Joshua is the biblical book of the conquest of Canaan, and the fulfilling of the land promise given to Abraham (Gen. 12:7). But Israel failed to follow through as they were commanded, thus leaving the seeds of idolatry in their midst, but also leaving themselves politically and economically thwarted. As we have noted in the last couple of posts, it turns out that those cities mentioned as not being taken or retained were in many, if not most, cases strategic sites, needed for defense or commerce.
Joshua 17:11-12 mentions Dor in this connection (see also Judges 1:27).
Dor, important harbor not taken during the Conquest. Photo by Leon Mauldin.
In an interesting article in Bible and Spade, author Hela Crown-Tamir writes,
Thirteen miles north of Caesarea. and almost equadistant from Haifa, Dor was a flourishing port and international commercial center throughout the Biblical period. The excavators note four distinct civilizations at Dor: the Canaanites, the Sikil Tribe of Sea Peoples, the Phoenicians, and the Hellenistic-Roman culture. With artifacts from Old Testament Egypt to Napoleon’s cannons found here and displayed at the Dor Museum, the site was inhabited throughout the Biblical period. This coastal city is a perfect illustration of treasures hidden in the sand.
Canaanites first settled Dor during the Middle Bronze Age (2000 BC). While the city was part of Manasseh’s tribal inheritance, the Sikils of the Sea Peoples settled here during the Iron Age (1150–1050 BC). They were followed by the Phoenicians, descendants of the Canaanites, from the 11th century BC on. They inhabited Dor during the Israelite, Assyrian. Babylonian. Persian, and much of the Hellenistic periods.
Finds from the late Bronze Age (1500–1200 BC) at Dor indicate it was exceedingly rich with far-flung international connections. Throughout most of the Old Testament, Dor was one of the important harbor towns along the country’s Mediterranean coastline.
It was from the west, by sea. that the Sikils came to Dor. Possibly coming from as far away as the island of Sicily, this tribe of Sea Peoples made the port city of Dor their home. During the Phoenician occupation, masters of the eastern Mediterranean, the port city rivaled the four major Phoenician cities in size and importance. The excavators are correct in calling Dor “Ruler of the Seas.” ( 2001, Vol. 14, No. 1, P. 12).
Note the portions in the above text with bold print (emp. mine): Reference to the Bronze Age of 1500-1200 BC fits the time period referenced in Joshua, with the conquest occurring about 1406 BC. Note that Dor is described as having “far-flung international” connections. Also, the “Ruler of the Seas.” Again it would seem that an understand of these facts regarding Dor would be helpful in appreciating the significance of those verses which inform us that Israel did not possess this very important location.
That would change by the time of Solomon. King Solomon divided the land into twelve districts with twelve governors “who provided food for the king and his household: each one made provision for one month of the year” (1 Kings 4:7). v. 11 goes on to list “Ben-Abinadab, in all the regions of Dor; he had Taphath the daughter of Solomon as wife. Thus Dor became the capital of one of Solomon’s administrative districts.
By the way, I am currently in Chipley, FL., conducting a 6-day Gospel Meeting. Wesley Webb is the local preacher here. It always great to see old friends. Waltina Shoraga is our host this week. She was living in Waycross, Ga., and I was preaching in Blackshear when I first met her, in 1973.