Yet another Old Testament city may have been uncovered in Israel. A team of archaeologists headed by Dr. Scott Stripling may have finally revealed the biblical city of Ai, a Canaanite city ambushed by the Israelites in the Book of Joshua. The proposed site for Ai is near Jerusalem at Khirbet el-Maqatir and has been under excavation for years. Further digs, however, had been delayed due to a Palestinian uprising.

“There were 14 years of difficult digging with an eight year hiatus due to the Intifada,” Stripling said. “We suffered from constant vandalism, but we persevered and did an excellent job of excavating.”

Historians originally felt that the city was likely to be near el-Tell in the West Bank, but Stripling believes that Ai was actually located at modern Khirbet el-Maqatir. The “dip” where the Bible says the Israelites hid, in the case of Ai being located at Khirbet el-Maqatir, could be the Wadi Sheban which lies just to the west of Stripling’s proposed location for Ai.

The discovery of a biblical city is always exciting, and Stripling says that such excavations have bolstered his own Christian faith. “My work in archaeology in Israel has affected me profoundly as a believer,” he said. “I already believed in the Bible, but as the years go by I have seen hundreds of examples of synchronisation between the material culture we are excavating and what I read in the text. This is a constant reminder that there is a God and that he left a record of his work in history.”

Stripling expects to publish his findings at Khirbet el-Maqatir later in 2019 and says he has “compelling evidence” to support the theory that his excavation site is the ancient city of Ai. Once his findings are published, the matter will undoubtedly be debated by various biblical archaeologists. Even if it turns out, however, that the city Stripling’s team discovered is not Ai, there is still much to be learned from what the people of Joshua’s time left behind even if they never encountered him directly.

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