Tel Lachish

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Places of Interest

Tel Lachish

 

Location

 

1. Tel Lachish is in the foothills (Shaphelah) of the Judean Mountains about 18 miles (30 km.) from the Mediterranean Sea and about 25 miles (41 km.) southwest of Jerusalem.

 

2. Lachish is regarded as the second most important city after Jerusalem in the Southern Kingdom of Judah, and it was strategically located on the Via Maris travel route. 

 

3. It was a well-fortified military city with double walls and provided protection to Israel’s southern region.

 

Historical Background

 

1. Lachish has two major settlement periods, a Canaanite and an Israelite settlement period.

 

2. Lachish was first settled and inhabited by the Canaanites around 3000 BC.

 

3. It was then conquered by the Israelites under Joshua during the conquest of the Promised Land.

 

4. After the Kingdom of Israel was divided, Lachish became a thriving Israelite city during king Rehoboam’s reign (920 BC), and around 10,000 people lived in the city at that time.

 

5. It was destroyed by the Assyrians in 701 BC and by the Babylonians in 587 BC. 

 

6. Numerous pottery shards (ostraca) were found at Lachish. One spoke of the fall of the close-by city of Azekah (above the Valley of Elah) by the Assyrians. This realization must have sent fear into the hearts of those in Lachish. Another pottery shard spoke of a prophet, most likely Jeremiah.

 

7. Writings and relief pictures at Nineveh (modern-day Mosul) reveal the destruction of Lachish.

 

8. Interestingly, ostraca pieces and other findings in Israel reveal the evidence of around 100 biblical names of people in the Bible.

 

9. There are 2 caves filled with skulls close-by to Lachish, giving evidence of its destruction.

 

10. In 539 BC, the Persians defeated the Babylonians and allowed the exiles to return to Israel from 538–445 BC. Jerusalem and Lachish were reconstructed at this time (Nehemiah 11:1, 30).

 

11. Lachish was finally abandoned after the Hellenistic rule in Israel (332–167 BC).

 

Places of Interest

 

1. Entrance

 

2. Large Building

 

3. Siege Ramp

 

4. City Gate

 

5. Palace 

 

6. Palace Courtyard

 

7. Quarry/Reservoir

 

8. Israelite Temple – Similar layout as the temple in Tel Arad. This temple was also prohibited (Deut. 12:5-7).

 

9. City Well

 

10. City Walls

 

Lachish in the Bible

 

1. The King of Lachish joined 4 other kings to fight against the Gibeonites because they had made peace with Israel during the conquest of the Promised Land.
Joshua 10:1–5: As soon as Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem, heard how Joshua had captured Ai and had devoted it to destruction, doing to Ai and its king as he had done to Jericho and its king, and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them, 2 he feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were warriors. 3 So Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem sent to Hoham king of Hebron, to Piram king of Jarmuth, to Japhia king of Lachish, and to Debir king of Eglon, saying, 4 “Come up to me and help me, and let us strike Gibeon. For it has made peace with Joshua and with the people of Israel.” 5 Then the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered their forces and went up with all their armies and encamped against Gibeon and made war against it.

 

2. Joshua prayed that the sun would stand still so the Israelites could defeat the 5 kings who had gathered to make war against the Gibeonites and the Israelites.
Joshua 10:10–14: And the Lord threw them into a panic before Israel, who struck them with a great blow at Gibeon and chased them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah. 11 And as they fled before Israel, while they were going down the ascent of Beth-horon, the Lord threw down large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died because of the hailstones than the sons of Israel killed with the sword. 12 At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” 13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. 14 There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel.

 

3. Joshua and the Israelites conquer Lachish. 
Joshua 10:31–32: Then Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Libnah to Lachish and laid siege to it and fought against it. 32 And the Lord gave Lachish into the hand of Israel, and he captured it on the second day and struck it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it, as he had done to Libnah. 

 

4. King Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, fortified Lachish in about 920 BC after the kingdom of Israel was divided.
2 Chronicles 11:5–12: Rehoboam lived in Jerusalem, and he built cities for defense in Judah. 6 He built Bethlehem, Etam, Tekoa, 7 Beth-zur, Soco, Adullam, 8 Gath, Mareshah, Ziph, 9 Adoraim, Lachish, Azekah, 10 Zorah, Aijalon, and Hebron, fortified cities that are in Judah and in Benjamin. 11 He made the fortresses strong, and put commanders in them, and stores of food, oil, and wine. 12 And he put shields and spears in all the cities and made them very strong. So he held Judah and Benjamin.

 

5. King Amaziah fled to Lachish after his defeat to the Northern Kingdom of Israel and was killed by his own countrymen in 767 BC.
2 Chronicles 25:14–15: After Amaziah came from striking down the Edomites, he brought the gods of the men of Seir and set them up as his gods and worshiped them, making offerings to them. 15 Therefore the Lord was angry with Amaziah and sent to him a prophet, who said to him, “Why have you sought the gods of a people who did not deliver their own people from your hand?”

 

2 Chronicles 25:27: From the time when he [Amaziah] turned away from the Lord, they made a conspiracy against him in Jerusalem, and he fled to Lachish. But they sent after him to Lachish and put him to death there.

 

6. God destroyed Lachish because of their continual rejection of God and sinful choices.

Micah 1:13: Harness the steeds to the chariots, inhabitants of Lachish; it was the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion, for in you were found the transgressions of Israel. 

 

7. Lachish was attacked and destroyed by the Assyrians in 701 BC.
After Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel and led them into captivity to Assyria in 722 BC, King Sennacherib set his sights on Egypt and Judah in 701 BC.

 

2 Kings 18:13: In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them.

 

2 Chronicles 32:9–10: After this, Sennacherib king of Assyria, who was besieging Lachish with all his forces, sent his servants to Jerusalem to Hezekiah king of Judah and to all the people of Judah who were in Jerusalem, saying, 10 “Thus says Sennacherib king of Assyria, ‘On what are you trusting, that you endure the siege in Jerusalem?

 

In the destruction of Lachish, as many as 50,000 people were tortured and killed when Sennacherib took it. Based on archaeological discoveries and writings in Nineveh, the Assyrians beheaded, burned, flayed, and impaled those they conquered. Those who escaped death were deported to Assyria led by rings pierced through their lips.

 

In the writings of Sennacherib, he mentions how his army penetrated fortifications using ramps, battering rams, mines, breeches, and siege engines. The evidence of these tactics can be seen in the siege ramp at Lachish.

 

8. God supernaturally protected Jerusalem from Assyrian conquest.

After King Sennacherib conquered Lachish and the southern cities of Judah, he set his sights on Jerusalem. The deliverance of Jerusalem in 701 BC, under King Hezekiah’s godly leadership, is one of the most pivotal and monumental miracles in Israel’s history. Assyria rose to world domination and had conquered all the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and all the southern cities of Judah. Jerusalem was the only city left in the whole region that had not fallen. Assyria was hungry and ready to devour Jerusalem by its merciless iron-toothed war machine.

 

2 Kings 19:8–10: The Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria fighting against Libnah, for he heard that the king had left Lachish. 9 Now the king heard concerning Tirhakah king of Cush, “Behold, he has set out to fight against you.” So he sent messengers again to Hezekiah, saying, 10 “Thus shall you speak to Hezekiah king of Judah: ‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you by promising that Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.

 

2 Kings 19:20: Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Your prayer to me about Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard.”

 

2 Kings 19:35–37: And that night the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. 36 Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went home and lived at Nineveh. 37 And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword and escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.

 

The defeat over Sennacherib at Jerusalem was a devastating blow to the Assyrian Empire, which caused it to spiral downward thereafter. Later, the Babylonian Empire would arise and become the new world power.

 

9. Lachish was again destroyed by the Babylonians in around 587 BC.
Jeremiah 34:6–7: Then Jeremiah the prophet spoke all these words to Zedekiah king of Judah, in Jerusalem, 7 when the army of the king of Babylon was fighting against Jerusalem and against all the cities of Judah that were left, Lachish and Azekah, for these were the only fortified cities of Judah that remained.

 

10. The destruction and deportations of the Israelites into Assyria and Babylon were because of their continual disobedience to God.
Ezra 5:12: But because our fathers had provoked the God of heaven to wrath, He gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and deported the people to Babylon.

 

Ezra 9:7:  Since the days of our fathers to this day we have been in great guilt, and on account of our iniquities we, our kings and our priests have been given into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity and to plunder and to open shame, as it is this day.

 

Faith Lesson from Lachish

 

1. God gave the Israelites a great victory over the king of Lachish by causing the sun to stand still, and by sending great hailstones. Joshua demonstrated great faith in asking God to cause the sun to stand still. Do we realize God is able to do great miracles in our lives if we have faith like Joshua?

 

2. God supernaturally protected Jerusalem because of King Hezekiah’s devotion and faith, and defeated the Assyrians by ordering one angel to kill 185,000 soldiers. If our hearts are right before God, there is nothing we should fear.

 

3. However, around 115 years later, God allowed the Israelites to be conquered by the Babylonians because of their continual sinful choices. When we are not right with God, we find ourselves in the hand of a disciplining God who will deal with us according to His wisdom.

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