A view of Iksal from the east of the town, looking towards the southwest
Iksal was known to Josephus as Xaloth. Archaeological excavations in Iksal revealed artifacts from the period of Roman and Byzantine rule in Palestine. A ring decorated with the image of a lion was found and dates to one of these time periods. In burial caves carved into the rock, sarcophagi and ossuaries containing pottery, glass vessels, and jewelry were found. Also dated to the Byzantine period are agricultural installations, carved into the rock and plastered, inside of which were found part of a winepress.
In 536 a Council was held in Jerusalem to condemn Severus of Antioch and his followers. Present at that Council were 45 bishops from Palestine, including one Parthenius, bishop of Exalus, which is identified with Iksal. Thus we know the town had enough Christians in the 6th Century to warrant a bishop.
During the period of Crusader or Mamluk rule in Palestine, a castle was built in Iksal, the ruins of which remain visible today. The Crusaders probably added to a much older structure which had been constructed first in the Abbasid, and then in the Fatimid era. A large cemetery by the village was named Mukbarat el Afranj ("Cemetery of the Franks").
Yaqut al-Hamawi described the place (which he called Aksal), as "A village in the Jordan Province, lying 5 leagues from Tiberias towards Ar Ramlah. The river Abu Futrus is in the neighbourhood."
Building remains from the Mamluk period have also been excavated. One excavation revealed three constructions with pottery remains, all dating from the Mamluk era, 14th and 15th century CE.
In 1517, the village was included in the Ottoman empire with the rest of Palestine, and in the 1596 tax-records it appeared as Ksal, located in the Nahiya of Tabariyya of the Safad Sanjak. The population was 17 households and 1 bachelor, all Muslim. They paid a tax rate of 25% on agricultural products, which included wheat, barley, summer crops, fruit trees, occasional revenues, goats and beehives; a total of 6,633 Akçe.
In 1738 Richard Pococke passed by the place, which he called Zal. He noted that near it was "many sepulchres cut in the rock, some of them are like stone coffins above-ground, others are cut into the rock, like graves, some of them have stone covers over them, so that formerly this might be no inconsiderable place." A map from Napoleon's invasion of 1799 by Pierre Jacotin showed the place, named as Iksad.
Edward Robinson, who passed by the village in 1838, repeated Pocockes assertion that Iksal had many sepulchres.
In the 1945 statistics the population was 1,110, all Muslims, while the total land area was 16,009 dunams, according to an official land and population survey. Of this, 581 were allocated for plantations and irrigable land, 13,029 for cereals, while 47 dunams were classified as built-up (urban) areas.
Like many other Arab towns and villages in the Galilee that were left standing after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Iksal surrendered to Israeli forces without putting up a fight. Individuals who had collaborated with Zionist officials prior to Israel's establishment, negotiated the terms of surrender and transition to rule under the new military government.
According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, the town had a low ranking (3 out of 10) on the country's socioeconomic index (December 2001). Only 65.3% of students are entitled to a matriculation certificate after Grade 12 (2000). The average salary that year was NIS 3,640 per month, whereas the national average was NIS 6,835. Its population has grown at an annual rate of 2.8%. In Iksal, about 60 percent of the inhabitants are family relations of one another.
In 2008 and 2012, archaeological surveys were conducted at the ancient site by Daniel Zohar and Mouqary `Abdallah on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).