Creationist Funnies

This link will, for those inclined to pursue the necessary work of counter-apologetics, truly make one’s day. Wood is, of course, right on the chronological facts (see my Chronology page), on which Down is completely wrong (if you are not good at spotting non sequiturs, consult the ABR website, Walter Mattfeld’s debunking of the EB Exodus hypothesis, and Wikipedia), and Down is correct regarding his claim there is no solid evidence to support a 15th C BC Exodus. It also seems that ABR is taking my advice regarding its location of Bethel (or just being lazy), placing Bethel to the WNW (instead of SW) of Ai in this post.

My “Bible Unearthed” page has finally been linked to by someone. Also, to those who have not noticed, I have greatly (but slowly) updated the sidebar links. Click on some of them! I link to websites in the sidebar of this blog for a reason.

December 21 was, among other things, the first day this winter in which real snow fell in the region in which I happen to live. I didn’t particularly enjoy it (putting on an actual coat instead of multiple layers of hoodies and sweatshirts is very much annoying), but Christmas, as says popular opinion, is supposed to be white, thus, the snow did have an upside.

The LMLK Map, Lapidarist Edition

Above: A map of Lapidarist lmlk impressions. Blue is Hebron, Orange is Ziph, Green is MMST, and Maroon are those with eroded inscriptions.

The concentration of Lapidarist lmlk impressions at Lachish as compared with any other city in Judah is simply staggering (248 at Lachish v. 16 at the next most Lapidarist lmlk impression-bearing site, Beth-Shemesh). Lachish is clearly the second capital of Judah in this period. The above map confirms my point that every piece of pottery at Ramat Rahel was brought there in the 7th C BC or later. The percentage of lmlk Hebron impressions seems to have slightly decreased at Lachish due to the rise of Socoh, but seems to have increased everywhere else. Socoh appears to have replaced Ziph in this phase. While I briefly thought to myself after seeing this map that have there might have been a redistricting of the southern Hill Country when the Socoh lmlk impressions were introduced, I found this to be unlikely due to the fact that in the Cursory phase, Ziph impression incidence seemed to be largest in southern Greater Benjamin and was rather modest at Lachish, while the situation with Socoh is, as one can see, quite different. I also have doubts whether Rabud/Debir (a fortified city of the Hill Country bearing only one M4L impression) was a part of the Socoh district before its destruction in 701 BC.

The distribution of MMSTs is extremely limited in this phase. Eleven M4Ls are known, five of them provenanced. While MMST distribution was already extremely limited during the Cursory phase, in this phase MMST impressions don’t even appear at Jerusalem, and the provenanced MMSTs were found in five major Judahite cities, each in separate areas of Judah (the southern Shephelah, middle Shephelah, Greater Benjamin, and the Hill Country). A probable M4L was also found (somewhat bizarrely) at Beitin, the probable site of the Israelite cult site of Bethel, just N. of of Judah. The distribution of the M4Ls is not just random; it seems to be almost deliberately atypical.

This map also helps demonstrate the likelihood of lmlk Socoh to be the southern Socoh, not the Elah Socoh. Let us take a look at the same map with labels:

Clearly, if lmlk Socoh was Elah Socoh, the Beth-Shemites would have had to have had a very strong distaste for Socoh products, while Azekah and Lachish would have had to have had a far less strong dislike of these same products. If lmlk Socoh was the southern Socoh, the small amount of Socohite products at Beth-Shemesh would simply be explained as a product of its distance from Socoh!

In other news, I experimented with making a jar-mark video (with maps), but it would have to be several minutes long for one to fully see the variance between the distributions of the different phases of jar-marks.

I Laughed ‘Till I Cried…

while reading George Grena’s remarks regarding this blog on his new post. The funniest parts:

  • December 13, 2011: Rehoboam’s Cities; anachronistic link to his May 2012 Map; “clearly” it does not date to 2011; it seems this post “dates from a combination of periods“; his orthography of “seperate” may help scholars determine when he actually composed it, though we can’t rule out a “Hasmonean interpolator“.
  • December 16, 2011: The Solomonic Districts; another “seperate” orthographic datum, separated by 3 days (or 3 possibly million or billion years if you’re not sure when a historical narrative refers to ordinary Earth-rotation periods).

(and, yes, I literally did laugh until tears came out of my eyes after reading that).

In any case, I am glad that he pointed out the numerous spelling errors this blog has accumulated over the months. I usually fix errors in posts without giving the future reader any hint of the previous existence of these errors as long as the errors are not serious enough as to affect the main ideas of the post. So I do with most of the errors Grena points out.

Below are some of George Grena’s comments (in italics) and my responses to them.

(ironically undated) Chronology; very thorough, yet thoroughly wrong beginning at “1,600,000 BC“, though kudos for “BC” instead of “BCE” since he’s not a Christian; at least we agree completely on the Mandate & State of Israel dates; links to LRW G2T, S2DR, & Rosette pages; also to my 1st BibleInterp article.

-I see nothing “thoroughly wrong” with a date of c. 1.6 mya for the human remains at the ‘Ubeidiya formation-Miriam Belmaker has written a thorough case that the fauna at the earliest human remain-bearing layers ‘Ubeidiya are consistent with a 1.6-1.2 mya date. I am fine with use of both BC and BCE; whichever is suitable for the context. I usually pick BC since it is shorter.

Almost? Labor-union isotopes threatened to strike?

-The ratio of C-12 to C-14 barely changed between c. 790 and c. 400 BC. However, it did change, so researchers can pick the most likely date(s) out of several available to them if they know the approximate historical context of the radiocarbon sample(s), as at Qudeirat and Beth-Shemesh.

curious phrase: “the possibility the fact“; spoken like a true evolutionist.

-The context of that group of words is  “In short, biblical testimony is far too great to consider the possibility the fact the last pottery in the building in the rock-cut pool is Iron IIA is anything but a coincidence.”-This was stated in defense of the statements in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles that Hezekiah built Hezekiah’s Tunnel. Perhaps “the possibility that the fact” would be better wording. I don’t see what is so evolutionistic about a statement which defends a statement in the Bible!

woo-hoo! I’m famous!

-This blog only gets some 50 views per day, often fewer.

like as if an atheist would know what God deserves! Ha! Ha! Ha!

-One who is frequently exposed to religious practices might. However, I’m not one of them.

typo s/b S2DR

-I definitely had these two mixed up somewhere in my head.

if it would be Albrightian to “expect” certain evidence, isn’t it Aesopian to “wish” for it?

-I don’t understand the Aesop reference.

you might want to check with David Ussishkin before you toot that horn too loudly!

-I don’t think I need to. Too many at poorly fortified En Gedi and Ramat Rahel, not enough at well-fortified Gibeon and Mizpah.

not sure how/why incised circles would indicate wine age.

-They might have been stamped on jars filled with wine over several years old. However, due to the fact the concentric circle lmlk system seems to have died out during the 7th century BC, I do not think this is the most plausible explanation (though I still find it a plausible one).

if a Bethel bulla indicates Josiah, whose reign does a Bethel x4L indicate? Ditto for the SUKE bulla.

-If Isaiah 10 had mentioned Bethel, or if it was Hezekiah who was famed for destroying the Bethel cult (he certainly would have had no problem with doing so), I would be convinced a pre-Josianic date for the lmlk bullae is plausible. The Beitin lmlk handle has no more political implications than the several lmlk handles that have been found around the Jezreel Valley. My reference to the SUKE bulla was due to the ‘3rd year’ mention in it. I now think the fact an Ahaz bulla has been found may refute my prior assumption that widespread Judahite literacy only began after Hezekiah’s 6th year (when Sargon invaded Samaria, thus, spurring Judah to become the most powerful state in the region). Perhaps there was an earlier wave of Ephraimite refugees in 732 BC.

2 original maps showing multi-colored Pac-Men eating ancient Judah

-I never thought of that interpretation before!

Was it an “emergency” to indicate the age of wine on jars after Sennacherib left?

-No. It could have been useful. I still have not formulated a solid theory for the Concentric Circle Incisions’ purpose.

tersest blog post in the history of the world.

-It would have been a tweet had I any use for Twitter.

but there is a point in moving hundreds of them from Lachish to the central hill country, then back to Lachish, then to “other great lmlk-impression-centers“???

Considering Lachish is the largest city in the Shephelah and has yielded more lmlk impressions than Jerusalem, I don’t think this idea is overly unreasonable. MMST is the probable exception to my idea, the MMST jars being sent directly to Jerusalem (and possibly Tel Goded).

note that several thousand of those hits were probably from me & Michael Welch; the majority of the others are probably from people who mistyped “MLK” (Martin Luther King).

-About one tenth of the pageviews on my blog are my own. Yes, the lmlk seal impressions are a notoriously ignored subject (except in scholarly publications), there being not even a single YouTube video on the topic.

Why ABR Should Give Up On the el-Bireh-Bethel Equation

Since the founding of ABR (Associates for Biblical Research, a Protestant ministry), it has since its founding (in 1969) supported the idea that Bethel should not be identified with Beitin, but, rather, with el-Bireh. This was largely David Livingston’s idea, and was proposed due to his miscounting of Roman milestones, his supposition Bethel should be a ‘living town’ (he did not consider in his first article that Beitin’s situation is paralleled by Lachish, Megiddo, Gezer, Hazor, ect.), and his supposition Bethel should have a mountain E. of it, not just a ridge. Note that I now think the statements of Eusebius that Bethel/Beitin was 12, not, as is in fact, 13, milestones from Jerusalem possibly stemmed from the possible lack of the Roman road leading directly to Beitin in his day (there was an eastern service road from Bireh to Nablus on the PEF map; see below). However, since 1995, there has been a split between Bryant Wood and David Livingston on the location of ‘Ai. While Livingston suggests Khirbet Nisya (excavated under his direction between 1979 and 1994) to be ‘Ai, Bryant Wood suggests Khirbet Maqatir (excavated under his direction since 1995) to be ‘Ai. In order for Nisya to be ‘Ai, Bethel has to be identified as el-Bireh. However, if ‘Ai is to be identified at Maqatir, there is no need for ignoring (or misinterpreting) Late Roman data to fit a location of Bethel at el-Bireh.

Even assuming a location of Bethel at el-Bireh, Khirbet Nisya is a poor location for ‘Ai. It contains no remains of a city gate that would have been visible during the time of original composition of Joshua, obviously the late 7th century BC, and, indeed, contains no architectural remains at all prior to the Iron I period. Indeed, it was hardly a ruin between the Iron IIB and the Persian period; a two-winged lmlk handle and three yhwd impressions were discovered at the site. A location of ‘Ai at Khirbet Nisya also suffers from a lack of a good location for Beth-Aven, which would, if Khirbet Nisya was ‘Ai, be better substituted for Mizpah.

Above: Mizpah is just to the W. of HaGiva. Nisya is just to the SE of Psagot. el-Bireh is just to the SW of the map’s “al Bira”. Baytin is Beitin. The remaining two sites are Maqatir and et-Tell, the latter being closer to Deir Dibwan.  The blue line is the Geba-Beitin road.

Thus, we are left with the conclusion that ‘Ai is either Khirbet Maqatir or et-Tell. For our purposes, it does not matter which is ‘Ai, due to the sites’ proximity. It is clear that a location of Bethel at el-Bireh is as consistent with Genesis 12:8 as a location of Bethel at Beitin; one can see both candidates for ‘Ai from the ridge E. of Beitin, but none from the ridge E. of Bireh. Indeed, ‘Ai would, if Bethel was at Bireh, be scattered in a collection of hills just E. of Bethel, and there would be no point stating “between Bethel and ‘Ai” in Gen 12:8. I should also note the Iron Age settlement in the area SW of Beitin was at Ras-et-Tahuneh, a high spot altered by means of ancient fills two hundred meters NW. of Bireh. It has been suggested this is Zemaraim, although Zemaraim might as well be Nisya. Bryant Wood has also used the Beth-‘Aven argument against Beitin, although it is not known for certain what Beth-Aven was (was it a set of EB/IB ruins just E. of Beitin? Site 205?), and the range of possibilities is certainly consistent with the traditionally-attested location of Bethel at Beitin (it is rather unlikely the location of one of the most important sites in the Tanakh was mysteriously lost during the Persian period). Likewise, Joshua 8:13 may mean that the border turned to the South or to the southern shoulder of Luz/Bethel.

Thus, while there is no conclusive evidence against the location of pre-Persian Bethel at el-Bireh, the weight of the evidence points to Beitin being pre-Persian Bethel. Since Bryant Wood’s reasonable identification of Khirbet el-Maqatir as ‘Ai, there has been no good reason I can think of for ABR to continue to identify Bethel with el-‘Bireh.

Appendix:

The PEF map:

I suspect the western roman road to Nablus was built by the Romans, while the eastern one was built by the Byzantines-I do not see any other reason for the eastern service road to Nablus than pilgrimage reasons.

Beitin: Its Size and History

Beitin is a little village to the NE of the Bira-Ramalla area. It is readily identifiable with ancient Bethel, and has been so since at least 1838 (begin at page 447). It is the only notable site which is consistent with Eusebius’s statements that Bethel was 12 milestones from Jerusalem (apparently, one turned off before reaching the 13th milestone), as confirmed by numerous attempts by me to accurately locate the milestones (a near-impossible thing to do due to the fact the roads were so drastically altered during the modern period and the inaccuracy of the Survey of Western Palestine). Since Beitin is surely the site of Byzantine Bethel, I shall here summarize the archaeological history of Beitin, as recorded in Albright&Kelso’s The Excavations of Bethel.

Above: Map of Beitin. Red line represents the Middle Bronze city wall. Thick blue line represents hypothesized border of Benjamin. Thin blue line represents road.

Beitin was first settled in the Pottery Neolithic period (¶ 218), although, due to the limited mention of this period in the excavation report (only one sherd, to my knowledge, is mentioned), this is uncertain. The Late Chalcolithic is well represented in almost all areas of Beitin. A high place with evidence of blood, animal bones, and fire, was found in the NW gate area. According to ¶ 88, “The only actual installation in connection with this earliest place of sacrifice was a shallow elliptical pit or bin, 55 cm long and 15 cm deep. It was on (in?) a thin layer of debris just above bedrock and 15 cm E. of the ledge. It was made by standing thin slabs of limestone on edge in the ground. They averaged c. 1 cm thick and 15 cm. in height. There were a few stone slabs at the bottom of the bin, the longest being 22 cm. There were also some pieces of charcoal, the largest 2-5 cm.”

Beitin was abandoned by its inhabitants at the beginning of the Early Bronze. Its descendants would go on to found et-Tell, identified by the scholarly community with Biblical Ai. et-Tell was destroyed in the EB IIIB, the same period Beitin was resettled, as four Khirbet Kerak sherds were found at Beitin in the same locus as the Neolithic sherd. Beitin was abandoned again in the Intermediate Bronze Age and resettled again in the Mirsim H phase toward the end of the Intermediate Bronze.

Middle Bronze IIA Beitin was somewhat reduced in size compared to its Late IB predecessor (Dever disagrees with this conclusion of the excavators, arguing the IB settlement was rather limited), although pottery of this phase was found in the pit where the South Wall was discovered. MB IIB-C Beitin was a strong, well-fortified city with the NW gate area being occupied by a gate which led out toward the E. This gate was never rebuilt. There was some evidence of burning at the end of the MB II city. For Beitin’s history c. 1500-c. 300 BC, see this article. According to Bryant Wood, Beitin was re-occupied already in the LB IB. According to the excavators, the town revived c. 1400 BC and its fortifications were rebuilt with the best masonry found at Beitin. The excavators also concluded that the town was destroyed c. 1300 BC, and was quickly re-inhabited and re-fortified as a slightly poorer settlement in the 13th C BC. According to Finkelstein and Singer-Avitz, the town did not survive into the Lachish VI phase, and according to the excavators, it was destroyed in a massive conflagration at the end of the LB IIB. According to Albright&Kelso, Beitin’s first two Iron I phases were destroyed and the Iron I settlement at Beitin certainly extended into the South Wall area. According to Finkelstein and Singer-Avitz, Beitin’s Middle Iron I stratum (the one contemporary with the habitation of Shiloh) did not survive into Late Iron I, when Jerusalem was well-occupied once again.

According to Finkelstein and Singer-Avitz, Beitin did not bear any distinctive Early Iron IIa (Jeroboam I era) ware, revealed a poor settlement from the Late Iron IIa, reached a peak of prosperity in the post-Aramean Kingdom of Israel, and continued to exist after the fall of Israel (e.g., a Lapidarist lmlk stamp impression was found at the site), albeit in a state of decline, until it was destroyed by fire (Excavations, pg. 37), probably during the Babylonian conquest. According to ¶ 47, repairs on the wall were conducted in the 8th C BC in the form of one or two towers, the first being in the E. part of of Area I. No Babylonian-period remains (such as Mesopotamian-inspired wedge or reedimpressed ware or mwsh impressions) were found in any part of the tell, contradicting the theories of Knauf, Amit, and Blenkinsopp. This contradiction with the Biblical text is paralleled at Tel Dan, which contained no significant Iron IIa settlement, and was only resettled during the Aramean period, as evidenced by the Tel Dan Stela. It contained no building remains and almost no pottery remains of the Persian period (a “fragment of a Greek lekythos…which Iliffe dated to the latter half of  the fifth century BC” was identified in ¶ 320 of Excavations among “Late Bronze sherds of imported ware”), and was not reoccupied until the Seleucid period.

Beitin was re-occupied in the Seleucid period (not earlier; p. 77, ftn. 6). According to the excavators, three Hellenistic phases could be distinguished, and plans of the 1st and 2nd-3rd phases are shown. Three (?) Rhodian jar handles were found at the site, all dating to the first half of the 2nd century BC. According to Albright (¶ 6), “On the next ridge to the northeast stands a tumulus, named today Rujm Abu Ammar, which is covered with Hellenistic sherds from about the second century B.C. and has remains of masonry, suggesting it was a watchtower of the Maccabaean age.” According to Kelso (¶ 153), it can be identified with Bacchides’s fortification at Bethel mentioned in I Mac. 9:50. Repairs on the city wall and a building of a new city gate, mentioned in ¶ 47&48, were conducted in the Hellenistic period. This re-fortification may be attributed either to Bacchides or to the Hasmoneans. According to ¶ 161, “The only definite signs of Roman conquest were found in 1957 at the NE gate of the city and the adjacent N wall, ¶ 48 ff. Time permitted only preliminary study at this point. The NE gate was destroyed down to pavement level and the few sherds were colorless and could be dated no closer than sometime between Pompey and Vespasian. Just W of the gate the upper section of the N wall had been removed and a Roman house built over the lower courses, ¶ 173-174.”. The town continued into the Roman period, when it expanded to the west and south as far as the Mosque area, and the Byzantine period, when a church was built at/near the Mosque. The Roman period was the first period during which cisterns ere built at Beitin. A Byzantine street (shown in orange just E. of the MB city) and numerous buildings were recorded by the excavators. The great cistern to the south of the village also dates to the Byzantine period. The town was abandoned toward the beginning of the Islamic period, and was forgotten until the 1830s.

Thus, Beitin’s archaeological history is fully compatible with Bethel’s literary history. However, problems remain: Jeroboam’s altar has, after decades of searching, not been found (it might have been located to the E. or SE. part of the walled city). Also, there are some Bible-based indications, as Knauf and Blenkinsopp have cited, that Bethel was occupied into the Babylonian-Early Persian periods. However, the evidence from Genesis 12 and Joshua does not exactly favor a pre-Hellenistic Bethel at el-Bireh, a suggestion made most notably by many of those at the ministry Associates for Biblical Research, as we’ll see in a later post.

Dr. David Livingston Mismeasured

Below is conclusive evidence Dr. David Livingston was wrong in his milestone measurements:

Please ignore all my placemarks north of Jebel et-Tawil-they are over a year old and are in serious need of updating. Also, Tell el-Ful is not necessarily Gibeah. I have re-arranged Livingston’s map in several different ways, and it is clear that from his 5th milestone (which is placed by him 200 or so yards too far south, judging by the Survey of Western Palestine’s map) to his 11th milestone, a Roman mile of 1400 or so yards is used by Livingston. This is consistent with my observations in October 2011 and March 2011. Needless to say, the Roman mile was some 1614-1618 yards in length, and there is no warrant to shortening it to 1400 or so yards merely to get the result one desires. Besides, even if Livingston was correct regarding his milestone measurements, Bireh would still only be 11, not 12 milestones from Jerusalem.

I Suspect Ai Is et-Tell

Look at the Strong’s Hebrew Concordance for ‘Ai (word). Next, look at the Strong’s Hebrew Concordance for Tel (word). Now, remember the name of the 27-acre et-Tell and its identification as ‘Ai. While I still think Khirbet Maqatir is a more likely candidate for ‘Ai, given local tradition and the implication in the Biblical account ‘Ai was a small city, we must also also consider that Beitin was certainly Byzantine Bethel. I also suspect Judges 4:5 could be used as evidence placing Iron Age Bethel at Beitin.

Biblical History of Bethel

UPDATE (as of May 30, 2012): Most of my views on Bethel before c. October 2011 are outdated. Please read this post after reading the below one.

In here, I shall compare the Biblical account of Bethel and archaeological account of Beitin.

The Biblical Account:

Bethel was a city visited by Abraham twice and Jacob three times. It was the residence of Jacob during his third visit there, Jacob there being named “Israel”, Deborah being buried here. It was an existent city at the time of Joshua, being captured by him and listed in the Benjamin town list. In Judges, Bethel is struck with the edge of the sword by Ephraim and houses the Ark of God, apparently during the lifetime of Shiloh. It was existent when Saul was made king. An altar was built at Bethel and at Dan for a god represented by a golden calf by Jeroboam I. The calf continued to exist throughout the days of the Kingdom of Israel. A small Assyrian-era YHWH-ist priesthood existed there until its cultic structures were destroyed by Josiah. No further mention of it is made until the Persian period.

The Archaeological History of Beitin (from Finkelstein):

Settled intensively in the Middle Bronze, and existent in LB I and IIA, Beitin became the best-fortified city in the Hill Country in LB IIB. It did not survive into LB III, but was re-inhabited during the Iron Age, its first two Iron I phases being destroyed, and its Middle Iron I stratum (the one contemporary with the habitation of Shiloh) did not survive into Late Iron I, when Jerusalem was well-occupied once again. It did not bear any distinctive Early Iron IIa (Jeroboam I era) ware, revealed a poor settlement from the Late Iron IIa, reached a peak of prosperity under the dynasty of Joash, and continued to exist after the fall of Israel, albeit in a state of decline, until it was destroyed, probably by the Babylonian conquest. It contained no building remains and almost no pottery remains of the Persian period.

In short, the scheme fits, even for the Exodus and Patriarchal era, except for the Persian gap (found at plenty of other sites as well) and the fact there is no great Early Iron IIa occupation (probably true at Dan as well). However, there is no indication of the cultic importance of Beitin in the archaeological record. In short, archaeological evidence neither confirms nor denies Robinson’s identification of Beitin.

Joshua’s attack on Ai: Option 2

Option 1 is here.

Bethel=el-Bireh ( 31°54’22″N, 35°12’54″E)

Ai=et-Tell, 31°55’0″N, 35°15’41″E

Iron II B-C Ai (if Nehimiah 7:32 and/or Isaiah 10:28 refers to this Ai)=Deir Dibwan

Hellenistic Ai (?) (Nehemiah 11:31 could be referring to Hellenistic data)=Khirbet Haiyan, 31°54’18″N, 35°16’17″E

Beth Aven=Beitin, 31°55’36″N, 35°14’20″E (or Site 205???)

Mountain of Genesis 12:8=peak at (31°54’45″N, 35°14’39″E), Iron II Site 205 is a fifth of a mile to the east.

Valley to the North of Ai: Wadi el-Gayeh. At present, it would be hard to see anything in the valley, but et-Tell certainly had watchtowers.

Ambush site between Bethel and Ai not visible from Ai (Bethel does not matter, see vs. 17): undoubtedly the valley at 31°54’52″N, 35°15’17″E.

So, the scenario works, with two possible candidates for Beth-Aven, the clearer one being Beitin (can site 205 be considered a suitable candidate???) , and a clear candidate for Abraham’s mountain, however, Josh 10:2 is dismissed (et-Tell=27 acres, Gibeon=16). It works far better than Option 1.

Joshua’s attack on Ai: Option 1

Today, I shall attempt to show the world how the various options for Bethel and Ai might work. Sadly, I only have time to do Option 1:

Bethel=Beitin, 31°55’36″N, 35°14’20″E

Ai=et-Tell, 31°55’0″N, 35°15’41″E

Iron II B-C Ai (if Nehimiah 7:32 and/or Isaiah 10:28 refers to this Ai)=Deir Dibwan

Hellenistic Ai (Nehemiah 11:31 is referring to Hellenistic data, as Beitin was uninhabited in Persian times)=Khirbet Haiyan, 31°54’18″N, 35°16’17″E

Beth Aven=???

Mountain of Gen 12:8=Burj Beitin (Byzantine-Crusader remains only), 31°55’21″N, 35°14’42.18″E

Valley to the North of Ai: Wadi el-Gayeh. At present, it would be hard to see anything in the valley, but et-Tell certainly had watchtowers.

Ambush site between Bethel and Ai not visible from Ai (Bethel does not matter, see vs. 17): Anywhere on the western half of the ridge between Burj Beitin and et-Tell would be okay if the walls were under 100 ft. high. While the narrow part of the valley at 31°55’36″N, 35°15’25.20″E could have provided some cover, the western option remains preferable (Josh 8:9).

So, the scenario works, except for the fact there is no suitable candidate for Beth-Aven, Josh 10:2 is dismissed (et-Tell=27 acres, Gibeon=16), and the mountain of Genesis 12:8 is turned into a low ridge.