Beneath The Surface, An Editorial Comment -- By: Henry B. Smith Jr.
Beneath The Surface, An Editorial Comment
The account of Joshua’s defeat of the Canaanite city of Jericho is one of the most revered events of the Old Testament (Jos 6). The events that follow in Jos 7-8 concerning the fortress (or city) of Ai are of less renown and often overlooked, but remain of great importance in the history of biblical revelation. After the victory at Jericho, we recall that Achan secretly took some of the “devoted things” (Jos 7:1). His foolish sin brought about a major Israelite defeat at the hands of the king of Ai (Jos 7:2-5). After Achan’s sin was discovered and punished, the Lord sent the Israelites out to battle once again. This time, the result was a great victory over the fortress of Ai and its king.
Most biblical scholars and archaeologists reject the historicity of these significant events at Ai. For many years, archaeologists excavated a site called “et-Tell,” which they claimed was the Ai of Joshua and concluded the biblical account was in error based on the evidence they found. The following assertion is fairly typical: “Archaeology has wiped out the historical credibility of the conquest of Ai as reported in Jos 7-8.”
Through many years of careful archaeological, biblical and historical investigation, ABR discovered that these scholars had made a colossal blunder: they were digging in the wrong place! Led by Dr. Bryant Wood, ABR identified an alternative site 9 miles north of Jerusalem called Khirbet el-Maqatir. ABR began archaeological excavations there in 1995. ABR dug at Maqatir from 1995-2000, but because of political turmoil in Israel was not able to return until 2009, when the Lord graciously reopened the doors for us to continue our excavation. This fascinating site has credible archaeological and geographical evidence to be correlated with the city of Ai, recorded in Jos 7-8. Staff and volunteers have traveled to Israel since 2009 to perform further excavations, greatly increasing our workload, but with numerous exciting discoveries. This issue of Bible and Spade will serve to touch upon some of the more recent ones. I think they will get you very excited about this important project, and encourage you to join us next dig season.
Many folks who would like to participate in the dig may feel that they cannot due to the cost. Because our program is such a life-changing and educational experience for professors, pastors, students and Christian laypeople, we encourage potential participants to view the dig as a short-term missions trip. By appealing...
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