Friday, May 22, 2009
Picture: Jericho Tower from 9000 BC
One of the greatest cities of the ancient world was a place we know as “Jericho” or in local lingo “Yericho.” Today we saw a tower that goes back at least 9000 BC. We know about Joshua and the children of Israel conquering Jericho, and what a herculean feat that was (Joshua 6). One of the conundrums of Jericho study when I was in seminary was whether or not there were people living in Jericho at the time of the Exodus. In other words there were people who doubt the Bible who criticized the biblical data and said that it conflicts with the archaeological evidence. But, in more recent reconsideration there has been new evidence that Jericho was indeed inhabited during the time of Joshua's conquest. I won't go into all of the technical details. I found an article that summarizes what our professor said at www.biblearcheology.org.
Essentially, there are several key factors that help us date the destruction of Jericho at a time period consistent with Joshua's entry into the promised land including evidence of a sudden fire, pottery dating, and carbon 14 dating.
A few things struck me in Jericho. First was the ancient tower, one of the most ancient standing structures in all of archaeological research and making Jericho one of the oldest continuously inhabited towns in the ancient world. Secondly, the verdant greenery of the city was a complete contrast to the Judean wilderness northwest of the Jericho. There is a very ancient underground spring that brings water through the limestone all the way from northern Israel down to Jericho. And because of this enormous spring of water there are palm trees, flowers, and green shrubs growing everywhere in this city. Thirdly, I continue to be amazed by the different people I encounter in this part of the world. Today I visited a bit with a young man who has lived in San Jose, California for the last seventeen years. He is married and he now lives in the United States, but was back in Jericho visiting his childhood family, since he is originally from Jericho. He didn't tell me clearly, but since he is from Jericho I presume he is Muslim. What struck me is that the people of the world today are mobile. And it was another reminder to me that it's a small world.