A Conqueror of Canaan Attested

Credit: BiblePlaces.com, Louvre Museum

In Numbers 13, Moses sent men to spy the land of Canaan. When they returned, they reported that the land would be too difficult to conquer. “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large…We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are…The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size.”

Where Israel wavered, the Arameans were able to conquer and hold the land of Canaan for some time. In 2 Kings 13, “the Lord’s anger burned against Israel, and for a long time he kept them under the power of Hazael king of Aram and Ben-Hadad his son…Hazael king of Aram died, and Ben-Hadad his son succeeded him as king. Then Jehoash son of Jehoahaz recaptured from Ben-Hadad son of Hazael the towns he had taken in battle from his father Jehoahaz. Three times Jehoash defeated him, and so he recovered the Israelite towns.”

The Aramean king Ben-Hadad the son of Hazael is an attested figure in archaeology. The Stele of Zakkur is an Aramaic inscription that dates to the late 9th – early 8th century BCE. It was recovered at Tell Afis, Syria. In the Stele of Zakkur, King Zakkur of Hamath and Luhuti recalls his holding off of an Aramean siege. “I am Zakkur, king of Hamath and Luash . . . Bar-Hadad, son of Hazael, king of Aram, united against me seventeen kings . . .all these kings laid siege to Hazrach . . . Baalshamayn said to me, “Do not be afraid. . .I will save you from all [these kings who] have besieged you” The Aramean king he mentions here is Bar-Hadad, son of Hazael, the same one recorded in 2 Kings.

The image above is of the Stele of Zakkur, which is housed at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.