Tel Hazor, also known as Hatzor and Tell el-Qedah, is surely one of the most important Tels in Israel (a Tel is a type of archaeological mound created by human occupation and abandonment of a geographical site over many centuries).
Tel Hazor is located at the site of ancient Hazor, in the Upper Galilee, which was originally established some 5000 years ago on the “Via Maris” (or in other words, the road to the sea).
This famous road connected the big empires of the time, Egypt in the south and Assyria, Babylon and Persia in the north. In the Book of Joshua, Hazor is even described as “the head of all those kingdoms” (Josh. 11:10).
Many battles were fought in the valley overlooked by Hazor (the southern Hula Valley) and from various Biblical Texts it is easy to understand that for many years Hazor was obviously the most important city in the area. We also know from the Texts that this was one of the three cities built by King Solomon outside of his capital, Jerusalem. In its heyday, Hazor was also known as the most fortified city in the Holy Land.
You can find a lot of information about Hazor from many different sources, but you will not find the story of how we know that this Tel is really Tel Hazor…
The story begins a few decades ago, when a young Jewish couple was traveling in Israel. In those times, archeology was not as extensive as it is today, and Hazor was basically a pile of unidentified debris. While walking through the site, the guy found a small piece of pottery. He saw that there was something written on it, but put it in his pocket and continued on the hike, not thinking too much about his discovery.
Some months later when back in the US, he decided to find out what was written on the pottery. After a long search, he found a specialist who could read the ancient text, which actually turned out to be a description of a court decision related to a woman that sued someone and won. What was more important, however, was the mention of the court of Hazor!
Of all the priceless things that were discovered at Hazor over the last few decades, this is probably the most interesting find and the one that proves this site is the Biblical Hazor. By the way, the piece of pottery is now displayed at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
The official archeological dig at Hazor began in the early 1950s, and was the most important dig in the early years of Israel’s existence. It has since become the largest archaeological site in northern Israel, with an upper Tel of 30 acres and a lower city of more than 175 acres.
In 2005, the remains of Hazor were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO as part of the Biblical Tels – Megiddo, Hazor, Beer Sheba.
There’s nothing quite like seeing history up close and personal, and Tel Hazor is one of Israel’s finest archaeological finds ever. Blessed be to God, we have the privilege to live just 20 minutes from Hazor, so we often hike there on a weekend when the weather is nice. Who knows, maybe one day we too will find something of great value…