Read & Study the Bible Online - Bible Portal

Joshua 7:2 -

Ai . עַי or הָעַי "the ruins" (cf. Iim and Ije-abarim, the ruins or heaps of Abarim, Numbers 33:44 , Numbers 33:45 ; and Iim, Joshua 15:29 . Probably it is the same as הָעַוּים which we find mentioned in conjunction with Bethel in Joshua 18:22 , Joshua 18:23 . It becomes עַיָּא in Nehemiah 11:31 , and the feminine form is found in Isaiah 10:28 . The latter, from the mention of Michmash in the route of Sennacherib immediately afterwards, is probably the same as Ai. Robinson and Hell—the former very doubtfully—place it at Turmus Aya, an eminence crowned with ruins above Deir Duwan. But Vandevelde contests this, and places it at Tell-el-Hajar, i.e; the Tell or heap of ruins; and G. Williams and Capt. Wilson have independently fixed on the same spot, though they call it et-Tel, or "the heap," and suppose the "el-Hajar" to have been added in answer to the question, "what heap?" This situation seems best to suit the requirements of the narrative. For it is "on the southern brow of the Wady-el-Mutyah" (Vandevelde), near that "wild entanglement of hill and valley at the head of the Wady Harith," which "climbs into the heart of the mountains of Benjamin till it meets the central ridge of the country at Bethel". Its situation, unlike that of Turmus Aya, is calculated to give cover to an ambush of 5,000 men, and it also answers to the conditions in its nearness to Michmash, from which Turmus Aya is more than three hours' journey distant. The Tell is "covered with heaps of ruins". Conder, however, identifies Ai with Haiyan, two miles from Bethel, in the same Wady, but why, he gives no hint. A fortress so situated was one which Joshua could not leave in his rear, and so its capture was a matter of necessity. By its position, if not from the number of its inhabitants, it was necessarily a very strong one. Ai is mentioned as early as Genesis 12:8 , and we find that it was inhabited down to the Captivity, for the "men of Bethel and Ai" are mentioned in Ezra 2:28 . See also Nehemiah 11:31 , above cited. The name Ai, or ruins, found so early, implies that the aboriginal inhabitants had built a city in that almost inaccessible situation. Lieut. Conder gives a very vivid description of the site et-Tel in 'Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement,' April, 1874. There are, he says, "huge mounds of broken stone and shingle ten feet high. The town," he adds, "must have been pounded small, and the fury of its destruction is still evidenced by its completeness.'' He continues: "The party for the ambush, following the ancient causeway from Bethel to Jordan (which we have recovered throughout its entire length) as far as Michmash, would then easily ascend the great wady west of Ai, and arrive within a quarter of a mile of the city without having ever come in sight of it. Here, hidden by the knoll of Burjums and the high ground near it, a force of almost any magnitude might wait unsuspected. The main body in the meanwhile, without diverging from the road, would ascend the gently sloping valley and appear before the town on the open battlefield which stretches away to its east and south. From the knoll the figure of Joshua would be plainly visible to either party, with his spear stretched against the sky" [see Joshua 8:18 ). But the site still eludes investigation. Lieut. Kitchener, Mr. Birch, Mr. Guest, would place it at Kh-Haiy, or the rock Rimmon. When those who have visited the country are so divided in opinion, nothing but silence remains for those who have not. Beth-avern (cf. 1 Samuel 14:23 ). This place has not yet been identified. It was close by Ai, and not far from Bethel, as the transference of its name to Bethel by Hosea ( Hosea 4:15 ; Hosea 5:8 ; Hosea 10:5 ) shows. It could not have been a place of any importance, or the historian would not have found it necessary to explain where it was. Hosea has perhaps derived his knowledge of it from this passage. Some writers have identified it with Bethel. But this is obviously incorrect, since the literal rendering of the Hebrew here places Ai "in the immediate proximity of Beth-aven, eastward of Bethel." The LXX . omits all reference to Beth-aven. But there are many various readings. Bethel Formerly Luz ( Genesis 28:19 ; Genesis 35:7 ; 1:23 ). The last-cited passage seems to prove that Bethel was not among, the cities taken during Joshua's campaign; though this is extraordinary in the face of the fact that the inhabitants of Luz gave their assistance to the men of Ai in the battle (see Joshua 8:17 , where, however, it is remarkable that the LXX . omits all reference to Bethel). We may observe that there is no mention of the capture of Bethel, or the destruction of the inhabitants, and that this exactly agrees with 1:22-26 . This is an undesigned coincidence well worthy of note. We may also remark on the exact conformity between the situation of Bethel as described here and in Genesis 12:8 . The city to which the name Bethel was attached was not the place of Abraham's altar, as we learn from the passage just cited, but was in its immediate neighbourhood. The ruins which now mark its site are of a later date than the events recorded in Scripture. Its modern name is Beitin. Go up and view the country. Rather, spy (or reconnoitre ) ; literally, foot the country. Joshua does not refuse to avail himself of human expedients because he is under Divine guidance (see also Joshua 2:1-24 ). The reasons for this reconnoitring expedition are made clear enough by the passage quoted from Lieut. Condor's survey above.

Be the first to react on this!

Scroll to Top

Group of Brands