What in the World is A Wazir?

Carole Towriss The Walls of Arad 0 Comments

Danel photoIf you read By the Waters of Kadesh, you remember Danel. He’s back, although about thirty-eight years older. So is the young soldier Aqhat.

After their earlier escapades, Aqhat and Danel are now fast friends—and secret worshippers of Yahweh.

Aqhat has grown to be commander of Arad’s army, and Danel is the wazir of Arad. Wazir is a reconstructed Northwest Semitic word meaning vizier. Semitic was much like Hebrew, so we only have the vowels: w-z-r.  (The Arabic word vizier has provided the vowels to give us wazir.) That Semitic root may mean to carry (a burden) or to help.

Aqhat photoScholars disagree on whether Tel (Old) Arad is the Arad of Numbers 21, but they disagree on pretty much everything. It depends on the timing of the Exodus among other things. I will say that there is a destroyed city of Arad, and a new modern one about six miles east.

Arad was a prosperous city, located at the crossroads of two main trade routes—one north-south route from the Judean Hills to the Negev and Edom, and the other east-west from the Dead Sea, to the coast.


Aqhat as a young soldier (in By the Waters of Kadesh)

The scholars do agree rainfall was greater in ancient times than now—perhaps twice as much—though the climate was still hot and dry. Arad enjoyed an extensive agriculture. The inhabitants grew wheat, barley and beans in the valley, and with earthen dams in the wadis (dry river beds) to increase water also maintained olive groves. They cared for herds of goats, sheep and cattle.

Arad was not the biggest city in Canaan. It covered an area of about 25 acres with an estimated population of 2,500. (Consider their northern neighbor Hazor with over 200 acres and 40,000 people.) The city was heavily fortified: A wall, ¾ mile long and 8 feet thick, with several towers and four gates encircled the city.


Danel as a young boy (in By the Waters of Kadesh)

The city itself was very carefully laid out. A ring road hugged the wall, and cross streets ran toward the depression at the city’s center, where rainwater drained into a large reservoir, guaranteeing a water supply even during the long, hot summers. The city was divided into quarters, each with a specific function: in the northwestern part was the palace-temple complex; in the south the residential areas. to the northeast was the market. The residents lived in dwellings now known as Arad houses.

Arad was inhabited off and on from about 4000 BC until it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. It was a Canaanite city, then an Israelite city complete with a temple, which was strictly forbidden by God. King Hezekiah destroyed that. It may even have been a military outpost.

Arad may not be as famous as Jerusalem, or Bethlehem or Masada, but if I ever get to Israel, it will be at the top of my list.

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