Lachish (lāˈkĭsh) [key], city, S ancient Palestine, SW of Jerusalem, in present-day Israel. It is mentioned in the Tell el Amarna letters and was one of the Amorite cities allied against the Gibeonites and destroyed by Joshua. Rehoboam fortified it, and Amaziah was murdered there. It was besieged (701 B.C.) by Sennacherib. Later, Micah denounced it. Excavations were begun in 1935; they show that Lachish had been populated since c.3200 B.C. and was a thriving community as early as the 17th cent. B.C. The finds include 21 ostraca, or potsherds, written in ink. They were written (c.589 B.C.) in Hebrew by local commanders to their officers when Lachish was being threatened by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar. The letters are of great linguistic and historic value. Lachish is frequently mentioned in the Bible (Joshua 10; 15.39; 2 Kings 14.19; 18.14, 17; 19.8; 2 Chron. 11.9; Neh. 11.30; Micah 1.13).
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