The Site and Its Strategic Location
Tel Lachish (Tell ed-Duweir) is a large mound whose surface and slope covers an area of approximately 31 acres (12.5 ha). It is situated in the Shephelah, a geographical zone of low hills extending from the coastal plan to the west and up to the hills of Judah to the east. The city guards one of the western routes to the central hills and the capitol of Jerusalem. The site was first identified by the American archaeologist W. F. Albright in 1929 as the site of ancient Lachish that played a major role as the second most important city after Jerusalem in the Kingdom of Judah during biblical times. Today the site is part of the National Park Authority and rises strategically above an east-west running valley surrounded by beautiful vineyards on all sides.
Periods of Occupation
Tel Lachish was occupied extensively from Early Bronze III and the Middle Bronze Ages. In the Late Bronze age two temples were excavated one in the western base of the site by the first British expedition known as the “Fosse Temple” and the other by the third Tel Aviv expedition north of the palace-fort. The site continued to be occupied during the Iron Age until its destruction by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BCE. A Persian-Hellenistic period occupation extended over the site and included the Solar Shrine and other buildings.
Historical and Biblical Significance
The site is mentioned for the first time in an Egyptian papyrus from the reign of Amenhotep II of the Eighteenth Dynasty. Several Amarna letters were sent in the fourteenth century by the kings of Lachish to Amenhotep III and Amenhotep IV.Lachish occurs 24 times in the Bible and is first mentioned in the time of Joshua during the conquest (Joshua 10:3-35; 12:11; 15:39). The fortification of the site took place under Rehoboam at the end of the 10th century BCE (2 Chronicles 11:9); it was then conquered by Sennacherib in 701 BCE during the time of Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:14, 17; 19:8; 2 Chronicles 32:9; Isaiah 36:2; 37:8) and destroyed by the Babylonian forces in 586 BCE (Jeremiah 34:7). It is last mentioned as a Jewish settlement after the exile around 460 BCE (Nehemiah 11:30).