Bibliotheca Sacra 129 (January 1972) 33-47.

Copyright 1972 by Dallas Theological Seminary. Cited with permission.



Palestinian Artifactual

Evidence Supporting the Early

Date of the Exodus


Bruce K. Waltke





Assuming that Solomon built the temple ca. 970-960 B.C., the

biblical numerical notices pertaining to the date of the Exodus in

1 Kings 6:1 and Judges 11:26 yield a mid-fifteenth century B.C. date

for the Exodus.1 But, in spite of these specific statements by the

ancient historians, most contemporary Syro-Palestinian archaeologists

and Old Testament historians date the Exodus about one hundred

and fifty years later.2

Now the issue whether the Exodus occurred at ca. 1440 B.C. or

ca. 1290 B.C. merits the attention being given to it by serious scholars

of the Old Testament for at least two reasons. (1) Either the biblical

prophet-historians have committed a historical blunder, and therefore

the Bible is less than a completely trustworthy historical document

on which man can rest his faith,3 or the numbers in the Bible must



1 Working back from the death of Ahab in 853 B.C., and calculating an

interval of 78 years between the accession of Jeroboam I, Thiele secures the

date 931 B.C. as the year of Jeroboam's accession. See E. R. Thiele, The

Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings (2nd ed.; Grand Rapids, 1965),


2 Joseph Callaway, "New Evidence on the Conquest of cAi," Journal of

Biblical Literature, LXXXVII (September, 1968), 313. Callaway says: "Pro-

fessor W. F. Albright's view that the Conquest occurred in the latter part of

the thirteenth century B.C. has generally prevailed." For a study of the

history of this problem in a succinct form see R. K. Harrison, Introduction

to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, 1969), pp. 174-77.

3 H. H. Rowley, The Re-Discovery of the Old Testament (London, 1945),




34 / Bibliotheca Sacra -January 1972


be interpreted as meaning something other than their face value.4

If one opts for the second hypothesis he raises the question whether

or not the Bible can be interpreted literally in other areas as well.

(2) In addition to this theological and hermeneutical consideration,

the question is also vital for historical reasons. All biblical chronology,

the backbone of history, down to the Kingdom Period depends on

this date.5 Furthermore, those who accept the grammatico-historical

method of interpreting the Bible, which is by far the most commonly

accepted method, must interpret all passages affected by this issue

according to the appropriate historical background.



Now while the writer has implicit faith in the Scriptures apart

from man's verification of them, he has chosen in this article for its

apologetic value to appraise some of the archaeological evidence

related to the problem. In the article he hopes to make a modest

contribution toward deciding the date of the Exodus by setting the

date of the Conquest which occurred approximately forty years later.

But by what accredited method can one decide the date of the Con-

quest? Here the writer proposes to compare the pertinent Palestin-

ian artifactual evidence with the pertinent Old Testament textual

evidence without consciously suppressing evidence. If these two

lines of evidence regarding the Conquest coincide, and if the artifac-

tual evidence can be dated, it seems reasonable to think that the

date of the Conquest can be established.

Now according to the textual evidence the Israelites took the

Canaanite cities in two different ways: most of them they occupied

without first destroying them; but they burned three, Jericho (Josh.

6:24), Ai (Josh. 8:28), and Hazor (Josh. 11:13). The writer will

consider first the cities they occupied without burning, and then he

will consider the three cities they burned.

With regard to the cities occupied by the Israelites without

burning, the adherents to the theory of the late date of the Exodus

commit two fundamental errors. First, they set aside the textual

evidence that these cities were not burned before the Israelites occu-

pied them, and instead they presume that the Israelite capture of a


4 Harrison, p. 317.

5 J. Barton Payne, An Outline of Hebrew History (Grand Rapids, 1954),



Palestinian Artifactual Evidence / 35


town is likely to be marked by destruction.6 But the biblical his-

torian's account of the Conquest recorded in Joshua flatly contra-

dicts this presumption. He recorded: "Israel did not burn any city

which stood on its tell, except Hazor only, that did Joshua burn"

(Josh. 11:13). Now admittedly he referred in this statement to the

"tells of Northern Palestine, but his account of the capture of the tells

in Southern Palestine states only that Joshua "took" (laqad) them.7

By contrast in the case of Ai and Jericho he stated that Joshua

"burned" (saraph) them. By taking most of the Canaanite cities

without first destroying them, Joshua would have fulfilled Yahweh's

promise to Israel: "to give you great and splendid cities which you

did not build; houses filled with all kinds of goods which you did not

put there" (Deut. 6:10-11). Cities burned to the ground do not yield

to their captors houses filled with all kinds of goods.

Secondly, having set aside the biblical textual evidence, the late

date critic now commits the logical error of circular reasoning.

Confident from the Egyptian artifactual evidence that the Conquest

occurred at ca. 1250 B.C.,8 he interprets the destruction layers dated

in the second half of the thirteenth century B.C., and attested at a

number of hill country sites (Tell Beit Mirsim C2, Beth-Shemesh

IVb?, Hazor Lower Canaanite City I, Lachish Temple III, Bethel

L.B.), as the result of the Israelite invasion.9 Having interpreted these

mute layers of destruction by his assumption, he now uses this evi-

dence to support his thesis that the Israelites brought the Canaanite

Bronze Age to an end in the mid-thirteenth century B.C.10 The argu-

ment is obviously circular and not convincing. Critics of the late date

theory have long pointed out that other historical events could

account for these layers of destruction; viz., the raids into Palestine

carried out by Merneptah of Egypt ca. 1230 B.C.,11 or the raids of


6 Kathleen M. Kenyon, Archaeology in the Holy Land (3rd ed.; London,

1970) [hereafter AHL], p. 209.

7 Leon T. Wood, "Date of the Exodus," New Perspectives on the Old

Testament, ed. by J. Barton Payne (Waco, Texas, 1970), p. 75.

8 G. E. Wright, Biblical Archaeology (Philadelphia, 1957), pp. 60, 71.

Regarding the location of Pithom and Raamses (Exod. 1: 11) see now E. P.

Uphill, "Pithom and Raamses," Journal of Near Eastern Studies, XXVII

(October, 1968), 291-316, XVIII (January, 1969), 15-39.

9 G. Ernst Wright, "The Archaeology of Palestine," The Bible and theAncient

Near East, ed. by G. Ernst Wright (Garden City, New York, 1961), p. 94.

10 William Foxwell Albright, From the Stone Age to Christianity (2nd ed.;

Garden City, New York, 1957), p. 13.

11 For translation of Hymn of Victory of Mer-ne-Ptah (The "Israel Stela")

see Ancient Near Eastern Texts, ed. by James B. Pritchard (Princeton, 1955),

p. 376.

36 / Bibliotheca Sacra -- January1972


the People of the Sea at ca. 1200 B.C.,12 or by the Israelites in their

continuing seesaw struggle with the Canaanites during the time of

the Judges.13

Now the writer proposes that in order not to commit the first

error of disregarding the textual evidence one should examine the

material culture and the pottery during the period 1400 B.C. to

1200 B.C. instead of the destruction levels at these hill country sites.

Now it is a fact that wherever within this period one puts the

arrival of the Israelites, there is no complete break in the culture

within the period.14 This should come as no surprise for migratory

tribes such as the Israelites had been would not be expected to

carry large equipment or durable material objects. Their containers

may well have been made mainly of skin, and their place of worship

was portable and temporary, a tent. Kenyon wrote: "History and

archaeology show again and again how such bands, coming amongst

a settled population, tend to adopt the material culture (which alone

is reflected archaeologically) of that population."15 On the other

hand, while it is a fact that there is no complete break in the material

culture, it is also a fact that the sharpest change in the culture occurs

at the transition from Late Bronze I to Late Bronze IIA (ca. 1400

B.C.). Concerning this fact Kenyon wrote: ". . . at the beginning

. . . the biggest change occurs, with the transition from L.B.I to II,

when the culture does seem to show a marked deterioration. In the

pottery, for instance, there is the introduction of a class of saucer

bowls of a very plain and undeveloped form, which form one of

the least attractive series in the whole of Palestinian pottery. The

archaeological remains are undistinguished and the objects found

suggest a low level of artistic ability."16 The crude art of the period

is well represented by a stone libation tray from Tell Beit Mirsim.17

Kenyon noted: "Such a situation would well reflect the state of

affairs during the acclimatisation to settled life of wanderers such as

the Habiru bands of the Amarna Letters and the Israelites of the

Old Testament."18 In a word, the material culture suggests the date


12 Martin Noth, The History of Israel, rev. trans. by P. R. Ackroyd (2nd

ed.; London, 1960), p. 82.

13 Merrill F. Unger, Archaeology and the Old Testament (Grand Rapids,

1954), pp. 162-63, 165.

14 Kenyon, AHL, p. 209.

15 Ibid.

16 Ibid.

17 William Foxwell Albright, The Excavation of Tell Beit Mirsim, Vol. 11,

Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research, XVII (1938), 120, pl. 24.

18 Kenyon, AHL, p. 209.

Palestinian Artifactual Evidence / 37


1400 B.C. as the most likely time for the Israelite occupation of

these cities.

Moreover, it must not be assumed that the Israelites could not

have been responsible for the Canaanite temples19 and the crude

Astarte plaques which are the most common cult object on almost

all the sites of this period,20 for the historian who wrote the book

of Judges bitterly recalls Israel's continual practice of adopting the

Canaanite religion in preference to the more austere religion of

Yahweh.21 Even during the prophetic period abundant artifactual

evidence has been unearthed attesting the prophetic denunciations

that the Israelites adopted the Canaanite cult.22

Now if the Israelites were responsible for this marked deteriora-

tion in the material cultures in the cities of the hill country at the

beginning of Late Bronze (ca. 1400 B.C.) it follows that the same

situation ought not to prevail in the great cities in the north, Beth-

shan and Megiddo on the borders of the Plain of Esdraelon, since

they did not fall into Israelite hands until comparatively late.23 Now

remarkably, this is precisely the situation. With regard to Megiddo

Kenyon noted: "Megiddo presents a contrast to the other sites for

which we have evidence, for the level of culture here does not seem

to reach such a low ebb. The buildings, as far as they have been

excavated, have indications of architectural pretensions. The pottery

is not so exceedingly uninteresting, for the crude saucer forms found

on other sites are hardly present here, and the pottery decoration


19 For example, Temples II and III in the Fosse at Tell Duweir. Olga

Tufnell, Charles H. Inge, Lankester Harding, Lachish II: The Fosse Temple

(London, 1940).

20 William Foxwell Albright, Archaeology and the Religion of Israel (3rd

led.; Baltimore, 1953), p. 115.

21 Judges 2:11 fl.

22 For example, the little model sanctuary found at Tell el-Farcah dated

in the 10th or 9th century B.C., and similar to several other pious household

objects found in Cyprus, at Megiddo, and in Transjordan. See R. de Vaux,

"The Excavations at Tell el-Farcah and the Site of Ancient Tirzah," Palestine

Exploration Quarterly [hereafter PEQ], 1956, p. 132. Gowan goes so far as

to say: "The phenomenon of syncretism scarcely needs extensive discussion

in this paper. One need only read the books of Judges, Samuel, and Kings to

be convinced that Israelite worship from the Conquest on was thoroughly

mingled with aspects of the Canaanite fertility religion, and that this was not,

for the majority of Israelites, considered apostasy, but was the commonly

accepted thing" (Donald E. Gowan, "The Syncretistic Cult in Israel," Transi-

tions in Biblical Scholarship, ed. by J. Coert Rylaarsdam [Chicago, 1968],

pp. 96-97).

23 Judges 1:19.

38 / Bibliotheca Sacra -- January 1972


found during L.B. I has its continuation, though it is less elaborate.

Most striking of all is the collection of ivories found in the ruins of

the palace in the second phase of VII, which provide an indication

of the cultural tastes at least of the ruling classes."24 She concluded:

"Megiddo, therefore, though it may have had a share in political dis-

turbances, was not submerged in the increasing tide of barbarism."25

Beth-shan likewise exhibits a high degree of civilization.26 Now to

be sure, this archaeological evidence does not conclusively prove

that the presence of Israelites occasioned the cultural decline in many

strong cities and their absence explains the greater degree of civiliza-

tion in those cities along the great land route controlled by the

Egyptians. But it must be agreed that the literary evidence of Joshua-

Judges comports favorably with the only valid archaeological evi-

dence, and that this evidence points to an invasion of migratory

bands such as the Israelites would have been at about 1400 B.C.



The writer now turns his attention to the cities burned on their

tells: Ai, Jericho, and Hazor respectively.


Most recently David Livingston in a superb article on the

identification of biblical Bethel and Ai, has brought together strong

objections to the common identification of historical Ai with Et- Tell.

Rather, he argues in detail that Bireh is to be identified with Bethel.

If this identification should prove to be right some small unnamed

ruin one and a half miles to the southeast, and on the other side of

a high hill (Et-Tawil) may be biblical Ai.27 Regarding this new

suggestion D. J. Wiseman, professor of Assyriology at the University

of London, writes:

It must be emphasized that this new suggestion of Mr. Living-

ston must remain an unproven theory until checked by archaeologi-

cal soundings at both places for the evidence for the identification

and location of Bethel and Ai is interrelated. By noting this new

theory here, the reader is reminded that the validity of the biblical

text and history will remain unchanged despite often changing inter-

pretations and hypotheses concerning it. Much archaeological work

and interpretation falls far short of positive and conclusive evidence.


24 Kenyon, AHL, pp. 215, 218.

25 Ibid., p. 218.

26 Ibid., pp. 218-19.

27 David Livingston, "Location of Biblical Bethel and Ai," The West-

minster Theological Journal, XXXIII (November, 1970), 20-44.

Palestinian Artifactual Evidence / 39


This is especially the case in identifying places from which no epi-

graphic evidence has been produced. . . . Pending sure identification

the student of the Bible has every right to hold to the explicit

statement of Scripture rather than to any passing idea even though

the latter may seem to support him.28

Until the site of ancient Ai is located this enigmatic city must

continue to remain without consideration in deciding the issue.


The writer now turns to the most disputed site, Jericho

(Tell es-Sultan). The biblical historians give these three statements

about Jericho during this disputed period that are subject to archaeo-

logical research: (1) when the Israelites conquered the city the walls

collapsed (Josh. 6:20), (2) the Israelites burned the city (Josh.

6:24), and (3) the city was probably reoccupied shortly after the

Conquest, first by the Benjamites, and then by Eglon (ca. 1320 B.C.

according to the chronology of Judges) (Josh. 18:21, Judg.

3:12-14). Now even though little remains on the tell from the Late

Bronze Age probably because of its long exposure between the

Israelite invasion and the time of Ahab,29 the writer will consider

these features respectively.

The walls. Everyone but the most naive tourist knows now

that Garstang's "Late Bronze Age" walls which he associated with

the Israelite invasion actually date from the Early Bronze Age, over

five hundred years before Joshua, because Miss Kenyon subsequently

identified both Early Bronze Age remains with these walls, and

Middle Bronze Age material overlaying them.30 She wrote: "It is a

sad fact that of the town walls of the Late Bronze Age, within which

period the attack of the Israelites must fall by any dating, not a

trace remains."31

The burnt debris. But in the upper levels of the store rooms

joining the palace on the knoll, located on the slope, and first built

in the Middle Bronze Age, there is debris accumulation merging

with the overlying "Streak," the term the original excavators used

to describe a well-defined stratigraphical feature which is "clearly

burnt material washed down the hill" [italics mine].32 Now both the

upper debris in the store rooms and the "Streak" contained a con-


28 D. J. Wiseman, "Ai in Ruins," Buried History, VII (March, 1971),5-6.

29 Kathleen M. Kenyon, Digging Up Jericho (New York, 1957) [hereafter

DUJ], p. 263.

30 Ibid., p. 170.

31 Ibid., pp. 261-62.

40 / Bibliotheca Sacra -January 1972


siderable quantity of pottery from the first half of the fourteenth

century. Having analyzed the pottery "from the upper level above

the ruins of the store rooms" and "from the 'Streak' of debris above

the store rooms," Kenyon concluded: "As a group, the pottery has

connections with Megiddo Level VIII (1479 B.c.-1350 B.C.), but

also definite links with VII. The closest Beth-shan parallels are to

Stratum IX (first half fourteenth century)."33 Miss Kenyon rejected

the analysis of Albright and Garstang that it can be related to forms

from the second half of the thirteenth century. She wrote: "The

closeness of the material to Beth-shan IX is generally admitted, and

both Professor Garstang and Professor Albright also link it with

Stratum VIII (second half of fourteenth century B.C.). On the pub-

lished evidence, it does not, however, seem to be very close to that

from the later level, and the Jericho group can at most just overlap,

but not equate with it."34 In a word, according to Kenyon, the latest

burnt debris from the Late Bronze Age city cannot be dated later than

mid-fourteenth century B.C., and probably belongs to the L.B. IIA period

(1410 B.c.-1340 B.C.). Now admittedly she formed this conclusion about

the pottery about twenty years ago, but in the 1970 edition of her work,

Archaeology in the Holy Land, she still refers her readers to this article

written in 1951,35 and she does not modify her statements in the appendix.36

Now can the fall of the city be dated more precisely during the

Late Bronze IIA period? Garstang argued convincingly that the

Conquest must have occurred before the reign of Akhenaten, who

began to reign ca. 1375 B.C., because: (1) not one of the distinctive,

plentiful, and well-established archaeological criteria characteristic

of Akhenaten's reign has been found in either the city or the tombs;37

(2) there is no reference to Jericho in the Amarna letters dated to

Akhenaten's reign, though numerous cities of Canaan are mentioned

frequently;38 (3) there is no scarab after Amenhotep III (1412 B.C.-

1375 B.C.) though there survived an abundant and continuous series

of scarabs of the Egyptian kings from the Middle Bronze Age right

on down through the reign of Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, and


32 Kathleen M. Kenyon, "Some Notes on the History of Jericho," PEQ,

1951, p. 120.

33 Ibid., pp. 130-33.

34 Ibid., p. 121.

35 Kenyon, AHL, pp. 210-11.

36 Ibid., pp. 341-43.

37 John Garstang and J. B. E. Garstang, The Story of Jericho (London,

1948), p. 126.

38 Ibid.

Palestinian Artifactual Evidence / 41

Amenhotep III of the Late Bronze I period.39 Confessedly these are

all negative evidences and may be subject to other explanations

than that the Canaanite city ceased to exist before 1375 B.C.,40 but

together they lead to the plausible suggestion that the destruction of

the city previously established by the ceramic evidence between

1410 B.C. and 1340 B.C. occurred before 1375 B.C.

The evidence of occupation after the destruction of Late Bronze Age IIA.

Now the latest pottery from tombs 4, 5, and 13 is best dated to the second-

half of the fourteenth century.41 Garstang related this pottery to the later,

unimportant, sporadic habitation suggested in the Old Testament, and

expected because of the advantageous situation of the site.42 Kenyon, on

the other hand, held that this pottery (exhibits Canaanite occupation until

about 1325 B.C. at which time the Canaanites abandoned the tell.43

In order to clarify this evidence from the tombs appeal is now

made to the "Middle Building" found on the tell.44 Was it built

during the fourteenth century Canaanite occupation? or was it built

after the destruction attested in Late Bronze IIA?

Garstang originally ascribed the Middle Building to the city

conquered by Joshua.45 But with the generally accepted revision of

the dating of the pottery from Beth-shan downward he revised the

date of the building down to the second half of the Late Bronze

Age.46 On this erroneous basis, as it appears to the writer, he sug-

gested that the building was intrusive and possibly to be attributed

to Eglon, King of Moab, at the end of the century.47

Kenyon, however, noted that no ceramic dating evidence is

published from the Middle Building itself.48 But even though the

building could not be dated by ceramic evidence, she attempted to

date it by stratigraphic evidence. On this basis she originally con-


39 Ibid., pp. 115-18, 126-27.

40 For example, Kenyon explains the scarabs of Hatshepsut, Thutmosis III,

and Amenhotep III as heirlooms to fit her theory that the tell was abandoned

during L.B. I (see Kenyon, PEQ, p. 117). While this is a possible explanation

it is also a possibility that their names were engraved on the scarabs after

their death because scarabs were believed to possess protective powers. The

names of well-known and popular rulers recur very frequently on these mantic

objects (Palestine Museum, Gallery Book No.1, Nos. 1417-1441, unpublished).

41 Kenyon, PEQ, p. 138.

42 Garstang, pp. 124, 127-28.

43 Kenyon, DUJ, p. 261.

44 Called the "Middle Building" because it was found between the block

building of Ahab's time and the storerooms of the Bronze Age.

45 Garstang, p. 177.

46 Ibid., pp. 171-80.

47 Kenyon, AHL, p. 210; PEQ, p. 121.

48 Kenyon, DUJ, p. 261; AHL, pp. 210-11.

42 / Bibliotheca Sacra --January 1972


cluded that Garstang's interpretation of the building after all was

clear. In her original article she wrote: "It is clear from photographs

and from published section. . . that most of what survived was

foundational, and therefore was dug into the surrounding layers.

These layers consisted of the upper debris in the store rooms and the

'Streak'. . . . From the startification it is quite clear that these have

nothing to do with the Middle Building, but represent the pre-existing

accumulation."49 Now if the "Streak" can be dated by its pottery

between 1400 B.C. and 1350 B.C., and if the Middle Building was

dug into the surrounding layers, then the building must be later than

the destruction represented by these layers and must be dated after

1340 B.C. In her later writings, however, Miss Kenyon reversed her-

self, and without producing any new evidence, she erroneously dated

the building by the debris beneath it.50

If then a substantial building such as the Middle Building

was secondarily introduced on the tell after the destruction repre-

sented by the "Streak," one has good reason to think that the few

recognizably late pottery examples from the tombs belong to this

occupation and cannot be used to date the Conquest.

Finally, in connection with the subsequent occupation of the

tell after its destruction, there is no evidence of any occupation after

1325 B.C. Kenyon insisted: "There is no evidence at all of it in

stray finds or in tombs."51

Conclusion. Although meager, yet the textual and the archaeo-

logical evidence regarding Jericho in Late Bronze IIA and B remark-

ably coincide, and once again the archaeological evidence suggests

a conquest during the first quarter of the fourteenth century. Even

more conclusive, however, is the evidence that the city was not

occupied during the mid-thirteenth century B.C., thereby precluding

the option of the commonly accepted late date for the Exodus.



The writer now considers Hazor, the third city burned on

its tell. The site of Hazar (Tell el-Qedah/Tell Waqqas) comprises

two distinct areas: the Tell proper, covering less than twenty-five

acres, and a large rectangular plateau covering more than one hun-

dred and seventy-five acres, called by the most recent excavators

"the Lower Canaanite City." Yigael Yadin, et al. have reached the


49 Kenyon, PEQ, p. 120.

50 Kenyon, DUJ, pp. 262-63.

51 Ibid.

Pa1estinian Artifactual Evidence / 43


Solomonic period but have not as yet reached the Bronze Age strata

I on the Tell proper.52 On the other hand they have disclosed on the

Lower Canaanite City the earliest stratum dated at the second part

of the Middle Bronze Age [ca. 1750 B.C.] while the latest belongs

to the end of the Late Bronze Age.53 Professor Aharoni, one of the

team that excavated the Tell, however, assured his readers that this

violent and long lasting end of the Late Bronze Age marked the

end of Canaanite occupation on the high tell as well.54 Likewise in

their principal publications on the excavations the teams asserted

that they think they know the synchronization between the strata

of the Lower Canaanite City and the strata of the Upper City.55

Presumably they are the same.

Now the Lower Canaanite City in the Late Bronze Age has

three main strata, each of which ends with a destruction layer.56

Of interest here are these destruction layers for they belong to the

disputed period between ca. 1400 B.C. and 1200 B.C. The earliest

destruction layer related to our discussion terminated Stratum III,

dated Late Bronze I, and belongs to the Pre-Amarna Age, viz.,

about 1400 B.C. The recent excavators recorded: "Stratum 1B

[=General Stratum II] was built after stratum 2 [=General Stratum

III] had been completely destroyed."57 In an earlier report regarding

the destruction of the gate built on the gate of Middle Bronze II and

before the final destruction of Hazor, so presumably belonging to

the destruction of about 1400 B.C., Yadin wrote: "This gate must

have been destroyed in a violent conflagration, traces of burnt bricks

of its inner walls and the ashes of the burnt beams still cover the

floors in thick heaps."58

General Stratum II (=Late Bronze IIA) likewise ends with a

destruction level at the end of ca. 1300 B.C. The final report reads:

"It can be determined. . . that Stratum 1B [=General Stratum II]

is the stratum of El-Amarna age at Hazor . . . The end of Stratum

1B may also perhaps be fixed with the help of the tomb-finds and

the finds on the floors of the buildings. As stated, the imported finds


52 Yigael Yadin, et al., Hazor I (Jerusalem, 1958), p. 1.

53 Ibid., p. 8.

54 Yahanan Aharoni, The Land of the Bible (London, 1968), p. 207.

55 Yigael Yadin, et al., Hazor II (Jerusalem, 1960); p. 165.

56 See the synchronization table of the strata in the Lower Canaanite City

in Yadin, Hazor II, p. 165.

57 Ibid., p. 92.

58 Yigael Yadin, "The Fourth Season of Excavation at Hazor," Biblical

Archaeologist, XXII (February, 1959), 8-9.

44 / Bibliotheca Sacra --January 1972


in the Tombs have nothing later than the end of the 14th century."59

A paragraph later they spoke of the end of Stratum 1B in terms of

"its destruction."60

General Stratum I (=Late Bronze IIB, ca. 1300-1260/30)

likewise ends in destruction. They concluded: "This enables us to

state that City 1A [=General Stratum I] began at the opening of

the 13th century. . . . The few Mycenaean wares belonging to type

IIIB enable the end of the stratum to be dated not later than the

last third of the 13th century. . . . It may be concluded that City

1A was destroyed in the second third of the 13th century."61

There are then from the Late Bronze Age Canaanite city, layers

of destruction at ca. 1400 B.C., ca. +1300 B.C. and ca. +1230 B.C.

Moreover, there is no occupation after 1230 B.C. on the Lower

Canaanite City and a probable gap on the Tell between 1230 B.C.

and the era of Solomon. The interpretive problem then is: "With

which of these three strata shall one associate Joshua?" Most prob-

ably Yadin is correct in his suggestion that the destruction level at

ca. +1300 B.C. should be associated with the burning of the city by

Seti I (ca. 1318 B.C.).62 So then one is left with the destruction levels

at 1400 B.C. and 1230 B.C. Yadin opted for the 1230 B.C. level. The

report concluded: "This destruction should be related (according to

Yadin) to the Israelite Conquest."63

But the reference in Judges 4:2 to Hazor as a Canaanite City in

opposition to Israel still in the time of Barak at least three or four

generations after Joshua precludes this possibility. If the city ceased

to exist after 1230 B.C., and if it is still in existence at least three or

four generations after Joshua, then Joshua's destruction cannot be

attributed to the destruction level dated at 1230 B.C. but must be

related to the destruction level dated at ca. 1400 B.C. To the writer's

knowledge M. B. Rowton, assistant professor at the Oriental Insti-

tute, University of Chicago, was the first to note this decisive evidence

for the early date of the Conquest.64 This battle between Jabin, king


59 Yadin, Hazor II, p. 159.

60 Ibid., p. 160.

61 Ibid.

62 Ibid., p. 159.

63 Ibid., p. 165.

64 M. B. Rowton, "Ancient Western Asia," The Cambridge Ancient History,

ed. by I. E. S. Edwards, C. J. Gadd, and N. G. L. Hammond (2nd ed.; Cam-

bridge: At the University Press, 1970), I, pt. 1,237-39. In fairness to Rowton's

position it should be noted that he is of the opinion that it is premature to

attempt a date for the Exodus because he believes that more evidence is

needed to indicate whether one has to reckon with one Exodus or two Exoduses.

Palestinian Artifactual Evidence / 45


of Hazar, and Barak, he further argued, presumably was fought dur-

ing a period when Egyptian control had broken down. Moreover,

because of the presence of Mycenaean IIIB pottery in the last

stratum, he reasoned that the exact period of Egyptian weakness was

in the second half of the thirteenth century. So then, the battle can

be dated to this period. If this line of reasoning is valid, the chrono-

logical notices in Judges taken in conjunction with the anchor date

of ca. 1230 B.C. would yield a date for Joshua's conquest during the

first quarter of the fourteenth century.

Now the adherents to the late date of Exodus have reacted to

Rowton's apparently decisive evidence for an early Conquest in two

ways: K. A. Kitchen, on one hand, suggests that either the location of

Hazor at the time of Barak differed from its location in the time of

Joshua, or that the city of Barak's time has escaped the excavators.65

On the other hand, Aharoni, although not directly addressing himself

to Rowton's thesis, vitiated Rowton's argument by his acceptance of

Mazar's theory that the two accounts in Joshua 1 and Judges 4

are reversed.66 According to this theory the two wars do not belong to

the first stage of penetration but to a later period, and the battle of

Merom (Joshua 11:1-9) was eventually associated with Joshua. He

supports his position by these three arguments: (1) in both accounts

Jabin is king, (2) according to the account in Joshua Hazor was

totally destroyed,67 and (3) the results of a Galilee survey show a

stage of occupation that preceded the Conquest of the Canaanite


Against Kitchen's argument that the name became associated

with a new site the writer makes these two points: First, his argument

is ad hoc and has no convincing textual support. Second, although

in the judgment of the writer Kitchen has no convincing textual sup-

port, Kitchen does correctly note that Jabin II's main strength is

"curiously" not in Hazor but with Sisera in Harosheth.68 Now the

apparent weakness of Hazor at the time of Barak finds archaeologi-

ical support in the final Canaanite stratum at Tell el-Qedah/Tel

Waqqas. Before the city's final destruction a sharp decline took

place. This is especially noticeable in the Lower City which evi-

dently ceased to be fortified in Stratum I. Its temples were aban-


65 K. A. Kitchen, Ancient Orient and the Old Testament (Chicago, 1966),

pp. 67-68.

66 Aharoni, p.203.

67 Ibid., p. 201.

68 Kitchen, p. 68.

46 / Bibliotheca Sacra -January 1972


doned and apparently plundered, being rebuilt afterwards in a very

poor and temporary form. According to Aharoni the last town was

concentrated mainly on the high Tell.69 Here then the artifactual

evidence further confirms the association of Barak with Stratum I of

Tell el-Qedah/Tell Waqqas. Finally, it seems unlikely that the

excavators missed the site in all seven squares excavated.

Against Aharoni's desperate argument, the writer makes these

points: (1) it should come as no surprise that at this time Hazor

had more than one king named Jabin for as Kitchen has illustrated

there are many parallel examples of this situation from the period

in question;70 (2) it is astonishing that a Palestinian archaeologist

should suppose that a tell would not be reoccupied after its total

destruction for this very situation is attested over and over again in

Palestinian archaeology; (3) Aharoni has committed the logical error

of positing an unnecessary, novel hypothesis in place of an ancient,

reliable, consistent account; (4) he handles a text verified over and

over again as creditable by archaeological research in a most radical

fashion; (5) finally, he commits the logical error of arguing in a

circle when he says that the clear data attesting Israelite occupation

during the late fourteenth century, such as the mention of

(i-s-r [Asher]),71 in a fragment of a stele from Seti I, "show a stage

of occupation that preceded the conquest of the Canaanite districts."

Aharoni in this discussion presumed the settlement occurred before

the decisive battles in the North. Having posited this conclusion he

interpreted the data according to his presupposition rather than ac-

cording to the biblical statement. Finally, as incredible as it may

seem, he appealed to this data to support his conclusion. A better

method of procedure would have been to interpret the data according

to the historical narrative rather than according to the conclusion he

is seeking to establish.



On the basis of the evidence mentioned above and without

consciously suppressing other evidence two conclusions impose them-

selves: (1) there is no convincing support from the Palestinian arti-

factual evidence for a Conquest in the mid-thirteenth century. On the

contrary, the artifactual evidence from Jericho and Hazor decisively


69 Aharoni, p. 207.

70 Kitchen, p. 68.

71 Aharoni, p. 168.

Palestinian Artifactual Evidence / 47


refutes the theory; (2) in every way studied in which the textual

tradition regarding the Conquest and the Settlement can be tested by

archaeology, the two lines of evidence coincide. Furthermore, all the

accredited Palestinian artifactual evidence supports the literary ac-

count that the Conquest occurred at the time specifically dated by

the biblical historians. Therefore, from this data one has no reason

either to question the trustworthiness of the Bible regarding the date

of the Exodus, or to use another method of interpretation for these

numbers than the normal literary approach.


This material is cited with gracious permission from:

Dallas Theological Seminary

3909 Swiss Ave.

Dallas, TX 75204

Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at: