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TIRZAH (Heb. תִּרְצָה), Canaanite city whose king is mentioned at the end of the list of those defeated by Joshua (Josh. 12:24). Eventually, the city seems to have been joined peacefully to the territory of Manasseh, as is indicated by the story of the daughters of Zelophehad, one of whom is named Tirzah (Num. 26:33; 36:11; Josh. 17:3). In the days of the divided monarchy, it became the residence of Jeroboam i after he left Shechem (i Kings 14:17). Some, however, hold that this is an anachronism and that Tirzah became the capital of Israel only in the days of Baasha. Baasha's son Elah was assassinated when drunk in the house of his steward in Tirzah. Zimri, his assassin and usurper, was besieged by Omri and burnt to death in the palace in 878 b.c.e. (i Kings 15–16). In the sixth year of his reign (c. 872), Omri transferred the capital to Samaria (i Kings 16:24). The rebel Menahem marched from Tirzah against Shallum in 748 b.c.e. (ii Kings 15:14, 16). It seems to have been destroyed by the Assyrians at the same time as Samaria (721 b.c.e.). An earlier attack by Shishak in 925 b.c.e. is uncertain, as part of the name is missing in his list of conquered towns, but it is probable in view of the importance of the city at that time.

Tirzah has been identified with Tell al-Fāriʿa (Fārica), about 7 mi. (11 km.) northeast of Shechem, on an important highway near a plentiful spring. Excavations directed by R. de Vaux in 1946–60 revealed remains from the Chalcolithic period and an important Early Bronze Age town with a sanctuary, city wall, and fortified gates. After a gap of several centuries beginning in about 2500 b.c.e., occupation was resumed in the Middle Bronze Age. The town of the Late Bronze Age is poorer. The city was rebuilt in the Israelite period, and in a later phase, a palace was constructed which apparently remained unfinished; this may be due to the removal of the capital to Samaria. The later Israelite level is characterized by large private houses which are in sharp contrast to those of the poor, from which they are separated by a wall. This level was destroyed by the Assyrians in c. 723 b.c.e., after which settlement continued, but on a smaller scale. The site was eventually abandoned in c. 600 b.c.e.


de Vaux, in: rb, 54 (1947), 394–433, 573ff.; 69 (1962), 212ff.; idem, in: pefqs, 88 (1956), 125ff.; idem, in: D.W. Thomas (ed.), Archaeology and Old Testament Study (1967), 371ff.; Jochims, in; zdpv, 76 (1960), 73–96.

[Michael Avi-Yonah]