Once one of ancient Israel?s largest cities, Tel Lachish covers an impressive eighteen acres. The city was a fortification for Judah, and archaeologists have discovered the largest gate complex in Israel there. The massive double gate included both an outer gate structure and an inner gate. Its large size testifies to the strength and importance of ancient Lachish.
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Lachish grew so large because of its critical location within Israel. The city defended Israel?s southern flank and protected an approach to Jerusalem from invaders. As long as the city of Lachish stood, Jerusalem remained safe. But if Lachish fell to a foreign power, Jerusalem would likely fall too.
Lachish was besieged by Assyrian king Sennacherib during Hezekiah?s reign (2 Kings 19:8). Together with Azekah, it was the last city to withstand Nebuchadnezzar in the south during the Babylonian conquests (Jer. 34:7). The famous Lachish letters, discovered in 1937, contain correspondence between the commanders of Azekah and Lachish during the last days before the Bablyonian captivity.
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