AI [Sept. 'Aggai, 'Aggai Gai, Vulg. Hai], a small royal city of the Canaanites, E. of Bethel. The meaning of the name may be "the stone heap"; but it is not necessarily a Hebrew word. Abraham pitched his tent between Ai and Bethel (Gen. xii. 8, xiii. 3); but it is chiefly noted for its capture and destruction by Joshua (vii. 2-4. viii. 1-20). who made it "a heap for ever, even a desolation." It is mentioned by Isaiah (x. 28), and also after the captivity (Ezra ii. 28; Neh. vii. 32), but then probably was not more than a village. In the later Hebrew writings the name sometimes has a feminine form, Aiath (Is. x. 28), Aija (Neh. xi. 31). The definite article is usually prefixed to the name in Hebrew. The site was known, and some scanty ruins still existed, in the time of Eusebius and Jerome (Onomast., s.v. 'Aggai.) Dr E. Robinson was unable to discover any certain traces of either name or ruins. He remarks, however (Bib. Researches, ed. 1856, i. p. 443), that it must have been close to Bethel on account of Biblical narrative (Josh. viii. 17) . A little to the south of a village called Deir Diwan, and one hour's journey south-east from Bethel, is the site of an ancient place called Khirbet Haiyan indicated by reservoirs hewn in the rock, excavated tombs and foundations of hewn stone. This may possibly be the site of Ai; it agrees with all the intimations as to its position. It has also been identified with a mound now called Et-Tell ("the heap"), but though the name of a neighbouring village, Turmus Aya, is suggestive, it is in the wrong direction from Bethel. In this view recent authorities, such as G. A. Smith, generally coincide.
See Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement, 1869, p. 123; 1874, p. 62; 1878, pp. 10, 132, 194, 1881, p. 254. (R. A. S. M.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)