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Jabin, Canaanite King

The name Jabin was based on the Hebrew language, which means “wise” or “discerner”. It is a Biblical name, which refers to the King of the land of Hazor, as mentioned in the Book of Joshua 11:1-14. Based on the scriptures, he was a part of the confederacy against Joshua. He was also responsible for the conquest of the land during that period, as stated in Joshua 11:21. Jabin can be found on the Bible Timeline Chart starting around 1354 BC.

It is also worth noting that there is another king of Canaan who was known to overpower the people of Israel in The North, about 160 years after the death of Joshua. Moreover, the king has kept them in subjection for 20 years. It was during this period that the entire nation was filled with fear and hoped to be redeemed one day.

In the Book of Judges 4:10, it was mentioned that Barak and Deborah inspired the people and helped gather as much as 10,000 men to try and become victorious over the army of Jabin. Thus, this was the very first successful attempts of Israel during the time of Joshua. Because of their victory, they had no reason to join and fight another battle against the people of Canaan.

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Jabin means ‘Wise.’

Jabin in the Bible

Jabin was the king of Canaan, and he was noted to have rebuilt the capital city in the region of northern Canaan following the victory of Joshua in that land. He also had great control of the northern portion of Canaan.

In Joshua 4:2, it was apparent that Jabin was merely a title given to the kings of Hazor. In fact, there was one Jabin that Joshua was able to defeat and kill, as presented in Joshua 11:1. Based on archaeological finds, this confirmed the early destructions made by the people under the leadership of Josha, as well as the victory made under the rule of Barak.

There were several references made to Jabin, and archaeologists have successfully discovered three additional references other than the ones mentioned in the Book of Joshua and Deborah. With this in mind, it was indeed true that Jabin was only a dynastic title for kings instead of referring to only one king.

Based on archeological findings, Jabin King of Hazor once ruled in 1402 BC. He was mentioned in Joshua 11:1. In 1200 BC and the Book of Judges 4:2, another Jabin was noted, and it indicated that the Israelites were sold to a king of Canaan who reigned over them for a long period. Sisera was the army’s commander, and he was a resident of Harosheth-ha goyim.

It could also be possible that Hazor was one of the most significant cities in the region. According to Joshua 11:10, Joshua seized and killed the king with a sword. Joshua’s army killed every person in Hazor using a sword, and they successfully destroyed all people. Then, Hazor was burned through fire. Thus, the Bible used Jabin as a term for a dynastic title. The king of Hazor also ruled in long periods of succession for 500 years.

Lastly, there was a small portion of a clay tablet that archaeologists found with the text addressed to Jabin, who was Hazor’s king. While the Jabin mentioned on the tablet was not similar to the Jabins in the Bible, it aimed to negate the fact that Jabin was not a king’s title at Hazor.

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3 thoughts on “Jabin, Canaanite King

  1. As a lay-person studying the story of Deborah and Barak and the periods of peace for the Israelites, spoken of in Judges, its difficult to follow due to the statements like Judges 5:31 “So the land had rest for 40 years.” And its unclear who killed this Canaanite king and when that occurred. Who was Jael? Did she kill both Sisera, the leader of the Canaanite army and King Jabin? Were Deborah and Jael contemporary warriors? Does that mean that King Jabin, Deborah, Barak and Joshua and Jael were contemporaries? So does that mean that part of the rule of the judges overlaps Joshua leading the Israelites into the promised land? Was the war Deborah and Barak fought part of the same war Joshua fought entering the Promised Land? Was Joshua the commander of Deborah’s and Barak’s army too? Joshua divided the promised land up between the tribes and sent the people to kill everyone in those lands. Is there any sort of chart of who the army leaders under Joshua were? Perhaps I just need to study the materials you’ve provided for me further. Thank you so much. I can’t tell you how much these materials have taught me and also comforted me through some pretty rough times. Its truly a blessing to be able to use these materials to retreat and immerse myself in God’s word. Thank you for your work

    1. It appears that Jael, Deborah, Barak were contemporaries because they are all mentioned in the same story. Josha died a generation or so before Deborah was raised up as judge, so there could have been a minor overlap.

    2. I love all these questions. I have also studied this story in way too much depth. In my studies, I’ve found that the king Jabin of Hazor that Joshua defeated and killed was an ancestor to the king Jabin in Deborah’s time. If I remember correctly, it does not say that he is killed in Deborah’s time, just that they were freed from his oppressive rule. It does say Sisera was killed by Jael, a canaanite woman married to a Kenite man. Her husband was in good friendship with the king, he was an ally with the enemy. Therefore, Jael acted out of turn and against her own people to kill Sisera and free the Israelites. She knew what she was doing. Deborah sings about it later. Deborah is the coolest female in the Bible, imo, because she commands an amy as the first and only female judge. Anyway, they are two different timelines. In Joshua’s time, God was fighting for them because they were following God. However, by the time Deborah was appointed judge, they had fallen away from God and “did evil in the sight of the Lord” again and again. They had been given over to king Jabin’s rule because they chose Baal. Deborah was a result of their repentance and God’s mercy after crying out for help.

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