Individual city listings
Arad (Num., Josh., early Jdg.)
Identification of this is debated, with Tell Arad and Tell Malhatab the chief contenders. The former (about 3 km north-east of Beersheba) had a large fortified city in Early Bronze but was then deserted until Iron I, at which time there was a fortress until the 6th century. The second (12 km south-west of this) has Late Bronze occupation. Shoshenk I lists 2 cities called Arad in his lists.
Ashkelon (early and late Jdg., 1 and 2 Sam., Jer., Amos, Zeph., Zec.)
The city is mentioned in Egyptian texts throughout the Middle and early Late Bronze Ages, in particular the Execration Texts and the Amarna letters. It was sacked by Rameses II.
Beersheba (Gen., Josh., Jdg., 1 and 2 Sam., 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chron., Neh., Amos)
This contains LB material in the general vicinity (the name can apply to a valley area as well as the rather later town). However, most of the LB and earlier occupation is essentially nomadic and would not be expected to leave substantial traces. The wells would be an important focus of movement, but building development came rather later, into Iron 1 in fact. Some archaeologists believe that Iron Age settlers frequently removed evidence of earlier material as part of levelling a site for their own construction work.
Bethshan (Josh., early Jdg., 1 and 2 Sam., 1 Kings, 1 Chron.)
This was a Canaanite city in Early Bronze. It was listed by Thutmose III (and a scarab from his reign has been found there), was mentioned in the Amarna letters and was captured by Seti I. Various temples date from the time of Thutmose III, Rameses III, and Iron I (two, to Resheph and Antit). It was claimed as one of the conquests of Shoshenk I.
Bethshemesh (Josh., early Jdg., 1 Sam., 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chron., Jer.)
This is mentioned in the year 10 records of Amenhotep III.
Dibon (Num., Josh., Neh., Isa., Jer.)
Identification of this is debated. Tell Dhiban has occupation levels from Iron IIB onwards, with no city discovered in Late Bronze or Iron I. However, Dibon is mentioned in the route march of Thutmose III. The city list of Rameses II includes Qarho, which is used interchangeably with Dibon by King Mesha on the Mesha (Moabite) Stone. Another of Rameses' inscriptions refers to it as Dibon, which he plundered on his Moab campaign. Finally, a list at Luxor of his year 17 campaign against the Moabites and others refers to it as Tabunu.
Gaza (Gen., Josh., early and late Jdg., 1 Sam., 2 Kings, 1 Chron., Jer., Amos, Zeph., Zec.)
Only small areas of the modern city area have been excavated, showing Late Bronze and Iron Age occupation. 6 km to the south-west is Tell el-Aijjul which had a flourishing 2nd millennium town and fine examples of gold jewellery from the time of the mid 18th Egyptian dynasty. Thutmose III listed it, and it features in the campaign list of both Rameses II and Shoshenk I.
Gerar (Gen., 2 Chron.)
Identification of this is debated, with Tell Jemmeh and Tell Abu Hureira as chief contenders. The latter is 18 km south-east of Gaza and was occupied through the entire Bronze and Iron Ages. It's most prosperous period was in the Middle Bronze Age.
Gezer (Josh., early Jdg., 1 Kings, 1 Chron.)
A leading city from Middle Bronze IIA, with a large religious centre from MB IIC. Thutmose III captured the city, and Thutmose IV mentioned it. During the Amarna period it wavered in loyalty to Egypt. Merenptah claimed to have recaptured it. After the time of Rameses III it was under Philistine control.
Hebron (Gen., Num., Josh., Jdg., 1 and 2 Sam., 1 Kings, 1 and 2 Chron.)
Hebron is difficult to excavate because of present-day occupation. Some finds relate to the surrounding area rather than the town itself. The site is variously referred to as Tell Rumeideh or Jebel el-Rumeide. This latter has produced some material from each of Early, Middle and Late Bronze as well as Iron. One burial cave showed continuous usage through Middle and Late Bronze. A cuneiform tablet written in East Akkadian dates from the Middle to Late Bronze division and suggests urban/elite residency in this era. A Middle Bronze tower was repaired and reused in the Iron Age. The population in the area appears to have dwindled somewhat in Late Bronze. A topographical (geographic) list of Rameses II mentions the town, and a scarab from his reign has been found there. This list (copied in the reign of Rameses III from the earlier version) has the following names "Hebron, Janum, Drbn, Apheqah" which should be contrasted with the Joshua 15 list of the cities of Judah, which has "Hebron, Janim, Aphekah".
Heshbon (Num., Deut., Josh., late Jdg., 1 Chron., Neh., SS, Isa., Jer.)
Identification of this is debated. Tell Heshban can be identified with Heshbon in the time of King Mesha of Moab (c. 850 BCE), but no material has been found here from before Iron I, and for some time after that it was only an unfortified village. Tell Jalul nearby has not been systematically investigated, but Middle and Late Bronze pottery has been found here.
Jericho (Num., Deut., Josh., 2 Sam., 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chron., Ezra, Neh., Jer.)
There was a massive destruction of the city near the end of MB. LB occupation remains are scanty but exist - there were numerous burials from this era as well as wall sections about which there is considerable debate but a majority view favouring LB. Considerable erosion appears to have washed away LB and earlier evidence, with deep rainwater gullies cutting through several levels.
Jerusalem (all books from Josh. onwards)
Large areas are impossible to excavate because of the current occupation. Regarding written records, Jerusalem is mentioned in the Egyptian Execration texts, Ebla tablets, and Amarna letters amongst others.
Kadesh Barnea (Gen., Num., Deut., Josh., Jdg., Ps., Ezek.)
Large-scale archaeological occupation of this area begins in the Iron Age. An EB courtyard has been found nearby, and systematic study of the area has not yet been carried out. The early OT books use the name in a geographic sense to indicate a region with a group of wells, not a substantial occupied place.
Kir-Haresheth (2 Kings, Isa., Amos)
This is perhaps to be identified with Kerak. A route list of Amenhotep III mentions a city of Haresheth east of the Dead Sea.
Lachish (Josh., 2 Kings, 2 Chron., Neh., Isa., Jer., Micah)
Identified with Tell el-Duweir. This was inhabited by cavedwellers very early, then settled as a township during Early Bronze. By the start of Middle Bronze IIC it was strongly fortified. It was mentioned in Egyptian records from Middle Bronze IB to Late Bronze IIB, including in the Amarna letters. During the Late Bronze era there was extensive temple activity, and an altar of unhewn stones and a flight of stairs leading up to it has been found, together with the bones of many sheep and goats (especially the right foreleg - see Ex. 29.22). The city was destroyed by fire at the end of Late Bronze IIB, but was rebuilt and thrived again from Iron AII onwards until being burnt again by Sennacherib in 701 BCE. Considerable amounts of written material have been recovered, including pictographic signs on a Middle Bronze IIB dagger and protoCanaanite scripts on material from Middle Bronze IIC and Late Bronze IIB. There are many letters from the monarchy period, including what is thought to be the earliest specifically Hebrew inscription from approximately 800 BCE.
Possibly to be identified with Ramet el Khalil, 4 km north of Hebron. This shows signs of being a sacred place in Early Bronze, and had a shrine during the monarchy period.
Shechem (Gen., Josh., Jdg., 1 Kings, 1 and 2 Chron., Job, Ps., Isa., Jer., Ezek.)
Possibly to be identified with Tell Balata. A 4th millennium village was located here, which gradually increased through the Middle Bronze Age and reached the height of its prosperity in the Hyksos period. Towards the end of this era, large walls and a fortress temple were constructed. It remained important until the end of Iron II and thereafter diminished until being destroyed by the Assyrians between 724 and 721 BCE. It may be mentioned in Middle Kingdom Egyptian records, and the Amarna letters record it falling to the Habiru.
Taanach (Josh., Jdg., 1 Kings, 1 Chron.)
Archaeological remains of a religious/cultic nature date from Iron I and show earlier usse and traditions. Canaanite cuneiform records also from this era have been found. Akkadian cuneiform tablets dating from LB have been found showing Canaanite idioms and imagery. Egyptian 18th dynasty records describe it as a source of warriors, originating from several different ethnic groups.
(See also entries for Dibon, Heshbon and Kir-haresheth). The opinion was stated a number of years ago that trans-Jordan had very little occupation in Middle and Late Bronze, possibly just some migratory people, as opposed to the urban settlement referred to in the Exodus account. However, more recent surveys have shown that this is not the case. Over 30 city states have been found with evidence from Middle Bronze II, and nearly as many from Late Bronze. The evidence is in the form of pottery remains and grave goods. A revised estimate would affirm urban settlement in this era, perhaps at a lower level than during Early Bronze. In particular we have urban development at numerous places in the Bashan area, including Pella (sometimes Pelal), Astaroth, Bozrah, Keruth and Zaphon in the Jordan valley.
The Numbers 33 route list has the following sequence: "Iyim, Dibon-Gad, Alman-Diblathaim, Nebo, Abel-Shittim, Jordan". This should be compared with various Egyptian route lists. Thutmose III (conventionally c. 1475) has a Palestine list at Karnak, with a south-to-north route naming "Iyyin, Dibon, Abel, Jordan". Amenhotep III (conventionally c. 1375) has a similar list in a mortuary temple at Soleb. Rameses III (conventionally c. 1250), at the Temple of Amun also at Karnak, has a 49-name topographical list with four stations in this area, namely "Heres, Qarho, Iktanu, Abel". Qarho is known from the Mesha (Moabite) Stone to be an alternative name for Dibon. We therefore have a good degree of similarity between the Numbers 33 list and various Late Bronze Egyptian topographical lists, confirming the existence of the places and that the march route was credible.