I spent the last two weeks of May excavating in Israel. We returned to the site we dug through the ‘90’s – Khirbet el-Maqatir, 10 miles north of Jerusalem in the West Bank. The geographical, topographical, chronological and archaeological data from the site suggests it may have been the city of Ai that was defeated by Joshua after he destroyed Jericho. While I reprised my role as Administrative Director of the dig, I was only able to stay long enough this year to get things started.
My responsibility was to finish excavating to bedrock the rest of the square where the ancient city gate was located. To be honest, it was a lot of hard work which produced very few interesting finds to show for all our effort. We did not find any additional evidence of city gate construction. We found almost no ancient pottery or other artifacts. But we did expose bedrock – all across the square!
While other people were finding interesting things where they were working and we found very little, I have to admit, I wondered more than once why I even came to Israel. We had to get up every morning before 4 AM and I had work to do every day until 9 PM. I usually love this stuff – but my square was just boring!
As I thought about it, I decided that my experience in square R17 was a lot like most of my life. An awful lot of what I have to do every day is just not that exciting or a whole lot of fun. But it is important that I do these things – or I will wake up one morning and find I don’t have a car, a house, a job or a wife anymore! Just because something might be boring, doesn’t mean it isn’t important.
In reality, what we discovered in my square was evidence that the city gate area had been burned by fire in antiquity. That actually fits the story of Joshua’s capture of Ai quite nicely. While it wasn’t really that much fun and we certainly didn’t find anything interesting, we did something important and exposed some data that was significant.
So do what you are supposed to do today, even if it is boring. It will be important and, in the end, you will wind up making a difference in your life or in somebody else’s.
Pastor Gary Byers
Spiritual Life Director
PS If you are interested in reading the story of Ai, you can find it in Joshua 7-8. If you want to read a couple of short summary reports and see a few photographs about this season’s dig, you can go to http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2009/05/Update-from-Khirbet-el-Maqatir-Week-One.aspx