History and Archaeology of Tel Lachish
Tel Lachish is set on a hill in the southern Judean hills, next to the main trade routes of the coastal plain (the Via Maris). The Book of Joshua records its fierce conquest and destruction by the Israelites, although the King of Gezer joined in 31 Then Joshua and all Israel with him moved on from Libnah to Lachish; he took up positions against it and attacked it. 32 The Lord gave Lachish into Israel’s hands, and Joshua took it on the second day. The city and everyone in it he put to the sword, just as he had done to Libnah. 33 Meanwhile, Horam king of Gezer had come up to help Lachish, but Joshua defeated him and his army—until no survivors were left. (Joshua 10:31-33).
Later, Lachish was fortified by King Rehoboam (1 Chronicles 11:8). Amaziah king of Judah fled to Lachish when a plot was set against him in Jerusalem, yet he was captured and slain – 18 As for the other events of Amaziah’s reign, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 19 They conspired against him in Jerusalem, and he fled to Lachish, but they sent men after him to Lachish and killed him there. 20 He was brought back by horse and was buried in Jerusalem with his ancestors, in the City of David. (2 Kings 14:18-20).
In 701 BCE Lachish was conquered and destroyed by the Sennacherib king of Assyria. The battle is only hinted in the Bible (2 Kings 14:17) but proved to be documented in detail in reliefs that decorated Sennacherib’s throne room in Nineveh. About a century later a stronghold was built in Lachish’s former city gate. According to prophet Jeremiah it was one of the last strongholds to stand against the (Jeremiah 34:7). The site is not mentioned as inhabited by later sources, and eventually even its location was forgotten.
Excavations at Lachish
Lachish was identified in 1929 and excavated by several archaeological expeditions. A wealth of finds uncovered at the site, attest to its long, rich – and dramatic past. Among its highlights are the Assyrian ramp, the gate complex, The toilet seat replacing an altar, the Persian “Solar Shrine”, the main palace, two Canaanite temples, and more.
See a video presentation of Tel Lachish, by ‘Danny the Digger’ –
Tel Lachish is open year-round, free of charge. It can be approached by a short trail next of the main entry to Moshav Lachish. Next to the parking lot and the Assyrian ramp a new visitor center is currently been built. Signs with detailed explanations are spread throughout the site, yet it is best to tour the site with a guide whose expertise is Biblical Archaeology. It is also recommended to visit the site in the spring months when the area blooms in beautiful carpets of wildflowers. The palace of Lachish also provides stunning panoramas of the Judean lowlands and the Coastal plain.
A tour of Tel Lachish can be combined in a guided day tour in the Judean Foothills (the Shephelah).