Hazor, meaning enclosed, or fortified, was an ancient Canaanite city located in upper Galilee about 10 miles / 16 kilometers north of The Sea Of Galilee (see Bible Places). Archaeological findings indicate that it was founded approximately 2700 B.C., and that it was one of the largest cities in ancient Canaan, with a population perhaps exceeding 40,000 people. Hazor's kings were involved in two of the greatest battles for the land ever fought by the ancient Israelites, not matched until their modern-day descendants, some of whom are reading this, in the wars since 1948.
Hazor was ruled by the Canaanite king Jabin when the Israelites entered the Promised Land under Joshua. The defeat and devastation of the city practically completed the conquest of the land, starting from the south, where the Israelites entered at Jericho (see The Fall Of Jericho), to the north at Hazor:
"When Jabin king of Hazor heard of this, he sent to Jobab king of Madon, and to the king of Shimron, and to the king of Achshaph, and to the kings who were in the northern hill country, and in the Arabah south of Chinneroth, and in the lowland, and in Naphoth-dor on the west, to the Canaanites in the east and the west, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, and the Jebusites in the hill country, and the Hivites under Hermon in the land of Mizpah. And they came out, with all their troops, a great host, in number like the sand that is upon the seashore, with very many horses and chariots. And all these kings joined their forces, and came and encamped together at the waters of Merom, to fight with Israel."
"And The Lord said to Joshua, "Do not be afraid of them, for tomorrow at this time I will give over all of them, slain, to Israel; you shall hamstring their horses, and burn their chariots with fire."
"So Joshua came suddenly upon them with all his people of war, by the waters of Merom, and fell upon them. And The Lord gave them into the hand of Israel, who smote them and chased them as far as Great Sidon and Misrephoth-maim, and eastward as far as the valley of Mizpeh; and they smote them, until they left none remaining. And Joshua did to them as The Lord bade him; he hamstrung their horses, and burned their chariots with fire."
"And Joshua turned back at that time, and took Hazor, and smote its king with the sword; for Hazor formerly was the head of all those kingdoms. And they put to the sword all who were in it, utterly destroying them; there was none left that breathed, and he burned Hazor with fire." (Joshua 11:1-11 RSV)
In later years Hazor was rebuilt by the Canaanites, and again was under the rule of a king by the name of Jabin. His army, under the command of Sisera, pushed southward in an attempt to drive the Israelites out of Israel. The Canaanite forces were engaged by the Israelites under Barak (another name very familiar to modern-day Israelites, a former general and prime minister), who had the prophetess Deborah as an advisor. Again, the Israelites gave the Canaanites a mauling:
"And Barak summoned Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and ten thousand men went up at his heels; and Deborah went up with him."
"Now Heber the Kenite had separated from the Kenites, the descendants of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses, and had pitched his tent as far away as the oak in Za-anannim, which is near Kedesh."
"When Sisera was told that Barak the son of Abino-am had gone up to Mount Tabor, Sisera called out all his chariots, nine hundred chariots of iron, and all the men who were with him, from Harosheth-ha-goiim to the river Kishon."
"And Deborah said to Barak, "Up! For this is the day in which The Lord has given Sisera into your hand. Does not The Lord go out before you?" So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten thousand men following him. And The Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army before Barak at the edge of the sword; and Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot. And Barak pursued the chariots and the army to Harosheth-ha-goiim, and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not a man was left." (Judges 4:10-16 RSV)
Fact Finder: What happened to the Canaanite commander Sisera after he lost the battle against the Israelites?