From Israel “‘Ai’ Ain’t Ai!” -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bible and Spade (First Run)
Volume: BSP 02:3 (Summer 1973)
Article: From Israel “‘Ai’ Ain’t Ai!”
Author: Anonymous

From Israel “‘Ai’ Ain’t Ai!”

[Raymond L. Cox is pastor of the Salem, Oregon Foursquare Church. He has travelled extensively in Bible lands and has written over 1650 articles on Biblical and archaeological subjects. In addition, he is the author of four books.]

“‘Ai’ Ain’t Ai!”

That expression isn’t very elegant but it accurately registered the feelings of a spokesman for believers in the integrity of the Scriptures when he was confronted with the identification suggested by some archaeologists.

Not all archaeologists, to be sure, accept the identification of et-Tell with ancient Ai. But some do, and in venturing this opinion they put themselves in direct conflict with the Bible.

For if et-Tell is Ai, there never was an Ai! That is to say, the story of the Israelite conquest of the city under Joshua reported the ambush of a phantom settlement.

There seems no way to reconcile the rival opinions.

Clearly one has to succumb under the avalanche of facts.

If those archaeologists who champion the identification of et-Tell with Ai are correct, then the account of Joshua’s ambush against Ai is false. If the Bible history is true, then et-Tell cannot be Ai.

You know the Biblical account. After Jericho’s destruction, the Israelites attacked Ai. As a judgment against Achan’s theft of forbidden spoil from Jericho — a crime undetected at the time — God permitted the forces of Ai to rout the invaders. Then when

Excavating the Iron Age I level (period of the Judges) at et- Tell.

Achan had been exposed and punished, the Lord directed a second attack.

Joshua set an ambush of 30,000 men between Bethel and Ai, plus another ambush of 5,000. He led his main force of troops on the north side of the city and lured the defenders out to pursue the invaders who readily retreated under Canaanite attack. When the army of Ai was sufficiently removed from the city the ambushing troops set fire to the town, then attacked its army from the rear. Joseph Free points out that pincers movements such as Hitler’s forces used to such great advantage are nothing new. The Israelites employed a pincers movement against the defenders of Ai more than 3, 000 years ago! The story appears in Joshua chapter eight.

Archaeologists assumed that modern et-Tell represented the site of ancient Ai. In 1934 and 1935 a French expedition directed by Mme. Judith Marquet-Krause excavated the site. In the middle 1960’s American archaeologists beg...

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