Archaeological Facts in the Bible – Joshua and the Judges
Table of Contents
[TIMELINE: circa 1350 – 1000 b.c.]
History of Joshua and the Judges
After Moses had died, the Biblical Joshua became the appointed leader for the tribes of Israel. After Joshua, God had given the people of Israel appointed Judges as rulers over the land. (Deut 16.18, Judges 2.16)
Each of the 12 tribes of Israel where commanded to have their own appointed number of Judges and officials that would judge and lead the people.
As the 12 Tribes of Israel escaped their captivity from Egypt, and after dwelling in the desert region of Saudi Arabia for 40 years, they to dwell in the land God promised to Abraham. This land is known today as Israel and Palestine.
The City of the Tribe of Dan
There have been many findings in reference to the archaeology of Joshua and the historical Joshua. The Biblical city of the Tribe of Dan is located at the base of Mount Hermon in the northeast range of the Lebanon Mountains.
This region previously belonged to the Canaanites and was known as the location for their ancient city of Laish. The Tribe of Dan came into their region and conquered them, as took their land.
This land is extremely rich in resources and agricultural properties. The fertility of this region is mentioned in the Bible:
We have seen the land, and, behold, it is very good… be not slothful to go, and to enter to possess the land. – Judges 18:9
This site extends over an area of 50 acres. The Dan river, one of the sources of the Jordan river, emerges at the foot of the mountain, and to this day still retaining the name of its conquering tribe (of Dan).
These natural advantages and its location on the main trade route from the Galilee to Damascus made Dan the most important city of the northern part of the Kingdom of Israel, and still today it is one of the most attractive archeological sites in Israel.
The Merneptah Stele
Another artificat from the times of Joshua and the Judges was discovered in 1896 by Flinders Petrie who located it in the first court of Merneptah’s mortuary temple at Thebes, dates back to the time of circa 1230 b.c. It is currently on display at the Egyptian Museum at Cairo as a part of their collection.
It is an ancient Egyptian document mentioning “Isrir” or “Israel”, in whcih the Pharoah commemorates a victory in a military campaign against Ashkelon, Gezer, Yanoam and Israel.
This Archaeological find is key to show that Israel had already come out of the wilderness at the time and that they where a military threat to Egypt.
The Hittite Capitol, Hattusa
One hundred years ago, critics thought the Hittites where simply a mythological people made up in the Bible. This was until archaeological evidences for their nation was discovered.
Nothing was known about the Hittite people until the discovery of Boghazkoy, The Hittite capitol.
The Biblical records and descriptions of these people where supported.
The Hittite Capitol, also known as Hattusa, is located near modern Boğazkale, Turkey, within the great loop of the Kızıl River.
Hazor – Joshua and Israelite’s Victory
Hatzor, or Tel Hazor, is present day Tell el-Qedah, a site located just above the site of ancient Hazor. The archaeological remains of this city are currently the largest and richest known in modern Israel. Hazor was an ancient city located north of the Sea of Galilee, between Ramah and Kadesh, overlooking Lake Merom.
Archaeology found evidence that the city of Hazor suffered from a fiery destruction, just as the Bible describes. This was one of one of the major cities of the northern conquest in Israel’s history.
… And it came to pass, when Jabin king of Hazor had heard those things, that he sent to Jobab king of Madon, and to the king of Shimron, and to the king of Achshaph… And the LORD said unto Joshua, Be not afraid because of them: for tomorrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel: thou shalt hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire… And they smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them: there was not any left to breathe: and he burnt Hazor with fire. – Joshua 11.(various verses)
Walls of Jericho – City Walls Fallen Outward
Jericho was a city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank of modern day Palestinian territories. It was constructed in ancient times (probably Middle Bronze Age) and prospered at a time before the Israelites had returned to this region.
When the Israelites approached Jericho, God told them how to conquer it. God told Joshua to march around the city of Jericho 7 times daily, than on the 7th day to blow their trumpets and the city walls would fall down. The Israelites did as God commanded, and they where able to conqueror the city.
So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. – Joshua 6:20
Excavations at the site of the city of Jericho reveal it had massive walls. Archaeologists have found thick deposits of red-brown earth interpreted as the remains of the great ‘Middle Bronze Age’ city wall which had collapsed outwards and fallen down into the defensive ditch. This would easily afforded any attacker easy access into the city by filling up the ditch which protected the base of Jericho’s elaborate defensive system.
Further, three archaeologists found abundant evidence regarding the city’s destruction caused by fire, found in a layer related to the Biblical date of 1400 BC. This timeline perfectly coinciding with the time of Joshua.
Typically, evidences of most destroyed cities from antiquity show city walls broken inward or broken through in a handful of spots so the attackers could penetrate. Evidence at Jericho shows the city had its walls completely fallen outwards, just as the Bible says.