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Allow me to explain (21 of 439)

May 19, 2011

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21. Did the city of Ai exist after Joshua destroyed it? Joshua 8:28 vs. Nehemiah 7:32

The wording of the question is not meant to bias the reader, surely.

Joshua 8:28
So Joshua burned Ai and made it a heap forever, a desolation to this day.

Nehemiah 7:32
the men of Bethel and Ai, one hundred and twenty-three;

Nehemiah, remember, is recording the number of people who came out of captivity from each city. So if 123 came from Bethel and Ai, then, of course, people were living in Ai.

About one thousand years went down between the writing of Joshua and the writing of Nehemiah.

The author of Joshua wrote that the city was a “desolation to this day,” by which we can only take to mean the day that phrase was written. The Hebrew word translated “forever,” here, is עוֹלָם (“olam”), which means, “long duration, antiquity, futurity.” It has also been translated, “continual,” “long,” and “lasting,” etc. One thousand years probably constitutes a “long duration.”

It’s not uncommon – nor has it ever been – for cities to be rebuilt. It’s human nature. War, natural disaster – we rebuild. Even when the rest of the world calls us crazy for living in a coastal city, in hurricane alley, well below sea level – many of us chose to rebuild. Sometimes we rebuild because, “this is our home.” Sometimes we rebuild because we refuse to admit defeat.

Ai was rebuilt sometime in those one thousand years. It’s not hard to fathom.

It was probably rebuilt within 800 years, as the city was mentioned by the prophet Isaiah, in it’s feminine form (`ayyath, “Aiath”), in Isaiah 10:28.

Short answer: Not for a long time.

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