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JABIN (Heb. יָבִין; "discerning"), king of the Canaanite city of *Hazor. Jabin headed the Canaanite alliance and is mentioned in connection with two Israelite wars at the time of the settlement – in the battle at Merom, which is attributed to Joshua (Josh. 11), and the war of *Deborah (Judg. 4–5). The king of Hazor is named in the list of defeated Canaanite kings (Josh. 12:19). There is a reference to the victory over Sisera commander of the army of Hazor in Samuel's speech (I Sam. 12:9), but the king is not mentioned; and to both Sisera and Jabin in Psalms (83:10). The Bible also refers to Jabin as the king of Canaan in the introduction and conclusion to the prose account of *Deborah's war (Judg. 4:2, 23–24). He is mentioned as allied to *Heber the Kenite (4:17) but plays no part in the body of the story. The account of Joshua 11 notes that "Hazor beforetime was the head of all those kingdoms" (Josh. 11:10). These words may be a reference to an old tradition. Excavations reveal that Hazor was the largest and most important of the cities of Israel in the days of the Hyksos (in the 18th and 16th centuries B.C.E.) and the *el-Amarna period (14th century B.C.E.). Abdi-Tirshi, king of Hazor, is unique in referring to himself as "king of " (šar) Hazor in a letter to Pharaoh (El Amarna Letters, no. 227). The other local Canaanite dynasts never call themselves "king" in writing to Pharaoh. According to the Bible, Jabin was killed following the battle of Merom in Joshua's day, and Hazor was totally destroyed (Josh. 11:10–13). The mention of Jabin in Deborah's battle has always puzzled biblical scholars, and several theories have been proposed:

(a) Jabin was king of Hazor and defeated by Joshua. Remnants of his family relocated to Harosheth-Goiim and produced a descendant also named Jabin, whose general Sisera engaged the forces of Barak and Deborah (Radak to Judg. 4:2).

(b) Some modern scholars claim that Hazor was rebuilt and, with Radak, say that the second Jabin is another king, possibly a descendant of the first.

(c) *Sisera of Harosheth-Goiim was in fact the chief of the Canaanite kings in Deborah's war, and that it was a later tradition which described him as Jabin's general (this theory is supported by the fact that Jabin is not mentioned in Deborah's Song).

(d) The two wars took place in the same era and that Deborah's war actually preceded the war at Merom. Thus, in Deborah's war the Israelites first succeeded in overcoming the Canaanite chariots and subsequently "the hand of the children of Israel prevailed more and more against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they had destroyed Jabin the king of Canaan" (Judg. 4:24). This last engagement is the battle at the waters of Merom, which is in the Upper Galilee not far from Hazor, and eventually came to be attributed to Joshua, as were several other battles.

None of these explanations is satisfying. The account in Joshua appears to be secondary to those in Judges and supplies far less detail. Because Joshua 10 described the hero Joshua as the conqueror of the southern kings, the late writer of Joshua 11 followed his narrative style to compose an account of Joshua's conquest of the northern kings (Ahituv). He had before him Joshua 12:19 listing Hazor as a conquest of Joshua's, as well as the verses Judges 4:2, 23–24 that Jabin was "King of Canaan." As such, he was the natural choice to head the northern coalition. The detail that Hazor alone was burned (Jos. 11:13) provides an etiology of Hazor's ruins in the days of the author.


B. Maisler (Mazar), Toledot Ereẓ Yisrael, 1 (1938), 228–31; idem, in: BJPES, 11 (1944), 35–41; idem, in HUCA, 24 (1952/53), 80ff.; Y. Aharoni, Hitnaḥalut Shivtei Yisrael ba-Galil ha-Elyon (1957), 89ff.; Malamat, in: Sefer Yovel… Y. Baer (1960), 1–7; idem, in: JBL, 79 (1960), 12–19; Albright, in: JPOS, 1 (1921), 54ff.; Täubler, in: Festschrift… L. Baeck (1938), 9–30; Alt, in: ZAW, 60 (1944), 67–85; Alt, K1 Schr, 1 (1953), 135, 267, 270; 2 (1953), 371ff.; Maas, in: ZAWB, 77 (1958), 105–17. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: B. Halpern, in: HTR, 76 (1983), 379–401; W. Moran, The Amarna Letters (1992), 288–89; S. Ahituv, Joshua (1995).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.