ultimately this will be the Temple on Mount Zion, in Jerusalem—but some 400 years later!  Note that the destination is the “Land of Canaan”—that had been promised to the descendants of the Patriarchs.

After 40 years in the wilderness, just before entering the Land of Canaan, in/near the Plains of Moab, Moses preached his last sermons.  This seems to be in anticipation of crossing the Jordan River into Canaan, the occupation of Jerusalem, and the building of the Temple in Jerusalem.  In conjunction with describing that the Israelites should not worship at just “any” sanctuary but only the place where the Lord chooses to place His Name, the instructions include:

Deuteronomy 12:2 Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains and on the hills and under every spreading tree where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods.  . . .   5 But you are to seek the place the LORD your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. To that place you must go;  6 there bring your burnt offerings and sacrifices . . .  7 There, in the presence of the LORD your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the LORD your God has blessed you.
. . .   9 since you have not yet reached the resting place and the inheritance the LORD your God is giving you.  10 But you will cross the Jordan and settle in the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, and he will give you rest from all your enemies around you so that you will live in safety.  11 Then to the place the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name—there you are to bring everything I command you: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, and all the choice possessions you have vowed to the LORD.  12 And there rejoice before the LORD your God . . .  13 Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings anywhere you please.  14 Offer them only at the place the LORD will choose in one of your tribes, and there observe everything I command you. . .
17 You must not eat in your own towns the tithe of your grain and new wine and oil, or the firstborn of your herds and flocks, or whatever you have vowed to give, or your freewill offerings or special gifts.
18 Instead, you are to eat them [offerings] in the presence of the LORD your God at the place the LORD your God will choose . . . and you are to rejoice before the LORD your God in everything you put your hand to.  19 Be careful not to neglect the Levites as long as you live in your land.
20  When the LORD your God has enlarged your territory as he promised you . . .  21 If the place where the LORD your God chooses to put his Name is too far away from you, you may slaughter animals from the herds and flocks the LORD has given you, as I have commanded you, and in your own towns you may eat as much of them as you want.

Next Monday: Crossing the Jordan, entering Canaan, settling in the land.


An example of a Canaanite Worship Center found by Yadin at Hazor — Note the basalt standing stones, the seated man, the crouched lion, and the slab to receive offerings — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

The Passing of David Dorsey

I just received word today that Dr. David Dorsey passed away recently and I wanted to draw that to the attention of those who knew Dave.  He was a beloved Professor at Evangelical Seminary in Myerstown, PA.  He is survived by his wife Janet and three children.  A summary of his life accomplishments and interests can be found here.

Others will write a more complete memorial for this fine man but I just wanted to mention that in the scholarly world he is well-known for two very creative and well-used/respected books:

Dorsey, David A. The Roads and Highways of Ancient Israel. Baltimore: John Hopkins University, 1991.
Dorsey, David A. The Literary Structure of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999.

I first met Dave and Jan when he was studying in Jerusalem at The Institute of Holy Land Studies (now the Jerusalem University College).  Throughout his life he was mentored by the late Professor Anson Rainey—who considered him a “son.”

One short Dave Dorsey story!  In the 1970’s I was Dean of the Institute of Holy Land Studies in Jerusalem and Dave was scheduled to go on a field trip with me (and other of my students) to the Galilee.  The day before the trip I took a colleague up to visit Hazor.

A few years previously I had prepared a clay cuneiform valentine tablet—in Ugaritic—for my wife.  On one side it said something like “Happy Day of Hearts” and on the other “May God Guard and Protect You—Love Carl.”  I pierced a hole in the tablet and glazed and fired it in my parents’ kiln.


Pillared Israelite Structure at Hazor
The Valentine was “discovered” in a loose surface stone between the columns

Well, I took the “Valentine Tablet” up to Hazor the day before our trip and hid it under a rock in the large pillared Israelite storage facility.  The next day, when I was there with Dave we accidentally discovered this “tablet!”  Well, we were all excited.  As we were traveling in the mini-van to the next site, Dave was in the front trying to decipher the tablet—he had just taken Ugaritic (I had secretly let the other students know what was up).  About 20 minutes into our ride he exclaimed: “I think it’s a love letter!!”  I finally let him in on the secret discovery and we had a great laugh together.

Dave was a beloved colleague and friend!  He will be missed!!

HT: Ginger Caessens

A Fragment of a Sphinx Found at Hazor – Update


Base of Sphinx Found at Tel Hazor
Photo from Prof. Amnon Ben-Tor and Dr. Sharon Zuckerman
Hebrew University Press Release

Update: in an NPR Radio interview Ben-Tor said that originally the sphinx was about 6 ft. long and 2 ft. high.

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