The Battle of Jericho—Myth or Fact?
FOR decades, archaeologists have tried to cast doubt on the Bible’s account of Joshua and the battle of Jericho. According to the Bible, Joshua and the Israelite army marched around Jericho for seven days, until God made the city’s formidable walls fall down. This allowed the Israelites to enter and ‘burn the city with fire and everything that was in it.’—Joshua 6:1-24.
But many archaeologists, swayed by the highly esteemed work of Kathleen Kenyon in the 1950’s, were convinced that Jericho did not even exist during the time of the Israelite invasion. Why, they held that the city had been destroyed well over a century earlier! Thus, the Biblical account of Joshua and the Israelites was widely dismissed. Recently, though, Dr. Bryant G. Wood, an archaeologist from the University of Toronto, Canada, has taken a fresh look at the evidence from Jericho. According to The New York Times, he has concluded that Dr. Kenyon “had been looking for the wrong kind of pottery, and in the wrong places,” and that the evidence is actually in “remarkable agreement” with the Bible.
Dr. Wood cites a three-foot-thick [1 m] layer of ash laden with pottery sherds, fragments of bricks from a fallen wall, and timbers, all blackened as if by a citywide fire. The ceramic fragments have been dated (with the admittedly inexact methods available) at 1410 before our Common Era, give or take 40 years—not at all far from 1473 B.C.E., the date for the battle of Jericho derived from the Bible.
Excavators have found that the houses in ancient Jericho had abundant supplies of stored grain. This is interesting, since the Bible indicates that Jericho fell shortly after the spring harvest and without a drawn-out starvation siege. (Joshua 3:14-16) Both are good reasons why Jericho’s houses would have been well-stocked with grain when the city was destroyed.
Scientists are rather grudging when it comes to admitting the accuracy of the Bible. Thus, the Times quotes one eminent scholar as saying in response to Wood’s findings: “There is no doubt that a good deal of information found in the Bible has a grain of truth in it.” Yet, as more and more Scriptural accounts are supported by modern scientific and archaeological discoveries, it is clear to the unbiased that the Bible is far from a collection of falsehoods interspersed with occasional grains of truth. As the Bible itself says: “Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar.”—Romans 3:4.
While current interpretations of archaeological excavations at Jericho are of interest, true Christians ‘walk by faith, not by sight.’ (2 Corinthians 5:7) Their faith does not depend on archaeology. With or without archaeological evidence, the Bible repeatedly proves to be a reliable source of information regarding the past, the present, and the future.—Psalm 119:105; 2 Peter 1:19-21.
[Picture on page 7]
The ruins of Jericho, where Jehovah granted the Israelites victory
Pictorial archive (Near Eastern History) Est.