Saturday, November 1, 2014

City of Ai, Joshua

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Hello friends, The following is evidence of the City of Ai (Once believed to be located at Et-Tell) which was Given By God into Joshua's hands, like the town of Jericho
I will present two articles, one is a quick introduction to the findings, and the second article has a little bit more depth and also mentions the Egyptian scarab found at the site, which dates to the Late Bronze I period. 
It provides physical evidence that the fortress at the Khirbet el-Maqatir site is the real location of Ai, the city destroyed in Joshua 8.
 (Credit given at the bottom of each article :D)

Joshua 8 

8 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.
30 Then Joshua built an altar unto the Lord God of Israel in mount Ebal,
31 As Moses the servant of the Lord commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings.
32 And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel.
33 And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, as well the stranger, as he that was born among them; half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel.
34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law.
35 There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them.

Praise The Lord JESUS CHRIST!!!

Getting Archaeology Right at Ai

 on June 16, 2013; last featured June 23, 2013

For decades secular archaeologists have dismissed the Bible’s account of Joshua’s battle at Ai. It bears little resemblance to the terrain at et-Tell. But what if they’re looking in the wrong place?
Joshua’s conquest of Jericho is one of the most exciting and popular accounts in all the Old Testament (Joshua 6). The events over the next few weeks, however, are less well-known and often overlooked. But the conquest of the Canaanite fortress (or city) of Ai, recounted in Joshua 7–8, remains of great importance in the history of God’s dealing with His people.1
Like so many other amazing events described in Scripture, the historical accuracy of this one is also under attack. Fortunately, God’s Word gives us light to reevaluate the archaeological evidence.

Sin in the Camp

After Israel’s victory at Jericho, Achan secretly took some of the “devoted things” (Joshua 7:1, (NIV)). His foolish sin against God’s direct command brought divine judgment on Israel, which suffered a major defeat at the hands of Ai’s king (Joshua 7:2–5). After Achan’s sin was discovered and punished, the Lord sent the Israelites out to battle once again. This time, they won a great victory.
The Bible gives some fascinating details about the countryside and the strategy Joshua used. But since most modern biblical scholars and archaeologists refuse to accept God’s infallible Word as their starting point for interpreting the evidence, they reject the historicity of these events.
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.2 The following assertion is fairly typical: “Archaeology has wiped out the historical credibility of the conquest of Ai as reported in Joshua 7–8.”3

Taking Another Look

Archaeological Discoveries Confirm the Biblical Account

Archeaological site Maqatir, now thought to be the ancient city of Ai from Joshua 7–8
The hill to the north of Ai where Joshua’s army encamped is now called Jebel Abu Ammar. Ai’s city gate is in the foreground.
Socket Stones
socket stones used for the gate
(left) pottery found that dates the site Miqatir to the time of Joshua
(right) remains of an infant inside a burial jar suggesting there were women at the site as is mentioned in the biblical account
Photos courtesy ABR

Any time scholars point to evidence that they claim contradicts Scripture, you can bank on one thing: the Bible is not in error. The problem has to lie elsewhere. There are always alternative interpretations. In this case, was it possible that they were just digging in the wrong place?
Over many years of careful archaeological, biblical, and historical investigation, the Associates for Biblical Research (ABR) discovered that these scholars had, indeed, made this colossal blunder!
Led by Dr. Bryant Wood, ABR identified an alternative site 9 miles (14.5 km) north of Jerusalem called Khirbet el-Maqatir.4 The geography fit the biblical account very well, and so ABR began archaeological excavations there in 1995.
The narrative of Joshua 7–8 provides us with numerous details, many of which ABR has been able to verify.5 After excavating for over ten seasons,6 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 and Ai. … So they stationed the forces, the main encampment that was north of the city and its rear guard west of the city” (Joshua 8:1113). 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 8:98:12). A candidate for Ai must have a viable location to prepare for attack but remain unseen. Due west of Maqatir is a very steep valley called the “Wadi Sheban.”7 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.8 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 indicates that the Israelites burned three cities in Canaan: Hazor, Jericho, and Ai (Joshua 8:18–19).9 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 7–8.10

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.11
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.”
ABR continues to excavate each year at Maqatir, uncovering more evidence as the Lord wills. Volunteers are welcome to join the excavations, and no experience is required. Visit www. for details on how you can have a once-in-a-lifetime experience in Israel!
Henry B. Smith Jr. earned his MA degree in theology with an emphasis on apologetics from Trinity Seminary in Indiana. He is the Director of Development for the Associates for Biblical Research and is currently enrolled in the MAR program at Westminster Theological Seminary.


Has Joshua’s Ai Been Discovered?

Discovered at Khirbet el-Maqatir in 2013Scarab – 18th Dynasty, Egypt discovered at Khirbet el-Maqatir in 2013
Just a few weeks ago I returned from Khirbet el-Maqatir (Joshua’s Ai) after participating in the summer 2014 excavation.[1] The site covers about 4 acres and is located near the West Bank city of Ramallah near the Palestinian village of Deir Dibwan. The story of how it began to be excavated goes back 20 years ago to 1994 when Dr. Bryant Wood, (of the Associates for Biblical Research, ABR) and his colleague, Gary Byers, scouted and surveyed the area for possible research. Full scale excavations of Khirbet el-Maqatir began a year later in 1995 under the direction of Dr. Wood and ABR. This year marks the 12th season of digging there. What has been discovered so far, and what is the Biblical significance of this site?
To learn the answer, we’ll briefly look at how Dr. Wood began to be interested in this particular area. The research of Dr. Bryant Wood in identifying this site as the Ai of Joshua 7-8 follows and builds on the pioneering work of his predecessor and the founder of Associates for Biblical Research, Dr. David Livingston. For many years Livingston carried out research and excavations at a site located very near Khirbet Maqatir called Khirbet Nisya. Livingston believed that Khirbet Nisya was the best candidate for the Ai of Joshua 7-8, and William F. Albright believed that et-Tell was Ai. Since that time the academic community has followed Albright’s identification of Ai with et-Tell.
Without going into all of the details, the bottom line is that after years of research at et-Tell and Khirbet Nisya, some serious challenges have arisen which argue against these sites as being identified with Joshua’s Ai.[2] The most serious challenge was that et-Tell was not occupied during the Late Bronze I (circa 1483-1400 B.C.) the time of the Israelite conquest.[3] If there was a military engagement as recorded in Joshua 7-8 then the city must have been occupied. It wouldn’t be much of a conquest on a city that was in ruins.
Undeterred, Dr. Wood continued the research and carefully studied the biblical references and geography of the area. He surmised that Joshua’s Ai must fit around 10 archaeological and geographical criteria. As it turned out, Khirbet el-Maqatir met all 10 requirements in stunning detail. Here are the criteria outlined by Wood from looking at the details in the Bible:
  1. Adjacent to Beth-aven (Josh 7:2)
  2. East of Bethel (Josh 7:2)
  3. An ambush site between Bethel and Ai (Josh 8:9,12)
  4. A militarily significant hill north of Ai (Josh 8:11)
  5. A shallow valley north of Ai (Josh 8:13-14)
  6. Smaller than Gibeon (Josh 10:2)
  7. In the vicinity of Bethel (Josh 12:9)
  8. Occupied at the time of the conquest
  9. Fortified at the time of the conquest (Josh 7:5; 8:29)
  10. Gate on the north side of the city (Josh 8:11)[4]
In addition to the above evidence, in 2009, an infant jar burial was discovered at Khirbet el-Maqatir confirming the presence of women at the site (Joshua 8:25).
Since the site has been excavated on and off for the past 18 years, the archaeological evidence has shown that Khirbet el-Maqatir was indeed a Late Bronze Age Canaanite border fortress which was destroyed by military action at around 1406 B.C. – an exact match for Joshua’s Ai. The rough outline of the walls of the fortress have been surveyed and small sections have been excavated. Hundreds of pieces of datable [diagnostic] pottery have been recovered from the time of Joshua. The western room of the city gate was also uncovered, and last year the now famous Egyptian scarab with an inscribed Sphinx with the head of a falcon, was excavated which provided additional confirmation (apart from the pottery) of the dating of the destruction of the site to around 1406 B.C., the date assigned to Joshua’s conquest.
Not only is the site of Khirbet el-Maqatir identified with the Ai of Joshua 7-8, it also has a very rich history which dates back to the Middle Bronze Age based on pottery and a second scarab discovered this year… Khirbet el-Maqatir may very likely be “the hill between Bethel and Ai” (a different Ai – ha’Ai or the “ruin”). This would also be the same place where Abraham built an altar and “…called on the name of the Lord (Gen. 12).” In Genesis 13 it is where Abraham and Lot part ways. Not to confuse anyone, but the Ai of Abraham and the Ai of Joshua were two different sites. As it turns out, Abraham’s Ai is possibly et-Tell. So this means that the “hill between Bethel and Ai” (Gen. 12-13) must be Maqatir which was Joshua’s Ai (or the Late Bronze age Canaanite fortress).
As early as the 1830’s it has been known to scholars that on the hill overlooking the ruins of Khirbet Maqatir is a 4th Century Byzantine Monastery and Church.[5] The church was built on the same dimensions as the Jewish temple in Jerusalem.[6] It is thought that the church and monastery were built on that spot to commemorate some significant Biblical event which happened there[7] (perhaps the site where Abraham built his altar, Joshua’s conquest of Ai or both?). The church and monastery have been partially excavated, but as of today, no direct evidence has identified the remains in the church with any biblical place names or events. Who knows what future excavations might reveal?
Khirbet el-Maqatir
Ruins of the 4th Century Byzantine Church & Monastery overlooking Khirbet el-Maqatir
If those discoveries were not interesting enough to do further archaeological research and investigation, the site is yielding even more amazing secrets. In the past few years Dr. Scott Stripling (the current Director of Khirbet el-Maqatir), has been excavating an early Roman Period (Hellenistic) village which would have been in existence in New Testament times. There is a great possibility that the NT village at Khirbet el-Maqatir very well may be the town of Ephraim mentioned in John 11:53-54 (NKJV) “…from that day on, they [the Pharisees] plotted to put Him to death. Therefore Jesus no longer walked openly among the Jews, but when from there into the country near the wilderness to a city called Ephraim, and there remained with His disciples.
In addition, the site may also have a connection with the Second Jewish Revolt in A.D. 70. Multiple mikvehs have been excavated there which we know were extensively used for ritual purity by Jews at that time. This past summer excavations continued on the NT era city where several hundred Roman coins were excavated, including many pieces of Hellenistic pottery and several pieces of Roman glass. A house or domestic space is also being excavated and hopefully future research and excavations will determine its exact usage.
Early Roman Pottery excavated from NT village at Khirbet el-Maqatir
Early Roman Pottery excavated from NT village at Khirbet el-Maqatir
In my next blog, I’ll give more details on my experience of digging in the ancient city of (Khirbet el-Maqatir) Ai along the Canaanite wall that dates back to the time of Joshua and what this means in terms of Christian apologetics and the reliability of the Bible as a source for history.
[1] The first part of the name of the site, khirbet means “ruin,” and indicates that the site is a ruin and not a tell. A tell is another type of archaeological site found in Israel. The tell is an artificial mound of dirt & debris that has been accumulating for centuries. Imagine a layer cake and instead of cake there are several ancient cities stacked on top of each other. A khirbet – or ruin on the other hand, doesn’t have the same archaeological profile as a tell. A khirbet’s features can generally be seen on top of the ground – (for example, walls, gates, and other structures). A very famous khirbet or ruin in Israel is Khirbet Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. The second part of the title – maqatir means “incense” and may have a connection with the Byzantine church & monastery on a hill overlooking the ancient site.
[2] For a much more detailed and scholarly treatment of this see, Bryant Wood’s, “The Search for Joshua’s Ai,” in Richard S. Hess, Gerald A. Klingbeil, and Paul J. Ray Jr., Editors, Critical Issues in Early Israelite History (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2008), 205-40.
[3] Ibid., 205.
[4] Ibid., 230.
[5] Edward Robinson, Biblical Researches in Palestine and in the Adjacent Regions: A Journal of Travels in the Year 1838 (Boston: Crocker and Brewster, 1856).
[6] Leen Ritmeyer, “Does the Byzantine Church at Khirbet el-Maqatir Reflect the Sacred Architecture of the Temple in Jerusalem?” Symposium at Houston Baptist University, February, 2013 -
[7] We find an analogy of this at the ancient Biblical site of Shiloh where a Byzantine church was excavated. In the mosaic floor were words referring to the place as the “village of Shiloh.” Shiloh, of course has great significance Biblically, being the first place that the Israelites came to settle; it served as the first capital for the nation and they divided the land there and built the first tabernacle there (Judges 21:19)


  1. Such a wrathful god, to send his so call chosen people to slaughter and enslave another nation.

    1. Those nations were more evil than we can fathom.
      God's Chosen people were receiving God's Blessings while their enemies were being judged for their wickedness.
      This word "wickedness" isn't to be taken lightly. Some of those Canaanites would burn their children alive as a sacrifice to their pagan gods. They were doing some really bad things.

  2. Such a wrathful god, to send his so call chosen people to slaughter and enslave another nation.

  3. Nava, you are a wicked person, you better hope the Lords's wrath doesn't come on you..God is good, he only wants obedience.. Read JOHN 3:16.. if God was bad why is His son paying for you're sin Nava? You need to repent before it's too late!!!!!