Bible Contradictions #51: What happened to the city of Ai?


Bible contradictions 51


Joshua sacked Ai about 3,200-3,300 years ago (ca. 13th century BCE). After he burned the city to the ground, the prophet claims the city is “forever a heap of ruins.” This is similar to the prophesy about Tyre. They only difference between Ai and Tyre is that Ai no longer exists, whilst Tyre is a major tourist attraction. Anyway, according to Joshua, the city is forever lost to Joshua’s siege.

It comes as a shock, then, when, during the Babylonian Captivity of ca. 500-600 BCE (or around 2,500 years ago), the city is back. A census was taken of the exiles of the captivity showing 123 from Ai.

Apologists might say the city was destroyed, and during the writing of Joshua it was still in ruins, but was rebuilt within the span of 800 years (time from Joshua to the Babylonian Captivity). 800 years or so is a long time, long enough to rebuild a city. Indeed, Joshua probably couldn’t comprehend 800 years when he prophesied that Ai would be lost forever. The only problem with this apology is — like I mentioned — Joshua is a prophet in the Abrahamic religions. A prophet would probably get this right since god was telling him what to say.

About Rayan Zehn

I'm a political scientist.
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33 Responses to Bible Contradictions #51: What happened to the city of Ai?

  1. Here are my thoughts about this: A biblical prophet is more concerned about things that deal with the relationship between God and Man, and not paying attention to historical facts (as much). By saying “to this day”, it seems as if that was added to validate the word “forever”. The existence of a new town with the same name in the same place doesn’t necessarily imply that it is the same town. For instance. Since the inhabitants were killed, any new town would have been built by a different set of people.. This is different than a town that is rebuilt after a tornado has destroyed it. The old Ai was never rebuilt. A new Ai could have been.

    • Rayan Zehn says:

      Unfortunately the bible doesn’t give us any guidance. There could have been another Ai, this is true. But the bible doesn’t mention that, so it’s merely an untestable hypothetical.

  2. The atheist has a habit of majoring in the minor.

    Antiquity is so lost in time that it’s a wonder any written history survived at all.

    The atheist also has the habit of apply modern day standards of quality control to societies that didn’t have any standards.

    The Bible is the 100% consistent tale of God’s plan of salvation for mankind.

    • Rayan Zehn says:

      This is merely a claim that is just as valid as “The Quran is the 100% consistent tale of Allah’s plan for salvation for mankind.”

    • albinogoth says:

      So… being accurate and truthful is of no concern to your deity of choice. Good to know!

      Perhaps your god also lies? Either directly or by omission. But I suppose that’s just different standards.^^

      • Goth,

        Jesus, the founder of Christianity, gets to define his own religion and his own scripture, not the atheist.

        Jesus summed up the meaning of the Bible:

        Love God and love your neighbor.

        That’s all there is to it.

      • albinogoth says:

        Whose defining your religion? You describe a god who would lie by omission, who cares nothing of being accurate for his followers or detractors. Pointing this out is not me defining your god.

        But being observant and skeptical is a damnable offense in your religion of ‘love’, isn’t it?

      • Goth,

        The Bible is totally accurate with regard to the nature of God, man and universe.

        When the atheist tries to apply modern quality control standards to a collection of cryptic ancient literature it betrays a wanton, deliberate will to deny the truth.

      • albinogoth says:

        How do you know the Bible is totally accurate with regard to the nature of God, man and the universe?

        When you don’t support your claim, it betrays a wanton, deliberate will to ignore the truth in favor of a comfortable story. Test everything, hold on to the good.

      • Goth,

        Western Civilization, the greatest, most prosperous, most just, most technically advanced civilization in human history is proof of biblical accuracy concerning God, man and universe.

      • albinogoth says:


        No, it isn’t. Using this logic, that would mean Islamic culture of the European medieval era was proof that Islam was true because they were the most prosperous, the greatest, the most just, most advanced of THEIR time.

        Likewise, the things that lead to the western world to be so prosperous, were not, I contend, the religion, but the enlightenment philosophy and the willingness to discard fables in search of truth.

        Worse for you, prosperity does not say anything at all about the truth of divine claims. It doesn’t follow logically.

        So, yeah, three points against your flimsy proof. Got any better proof that actually addresses how you know the Bible is an accurate portrayal of the nature of God, man and the universe?

      • Goth,

        Just as the doesn’t get to re-define the life and teachings of Jesus, he doesn’t get to re-define simple facts in logical fallacy.

        Western Civilization is the only civilization in human history that progressed beyond slavery and the beast of burden.

        Western Civilization is the only civilization in human history where the individual, common man could look forward to more than a short, disease-ridden, miserable life of bone grinding poverty.

      • albinogoth says:

        Western Civilization does not equal Christianity, nor does it give proof that your Bible is a correct reflection of your god.

        It’s funny you mention slavery though. You would think that the country your god ruled directly (Israel) would have ‘advanced beyond slavery and the beast of burden’ if it was guided by god. And yet, the Bible clearly tells them they may take slaves from foreign lands and keep them as their property, inheritable by their children. They weren’t any more advanced in technology either.

        Those only came after our thinkers moved past the non-sensical proscriptions of your evil god.

      • Goth,

        It is an undeniable fact that all civilizations grew up around religion.

        The religion that powered the rise of Western Civilization was Christianity.

      • albinogoth says:

        Whose denying that? Could you try acting like an adult in your discourse?

      • Goth,

        In this discussion you have denied everything as is the atheist way.

        The central dogma of atheism is that everything happened all by itself.

        And you have applied that dogma to your misunderstanding of the Bible, Christianity and Western Civilization.

      • albinogoth says:

        There is no ‘central dogma’ of atheism. Until you can treat this seriously, there is no point in continuing this conversation, as much fun as it is to see your total incompetence in the realm of discussion, it’s not edifying any more. Have a good day!

      • Goth,

        You just denied the fundamental dogma of atheism as is the atheist way.

        Absent the Creator, everything must necessarily have happened all by itself.

  3. Rayan Zehn says:

    SOM, there really is no central dogma of atheism. It’s the lack of a dogma. Again — and I can’t say this with enough seriousness — if you are going to comment on my blog, do not — DO NOT — violate the 9th commandment. I have zero patience for this. I’ve never blocked anyone, but if you continue to build straw men about atheists, then I will have to do it. The straw man is a serious breach of intellectual honesty. No one — not even atheists — believes everything happened all by itself. The library is chock full of physics books. Check one out. We understand there was a force behind the beginning of the universe. We just don’t put a living agency behind it.

    • Zehn,

      If there is no God, then that means everything happened all by itself.

      That obvious fact is the central and fundamental dogma of atheism by definition of what atheism is: the belief that God does not exist.

      • Rayan Zehn says:

        I’m dead serious. If you’re going to continue having access to these comments, stop violating your god’s 9th commandment. I just fucking told you to stop, and the first thing you do is to do it again.

        Atheism is the lack of a belief in any god, not the active belief that god doesn’t exist. I really can’t stand intellectual dishonesty. Don’t do it again. One more straw man and you’re banned. Just one. I promise.

      • Zehn,

        You can kid yourself any which way you want, but the “lack of a belief in any god” still leads to the belief that everything happened all by itself.

        Also, you clubbing me over the head with the 10 Commandments must hearken back to the Protestant brainwashing you got as a child.

        Old brainwashings die hard. You just exchanged one for another.

      • Rayan Zehn says:

        You’d be wrong. I was not raised with religion. Although my parents are mildly religious, they raised me without religious instruction. I was allowed to figure out the world for myself, which is probably why I have a healthy curiosity.

        I ask you again to go to the library and check out a physics book. No one in any field of science — especially cosmological sciences — says the universe happened all by itself. Although we aren’t yet sure why various forces worked in tandem to cause a universe, we are very familiar with what those forces were (because they are still around today). You are confusing not believing a supernatural agency was responsible with believing it was a random accident.

        Oh one last thing. I would be very careful using the word belief about me. I have zero beliefs. I don’t believe in the big bang or evolution or anything else. I accept what the data, evidence, and testing suggests. It’s a basic part of the learning process. I accept the evidence suggests a big bang. Evolution, on the other hand, is an observed fact. It’s part of the data. I accept what evolution suggests (the theory of evolution). But no. I don’t believe anything, especially that the universe and everything happened all by itself.

      • Zehn,

        I have heard physicists say that everything happened all by itself on national television.

        You can rent “How the Universe Works,” on Netflix and hear them say it with your own two ears.

        I express very little of my own opinion to atheists because opinion is all atheists have, which is fundamentally worthless.

        The only way to challenge a vermin creed like atheism is with facts and lots of patients.

      • Rayan Zehn says:

        How the Universe Works is not a scientific work. I don’t bore myself with pop culture when I want actual information. I’m not going to watch it.

      • Zehn,

        The speakers on “How the Universe Works,” are physicists.

        So again, you are denying the undeniable.

      • Rayan Zehn says:

        Are you saying that physicists can’t make contributions to pop culture? If they said that, they were probably speaking in a vernacular that the common person could understand. No physics paper would ever use that vernacular. I can send you some if you like.

      • Zehn,

        There is no way to misinterpret what the physicists say.

        They are speaking clearly and saying exactly what they mean to people whose intelligence they respect.

        Atheism is dead because both common sense and science have proven it.

      • Rayan Zehn says:

        Science doesn’t prove anything. You’re thinking about math and mechanics, not science.

      • Zehn,

        Mathematics is the language of science.

      • Rayan Zehn says:

        It’s one tool in science, yes, but it’s not science itself.

      • Zehn,

        A filament is not the light bulb like mathematics is not science.

        Mathematics is integral to science and was proven so by Isaac Newton centuries ago.

      • Rayan Zehn says:

        I see we found something we can (sort of) agree on. I would’t go so far as to say it’s integral. But I see your point.

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