History Files

Near East Kingdoms

Ancient Central Levant States



Originally a settlement founded around the twenty-ninth century BC, this mainly Canaanite city dominated one of the main trade routes from Mesopotamia to the Mediterranean, and reached its peak in the second millennium, when it achieved a population of around 40,000 (twenty times that of Jebusite Jerusalem). Situated at modern Tell el-Qedah / Tell Waqqas near the Mediterranean coast, the name Hazor probably meant 'enclosure' or 'settlement', and was therefore hardly a unique name in the region. It was the most important Hazor, however, being the Biblical fortified site in Naphtali, about 15km (ten miles) north of the Sea of Galilee.

Hazor was an Egyptian vassal during much of the mid-second millennium BC. After the dark age at the end of the millennium the city re-emerged as a dominant regional power which became a threat to the newly created Israelite state in the eleventh century, and eventually had to be conquered.

c.1790s - 1776 BC

Ishi-Addu of Qatna is an ally (willing or otherwise) of Shamshi-Adad's kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia. When that kingdom falls around 1776 BC, Qatna is restored to full independence, and governs a number of towns, including Hazor and many that are controlled by Amorites. However, it takes Hammurabi of Babylon until about 1761 BC to fully conquer former Sumerian Mesopotamia, but the importance of that conquest suggests that he starts conquering Syrian city states almost as soon as the kingdom of Upper Mesopotamia collapses. He is known to capture Qatna during his reign.

fl c.1760s BC

Ibni-Addu / Yabni-Hadad

Akkadian and West Semitic forms of the name.

Hazor is one of only two Canaanite settlements mentioned in the archives at Mari. So far seven tablets related to Hazor have been discovered. One of them reveals that the city is so important that Babylon finds it convenient to place two ambassadors there. Other tablets associate Hazor with the trade in tin, essential for the manufacture of bronze weapons in this period.

1550 - 1453 BC

With the city being a major military target, Egypt maintains control over it, and in 1453 BC campaigns to conquer the whole Levant and Syria and establish three provinces in their conquered territories which are named Amurru (in southern Syria), Upe (in the northern Levant), and Canaan (in the southern Levant). Each one is governed by an Egyptian official. Native dynasts are allowed to continue their rule over the small states, but have to provide annual tribute.

c.1400 BC

The city is sacked and burned by aggressors unknown.

fl c.1360s BC

Abdi Tirshi

c.1371 - 1358 BC

The Amarna letters between Egypt and the city states of Syria and Canaan, describe the disruptive activities of the habiru, and of Hazor, which is accused of siding with them to capture several cities belonging to Tyre and Ashtaroth.

c.1285 BC

Hazor is sacked and burned by Egyptian pharaoh Seti I.

c.late 1200s BC


Name may be an Egyptian version of Jabin.

c.late 1200s BC

Jabin I

Jabin I & II (below) may be one and the same person.

c.1200 BC

Egypt loses control over Hazor when it becomes one of the cities along the Mediterranean coast which is destroyed by marauding groups of Sea Peoples, probably at a point slightly after this date. Hazor becomes locally dominant, establishing hegemony over various city states and tribes in its region.


Unknown king.

fl c.1125 BC

Jabin II

Biblical 'King of Canaan'. Temporarily subdued Israelites. Killed.

fl c.1125 BC


Military commander.

c.1125 BC

Sisera is the Canaanite military leader of Hazor who leads a coalition of the 'kings of Canaan' against the Israelites at the 'waters of Merom'. His allies include the kings of Madon, Mizpah, and Achshaph. However, a surprise attack is launched on him and Sisera flees to hide in a Kenite tent where he is killed while asleep by the Kenite chieftain's wife, Yael, who drives a tent peg through his skull.

The remains of Hazor from this period are covered in a layer of ash, which along with fire damage to artefacts indicates that it is sacked and burned by invaders, possibly by the Israelites. The Old Testament indicates there are two separate battles and destructions of Hazor, both against King Jabin, but with the second campaign being lead by one of the Israelite judges, so perhaps this is just propaganda on their behalf. Settled thereafter by semi-nomads, presumably Israelites, the upper part of the city is eventually rebuilt as a royal garrison and after about 1035 BC becomes part of the northern kingdom of Samaria.

855 - 854 BC

Damas makes its long-awaited attack on Samaria, destroying Hazor along the way. The city is rebuilt later in the same century.

733 BC

Despite its being rebuilt with heavier fortifications, the Assyrians capture the city and incorporate it into their empire. A small temporary settlement forms, made up of inhabitants returning after the conquest, before the Assyrians rebuilt the citadel on the western edge of the site.

2nd cent BC

The city of Hazor is abandoned during the Hellenistic Seleucid period in the region, probably after Jonathan's struggle against Demetrius II.