BAR 11:02, Mar/Apr 1985
The Problem of Ai
New theory rejects the battle as described in the Bible but explains how the story evolved
The problem of Ai is simply stated. The Bible tells us that an important battle in the Israelite conquest of Canaan occurred at Ai. After being defeated by the Canaanites of Ai once, the Israelites launched a second attack on Ai; this time they were victorious, destroying both the city and its inhabitants. However, extensive and sophisticated archaeological excavations have produced no evidence of human occupation at the site during the period when the Israelites supposedly settled in Canaan. In short, the evidence shows that there was no city at Ai for the Israelites to conquer.