Archaeology

Ai Back in the News Again! High Skeptics Brought Low!

Has archaeology wiped out the historical credibility of the conquest of Ai? There are persuavive reasons to believe that archaeologists have uncovered the lost city of Ai--confirming the Biblical account!
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Ai Back in the News Again! High Skeptics Brought Low!

Article#: 1411

Years ago, a young salesman came into my office.  His name was Scott.  In the midst of the conversation, the idea of God arose and Scott became suddenly animated.  He told me that as far as he was concerned, the “jury was still out,” and that he was an agnostic.  His challenge was “Prove it!”  This was back in the days of cassette tapes, and on the top of the credenza in my office sat the GodSaidManSaid original proof series on cassette.  I offered them to Scott and told him that we would talk again.  Several days later, the phone rang in my office.  Scott was on the phone and said, “I have a bone to pick with you.”  The born-again are given a special discernment from God to read between the lines, and some even have one of the nine gifts of the Spirit called the Spirit of Discernment found in I Corinthians, chapter 12.  God revealed to me what Scott was actually saying and I repeated it to Scott.  The words were, “That’s not true.  What you are actually saying is that all the loopholes have been closed up, but you are not willing to pay the price.”   He confessed that that, in fact, was the truth and gave his heart to Christ on the spot.  Unbeknownst to me, Scott’s father was a man of God and was praying for his son; at the time, Scott was an alcoholic. 

This is GodSaidManSaid feature article 647 that will once again prove that God is, that He authored the Scriptures, and that He will hold all men accountable to His Words at a soon-coming judgment day.  Are you born again?  All the loopholes have been closed.  Are you a believer that is still walking in sin?  Be set free from the bondage of your deeds.  Surrender your life to Jesus Christ, “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).   Make the marvelous decision that will last forever.  Click onto “Further With Jesus” for childlike instructions and immediate entry into the Kingdom of God.  NOW FOR TODAY'S SUBJECT.

GOD SAID, Joshua 8:1-29:

1 And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land:

2 And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall ye take for a prey unto yourselves: lay thee an ambush for the city behind it.

3 So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai: and Joshua chose out thirty thousand mighty men of valour, and sent them away by night.

4 And he commanded them, saying, Behold, ye shall lie in wait against the city, even behind the city: go not very far from the city, but be ye all ready:

5 And I, and all the people that are with me, will approach unto the city: and it shall come to pass, when they come out against us, as at the first, that we will flee before them,

6 (For they will come out after us) till we have drawn them from the city; for they will say, They flee before us, as at the first: therefore we will flee before them.

7 Then ye shall rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city: for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand.

8 And it shall be, when ye have taken the city, that ye shall set the city on fire: according to the commandment of the LORD shall ye do. See, I have commanded you.

9 Joshua therefore sent them forth: and they went to lie in ambush, and abode between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai: but Joshua lodged that night among the people.

10 And Joshua rose up early in the morning, and numbered the people, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai.

11 And all the people, even the people of war that were with him, went up, and drew nigh, and came before the city, and pitched on the north side of Ai: now there was a valley between them and Ai.

12 And he took about five thousand men, and set them to lie in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the city.

13 And when they had set the people, even all the host that was on the north of the city, and their liers in wait on the west of the city, Joshua went that night into the midst of the valley.

14 And it came to pass, when the king of Ai saw it, that they hasted and rose up early, and the men of the city went out against Israel to battle, he and all his people, at a time appointed, before the plain; but he wist not that there were liers in ambush against him behind the city.

15 And Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness.

16 And all the people that were in Ai were called together to pursue after them: and they pursued after Joshua, and were drawn away from the city.

17 And there was not a man left in Ai or Bethel, that went not out after Israel: and they left the city open, and pursued after Israel.

18 And the LORD said unto Joshua, Stretch out the spear that is in thy hand toward Ai; for I will give it into thine hand. And Joshua stretched out the spear that he had in his hand toward the city.

19 And the ambush arose quickly out of their place, and they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand: and they entered into the city, and took it, and hasted and set the city on fire.

20 And when the men of Ai looked behind them, they saw, and, behold, the smoke of the city ascended up to heaven, and they had no power to flee this way or that way: and the people that fled to the wilderness turned back upon the pursuers.

21 And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city, and that the smoke of the city ascended, then they turned again, and slew the men of Ai.

22 And the other issued out of the city against them; so they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side: and they smote them, so that they let none of them remain or escape.

23 And the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua.

24 And it came to pass, when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, in the wilderness wherein they chased them, and when they were all fallen on the edge of the sword, until they were consumed, that all the Israelites returned unto Ai, and smote it with the edge of the sword.

25 And so it was, that all that fell that day, both of men and women, were twelve thousand, even all the men of Ai.

26 For Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.

27 Only the cattle and the spoil of that city Israel took for a prey unto themselves, according unto the word of the LORD which he commanded Joshua.

28 And Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap for ever, even a desolation unto this day.

29 And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until eventide: and as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his carcase down from the tree, and cast it at the entering of the gate of the city, and raise thereon a great heap of stones, that remaineth unto this day.

GOD SAID, Proverbs 30:6:

Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

MAN SAID:  Archaeology has wiped out the historical credibility of the conquest of Ai as reported in Joshua 7-8

Now THE RECORD.  The skeptics howl when they hear of discoveries that support the marvelous, inerrant Word of God.  They rush to the world’s podiums to defame, but as always, their challenges end up in the dung pile of life.  This book—God’s Holy Bible—is the absolute of absolutes.  All of the world’s other billions of books must bow down and do obeisance.

In academia, there is a group of Biblical detractors favorably dubbed “Higher Critics,” and as in all fields (and especially the field of archaeology), they have fallen on very hard times.  Their datings, their findings, and their summations have been upended—the very foundation of their Biblical criticisms destroyed.  The list of their defeats is long, spanning Adam, Noah, and dinosaurs to Jesus Christ, His marvelous ministry, and the church. 

One archeological subject briefly addressed on GodSaidManSaid several years ago is again in the news.  Answers magazine, in their July-September 2013 issue, published a feature by Henry Smith titled “Getting Archaeology Right at Ai.”  A good portion of the feature follows:

For many years, archaeologists excavated a site called “et-Tell,” which they claimed was the Ai of Joshua.  The evidence from the site does not line up well with the Bible, so they concluded the Biblical account was in error.  The following assertion is fairly typical:  “Archaeology has wiped out the historical credibility of the conquest of Ai as reported in Joshua 7-8.”

The narrative of Joshua 7-8 provides us with numerous details, many of which ABR [Associates for Biblical Research] has been able to verify.  After excavating for over ten seasons, they have revealed persuasive reasons to believe they have uncovered the lost city of Ai.  And they believe the discovered evidence confirms the Biblical account!  Khirbet el-Maqatir fits every single requirement demanded by the Biblical text.  What follows here are a number of compelling reasons:

  1. A hill north of Ai.  Joshua’s army “encamped on the north side of Ai, with a valley between them an Ai…  So they stationed the forces, the main encampment that was north of the city and its rear guard west of the city” (Joshua 8:11, 8:13).  Due north of our site is a hill called Jebel Abu Ammar.  It is the highest hill in the region and provides an excellent tactical position for military operations to be carried out. 
  2. A fortress gate facing north.  When Joshua arrived at Ai with his army, he stood “in front of” Ai on its north side (Joshua 8:11).  The “front” of the city would be the wall with a gate.  In 1995, ABR discovered remains of the gate on the north side of the city wall, fulfilling a very precise requirement for Ai.  The ABR team also discovered socket stones, which held the doorposts of the gate in place. 
  3. A spot for the ambush forces to hide.  Reading through the narrative of Joshua 7-8 carefully, we see that the Lord told Joshua to split up his army (Joshua 8:2).  Joshua obeyed and set up an ambush force to the west (Joshua 8:9, 8:12).  A candidate for Ai must have a viable location to prepare for an attack but remain unseen.  Due west of Maqatir is a very steep valley called the “Wadi Sheban.”  This valley is close to Ai and steep enough to easily hide Joshua’s ambush force. 

  4. Archaeological evidence.  Ai had to be occupied at the time of the Israelite entry into Canaan, in the late fifteenth century BC.  The best way to verify such an occupation is to find pottery that can be dated to that same time period.  ABR has discovered storage jars, jar rims, sling stones, and other artifacts similar to those from Joshua’s time.  The west wall of the city has been uncovered and measures up to 12 feet (4 m) thick.  Both the pottery near the wall and the size and style of the wall match the time period of Joshua well. 
  5. Women at Ai.  Joshua 8:25 indicates that women lived in the area, despite the fact that women did not normally live at a military fortress.  In 2009, our team discovered an infant burial near the gate.  The child apparently died in childbirth or soon thereafter.  He or she was placed in a pottery jar in what appears to be a ritual burial.  The pottery has been dated to the time just before Joshua’s conquest, affirming that women were present at Ai. 
  6. Evidence of fire.  Joshua indicated that the Israelites burned three cities in Canaan:  Hazor, Jericho, and Ai (Joshua 8:18-19).  At Maqatir, we have found evidence for fire in the form of ash layers, heated (calcined) bedrock, burned stones, and “refired pottery.”  Pottery from this time period was typically baked in a kiln.  When pottery is exposed to intense heat for a second time—as would occur if the city went up in flames—it becomes extremely hard, like concrete.  The ABR team has found such “refired” pottery from Joshua’s time in large quantities throughout the site. 
  7. A Christian memorial?  The Byzantines (ca. AD 324-640) were famous for building churches and monasteries in places where they believed Biblical events took place.  On the top of the hill of Maqatir, there is a Byzantine monastery that was likely built to commemorate the momentous events of Joshua 7-8
  8. Other evidences.  The Bible provides us with numerous other requirements for a prospective site to be Ai.  The city must also be (1) smaller than Gibeon (Joshua 10:2), (2)near Beth Aven (Joshua 7:2), (3) east of Bethel (Joshua 7:2), (4) near Bethel (Joshua 12:9), (5) a desolate place “to this day” (Joshua 8:28), and (6) have a valley north of Ai shallow enough for the King of Ai to observe Joshua and his men (Joshua 8:13-14).  All these criteria severely limit any possible candidate for Ai. 

These exciting geographical and archaeological discoveries affirm what the serious Christian already knows:  the Bible can be trusted in every detail it records because it is the Word of the living God.  We rejoice that He, in His sovereign providence, has allowed these ancient remains to be discovered and confirm the inerrant and infallible revelation of the incorruptible “I AM.”  [End of quote]

God’s Word is absolutely absolute.  Build your life—a life that will last forever—on the Solid Rock that never changes. 

GOD SAID, Joshua 8:1-8:

1 And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land:

2 And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall ye take for a prey unto yourselves: lay thee an ambush for the city behind it.

3 So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai: and Joshua chose out thirty thousand mighty men of valour, and sent them away by night.

4 And he commanded them, saying, Behold, ye shall lie in wait against the city, even behind the city: go not very far from the city, but be ye all ready:

5 And I, and all the people that are with me, will approach unto the city: and it shall come to pass, when they come out against us, as at the first, that we will flee before them,

6 (For they will come out after us) till we have drawn them from the city; for they will say, They flee before us, as at the first: therefore we will flee before them.

7 Then ye shall rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city: for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand.

8 And it shall be, when ye have taken the city, that ye shall set the city on fire: according to the commandment of the LORD shall ye do. See, I have commanded you.

GOD SAID, Proverbs 30:6:

Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

MAN SAID:  Archaeology has wiped out the historical credibility of the conquest of Ai as reported in Joshua 7-8

Now you have THE RECORD.

 

References:

Authorized King James Version

Smith, H., “Getting Archaeology Right at Ai,” Answers, July-September 2013

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