I read an article that on Joshua, claiming that archaeological evidence
suggests the cities of Ai and Jerichowere destroyed roughly 1,000 years
before the Biblical account of the Israelites’ arrival. Can you comment
on this?


The article you referred to is not written by a careful scholarly person,
you can be assured of that. I am guessing this is from a skeptic shooting
off his/her mouth. Let me tell you why I say this. Archaeologists have
spent a lot of time considering where the biblical city of Aiis located.
They have even considered the possibility that what is now known as Bethel
was once Ai. Bottom line, no one knows where Ai is located, so anyone
claiming that it was destroyed 1000 years before certainly does not know
what he or she is talking about.

As to Jericho, it has been “destroyed” numerous times throughout history.
It has been estimated that the city was established somewhere around 8500
BC or even earlier. Some have called it the earliest known city. During
its 10,000+ years of existence, the city has been destroyed a number of
times. As for the claim that it was destroyed 1,000 years before the
biblical account, that is spurious information. I would have to do some
careful research to discover if one of the destructions of Jerichohappened
in the early Bronze age–about 2300 BC. In any case, this would be
irrelevant because the archaeologists are in agreement that a massive
destruction took place much closer to the biblical chronology. Kathleen
Kenyon, using mainly pottery style information, placed the late Bronze age
destruction at 1550 BC. Later work by Bryant Woods, using C-14 isotope
dating put the destruction closer to 1400 BC. Bear in mind that there are
divergent opinions about when Israelentered Canaan. The more conservative
date is around 1410 BC. The more “liberal” (which does not mean wrong, by
the way) view is a conquest more like 1280 BC. I lean toward the earlier
date for a number of reasons (see Reasons for Belief), but do not
absolutely reject the later date. Bottom line, whoever said that the
destruction of Jerichohappened 1000 years before the biblical account does
not know what they are talking about. That sounds a bit strong, but I
believe it is true.

John Oakes, PhD

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