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The Battle is the Lord’s: Holy War: Jericho and Ai
1 Samuel 15; Book of Joshua
1 Samuel Lesson #052
June 21, 2016
“Our Father, we know that You have given us Your Word. You breathed it out through the prophets of the Old Testament and the apostles of the New Testament. You have preserved it for us. It is our responsibility to dig deep into Your Word to understand it, to be able to put together the things that You have revealed in a way that is consistent with Your revelation. Interpreting the Scripture in light of its original intent by the human authors discerning the Divine Author on the basis of vocabulary, structure, background and culture, we come to understand the truth, and the truth is to transform us.
A statement from Jesus so often misunderstood is “the truth shall set us free”. Truth enables us to be free from the control of the sin nature. We have to know the truth of Scripture—that we are free by grace. Ultimately, our freedom is grounded in Christ’s death on the Cross for our sins. For it is for freedom, the Scripture says, that Christ has set us free.
Father, help us to understand the things that we are studying tonight. May we not only come to a greater understanding of a controversial aspect of Old Testament revelation, but may we come to have our faith and trust in Your Word strengthened, as we not only look at that particular issue, but look at other things related to the passages we are going to study tonight. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to Joshua 2. We are in the middle of a study in 1 Samuel. Do not get confused. Last week I started talking about what was going on with the Amalekites.
The Amalekites were Israel’s traditional enemy. They are descendants of Esau’s grandson Amalek. They are therefore related ethnically to the Israelites, but they are not Israel because they are descendants not from the seed that went through Isaac and then Jacob. Esau was Jacob’s twin brother.
The Amalekites were a tribal group that grew to quite a huge population that were somewhat nomadic for a period of time in the Old Testament, but they also had some cities down south of the Negev.
Because they stood against Israel, when the Israelites had come out of Egypt at the time of the Exodus, God had sworn that He would ultimately destroy them and wipe them out as a people group.
There were some that survived:
- We are told that one of the great kings at the time of Saul, who Saul did not kill, was called Agag.
- We are told that Haman in the Book of Esther was an Agagite. He was probably a descendant of Agag and just as hateful towards the Israelites as the Amalekites. Therein lies a biblical foundation for anti-Semitism.
But God’s instructions to Saul at that time often cause a lot of confusion among people, especially among people who start with a somewhat skeptical look at the Bible. God wanted every man, woman, child, and nursing infant, and all of their animals killed, annihilated, wiped off the face of the earth by Saul and the Israelites.
It was not for their pleasure. It was not for them to gain plunder or booty. It was not for their benefit. It was that they were the judgmental tool of God in order to remove this malignant cancer from the human race.
We studied this under the doctrine of the question that we looked at: is there such a thing as biblical Holy War?
I want to review that. Some of you were not here last week. It is a good thing to be reminded of, so I am going to run through this quickly. The slides are all up on the Internet.
- The term Holy War is not used in the Bible.
I do not think we should use it either. As far as I can tell from the history of the term is that this did not come into existence until perhaps Islam used it in the term of “jihad.”
It was an English term and a Latin term, sacra bellum. It was not used until the Crusades. Neither the Crusades nor what is practiced as jihad in Islam bears any resemblance to what God was doing in the ancient world.
I pointed that out last time that the Lord’s command to Saul was designed to remove a culture, a people group, from humanity because they had reached such a level of evil that God, out of His righteousness, was protecting the victim, the rest of the human race, from the presence of this blight.
Just today I learned of an episode that would have been very common among the Canaanites in the ancient world. The Canaanites practiced live child sacrifice. There was a four year old that was decapitated. This was an ISIS event. The mother had to put her hands in his blood and swear allegiance to Allah.
That was mild compared to the evil of the Canaanites in terms of probably tens of thousands of infants that were burned alive in sacrifices to Molech, Chemosh, and some of the other pagan deities. These were horrific cultures. God had given them grace upon grace for over almost 600 years. He had given them the opportunity to turn to Him. Yet they continued not only to reject Him, but to go deeper and deeper into the quicksand of their own evil.
The term Holy War as it is used with jihad and as it is used in terms of the Crusades, were wars where the soldiers could benefit from the destruction of the enemy:
- The soldiers collected plunder.
- The soldiers collected women.
- The soldiers did all kinds of things that were to their benefit in jihad.
“Jihad” basically means “struggle.” You have many people who say, “Well, the struggle is a personal, internal struggle.” But if you read the Koran and the Hadith you will discover that that personal struggle goes outward into violence toward the enemies of Allah and the enemies of Mohammed.
That is a necessary part of what they mean by jihad. Again, it accrues to the benefit of the individual who is committing these acts. This is not what went on in the Bible. What went on in the Bible, as I pointed out last time, is described by the term cherem.
- The biblical term is: cherem, and I pointed out last time that Jericho is cherem, which means to ban or devote something.
It is almost a term like qadash, which means to set it apart to God. God is using Israel to destroy an enemy, but they cannot benefit from it. They are to destroy all of their economics.
If there is any gold, silver, or precious stones, these are to go into the temple and to be used in the worship of God. As Israel goes into the land of Canaan, the first city they are to destroy is Jericho. Everything in Jericho is as it were offered as a sacrifice of firstfruits to God. Everything belongs to God and is under the ban. God is destroying them. It is not for the benefit of Israel. It is not for the benefit of anyone. It is for the destruction of this evil.
- “The basic meaning of this term is the exclusion of an object from the use or abuse of man and its irrevocable surrender to God” –The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. It is for God’s use, setting it aside.
- In the New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, “Consecration for service to God is dealt with in Leviticus 27:28 (persons or things); Joshua 6:18; Micah 4:13 (objects). Whatever is devoted to the Lord …” It belongs to Him.
- As such, the core idea of consecrating something to God informs us that the doctrinal application is going to relate to sanctification.
- Setting this apart to God. That is the basic idea.
- Unlike Islamic jihad the fighting in cherem did nothing toward salvation or spiritual life. The Israelites did not get “brownie points” spiritually for killing all of the enemy and annihilating everybody. That was not the point.
- In jihad that is exactly the point. If the Islamists engage in jihad they are going to get “brownie points” with Allah.
That was the Roman Catholic view that energized the Crusades as well, i.e., that the crusaders would be able to avoid certain punishments in the Lake of Fire or in purgatory if they participated in the Crusades.
- In the Bible there is a defined period, a short period in the Bible of war against a specific group, not anybody else, just the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Hittites, who were living in the land that God promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
- God promised this land in Genesis 15 and told him that He would take them out of the land, then they would return in the 4th generation “for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” Genesis 15:13; Genesis 15:16.
The reason God did it was because of their evil and their sin. God has removed numerous civilizations and cultures from the face of the earth because of their sin.
If you want to read about a culture that was demonic, that was as evil as any culture that God used, that is what the book of Habakkuk in the Old Testament is about. It is about how God uses one group of people, in that case the Chaldeans, to bring judgment upon the evil apostate southern kingdom of Judah. God does that.
In Mexico, in the 1500s, God used the Spaniards to bring judgment against the Aztecs. The Aztecs were sacrificing human beings. They would go out and defeat these various Indian tribes, or raid their villages and capture people. Then they would offer them as human sacrifices. Cortez did not have that many Spaniards with him, only a handful. But he had an army of well over a thousand by the time he got to Mexico City because over the course of time the Aztecs had really angered all the Indian tribes. And they joined up with the Spaniards so that they could kick some Aztec butt. They wanted to get rid of them.
You do not know any Aztecs do you? No. That is because God destroyed them. There was not any revelation to do that at that time. That was in the Church Age, and God does not do that, but God still works that way.
- In the Old Testament this idea of cherem was developed in passages:
- Exodus 23:20
- Numbers 33:40–53
- Leviticus 18:24–27
- We saw that it was not because Israel was so good. They were not good. But the Bible makes it very clear that God used them anyway to destroy those who were much worse.
In Deuteronomy 9:5 God specifically says, “It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God drives them out from before you …”
It is not because you are so good. Do not get the big head. It is because they are so evil that God is removing them from the land.
- From a spiritual standpoint, God is looking at this as a battle between the kingdom of Satan/man vs. the Kingdom that He is establishing, His theocratic kingdom. This idea of physical cherem in the Old Testament is a picture or an analogy of the spiritual warfare that the individual believer is to engage in today.
We are not to be involved in violence against others for a spiritual cause. There was some uninformed idiot who wrote an article in the New York Times this last weekend. He said in that article that based upon Revelation 1:18–24, and Revelation 20:14 where it says that “these will suffer the second death.” This writer said that the Apostle Paul instructed Christians to execute homosexuals.
There is nothing like that in the Bible. That is so offensive that if I were a liberal I could probably have a cause. I am tired of the liberals being so concerned about being offended, but they do not understand that the way they vote offends a lot of conservatives—but it is a one-way ticket.
Liberals are so hypersensitive about what conservatives do. They are not at all concerned about offending conservatives. They offend conservatives all the time by the way they assault the Constitution, which is what is going on with this 2nd Amendment stuff right now. The liberals cannot identify the problem, so they try to sugarcoat it and do something they think they can do. Hopefully they will not.
Spiritual warfare in the church is personal. It is what goes on between your ears. It is not offensive in terms of attacking anybody else, and Bible-believing Christians have never held to that. You have had whacko groups that have, but they have not been consistent evangelical Bible-believing Christians.
- This was a limited period of history, from the Conquest that began in 1406 BC. It was for the most part over by the end of the judges. The last authorized instance of cherem is the command from God to Saul to destroy the Amalekites. No one since approximately 1050 BC has been authorized to engage in cherem.
- We also saw that in Deuteronomy 20 God gives specific instructions to Israel for carrying out cherem against those who dwell in the land.
They were to be killed: man, woman, child, nursing infant, and in many cases all of their livestock. But those who were living in contiguous territories were not allowed to do that. They gave them an option to surrender. They treated them with more grace. It was limited to a specific group of people living in a specific territory.
- This is the same problem we addressed in the last part of the Holocaust Series, the problem of evil.
How can a righteous and good God allow this?
It is because He is righteous and because He is good. Because He puts the focus not on the victim, but on the perpetrator. In order to protect the victim He has to remove the perpetrator. It is like a surgeon and cancer. The surgeon has to remove that part, which if it is not removed will destroy the whole. That is what love is:
- Love protects the victim.
- Love is not concerned about the rights of the victimizer, the criminal, who is attacking the victim.
- In order for God to fulfill His plan, evil must be eliminated.
It is interesting, the people who have the problem with God eliminating the evil of the Canaanites are the same people who have a problem with God. They say:
“How can a good God allow evil to exist?”
When God does something to remove evil, then they do not like that either. It is inconsistent.
- The battles of Jericho and Ai.
The beginning of this cherem is at the beginning of the book of Joshua. There are a lot of lessons there:
- I want to understand what cherem is and why it is a picture of certain things spiritually.
- I want to give us a shot in the arm:
on why we can believe these accounts are true based on history and archeology?
That is not often the case. When I was in Israel, about eight weeks ago, I spent the better part of a Sunday traipsing around the archeological sites of Ai and Bethel. Previously I had spent a lot of time walking around the archeological site of Jericho. These are the three areas that are a part of this initial narrative in the battle for the land God was giving to Israel.
We are going to see the spiritual lessons, but one of the lessons we are going to learn from this is yes, you can trust the Bible. “Yes, Virginia, there is a God and He revealed Himself and He is true, and His Word is true.”
It has taken me a long time to figure this stuff out. I remember back in 1978, when I was sitting in a biblical archeology class taught by Dr. Kenneth Barker at Dallas Theological Seminary. At the time he was the head of the Old Testament department. I would usually sit next to my good friend Randy Price. Sometimes we ended up coming out of those classes a bit more confused at the end than we were at the beginning.
One of the things that has happened in archeology, specifically related to Jericho, is that the Bible is not trusted. If you look back at the notes that we had from that class, there was a level of uncertainty whether archeology had demonstrated that Jericho had been destroyed in the way that the Bible said that it had. We are going to get into that a little bit.
We did not know quite where Ai was located or Bethel or some of these other cities. We were not sure that archeology could confirm the Bible. Of course, we believed the Bible was true, but archeology seemed to be at odds with what the Bible said. We were left at the end of all that with just a vague sense of well:
- Why is it?
- Is there not an answer?
- What is going on here?
There has been a lot of debate over the last 100 years or less over whether we had found Jericho, whether the walls fell down, and whether “Joshua fought the battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down.” A lot of you know that children’s song or spiritual. But we can be sure of that.
In regard to Ai there has been a historical identification for many years that it is at a location called et-Tell. In recent years there are some conservative Bible-believing scholars who believe it is located at a place not too far, maybe two miles away from et-Tell, called Khirbet el-Maqatir.
In fact, there was a group who came here to Houston last year. A group of archeologists had the head of the team, Bryant Wood, the new head of the team, plus a couple of other scholars, one of whom was a really solid professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, Eugene Merrill. These archeologists spoke on things that they had found in their excavations at et-Tell.
Bryant Wood has been the primary moving force, claiming that Khirbet el-Maqatir is really Ai, not et-Tell, which was the previous location. We will get into this later on. Hopefully it will make sense to you when I am done. After 35 years, almost 40 years of studying this, I had great clarity because nothing beats boots on the ground intelligence.
Walking around those sites really helped. I was with an archeologist who has spent probably eight seasons digging at one or another of these sites. He was very, very convinced that Bryant Woods was right, as I have been. Bryant Woods is a great guy. He is solid. He believes in the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture. He has done the best work to date on Jericho.
But, based on what I have been told and seen, I do not think he has hit the mark when it comes to the location of Ai. But that is just our understanding. Remember, the target here is understanding what God is doing in terms of cherem, in terms of why God is authorizing the annihilation of the Canaanite people group, and how is that justified in letting the Israelites come in and take their territory.
Let’s start at the beginning of Joshua 1. There has been a change of leadership from Moses to Joshua. Joshua is the general. He is in charge, but there is a higher General, as you learn reading through this. That is the Angel of the LORD. At the beginning of Joshua 1 Joshua receives his commission to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land. He is given a promise from God that is stated in Joshua 1:6–7.
Joshua 1:6, “Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.”
God is making a promise. He is giving them what He had promised to the fathers. That is referring to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Joshua 1:7, “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left that you may prosper wherever you go.”
In other words, political and military leadership has to be grounded upon a sound biblical ethic, the ethic of the torah. We see this going on today in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF.) They bend over backwards to make sure that everything they do is ethically sound. That does not mean that everything that they do is right. They make mistakes. They spend a lot of time evaluating and reevaluating and second guessing every mistake that is made.
Michael Rydelnik’s son went over and served two years in the IDF. Most of you know of Rydelnik. He is the head of the Jewish Studies Department at Moody Bible Institute. His son told his dad that the IDF has got to be the most ethical army in the world. It is amazing how much time they spend analyzing the ethics of every decision that they make. That is the Jewish heritage. That is the heritage from the Old Testament that you are grounding everything on the Law.
That is what God says to Joshua, in Joshua 1:8, “the Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth ...” You are going to obey the Law to the letter. This is going to be a special kind of war. It is a war related to the holiness of God.
Then we get down to the second half of the Joshua 1. Joshua passes on the orders, God’s instructions to the people, and then he basically calls upon them to obey it and asks them if they are going to do what the Lord says to do?
We get into Joshua 1:16–18 where briefly they answered Joshua. They said:
“All that you command us we will do.”
In other words, they understood the commands that Joshua was saying:
Joshua 1:16, “All that you command us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go.”
Joshua 1:18a, “Whoever rebels (disobeys) against your command …”
That is important because you are going to have this big episode of an individual disobedience when we get to Joshua 7.
Joshua 1:18b, “… and does not heed your words, in all that you command him, shall be put to death.”
It is the death penalty for anybody who does not obey everything down to the minutia, crossing every “t” and dotting every “i”. If somebody leaves a little kitten alive then they are worthy of the death penalty. They all understood that. They understand the Law. They understand what God’s expectation was.
Joshua brings the people together and takes them across the Jordan. As they are to engage in this cherem war they are led by the Ark of the Covenant, indicating that God is leading them, and they are led by the priests who are carrying the Ark of the Covenant. They cross over the Jordan and before they cross over the Jordan the people are told:
Joshua 3:5, “… ‘Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.’ ”
They are to be spiritually and ritually purified before they go into war. This was something they were to do. It was something serious. They were not engaged in this because they were angry, because they were executing some kind of vendetta against the Canaanites, or trying to steal their land. They were doing this, as we read the text of Scripture, because God is using them to punish people.
Of course, the liberal theologians can come along and say, “Well, God does not really exist. That is just what they thought.” You know, it is too bad they are not figments of God’s imagination as well. If you are going to argue like that then you cannot talk about anything because you are denying the ultimate reality of everything.
The Israelites cross the Jordan. They set up a memorial stone of twelve uncut stones representing the twelve tribes of Israel so that this will stand as a memorial for coming generations. Then they have to do something else related to spiritual ritual purification. The males over the age of 14 years old have to be circumcised. That is because they have had a whole generation that has not been circumcised.
Circumcision is not the sign of the Mosaic Covenant. It is the sign of the Abrahamic Covenant. This shows that they are being set apart to God in terms of God’s promise to Abraham.
What did God promise Abraham?
I am going to give you this land. It goes back to that promise. If they are going to take the land they are going to have to do it according to God’s rules and God’s Law, God’s instruction, the torah.
In Joshua 5:2–3 the Israelites are going to make flint knives for themselves.
In conversations I’ve had, I have learned that you can get a surgically sharp flint knife that is as sharp as anything that we have today to perform circumcision.
The Israelites circumcised the sons of Israel. The place of circumcision was “at the hill of the foreskins.” We know it as Gilgal. That is just west of the Jordan River.
Then we get into Joshua 6:6 where we see that Joshua calls the priest and tells them to take up the Ark of the Covenant. They are going to lead the procession against Jericho. This is according to the Lord’s instructions and His guidance. He tells them exactly what they are to do.
The Lord gives these instructions to Joshua. When He does so, in Joshua 5:14, He appears to Joshua. “He” as the Commander of the Army” says:
Joshua 5:14–15, “ ‘… as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, ‘What does my Lord say to His servant?’ Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, ‘Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.’ ”
This all lets us understand that what is going on is something that is unique and distinct in history.
Then in Joshua 6 it goes on and the Angel of Yahweh gives him instructions. We believe that is the Preincarnate Lord Jesus Christ. He tells Joshua what his tactics are starting in Joshua 6:3:
“You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days.”
According to Numbers we know that that is about 625,000 men. That would take a little while, but Jericho is not that big. It was rather small. They would spend most of the day walking around the city. They would do that for six days. They were led by the priests. After the six days they are told that on the seventh day they are going to march around the city seven times. The priest will then blow their trumpets.
Joshua 6:5, “It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.”
This is one of the most significant things that happened in the Old Testament. You would think that if you have all of these layers of occupation on a tell, a tell is a mound that has been built up through the centuries of human occupation, that you would be able to dig down through that tell.
Think about an 18-layer chocolate cake. What you are going to do is you are going to take a slice out. When you do that you are going to see all those different layers. Each one of those layers represents another period of occupation at that particular site. In those layers you are going to find the trash, the detritus of human occupation and human civilization.
One of the things that you find is pottery. Pottery, especially in Israel in the ancient Near East, can be found. People do not always make pottery the same way they did 30–40 years ago. Think about in our own culture how many times the styles of dishware change over the years. If you were digging down and you found a number of places where people had the old “Apple Time” pattern.
Some of you may remember that pattern. That is what I grew up with. It was very common in the 1950s and 1960s. You would be able to say that the people who lived here lived here in the 1950s. You would be able to identify that.
If you dug down to a layer and you found a few remnants of paper plates you might think that this is the age of the microwave. Anyway, you get my understanding here. This is what happened with archeology. That is how you can learn things. Archeology is neither going to prove or disprove the Bible, but it can validate certain things that the Bible says as having happened or is consistent with what the Bible says.
But what is going to happen with Jericho is that God has put Jericho under the cherem, under the ban. Jericho is going to be offered as a whole burnt offering to God. All the men, women, and children are going to be killed. All the animals are going to be killed. Everything is going to be burned. Nothing is to be taken to benefit any individual Israelite. It is, as it were, the firstfruits of the offering as they enter into the land of Israel.
As such, as it is being set apart unto the Lord, the people have to be set apart to God. It is a picture of the fact that even today, if we are going to serve the Lord, we have to be consecrated or set apart to Him. This is one of the reasons why we confess sins. It is one of the reasons in the Old Testament why the people would go into the tabernacle, later the temple, they would wash their hands, wash their feet, as a sign of ongoing cleansing and sanctification.
When we get down to Joshua 6:17 we read what Joshua says. He says:
“Now the city shall be doomed [cherem] by the LORD to destruction, it and all who are in it. Only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.”
That story was told back in Joshua 2. Just to remind you. Joshua sent a recon team into Jericho to find out what the lay of the land was. They were protected by a woman who operated an inn. Those inns had a little bit of a hazy, off-color reputation. That is why she is known down through the centuries as Rahab the harlot.
The king, the ruler of Jericho (population of no more than 1,500—not a very large place) found out that Rahab was hiding them. Rahab protected the spies and told the king’s men that she did not know which way they went. The spies told her that she would be protected and her family would not be killed. She was to hang a scarlet tread outside the window of her house.
Rahab’s house butted up against the wall of Jericho. They could see it. I have read that when John Garstang excavated the area that there was one small area of the wall that had not collapsed. That is confirmation, although that is going to be attacked by numerous people. We will see what the problems are there.
What Joshua says in Joshua 6:17–19:
“… only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all who are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. And you, by all means abstain from the accursed things …”
They are not to touch anything. They are to destroy everything.
“… lest you become accursed when you take of the accursed things, and make the camp of Israel a curse and trouble it. But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the Lord; they shall come into the treasury of the Lord.”
But everything else is destroyed.
Joshua 6:24–25, “But they burned the city and all that was in it with fire. Only the silver and gold, and the vessels of bronze and iron, they put into the treasury of the house of the Lord. And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father’s household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day …”
Rahab was a believer. She is in the line of Jesus Christ according to Matthew 1.
Joshua 6:26, “Then Joshua charged them at that time, saying, ‘Cursed be the man before the Lord who rises up and builds the city of Jericho; he shall lay its foundation with his firstborn, and with his youngest he shall set up its gates.’ ”
That happened in the time of King Ahab. The man who rebuilt Jericho, when he started to rebuild it, his oldest son died. When he completed it, some four or five years later, his youngest son died. Joshua 6:26 was fulfilled.
Let’s look at this map. This is not a great map. In fact, this map is wrong. I am going to show you another map later that is right, but it is hard to see. This is from the Logos Bible Software map set. They actually misidentified the locations of Bethel, et Tell, Khirbet el-Maqatir, and Ai. These three places are important. This map is completely wrong. The other places are right.
Gilgal is on this map just north of their route of march. To the east we have Shittim. This means Acacia grove. Even today if you drive down there you will see a lot of Acacia trees, as well as shrub, mimosa, and other things. The Israelites would have come across the Jordon. Gilgal is located north after they crossed the Jordan. Then they moved east to Jericho.
We have to figure out the time here because when we get into some of this archeology and some of the things I read to you. You are going to be as confused as I get when you start talking about the Iron Age and Bronze Age and the Early Bronze and Middle Bronze and Late Bronze. People go to sleep.
I put a chart together that will help you. Remember, we are talking about B.C. All the way to the left is the oldest period. As you move from left to right you get from older to more recent. The Bronze Age lasted approximately from 3300 BC. I think that is off. I think the Bronze Age lasted from 2500 BC to 1200 BC. That is what modern periodization says. The Bronze Age and Middle Bronze Age are the only two periods we are concerned about.
The Middle Bronze Period is 1800–1600 BC. Joseph is dead by 1800 BC. He probably died in 1900 BC. Joseph, the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would have been in the Early Bronze Period. The Late Bronze Period is 1600–1200 BC. Just for your reference point, the Exodus occurred in 1447 BC. That is in the Late Bronze Period. The conquest was 40 years later, which is 1407 BC. It is also Late Bronze.
One of the reasons I state that is because as you get into the archeological data you will discover that Jericho is considered to be the longest occupied site in human history, going back to not long after the flood. Other people think it is Damascus. I do not know. God knows.
It is clear from the archeological excavation that it has been occupied for an enormously long period of time. When you talk about the other place that we are going to look at, which is Ai, and you go to et Tell, the claim from Bryant Wood and others, and lot of conservative evangelicals, because of some of the other issues we are going to talk about, have decided that it cannot really be et Tell. We are going to go with Bryant Wood.
I will show you what the arguments are as to why Bryant Wood is probably wrong on this. The claim is that et Tell was not occupied in the Late Bronze Period and had not been occupied. The trouble is that when John Garstang, who is the first person to excavate et Tell and Jericho and Bethel, wrote his findings (he excavated in AD 1928 and AD 1930) saying that when he excavated at et Tell he found that the occupation ended in approximately 1400 BC.
When did the conquest begin?
1407 BC. His findings were right on target.
Let’s look at this a little bit. This is going to be interesting. Here is an artist rendition of what ancient Jericho looked like. It is not very large. We will go over some statistics on the size, but it covered probably about nine acres. It was about 230 yards in length, and 130 yards in width. That is like two and a half football fields long, and a little over one football field in width. In circumference it is not more than 650 yards. It probably did not have more than 1,500 people living there.
Jericho had two sets of walls that were made of brick. The outer wall, which is also called the lower wall. It is six-feet thick. The space between the lower wall and the upper wall was about five to six yards across, according to Garstang. The second wall was pretty massive. It was several yards thick, much taller, and higher up.
This is a picture today, an aerial photo of the tell. You can see that it is not very large. In the slide, on the east side you can see the Tourist and Visitor Center. This is where they have the Mount of Temptation Restaurant because the Mount of Temptation is just to the west.
The entry point onto the side comes up right to the northwest. The area to the north of that is a little covered area where you can sit down and talk and have a lesson. That is where we were on the last trip. You can see the northern end and the southern end. The slide shows how big it is. You can see that it is not a huge, huge area. It is only about nine acres.
This is another photo. In the center of the slide you see the one tower that has been found there. To the southwest is Elisha’s Spring, why the settlement was there to begin with. It had an abundance of water. No place anywhere near here has water, but this has an enormous spring out of which came a tremendous amount of water. This is why this area was settled to begin with.
There is an exposed revetment wall down on the southern end. I have walked all over these particular areas that I am showing you. I have seen these particular parts.
This is a chart of the ruins. You would go in on the east side in the center. I pointed out that the covered area where we talked is to the north. The southern end is where the revetment wall is located. Area A is the area excavated by John Garstang in AD 1928 and 1930. Here he found evidence for the destruction of Jericho by the Israelites. He dated that to about 1400 BC.
Garstang is not just some guy who went out there and dug and found some stuff and said that this looks like this could be Joshua. It kind of fits. This is a guy who was absolutely brilliant.
Garstang excavated in 1928 and 1930. He wrote the definitive work on Bronze Age pottery. It is still used today. Everybody who digs in the Middle East goes to John Garstang’s classification of Bronze Age pottery in order to date the strata that they are looking in. This guy was a brilliant man. He dated Jericho to 1400 BC.
In Slide 32, the two squares that are much, much smaller to the north of where Garstang excavated. You see the topographical lines that indicate there is quite a topography here, quite a terrain down and up. It is quite a rough area. You do not see so much of that in these two squares. That area was excavated in the AD 1950s by Dame Kathleen Kenyon. This is where there is so much confusion.
Dame Kathleen Kenyon said that she did not find any evidence of the destruction around the time of the conquest. She found no evidence of Israelites ever being there. She found no evidence of the Bible. We will see her quote later. She dated it to 1550 BC, long before any of this. She said that this destruction was caused by the Egyptians. We have to understand something.
What is going on politically in the Middle East in AD 1928 and 1930?
The area is under the British Mandate. The Jews are increasing their presence. The Arabs are getting upset about it.
By the way, in the AD 1920s, it may have been in the teens, there has been discovered and it is clear that it was written them that an Arab travel guide to the Dome of the Rock, Arabic: Qubbat al-Sakhrah, which stated that this was built on the site of the ancient Jewish temple. Today they deny that. But back then there was not all the controversy that there is today.
By the AD 1940s things changed a little bit politically.
What happened in AD 1948?
Israel won their independence. In AD 1948 Israel wins their independence and this area of the West Bank is now occupied by the Kingdom of Jordan. It went from being Transjordan to being the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Since they already control the east bank and now they are on the west side of the Jordan. They called it the West Bank. Since Jordan does not control the west side of the Jordan anymore:
Why do you call it the West Bank?
It is Samaria. The biblical term is Samaria and south of there it is Judea.
Garstang digs in AD 1928 and 1930.
Is there a big political problem? No.
Garstang clearly finds evidence of the Israelites there. Until AD 1948 archeologists like Garstang and William Foxwell Albright and many others clearly found evidence of Israelites in the so-called West Bank. After 1948, up until the present, nobody ever finds the Israelites in the West Bank anywhere.
Do you think it has something to do with politics?
Of course it does. Because the so-called Palestinians do not want anybody to find it. This is why there are not a lot of active digs going on inside Samaria. It is because the Palestinians do not want people coming in and finding evidence that the Israelites were there from an ancient time, and the Palestinians have not been. That destroys their whole narrative.
Dame Kathleen Kenyon comes in and she cannot find any evidence that the Israelites have been there. Who knew? She re-dated a lot of the stuff. Notice that her dig area is not nearly as large as Garstang’s. After she died they found warehouses of pottery that did not fit her hypothesis. She was hiding the evidence. In bookkeeping they call it “cooking the books.” That is what she was doing.
Garstang is absolutely brilliant. He is one of these early archeologists who believes the Bible. In the mid-19th century you had these Victorians: Charles Warren, Charles Wilson, and Edward Robinson. These are men, if you remember, Robinson’s Arch, Wilson’s Arch, all of these places. These men believed the Bible.
Garstang said that Jericho was “… occupied long before the Bronze Age by people using floors and receptacles of beaten and stuccoed earth, and whose weapons were of flint, …”
He is referring to early Bronze Age civilization there and before. That they had been there a long time. Then when he talks about the Late Bronze city he says:
“The date of destruction [of the later city] is estimated from the complete absence of Mykenaiean (Mycenaean) deposits in the occupation layers and other details at about 1400 BC.”
That is when he is dating the destruction of Jericho at that time.
This is what Jericho looked like at the time of Garstang’s excavation.
Kathleen Kenyon came along in AD 1957. She said:
“It is a sad fact that of the town walls of the Late Bronze Age, within which period the attack by the Israelites must fall by any dating, not a trace remains … (cannot find any evidence of it). The excavation of Jericho, therefore, has thrown no light on the walls of Jericho of which the destruction is so vividly described in the Book of Joshua.”
In other words, it is all made up. She does not come right out and say it, but she says it is all made up. Kathleen Kenyon had this reputation in the AD 1960s and 1970s of being this great archeologist who had done this great excavation of Jericho. A lot of people, conservatives as well, bought into her conclusion. They said, “Well, Kathleen Kenyon went back there.” See, you believe that they are legitimate! You believe that they are being honest and she was not.
This threw confusion in there. You get people like Randy Price and me coming out of biblical archeology at Dallas Theological Seminary and going, “Well, I guess there is no evidence of Joshua fitting the battle of Jericho because Kathleen Kenyon did not find anything.”
Well, there were a lot of reasons she did not find anything. The fact is that she was cooking the books.
I am going to show you some other pictures that show some things. Here we have a burn layer. There is a dark layer that shows this burn layer that is dated by Garstang to about 1400 BC. That is what Joshua says. It is all burnt down.
This is a closer look at the burn layer. It runs all through the tell.
They also found storage jars of grain. It shows that everything was destroyed in a very short amount of time. The people did not have time to grab food and grab things and leave. Jericho was destroyed quickly. It also shows that the storage jars were full of burnt grain. This fit a destruction period in the spring, just after harvest time because they were full. It shows that the city was not looted. That is what God had commanded. That it would not be looted. The army could not take grain for their food supplies. All of this substantiates what the Scripture says.
This slide shows a graphic of the upper wall and the lower wall. Then you had the revetment wall, which is the retaining wall at the bottom. What happens is that when the walls fall down they are going to fall from (in this picture) right to left. All these bricks come tumbling down the slopes. It basically created a ramp up which the Army could go to enter into Jericho.
Here is another photo of the dig and the revetment wall, which is in the middle. As they are excavating along the base of that revetment, which is dated to the time of Joshua. Below the revetment wall they found remains of the mud brick wall. That was the second lower wall that fell down and created that ramp going up.
This was found by Kenyon in her excavations as well on the west side of the tell, but she dated the mud brick wall to the last Canaanite city.
Garstang says this:
“The defenses of this time consist of two parallel walls built of brick. The outer one was about six feet thick. The space between the two, being four to five yards across. Though so massive, these walls were faulty in construction.”
This is really insightful.
“The bricks were sundried, contained no binding straw (that means they are not going to be as solid), and varied greatly in size, though their thickness was fairly uniform and averages about four inches. The foundations consisted generally of two or three layers of field stones, which lacked uniformity of size and were unevenly laid.”
What does that tell you?
That tells you that the base of the walls is not stable.
Furthermore, he says:
“The outer wall was built wholly upon debris, and as is now found, on the very brink of the mound, which must have been leveled out for the purpose. …”
“A number of houses leaned against the inner face of the main city wall, …”
You have pressure from these houses against the upper wall already. The lower wall is built on debris. It is not going to take a whole lot to knock them over. God supernaturally did it at a particular point of time. I am not saying that it is all a natural thing, but there was more going on there than what would meet the eye.
Here is a mud brick wall collapsed in front of the revetment wall.
Here is a photo of Bryant Wood pointing out the evidence of the collapsed mud brick wall.
It is difficult for you to see this. I have been there. I went through it with John Cross’ son, Andrew, one time. I went through it on my own another time. It is easy to see (on the ground).
Bryant Wood wrote:
“The meticulous work of Kenyon showed that Jericho was indeed heavily fortified and that it had been burned by fire.”
There is no doubt that that happened. It is when?
“Unfortunately, she misstated her finds, resulting in what seemed to be a discrepancy between the discoveries of archeology and the Bible. She concluded that the Bronze Age city of Jericho was destroyed about 1550 BC by the Egyptians. An in-depth analysis of the evidence, however, reveals that the destruction took place at the end of the 15th century BC (end of the Late Bronze 1 Period), exactly when the Bible says the conquest occurred.”
Bryant Woods has written several articles on the walls of Jericho that have been published in Bible and Spade archeological journal, as well as on-line with Biblical Resource Associates. He has always done extremely fine work. I am going to disagree with him, probably, on what he says about Ai, but on other stuff, he is just as solid as he can be.
We do not have time to look at Ai tonight. I will come back and talk about it and the archeological and spiritual issues related to Ai and cherem when we start next Tuesday night in the next class.
“Father, we thank You for this time. Thank You that we can know that Your Word is true. That we find evidence that supports the details of Scripture, and that we can have confidence. That helps us to understand the spiritual issues related to cherem.
As difficult as it might be for us to understand, we recognize that if we believe in sin and evil, as the Bible states is true, then there must be a judgment of sin and evil. What this pictures with cherem is Your justice in operation bringing judgment on those, not quickly, not as soon as they sin, but giving them 600 years, time and time again to turn to you. That Your lovingkindness is indeed patient and gracious.
Father, that is to be an attitude that is reflected in our own lives. That when we see those who are doing things that we disagree with, that may be in violation of Scripture, that we are not the judge and jury. We are those who are those who are to demonstrate your grace and love toward them, and ultimately be able to communicate the gospel to everyone. Father, challenge us with what we have studied today. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”