Destruction in Hazael’s Path

Credit:, Jezreel

In Numbers 21, the Israelites left a wake of destruction in their path. First they laid waste to a town in southern Canaan. “When the Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negev, heard that Israel was coming along the road to Atharim, he attacked the Israelites and captured some of them. Then Israel made this vow to the Lord: If you will deliver these people into our hands, we will totally destroy their cities. The Lord listened to Israel’s plea and gave the Canaanites over to them. They completely destroyed them and their towns; so the place was named Hormah.

Later, they conquered parts to the northeast, on the eastern side of the Jordan River. “But Sihon would not let Israel pass through his territory. He mustered his entire army and marched out into the wilderness against Israel. When he reached Jahaz, he fought with Israel. Israel, however, put him to the sword and took over his land from the Arnon to the Jabbok, but only as far as the Ammonites, because their border was fortified. Israel captured all the cities of the Amorites and occupied them, including Heshbon and all its surrounding settlements. Heshbon was the city of Sihon king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab and had taken from him all his land as far as the Arnon.”

In Book of Kings 1&2, it is the Arameans who leave a path of destruction in capturing parts of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. In 1 Kings 15, “Ben-Hadad agreed with King Asa and sent the commanders of his forces against the towns of Israel. He conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel Beth Maakah and all Kinnereth in addition to Naphtali.” 1 Kings 22 the king of Aram’s archer mortally wounded the king of Israel. 2 Kings 6, “Ben-Hadad king of Aram mobilized his entire army and marched up and laid siege to Samaria. There was a great famine in the city; the siege lasted so long that a donkey’s head sold for eighty shekels of silver, and a quarter of a kab of seed pods for five shekels.”

In 2 Kings 10, Aram continues to wreak havoc in Israel, on both sides of the Jordan. “In those days the Lord began to reduce the size of Israel. Hazael overpowered the Israelites throughout their territory east of the Jordan in all the land of Gilead (the region of Gad, Reuben and Manasseh), from Aroer by the Arnon Gorge through Gilead to Bashan.”

There is ample of evidence of invasion and destruction in the southern Levant in the latter half of the 9th century BCE that appears to be the result of an Aramean invasion.

A number of sites appear to have been abandoned in the late 9th BCE, including Megiddo, Yoqne‘am and the royal building at Jezreel. In the Beth-Shean Valley, Tel Rehov, Tel Beth-shean, Tel Amal, and Tell el-Hammah all feature destruction layers. In the central coastal plain, the sites of Tel Michal and Tel Aphek have similarly timed destruction layers, and the destruction continues to the southwest at the Philistine city of Gath. Archaeomagnetic analysis of destruction layers at Gath, Tel Rehov, Horvat Tevet and Tel Zayit demonstrate the destruction occurred at the same time period.

This confluence of data point to Hazael King of Aram leading an invasion of Israel and the Philistine region in the latter part of the 9th century BCE.

The image above is of Jezreel, a site caught up in the wave of 9th BCE destruction.