by Gordon Franz
The city of Hazor, once called the “head of all those [Canaanite] kingdoms”¹ (Josh. 11:10) and the largest city in the land of Canaan during the Middle Bronze II and the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1700-1200 BC), lay in ruins when the Lord Jesus and His disciples may have walked by it on several occasions during His earthly ministry (AD 26-30). During most of the Canaanite period, the city consisted of an upper city (acropolis) and a lower city to its north; the total area of the two cities was 81.4 hectares (200 acres). If the disciples did not look carefully and see the collapsed walls from ancient structures, the ruins could be mistaken for two hills in the Hulah Valley.²
The Gospels never explicitly state that Jesus visited Hazor. In the first century AD, the site was uninhabited and abandoned so it would be unlikely that Jesus would travel there. In antiquity, as people traveled, they went from water source to water source, because they could not carry a large quantity of water with them. Just below the ancient remains of Hazor, there was a series of springs that made it an ideal place on the regional road to stop and refresh oneself. (For a description of the springs in Wadi el-Waggas, see Yadin 1972: 15; 1975: 233-234.) Jesus and His disciples could have stopped to rest and refill their water containers before they continued on their journey. If Jesus and His disciples stopped by the springs at the base of the ancient city of Hazor, refreshing themselves as they traveled in the area, He could have taken the opportunity to recount the events of the city of Hazor from the writings of the Nevi’im (Prophets)³ to His disciples and to draw Biblical lessons for their lives.
In this essay, a case will be suggested that Jesus walked past the mound on at least two occasions with His disciples. The first time they might have visited Hazor was when Jesus took His disciples on a tour of the cities and villages of Galilee. The second time might have been when Jesus and His disciples went to Tyre and Sidon. They could have viewed the site from a distance when they went to and from Caesarea Philippi.
The Region of Hazor during the Second Temple Period
In order to determine when Jesus might have visited the springs below Hazor, a survey of the sites and roads in the region surrounding Hazor during the Second Temple period is in order. We will begin by looking at the borders of Galilee and the different regions of this territory during the Second Temple period. Then we will look at the cities, towns, and villages in northeastern Galilee as well as the roads going through that region.
The Regions and Borders of Galilee during the Second Temple Period
The Mishnah, a third-century AD Jewish legal work, gives a threefold division of Galilee: Upper Galilee, Lower Galilee, and the Valley (Shebiith 9:2; Danby 1985: 49). The region of Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee is the Valley, and apparently the Beth Ha-Karem Valley is the boundary line between Upper Galilee and Lower Galilee. The ancient site of Hazor was located at the northeastern limits of Upper Galilee in the first half of the first century AD.
Josephus, a first-century Jewish historian, gave a detailed description of Galilee. Part of his description is thus: “Galilee, with its two divisions known as Upper and Lower Galilee, is enveloped by Phoenicia and Syria. … Upper Galilee, which extends in breadth to the village of Baca, the frontier of Tyrian territory; in length, it reaches from the village of Thella, near the Jordan, to Meroth” (Wars 3:35-40; LCL 2:585, 587). The northeastern border of Galilee seems to be Nahal Dishon, about 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) north of Hazor (Frankel et al. 2001: 111). The list of fortified cities in Galilee at the beginning of the First Jewish Revolt fits in nicely with these borders (Wars 2:572-576; LCL 2:543-545; Aviam 2004: 9-21).
Lake Semechonitis (Lake Hulah)
Six kilometers (3.5 miles) northeast of Hazor, Lake Hulah sits in the Hulah Valley. It is 19 kilometers (11 miles) north of the Sea of Galilee. The original lake was about 3 kilometers (2 miles) wide and 5 kilometers (3 miles) long, but in the winter months, it extended further north and covered a greater area.
Some Old Testament scholars have identified this body of water with the waters of Merom (Josh. 11:5-7). As Zwickel has pointed out, the word merom means “a place on a mountain” (2007: 166). Thus, the name does not fit the topography so it is unlikely that this lake is Merom.
Josephus called it Lake Semechonitis, and he gives a description of the sources and course of the Jordan River (Wars 3:515; LCL 2:721). He also stated that the city of Seleucia was near Lake Semechonitis, and he gives the dimensions of the lake (Wars 4:2-3; LCL 3:3, 5; Zwickel 2007: 165-172). Finally, he mentioned that Hazor was situated above [in elevation] Lake Semechonitis (Antiq. 5:199; LCL 5:91).
Jesus and His disciples would have viewed this lake as they traveled in the Hulah Basin and the area around Hazor.
Cities, Towns, and Villages Around Hazor during the Second Temple Period
Josephus states that, at the beginning of the First Jewish Revolt (AD 66), there were 204 cities and villages in Galilee (Life 235; LCL 1:89). Four criteria are helpful in identifying a city, town, or village as inhabited by Jewish people and thus in the region of Galilee. The criteria are: (1) stone vessels made of soft limestone, (2) Jewish ritual baths called mikva’ot, (3) secondary burials with ossuaries in them, and finally (4) a lack of pig bones from what they ate (Reed 2002: 44). We will better understand Jesus’ movement in the area after an examination of the cities, towns, and roads around Hazor is made.
Just east of Tel Hazor is Ayyelet ha-Shahar. There are two archaeological sites on the opposite side of this kibbutz. Khirbet Ashaf (Grid Ref. 205-269) is one-and-a-half kilometers from Hazor (less than a mile) and has remains of the Roman, Byzantine, and medieval periods (Stepansky and Damati 1989-90: 79; Stepansky 1992: 67-68). To the northeast of this ruin is Tel es-Safa (Grid Ref. 205-269). In the survey of this site, some Roman remains were discovered. The surveyor suggested that the tel served as a cemetery for Hazor when it was occupied and the Roman period burial caves probably served the inhabitants of Khirbet Ashaf to the west (Stepansky 1992: 67).
According to Stepansky, neither site has produced any Early Roman (Second Temple) remains when surveyed (personal communication). However, surface surveys have their limitations, and if the sites were excavated, Khirbet Ashaf might produce an Early Roman period Jewish settlement.
Josephus places Meroth on the northern border of Galilee (Wars 3:39; LCL 2:587). At one time it was suggested that Meroth was located at Khirbet Meiron on the slopes of Mount Meron (Meyers, Strange, and Meyers 1981: 3). Today, Khirbet Marus (Horvat Marish; Grid Ref. 199-270), which is 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) northwest of Hazor is identified as the site of Meroth (Ilan and Damati 1989). This site overlooks Nahal Dishon to its north, but Hazor cannot be seen because a ridge blocks the view.
In preparation for the First Jewish Revolt, Josephus fortified the Galilee, including Ameroth (=Meroth, Mero) in the Upper Galilee (Wars 2:573; LCL 2:543; Life 188; LCL 1:71).
Excavations were conducted at this site, and an impressive synagogue with beautiful mosaics was exposed. Construction on the synagogue began in the late fourth or early fifth century AD. Remains from the Second Temple period were found at the site, but the nature of the site from this period has not been determined (Ilan and Damati 1989: 22; Ilan 1993: 3:1028-1031; Shaked and Avshalom-Gorni 2004: 33).
This settlement is situated 405 meters (1,328 feet) above sea level on the hill of a volcanic cone just under 3 kilometers (2 miles) west of Hazor (Grid Ref. 200-269). From Tel Mashav, there is an impressive view of the Hulah Valley, as well as Hazor below. In the springtime, snow-capped Mount Hermon would rise from the Hulah Valley. The settlement covers an area of 3 acres and remains of the Second Temple period were discovered in the survey of the site. Tel Mashav has not been excavated, however, so the nature of the site cannot be determined.
This site was identified by Stepansky as the Biblical city of Ramah in the tribal territory of Naphtali (Josh. 19:36; Stepansky 1999: v-vi; Frankel et al. 2001: 44: site 377).
Jesus and His disciples may have visited this community as well as Meroth on their initial tour of Galilee.
The Phoenician site of “Kedesh (of the) Tyrians” was located twenty Roman miles east of Tyre (Josephus, Wars 2:459; LCL 2:503; Eusebius, Onomasticon 116:10). The ancient site of Kedesh had a rich history as a Canaanite, Israelite, and Phoenician city (Herbert and Berlin 2003: 13-15). Josephus records that, during the Second Temple period, Kedesh was “a strong inland village of the Tyrians, always at feud and strife with the Galileans, having its large population and stout defenses as resources behind it in its quarrel with the nation” (Wars 4:105; LCL 3:33). Josephus does not state how long the feuding between the Galileans and the Kedeshites went on and when it started.
There are, however, very few excavated remains from the Early Roman period, and the location and nature of the village of Kedesh from this period remain elusive (Frankel et al. 2001: 44; site 369; Herbert and Berlin 2003: 19, 22, 27, 29, 31, 42).
Most likely Jesus and His disciples would have walked past this city on the way to Tyre and Sidon.
Qeren Naftali (Grid Ref. 202-277), at 510 meters (1,673 feet) above sea level, is the highest, isolated peak in eastern Upper Galilee. The city has a commanding view of the entire region: the Hulah Basin below; the Baqa Valley and Mount Hermon to the north; the Golan Heights to the east; the Kedesh Valley, the mountains of Upper Galilee, and Lebanon to the west. The largest springs in the Hulah Basin, the ‘Einan Springs, are located at the base of the mountain (Aviam 2004: 59). Interestingly, at one time this site was identified as Hazor (Masterman 1908a: 306)!
In the surveys that were done at the site, two Greek inscriptions were discovered (Masterman 1908b: 155-157). A Hellenistic fortress, most likely used to defend the administrative center of Kedesh, was uncovered. The discovery of a mikva, a Jewish ritual bath, from the end of the Hellenistic period indicates a change of inhabitants (Aviam 2004: 85). It is likely this fortress was one of the three fortresses taken by Herod the Great from Marion, the despot of Tyre (Josephus, Wars 1:238-239; LCL 2:111). According to the excavator, the fortress remained under Jewish control until the middle of the first century AD (Aviam 2004: 14). Just across the border at Nahal Dishon, this fortress may have been a Jewish “forward position” to keep an eye on the Phoenicians at Kedesh. When the Jewish soldiers abandoned the site, the Phoenicians regained control of the site. The pig and hunted animal bones in the mikva and the pagan oil lamps found elsewhere at the site attest to new inhabitants (Aviam 1997: 97-105; 2004: 59-88).
If Jesus and His disciples walked from Hazor to Kadesh on the way to Tyre and Sidon, the Jewish soldiers at Qeren Naftali would have kept an eye on them as they walked along the regional road.
Tel Anafa, on the west side of the Jordan River, lies 9 kilometers (4.25 miles) southwest of ancient Caesarea Philippi and 19 kilometers (11.75 miles) to the northeast of Hazor. The acropolis of Tel Anafa is 160 meters (525 feet) long, 110 meters (360 feet) wide, and 10 meters (32.8 feet) high (Herbert 1994: 9). The walls of the lower city were discovered when fishponds were dug to the west of the city (Herbert 1993: 1:58; Fuks 1979-1980: 179). The excavators observed that the “site was occupied almost continuously from the Early Bronze Age through the first century CE, the best preserved and most impressive remains belong to the Late Hellenistic era, when a lavish private residence and associated structures covered much of the mound” (Herbert 1994: 10). This settlement was abandoned sometime early in the second quarter of the first century BC (1994: 19).
Tel Anafa was resettled during the Early Roman period, possibly after the founding of Caesarea Philippi in 4 BC. Eleven buildings from this period were excavated on the site (Herbert 1994: 21). The excavators concluded that the “Roman era settlement at Tel Anafa appears to be a small sheep-raising community firmly enmeshed within the economic network of Galilee. The absence of mikva’ot or other Jewish ritual equipment at the site, coupled with the prevalence of pig in the diet, suggest, however, that this [was] not a Jewish community” (1994: 22).
The identification of this site is disputed, but most likely it was one of the towns in the region of Caesarea Philippi (Mark 8:27). It was within this region, along the road to Caesarea Philippi, that Jesus asked His disciples the question, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” (Matt. 16:13).
Josephus reports that Thella was located on the northern border of Upper Galilee near the Jordan River (Wars 3:40; LCL 2:587). Most scholars have identified this village with Tuleil (Grid Ref. 208-272) near Yesud Ha-Ma’alah (Avi-Yonah 1976: 100). This identification was prompted by an Aramaic inscription discovered in the 19th century when the first settlers were building Yesud Ha-Ma’alah. The identification was reinforced by the discovery of a structure that was identified as a synagogue of the third through fifth century AD (Biran 1983; 1993; Shoham 1985; Biran and Shoham 1987).
However, Idan Shaked, one of the surveyors of the Hulah Valley, has questioned the identification of this structure as a synagogue. He points out that no pottery, coins, or other datable objects were found during the excavations that point to the Second Temple period. He also observed that Josephus states that the settlement was on the Jordan River, not the edge of Lake Semechonitis, where it was located during this period. Shaked suggested that the architectural elements were brought to the site during the construction of the sugar factory in the 13th century AD (Shaked and Avshalom-Gorni 2004: 33).
Shaked has identified Thella with the site of Khirbet Makbarat Banat Yakub (Grid Ref. 209-270) on the west bank of the Jordan River, 2.25 kilometers (1.5 miles) to the south of Nahal Dishon, the northern border of Galilee during the Second Temple period. This site is 4 acres in size, it is situated just above a series of fords in the river, and Early Roman remains, including Jewish chalk vessels, have been found (Shaked and Avshalom-Gorni 2004: 34; Shaked 1999; see also Stepansky 1992: 66-67).
Shaked and Avshalom-Gorni concluded that the “characteristically Jewish material culture at the site in the Early Roman period, its size in relation to other sites of the period and its strategic location on the Jordan River, near the fords and on a road, are the basis for the new identification” of Thella (2004: 34).
Jesus and His disciples would have viewed Hazor from the road on the east bank of the Jordan River as they went to and from Caesarea Philippi.
Within the city limits of the modern city of Hazor Ha-Galit, there are two ancient sites: Fir’im (Grid Ref. 200-265) and ‘Iyye Me’arot (Grid Ref. 200-266). Both sites, situated at 500 meters (1,640 feet) above sea level, have Roman remains (Frankel et al. 2001: 44: sites 374 and 375). Stepansky has determined that ‘Iyye Me’arot, also known as Mughr el-Kheit and el-Mughar (Survey of Western Palestine), has remains dating from the Hellenistic period to the Early Roman period (personal communication). Dr. Aviam identified Ma’aria of the 24 Priestly Courses list with Mughr el-Kheit (2004: 18).
Jesus and His disciples might have visited these communities during His initial tour of Galilee and also might have passed by them on the way to Tyre and Sidon.
Within the modern city of Rosh Pina lie the ruins of the Arab village of Ja’unah, with scattered architectural features of what apparently was an ancient synagogue (Stepansky 2008: 5:2022). Remains of what appears to be a Roman bathhouse were found in the lower part of the village (Schumacher 1889: 74-75). In the surface surveys of the site and in excavations, Early Roman remains were found (Stepansky, personal communications). To the east of the village is a tel of about 10 acres in size. The archaeologist who did the survey reports that “in the area of the tell were collected sherds of the Early Bronze Age I and II, Middle Bronze Age I, Middle Bronze Age II, Iron Age I-II, and the Persian, Hellenistic, and later periods” (Stepansky 2008: 5:2022).
During Jesus’ initial tour of Galilee with His disciples, they might have visited this site as well as passed by it on the way to Tyre and Sidon.
The site of Khirbet Shura (Grid Ref. 204-264) lies 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) to the east of the ruins of Ja’unah (in Rosh Pina). An ancient synagogue, containing pottery from the first through seventh centuries AD, was excavated by Stepansky and Foerster. Most likely the synagogue was partially dismantled by stone robbers during the Mameluke period. The nature of the first-century settlement has yet to be determined and awaits further excavations (Foerster and Stepansky 1983: 102-103).
The disciples might have visited this community with Jesus during His initial tour of Galilee.
The Roads from Capernaum to Tyre in the Second Temple Period
In the spring of AD 29, the Lord Jesus fed 5,000 men, plus women and children near the Sea of Galilee (Matt. 14:15-21; Mark 6:32-44; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:1-14). As a result of this miracle, the Galilean people wanted to make Jesus king (John 6:15). In order to avoid a conflict with Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, Jesus left Galilee for Phoenicia (Mark 7:24). There are at least five possible routes Jesus and His disciples could have taken from Capernaum to Tyre and Sidon.
The most direct route from Capernaum to Tyre went through Upper Galilee, via Sepph (Safat), Gischala (Jish or Gush Halav) (CBA #234; Rainey and Notley 2006: 361). Although this might have been the most direct route, this road was also the steepest and highest route. Reaching 800 meters (2,625 feet) above sea level at points, travel could be strenuous.
The easiest and most convenient route, and the route that Jesus most likely took, went from Capernaum, passed Hazor, and crossed Nahal Dishon. At this point, the traveler had two options. The first option was to take a secondary road along the base of the Naphtali Ridge to the Roman road just south of Abel Beth Maachah. The Roman road went from Paneas (Caesarea Philippi) to Tyre and has been identified as the “Way of the Sea” (Rainey 1981; 1989; Rainey and Notley 2006: 12,230-231; cf. Isa. 9:1 [8:23 Heb.]). Part of this road was recently discovered to the west of Abel Beth Maachah on the Naphtali Ridge near Horvat Nuha (Grid Ref. 202-295; Aviam 2004: 133-135). The road continued into present-day Lebanon and can be seen on the Survey of Western Palestine map (sheet 2, labeled “ancient road” going west from Rabb Thelathin). The Roman road from Abel Beth Maachah to the top of the Naphtali Ridge is quite steep at points.
The second option, and the one I would suggest Jesus took, would have been to take the road into the Hills of Naphtali just to the west of Qeren Naftali and past the Phoenician city of Kedesh. This road had a more gradual incline than the Roman road that went west from Abel Beth Maachah. This route is favored by Beitzel (1985: 171: map 82) and Brisco (1998: 224: map 109).
From Kedesh, the traveler could continue in a northwest direction through Taphnith to Tyre; or the traveler could continue north, connect with the Roman road, head west to Janoah (Yanuh) (Grid. Ref. 178-296), and then go on to Tyre. These are the routes Tiglath-Pileser III took on his way to conquer Kedesh; he then continued on to Hazor. In essence, Jesus and His disciples would be retracing the route that Tiglath-Pileser III and his army took when they invaded Israel in 733/732 BC (2 Kings 15:29; Rainey 1981; 1989).
Two other routes were available to Jesus and His disciples, but they were probably not considered. The first route was the Roman road from Tiberius to Akko, which then went north to Tyre via the coast and the “Ladder of Tyre” (Aviam 2004: 136-137). Although this route was probably the flattest with the least elevation changes, it was also the longest.
The final possibility was a transverse highway that went through the Beth Ha-Karem Valley. This road connected the Golan Heights (Biblical Bashan) with Akko in antiquity. The eastern part of this road, from Bethsaida through Ramat Korazim, was surveyed by Zvi Ilan and Yosef Stepansky. This road might be the Istratiya of Sidon road mentioned in the Rabbinic sources (Ilan 1991: 14-16; Stepansky 1997: 30-32). The road ran through the valley that divided Upper Galilee from Lower Galilee. Once in Akko, the traveler could have followed the coastal road north, up over the “Ladder of Tyre” (Rosh ha-Nikra), and continued on to Tyre. This route would have been one of the most level roads, but it would also have been one of the longest.
[For a detailed study of the Lord Jesus’ ministry in Tyre and Sidon, see: “Jesus in the Region of Tyre and Sidon” by Gordon Franz]
The Road from Bethsaida to Caesarea Philippi in the Second Temple Period
Jesus and His disciples went from Bethsaida (Tel el-Araj or el-Masediyya) (Nun 1998, cf. Notley 2007; Urman and Flesher 1995: 519-527) to Caesarea Philippi toward the end of Jesus’ Galilean ministry (Mark 8:22-27). There was a Roman road on the east side of the Jordan River, below the western slopes of the Golan Heights, from the ford at what is called today the Bridge of Jacob’s Daughter to Caesarea Philippi (Urman 1985: 106-116; Tsafrir; Di Segni; and Green 1994). Most likely there also was a regional road that connected Bethsaida with the ford at the Bridge of Jacob’s Daughter. These roads connected Herod Philip’s two capitals: Caesarea Philippi and Bethsaida (Josephus, Wars 2:168; LCL 2:389). The upper and lower cities of Hazor can be viewed from this road.
The Road from Caesarea Philippi to Capernaum in the Second Temple Period
The Lord Jesus was transfigured on a “high mountain,” most likely Mount Hermon (Matt. 17:1; Mark 9:2). After this event He returned to Caesarea Philippi with the three disciples: Peter, James, and John. After reuniting with the other disciples, they departed from Caesarea Philippi, “passed through Galilee,” and came to Capernaum (Matt. 17:24; Mark 9:30, 33).
There were two routes that they might have taken to the Sea of Galilee. The first possibility was to follow the “old” road (Iron Age road) down the west side of the Hulah Valley and cross into Galilee at Nahal Dishon just north of Hazor (Dorsey 1991: 95-97: Road B1; Zwickel 2007: 173: map 2). If this route were the one taken, the disciples and Jesus might have stopped at the springs below the ruins of Hazor. This route would have taken them past a number of Phoenician towns and villages on the way to Galilee (Zwickel 2007: 179-181).
The second route they might have chosen would have been to return down the Roman road on the east side of the Jordan River. At the ford opposite Thella (Khirbet Makbarat Banat Yakub), they would have had to make a decision. They could continue south to Bethsaida, cross the Jordan River, and walk on the Bethsaida–Tiberias Road to Capernaum (Ilan 1991: 16) or they could cross the Jordan at the Thella ford and take the Gesher Benot Ya’aqov–Tiberias Road toward the Sea of Galilee (Ilan 1991: 14-15; Stepansky 1995: 15; seen on SWP map 4). At the junction, known as Khan Jubb Yusef today (Grid Ref. 2006-2585), they would have turned east onto the Akko–Bethsaida Road (Ilan 1991: 15-16). From Korizim they would have taken the local road down to Capernaum (Ilan 1991: 16).
Did Jesus Visit Hazor?
The Gospels do not explicitly state that Jesus visited Hazor. However, because the locations of the cities, towns, and villages in the region of Galilee and Phoenicia, as well as the roads, are known, it can be suggested that He visited the site, or at least the springs below the ruins, on at least two occasions and viewed the ruins as He walked past the site from the east side of the Jordan River on a third and fourth occasion.
The first time Jesus might have visited Hazor was after He called four Galilean fishermen – Peter, Andrew, James, and John – to follow Him (Matt. 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20). He took them with Him as He went throughout all the synagogues of Galilee preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, healing the sick, and casting out demons (Matt. 4:23-25; Mark 1:39; Luke 4:44). Hazor could be seen from at least Thella and Ramah (Tel Mashav) on the northern border of the region. If Jesus and His disciples visited Ramah or Meroth during this Galilean tour, they might have stopped at the springs below Hazor in order to refill their water containers before ascending the ridge to those settlements.
The second time Jesus might have stopped at the springs below the ruins of Hazor was during the spring of AD 29 when He traveled with His disciples from Capernaum to Tyre and Sidon (Matt. 15:21; Mark 7:24). At this point in His public ministry, Jesus was trying to avoid the crowds and spend quality time with His disciples in order to teach them His Word. One of the lessons Jesus wanted to teach His disciples was that salvation was not only for Israel, but also for the Gentiles. Thus, a visit to the region of Tyre and Sidon, followed by a ministry in the Decapolis region, most likely near Hippos/Susita (Mark 7:31), would have reinforced this lesson.
Interestingly, the route past Hazor and Kedesh to Tyre reversed the route of Tiglath-Pileser III’s campaign against Galilee (2 Kings 15:29; Isa. 9:1-2 [8:23-9:1 Heb.], cf. Matt. 4:12-17). When Tiglath-Pileser III campaigned in Upper Galilee, he brought death and destruction to Phoenicia and Israel. On His trip to Tyre and Sidon, the Lord Jesus retraced the route of Tiglath-Pileser III and, by contrast, brought life and healing to both Jews and Gentiles!
The third time Jesus was in the area of Hazor was when He and His disciples went from Bethsaida to Caesarea Philippi. On this trip, He would have viewed Hazor from the east side of the Jordan River opposite Thella. The lengthy ruins of Hazor (1.1 kilometers north to south; about .75 mile) would still seem impressive, even when viewed from 6 kilometers (3.5 miles) away.
The final time Jesus was in the area of Hazor was on His return trip from Caesarea Philippi to Galilee and on to Capernaum. The shortest route to Galilee would have been down the east side of the Jordan River, crossing at the ford at Thella in order to take the Roman road toward the Sea of Galilee. Again, Jesus would have been able to view the ruins of Hazor from the east bank of the Jordan River.
Jesus and His disciples probably did not go up to the ancient site of Hazor, because there was nothing to see in an abandoned, ruined city. Today, however, there are a number of remarkable archaeological remains to be seen. For example, one can see an impressively reconstructed Canaanite palace (ceremonial reception hall) as well as Canaanite temples. In addition, there is a majestically restored Solomonic gate and casemate walls similar to those at Gezer and Megiddo. An Israelite citadel and water system built by King Ahab can be visited as well as a reconstructed Israelite house and pillared building. Tel Hazor National Park has a well-marked trail with signs describing the historical and archaeological significance of what is being viewed.
The student, tourist, or pilgrim has every reason to stop at this important archaeological site. He or she can learn much about the Bible, archaeology, and historical geography of the Land of Israel from a visit to Hazor.
I wonder whether the Lord Jesus recounted a number of stories about Hazor to His disciples and shared many valuable spiritual lessons as they sat by the springs drinking the cool, refreshing water.
To contemplate the valuable lessons the Lord Jesus might have taught His disciples, see: “WWJD: Spiritual Lessons from Hazor’s History” by Gordon Franz
For further information on the Hazor Archaeological Excavation, please visit their website.
Aharoni, Yohanan; Avi-Yonah, Michael; Rainey, Anson; and Safrai, Ze’ev
2002 The Carta Bible Atlas. Jerusalem: Carta (Abbreviated CBA).
1997 A Second-First Century B.C.E. Fortress and Siege Complex in Eastern Galilee. Pp. 97-105 in Archaeology and the Galilee. Edited by D. Edwards and C. McCollough. Atlanta, GA: Scholars.
2004 Jews, Pagans and Christians in the Galilee. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester.
1976 Gazetteer of Roman Palestine. Qedem 5. Jerusalem: Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University.
1985 The Moody Atlas of Bible Lands. Chicago: Moody.
1983 Yesud Ha-Ma’ala, Synagogue–1982/1983. Excavations and Surveys in Israel 2: 110-111.
1993 Yesud Ha-Ma’ala. P. 1510 in New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land. Vol. 4. Edited by E. Stern. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society and Carta.
Biran, Avraham; and Shoham, Y.
1987 Remains of a Synagogue and of Sugar Installations at Yesud Ha-Ma’alah. Eretz Israel 19: 199-207, 78* (Hebrew).
1998 Holman Bible Atlas. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman.
1985 The Mishnah. Translated by H. Danby. Oxford: Oxford University.
1991 The Roads and Highways of Ancient Israel. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University.
Eusebius of Caesarea
2003 Palestine in the Fourth Century A.D. The Onomasticon by Eusebius of Caesarea. Translated by G. Freeman-Grenville. Edited by J. Taylor. Jerusalem: Carta.
Foerster, Gideon; and Stepansky, Yosef
1983 Horvat Shura. Excavations and Surveys in Israel 2: 102-103.
Frankel, Rafael; Getzov, Nimrod; Aviam, Mordechai; and Degani, Avi
2001 Settlement Dynamics and Regional Diversity in Ancient Upper Galilee. Archaeological Survey of Upper Galilee. IAA Report 14. Jerusalem: Israel Antiquities Authority.
1979-1980 Tel Anafa–A Proposed Identification. Scripta Classica Israelica 5: 178-184.
1993 Tel Anafa. Pp. 58-61 in New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land. Vol. 1. Edited by E. Stern. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society and Carta.
1994 Tel Anafa I, i. Final Report of Ten Years of Excavation at a Hellenistic and Roman Settlement in Northern Israel. Ann Arbor, MI: Kelsey Museum of the University of Michigan.
Herbert, Sharon; and Berlin, Andrea
2003 A New Administrative Center for Persian and Hellenistic Galilee: Preliminary Report of the University of Michigan/University of Minnesota Excavations at Kedesh. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 329: 13-59.
1991 Eastern Galilee, Survey of Roman Roads. Excavations and Surveys in Israel 1989/1990 9: 14-16.
1993 Meroth. Pp. 1028-1031 in The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land. Vol. 3. Edited by E. Stern. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society and Carta.
Ilan, Zvi; and Damati, Immanuel
1989 The Synagogue at Meroth. Did It Fix Israel’s Northern Border in Second Temple Times? Biblical Archaeology Review 15/2: 20-36.
1976a Life. Vol. 1. Translated by H. St. J. Thackeray. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 186.
1976b Jewish Wars. Books 1-3. Vol. 2. Translated by H. St. J. Thackeray. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 203.
1979 Jewish Wars. Books 4-7. Vol. 3. Translated by H. St. J. Thackeray. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 210.
1988 Jewish Antiquities. Books 5-8. Vol. 5. Translated by H. St. J. Thackeray and R. Marcus. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 281.
Masterman, Ernest W. G.
1908a The Upper Jordan Valley. The Biblical World 32/5: 298, 302-313.
1908b Two Greek Inscriptions from Khurbet Harrawi. Palestine Exploration Quarterly 155-157.
Meyers, Eric; Strange, James; and Meyers, Carol
1981 Excavations at Ancient Meiron, Upper Galilee, Israel 1971-72, 1974-5, 1977. Cambridge, MA: American Schools of Oriental Research.
Notley, R. Steve
2007 Et-Tell Is Not Bethsaida. Near Eastern Archaeology 70/4: 220-230.
1998 Has Bethsaida Finally Been Found? Jerusalem Perspective 54: 12-31.
1981 Toponymic Problems (cont.). The Way of the Sea. Tel Aviv 8/2: 146-151.
1989 Identifying the “Way of the Sea.” Bible Review 5/2: 13-14.
Rainey, Anson; and Notley, R. Steve
2006 The Sacred Bridges. Jerusalem: Carta.
2002 Archaeology and the Galilean Jesus. A Re-examination of the Evidence. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International.
1889 Recent Discoveries in Galilee. Palestine Exploration Quarterly 21: 68-78.
1999 The Synagogue at Yesud Hama’ala: A Re-evaluation. Pp. 143-145 in Yad le Yair. Edited by M. Levine and R. Yekhezkely. Tel Aviv: Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (Hebrew).
Shaked, Idan; and Avshalom-Gorni, Dina
2004 Jewish Settlement in the Southeastern Hula Valley in the First Century CE. Pp. 28-36 in Religion and Society in Roman Palestine. Old Questions, New Approaches. Edited by D. R. Edwards. New York and London: Routledge.
1985 Yesud Ha-Ma’alah. Israel Exploration Journal 35/2-3: 189-190.
1992 Rosh Pinna Map, Survey. Excavations and Surveys in Israel 1991 10: 66-68.
1995 Rosh Pinna Map, Survey–1992. Excavations and Surveys in Israel 14: 13-15.
1997 Horvat Mishlah. Excavations and Surveys in Israel 16: 30-32.
1999 The Periphery of Hazor during the Bronze Age, the Iron Age and the Persian Period: A Regional–Archaeological Study. MA thesis, Tel Aviv University.
2008 Rosh Pina. Pp. 2022-2023 in New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land. Vol. 5. Edited by E. Stern. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society and Washington, DC: Biblical Archaeology Society.
Stepansky, Yosef; and Damati, Emanuel
1989-1990 Greek Funerary Inscriptions from Eastern Galilee. Excavations and Surveys in Israel 9: 79.
Tsafrir, Yoram; Di Segni, Leah; and Green, Judith
1994 Tabula Imperii Romani. Iudaea–Palaestina. Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Science and Humanities.
1985 The Golan. A Profile of a Region During the Roman and Byzantine Periods. Oxford: B.A.R. International Series 269.
Urman, Dan; and Flesher, Paul, eds.
1995 Ancient Synagogues.Historical Analysis and Archaeological Discovery. Vol. 2. Leiden: E. J. Brill.
1972 Hazor. The Schweich Lectures. 1970. London: Oxford.
1975 Hazor. The Rediscovery of a Great Citadel of the Bible. New York: Random House.
2007 The Huleh Valley from the Iron Age to the Muslim Period. A Study in Settlement History. Pp. 163-192 in Religion, Ethnicity, and Identity in Ancient Galilee. Edited by J. Zangenberg; H. Attridge; and D. Martin. Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck.
¹All Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version of the Bible.
²This article was prompted by a discussion I had with the director of the Hazor excavation, Professor Amnon Ben Tor. One day he asked me why Christian pilgrims and tourists visit Megiddo but not Hazor. I suggested two reasons. First, Megiddo is on the way to Nazareth from Tel Aviv. The tour group lands at Ben Gurion Airport and they spend the first night near the airport. On the group’s first day of touring, they will go to Nazareth and spend their second night somewhere around the Sea of Galilee. Their bus goes right past Megiddo on their way to Nazareth, so they stop for lunch at the restaurant at the national park and then visit the site. If they go north of the Sea of Galilee, they would go through the Golan Heights and visit Caesarea Philippi (Matt. 16:13) and Tel Dan. On the way back to the lake, they would take the new by-pass road past Hazor, and the tour guide might say, “On our left is Hazor, the largest and one of the most important archaeological sites in the Land of Israel, but we do not have any time to visit because we have to get to the diamond factory in Tiberias!” The second reason Christian pilgrims and tourists stop at Megiddo is that the site has a New Testament connection. Revelation 16:16 mentions Armageddon. With that, Amnon said, “Find me a New Testament connection for Hazor!” I suggested to him that Jesus might have walked past the ancient ruins on several occasions. He said pointedly, “Write me an article!”
³In the Jewish compilation of the Bible, the books that mention Hazor – Joshua, Judges, and 1 and 2 Kings – were considered the Former Prophets.
 This route can be seen on SWP map 4. I hiked it on Sunday, July 13, 2008.