Because Jabin, the king of Hazor, has been named in two different periods of the Bible, there has been questions as to how this
exact name and title developed in this fashion.
Questioning the reliability of the Bible as a historical document, the most skeptical theory, in essence, assumes
that the detailed account in Judges (Judg 4:1-23) provided the name Jabin for the
author of Joshua recording a conquest; skeptics believe that Joshua was composed after Judges.
The literary genre of biblical accounts involving Jabin is that of historical narratives which record events with detail and
Jabin, the king of Hazor, leader of Canaan was defeated by Joshua during the Conquest.
Then it came about, when Jabin king of Hazor heard of it, that he sent to Jobab king of Madon and
to the king of Shimron and to the king of Achshaph, and to the kings who were of the north in the hill country, and in the
Arabah—south of Chinneroth and in the lowland and on the heights of Dor on the west— to the Canaanite on the east and on the west,
and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Jebusite in the hill country, and the Hivite at the foot of Hermon in the
land of Mizpeh. They came out, they and all their armies with them, as many people as the sand that is on the seashore, with very
many horses and chariots. So all of these kings having agreed to meet, came and encamped together at the waters of Merom, to fight
against Israel. Then the Lord said to Joshua, "Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow at this time I will deliver all of
them slain before Israel; you shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire." So Joshua and all the people of war
with him came upon them suddenly by the waters of Merom, and attacked them. The Lord delivered them into the hand of Israel, so
that they defeated them, and pursued them as far as Great Sidon and Misrephoth-maim and the valley of Mizpeh to the east; and they
struck them until no survivor was left to them. Joshua did to them as the Lord had told him; he hamstrung their horses and burned
their chariots with fire. Then Joshua turned back at that time, and captured Hazor and struck its king with the sword; for Hazor
formerly was the head of all these kingdoms. They struck every person who was in it with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying
them; there was no one left who breathed. And he burned Hazor with fire. (Josh 11:1-11)
Approximately some 200 hundred years later, Jabin, the king of Hazor, king of Canaan was defeated by Barak
during the time of Judges.
Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, after Ehud died. And the Lord sold
them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; and the commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in
Harosheth-hagoyim. The sons of Israel cried to the Lord; for he had nine hundred iron chariots, and he oppressed the sons of
Israel severely for twenty years. Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to
sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel came up to her
for judgment. Now she sent and summoned Barak the son of Abinoam from Kedesh-naphtali, and said to him, "Behold, the Lord, the
God of Israel, has commanded, 'Go and march to Mount Tabor, and take with you ten thousand men from the sons of Naphtali and
from the sons of Zebulun. I will draw out to you Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his many
troops to the river Kishon, and I will give him into your hand."" Then Barak said to her, "If you will go with me, then I will go;
but if you will not go with me, I will not go." She said, "I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the honor shall not be yours
on the journey that you are about to take, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman." Then Deborah arose and went
with Barak to Kedesh. Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali together to Kedesh, and ten thousand men went up with him; Deborah also
went up with him. Now Heber the Kenite had separated himself from the Kenites, from the sons of Hobab the father-in-law of Moses,
and had pitched his tent as far away as the oak in Zaanannim, which is near Kedesh. Then they told Sisera that Barak the son of
Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor. Sisera called together all his chariots, nine hundred iron chariots, and all the people who
were with him, from Harosheth-hagoyim to the river Kishon. Deborah said to Barak, "Arise! For this is the day in which the Lord
has given Sisera into your hands; behold, the Lord has gone out before you." So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with ten
thousand men following him. The Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army with the edge of the sword before Barak;
and Sisera alighted from his chariot and fled away on foot. But Barak pursued the chariots and the army as far as Harosheth-hagoyim,
and all the army of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword; not even one was left. Now Sisera fled away on foot to the tent of Jael
the wife of Heber the Kenite, for there was peace between Jabin the king of Hazor and the house of Heber the Kenite. Jael
went out to meet Sisera, and said to him, "Turn aside, my master, turn aside to me! Do not be afraid." And he turned aside to her
into the tent, and she covered him with a rug. He said to her, "Please give me a little water to drink, for I am thirsty." So she
opened a bottle of milk and gave him a drink; then she covered him. He said to her, "Stand in the doorway of the tent, and it shall
be if anyone comes and inquires of you, and says, 'Is there anyone here?' that you shall say, 'No.'" But Jael, Heber's wife, took a
tent peg and seized a hammer in her hand, and went secretly to him and drove the peg into his temple, and it went through into the
ground; for he was sound asleep and exhausted. So he died. And behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him and said
to him, "Come, and I will show you the man whom you are seeking." And he entered with her, and behold Sisera was lying dead with
the tent peg in his temple. So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the sons of Israel. The hand of the
sons of Israel pressed heavier and heavier upon Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin the king of
Canaan. (Judg 4:1-23)
From an archaeological perspective, there were two significant burn layers discovered in the excavation of Hazor. The lowest
layer indicated that Hazor was burned down around the time of the Conquest, and this evidence was consistent with the biblical
account of the Conquest; Hazor was burned down by Joshua. Furthermore, statues of Canaanite and Egyptian gods were destroyed,
which followed God's directive for the Conquest (Deut 12:1-3). The topmost burn
layer corresponded to the time that Pharaoh Seti I destroyed and burned down Hazor, which was recorded by Egyptian inscriptions
attesting to the Pharaoh's conquest.
Because the account of Judges (Judg 4:1-23) indicate that Barak
destroyed the Jabin and his army, there is little archeological evidence that indicates if Hazor was definitely destroyed.
Significant to the inquiry into Jabin is the inscription evidence.
The Mari Letters (1796 B.C.)
Excavated in Mari (Tel Hariri, an ancient Semitic city in Syria) between 1933-39 and 1951-56, the Mari Letters
is the name used for the more than 20 thousand tablets and fragments recovered most of which date from the reign of Yasmakh-Adad
(1796-1780 B.C.). The cuneiform artifacts were housed and published by the Louvre for academic study in Archives Royales de Mari
One Akkadian tablet (ARM VI, 236, dated to the 18th century B.C.) recorded a shipment of tin to "Ibni-Addad
king of Hazor." Translated from Akkadian into its West Semitic form "Ibni-Addad" becomes "Yabni-Haddad," and "Yabni"
linguistically evolves into "Yabin / Jabin" in ancient Hebrew.
When looters discovered cuneiform artifacts in Amarna, formal archaeological excavations began (1888-92).
Amarna was once the ancient Egyptian capital of Akhetaten that was built by the Pharaoh Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV, the Eighteenth
dynasty of Egypt, 14th century B.C.). 382 tablets and fragments were recovered, and because of plundering, these Akkadian
cuneiform tablets / fragments are scattered among several museum locations principally Berlin, London and Cairo.
The cuneiform tablets / fragments were dated to the reigns of Amenhotep III and IV and were some thirty years
of diplomatic correspondence between the Egyptian court and surrounding states / vassal states which is significant for its
Akkadian cuneiform instead of Ancient Egyptian.
One of these letters (EA 227) mentions a vassal state, ruled by the "king of Hazor," breaking away to form
a northern alliance with other Canaanite states. What is significant is that no other vassal ruler is attributed with the title
of "king" throughout the Amarna Letters. While the name of Jabin was not mentioned, the Amarna Letters inferred that there was
a powerful leader of Hazor and of a northern Canaanite federation.
The Topographical List of Ramesses II (1303-1273 B.C.)
Ramesses thought it important to mention the route through the Jezreel Valley and had it inscribed at the
Precinct of Amun-Re in Karnak. One location mentioned is "Qerumin." This ancient Egyptian word transliterates via Hebrew (Qedumim)
to English as the "River Kishon" (Judg 5:21).
The next topographical location listed after "Qerumin" is "Qishon of Ybn." It is not clear what area "Qishon"
referred to; but, "Ybn" transliterates into English as "Jabin," and it was understood that the area north of the River Kishon was
controlled by the city of Hazor.
The Jabin Cuneiform Fragment of Hazor (found 1992)
Archaeologist excavating the ancient city of Hazor found a cuneiform fragment written in Akkadian addressed
"to Ibni Addi," which transliterates to "Jabin Addu." Dated to the 18th – 17th century B.C., this fragment was consistent with
correspondence of the royal court, and involved the transfer of a woman.
Whereas previous inscription evidence attested to the use of the name Jabin over time, the cuneiform fragment
of Hazor confirms its use as a royal appellative much like that of Pharaoh. Just as Egyptian kings were known as Pharaoh,
Canaanite kings were known as Jabin; thus, "Jabin Addu" is to understood in the same context as Pharaoh Ramesses II.
Recognizing Jabin as a Canaanite royal appellative means that the biblical accounts of Jabin are accurate and contemporary
with the period of their composition.