The Walls of Jericho and the Tooth Fairy

At first I was surprised and befuddled by his sarcastic comment. But then, as I thought about it for a few moments longer, I started getting upset (even mad), so finally I just switched the station, even saying out loud to myself, “I am not going to listen to this fellow anymore!” The comment that so irritated me was made by a disc jockey on a radio station I was listening to as I was headed home after a meeting I had held in Missouri. I neither remember the name of the station nor the name of the disc jockey -neither are important I suppose. At any rate, it was one of those oldies stations and the disc jockeys only comments thus far had been about the songs he played – at least until the sarcastic comment I am referring to.

All of a sudden, out of the clear blue, he stated that he had heard recently that archaeologists have uncovered the ancient city of Jericho and that they found no evidence that the walls fell down flat as the Book of Joshua declares. Not only that, but the archaeologists found no evidence that the city was burned with fire as the Book of Joshua further declares. After mentioning all that he exclaimed sarcastically, “Oh how sad! Next they’ll be telling us there is no tooth fairy!”

At first, I say again, I was startled and puzzled by his comment, but then I started fuming at his ignorance and sarcasm and switched to another station. I do not know where the young man got his information or why he felt he needed to share it with his listeners but I do wonder why he took such delight in comparing the destruction of the walls of Jericho to the tooth fairy. Really, of course, I know why. Men do not want to believe the Bible is truly a record inspired of God and they take devilish delight in any so called evidence that contradicts the Biblical record.

What about archaeology and the walls of Jericho? Is there no evidence that the waits fell down and the city was burned just like the Book of Joshua says? In his book, The Bible As History, Werner Keller describes the archaeological expedition in 1930 led by Professor John Garstang. Garstang noted every detail with utmost precision and graphically described the violence by which the ancient walls of Jericho fell. The diggings showed that there were two parallel walls; the inner wall was especially massive, being twelve feet thick. The outer wall or fortification was a six foot brick wall about twenty five to thirty feet high. Houses (like the house of Rahab the harlot) were built on top and connected the two walls.

Professor Garstang described clear traces of a tremendous fire and the space between the two walls was filled with rubble, blackened bricks, charred wood, and ashes. Along the walls the houses had been burned to the ground and their roofs crashed on top of them. The most remarkable of Garstang’s discoveries, however, had to do with how the two walls had fallen. The stones of the outer wall had fallen outward and downhill, but the inner wall had fallen the opposite direction – inward. According to Garstang, these observations could lead to only one conclusion: that an earthquake must have shattered the city.

Here is the way the Bible, describes it. “So the people shouted when the priests blew on the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shout with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city And they burnt the city with fire, and all that was therein . . .” (Joshua 6:20,21,24).

The account in the Book of Joshua and the archaeological evidence uncovered by professor Garstang are in perfect harmony. Where then did that young fellow on the radio get his information. Well, I looked in some of the more modern bible handbooks and dictionaries and some of them cite the work of another archaeologist, Kathleen Kenyon as conflicting with and even contradicting the work of Professor Garstang and other early archaeologists who worked at Jericho.

Holman‘s Bible Dictionary, for instance, does not even mention Garstang’s expedition or his observations. According to the article in Holman, Kenyon used radio carbon dating and concluded that the walls had fallen a thousand or more years before the conquest of the land by the Israelites. Her studies determined that Jericho was not a great walled city but a small settlement when Joshua and the Israelites invaded Canaan After reading that article I started feeling a bit more sorry for the young disc jockey (as well as others who rely on half truths) because he had not seen all the facts. Then I found an excellent article in the back of a Thompson Chain Reference Bible on the various archaeological studies that had been done at Jericho by a Dr. O. Fredreick Owen.

Dr. Owen states that Professor Garstang dated the fall of Jericho at about 1400 BC, which corresponds to the biblical record. He then notes that when Miss Kenyon did her work in the 1950’s she was asked, by some who had been dissatisfied with Garstang’s conclusions, her opinion about the fallen walls. She advised them that Garstang had been mistaken and that the inner wall belonged to the Early Bronze Age – around 2300 BC. At once the news went out over the wires that Garstang had wrongly identified the walls of Jericho. “The walls,” the report said, “were a full 1000 years earlier than Garstang had dated them. The fallen walls found by Garstang are now known to be a millennium too early to be associated with Joshua’s attack.” The report readily found prominent place in the news, in learned journals, and in books almost everywhere.

Let me pause for a moment and restate the question I asked with regard to the young disc jockey on the radio. Why do men, even learned men, take such a delight in accepting and publishing so readily any information that they feel contradicts the Bible? Obviously, to accept the Bible record as true would demand an obligation to submit to the laws and precepts set down in the Bible. Men are determined to avoid at all costs subservience to the Lord and his revealed word, and therefore any scant shred of information that even slightly appears to cast doubt on the veracity of the Bible is greeted with – may I say it again – devilish delight.

But wait a minute! According to Dr. Owen, Miss Kenyon had only indicated, in her response to her questioners, the time when Jericho’s massive twelve foot inner wall was constructed. In other words, the inner wall may have in deed been built hundreds of years before the outer wall, but both were standing when Joshua came. After a later excavation Miss Kenyon found evidence that a city was standing when Joshua’s army came and her dates coincide with Professor Garstang’s dates.

After reading all these articles (and I claim to be no expert in archaeology or archaeological jargon) it appears that there is some variance in opinion and interpretation by the various archaeologists with regard to the dates for the construction and even the ruin of the great walls of Jericho. What is certain is that there were two massive walls with houses on top that fell down flat and then were destroyed by fire. And that, after all, is precisely what the biblical record states. I know this much – the more they dig, the more the Bible record is authenticated. On the same trip I noted at the beginning of this article (before that disc jockey stirred me up), I heard Paul Harvey comment that archaeologists uncovered some tablets that mention the Canaanite city of Hazor. Up until this discovery no record of the city of Hazor, outside the Bible, existed and of course many skeptics pointed to that and other cities likewise not confirmed by archaeology as evidence the Bible account was inaccurate.

Well, keep on digging! All the evidence of archaeology, as well as all other scientific evidence of any merit, substantiates to any honest inquirer the veracity and accuracy of the Bible record. The more men learn, in archaeology as in all other fields, the more their opinions change, but the Bible never changes. When we stand on the biblical record we are standing on a rock that is safe and sure. “But the word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” (I Peter 1:25)


Article by: Jerry Dickinson