While she notes that the other of the two possible explanations for the destruction is military conquest, she completely rules out this option because “there is no archaeological evidence of warfare, such as human victims or weapons, anywhere in the site.” Zuckerman’s theory aside, most maximalistic archaeologists and conservative biblical scholars attribute this destruction to the Israelites, mainly due to the “intentional desecration of shrines and cultic objects,” including decapitation and the severing of the hands of the cultic figures and idols, which is considered “a practice unique to Israel.” However, Hoffmeier refuses to assign this Israelite destruction to Deborah and Barak, objecting that Wood invented an attack on Hazor not claimed in the text (Judg 4).
Hoffmeier states, “[T]he text is absolutely silent regarding any military action against Hazor itself,” so “there is no basis to believe that the destruction of the final LB IIB (late 13th century) city was caused by Deborah[’s] and Barak’s triumph over Jabin and Sisera.” Hoffmeier correctly observes that the text does not expressly state that these Israelites destroyed the city, but his argument from silence cannot prove that Hazor was not destroyed during the judgeships of Deborah and Barak.
Even if all of this evidence fails to be persuasive, the text of Joshua 12 should tip the scales for any objective reader.
In this chapter, the author provides a “king list,” which is an account of all of the monarchs defeated by God under the service of Moses and Joshua.
The importance of Hazor’s contribution to the debate on the timing of the Exodus cannot be underestimated, as “Hazor provides the only possible evidence for an Israelite conquest of Canaan in the late 13th century” BC.[ Hazor—strategically located on the Great Trunk Road, which is the main commercial highway that cut through Canaan and was part of the principal military route throughout the Late Bronze Age (1550–1200 BC)—thus is at the center of the debate over the timing of the Exodus, since it was both destroyed by Joshua and destroyed in the 13th century BC.
In truth, exterminating Hazor’s king alone would be a hollow and meaningless victory for the agents of God’s wrath (Deut 7:1–2).In light of the emphasis on this fortified city and its unequivocal regional influence, the “cutting off” also must include Hazor, not purely the death of its king.The Israelites experienced a decisive and final victory over Hazor, which eradicated its powerful king and eliminated Hazor’s influence over the territory of northern Canaan, where its sovereignty had posed a suppressive threat to the expanding Israelites.The biblical author used the verb The Israelites “went harder and harder against Jabin” until they killed him, meaning that they grew stronger and stronger in relation to Hazor, until they were able to defeat its king.Yet could the mere killing of the king who controlled this entire region be seen as a victory that would earn its way onto the pages of Judges?