Joshua 8
The Lord assures Joshua of success in taking Ai 1
The strategy 3
The king hung 29
Joshua builds an altar 30
The Law written on stones 32
Blessing and curses 33
.1 ¶ And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land:   Dismayed ... arise The sin of Achan had been dealt with. It was time to move forward.
  Take all the people Those who had been sent to look over Ai before the attack had recommended using only a small number of people jos0701. This time all were to go. The principle holds today for reaching out with truth for others. Did the women also go? Maybe the whole encampment relocated. The women could have gone around the city or near it.
 2 And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall ye take for a prey unto yourselves: lay thee an ambush for the city behind it.   Spoil [loot] ... ye shall take Different from previous orders to not take anything from Jericho jos0618. As we honor God with what is His before taking for ourselves, we begin to understand our need for Him and the source of our joy. Do you remember the principle of the first fruits? ex2229, ex3422, le0212.
  Lay thee an ambush The Lord wants to direct us, too. Do we wait on Him in prayer and listen to His word? pr0306, is3021, ps03707.
.3 ¶ So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai: and Joshua chose out thirty thousand mighty men of valour, and sent them away by night.
4 And he commanded them, saying, Behold, ye shall lie in wait against the city, even behind the city: go not very far from the city, but be ye all ready:
 5 And I, and all the people that are with me, will approach unto the city: and it shall come to pass, when they come out against us, as at the first, that we will flee before them,
 6 (For they will come out after us) till we have drawn them from the city; for they will say, They flee before us, as at the first: therefore we will flee before them. 
 7 Then ye shall rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city: for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand.

  3 - Thirty thousand The numbers aren't clear. There may have been two ambush teams.

The image above is of The Gate at Khirbet el-Maqatir, Israel and is dated to the time of Joshua. Evidence of the fortress of Ai is from the Associates for Biblical Research. They hold the copyright for the image, © 2002. The whole fortress covers about 3 acres and is about 10 mi (16 km.) north of Jerusalem. It was destroyed by fire as attested in verse 8 below. For contact information, see the Exodus home page or

.8 And it shall be, when ye have taken the city, that ye shall set the city on fire: according to the commandment of the LORD shall ye do. See, I have commanded you.
 9 Joshua therefore sent them forth: and they went to lie in ambush, and abode between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai: but Joshua lodged that night among the people.
  9 - Joshua ... lodged He stayed at Gilgal with the troops. This was the first established camp after crossing the Jordan. See on jos0419.
 10 And Joshua rose up early in the morning, and numbered the people, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai.
 11 And all the people, even the people of war that were with him, went up, and drew nigh, and came before the city, and pitched on the north side of Ai: now there was a valley between them and Ai.
 12 And he took about five thousand men, and set them to lie in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the city. 
 13 And when they had set the people, even all the host that was on the north of the city, and their liers in wait on the west of the city, Joshua went that night into the midst of the valley.
  10 - Numbered the people Literally "visited ..." Verse 11 would refer to the same "people." The Septuagint reads "concealed the people." He may have instructed them in hiding. Counting the groups would verify no loss of life.
  13 - Joshua went at night The meaning of the word for "valley" is "a flat low place." Joshua may have gone there to pray.
 14 And it came to pass, when the king of Ai saw it, that they hasted and rose up early, and the men of the city went out against Israel to battle, he and all his people, at a time appointed, before the plain; but he wist not that there were liers in ambush against him behind the city.
 15 And Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness.
  14 - Saw it Could also be translated "became aware of it."
  14 - At the time appointed May be better translated "to the descent" jos0702, jos0705, v13.
  15 - Joshua and all ... as if ... beaten -the pretended flight in the direction of the wilderness; that is, southeast, into the Ghor, the desert valley of the Jordan, decoyed all the inhabitants of Ai out of the city, while the people of Beth-el hastened to participate in the expected victory. It is supposed by some, from 'the city,' and not 'cities,' being spoken of, that the effective force of Beth-el had been concentrated in Ai, as the two places were closely contiguous, and Ai the larger of the two. (See Jos 12:9). It may be remarked, however, that the words, "or Beth-el," are not in the Septuagint, and are rejected by some eminent scholars, as an interpolation not found in the most ancient manuscripts.'" (JFB Commentary) 
 16 And all the people that were in Ai were called together to pursue after them: and they pursued after Joshua, and were drawn away from the city.
 17 And there was not a man left in Ai or Bethel, that went not out after Israel: and they left the city open, and pursued after Israel.
  16 - Pursued They were over confident as the Israelites had been in their first attack on the city. This time the sin in the camp had been purged and God was fighting for His people.
  17 - Bethel Only a few miles from Ai. It was not overthrown until later jg0122.
 18 And the LORD said unto Joshua, Stretch out the spear that is in thy hand toward Ai; for I will give it into thine hand. And Joshua stretched out the spear that he had in his hand toward the city.
.19 And the ambush arose quickly out of their place, and they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand: and they entered into the city, and took it, and hasted and set the city on fire.
.20 And when the men of Ai looked behind them, they saw, and, behold, the smoke of the city ascended up to heaven, and they had no power to flee this way or that way: and the people that fled to the wilderness turned back upon the pursuers. 
 21 And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city, and that the smoke of the city ascended, then they turned again, and slew the men of Ai.
 22 And the other issued out of the city against them; so they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side: and they smote them, so that they let none of them remain or escape.
  18 - Stretch out the spear It has been suggested that the spear held a flag to be a sign for those waiting in ambush to attack. There may have been some sign but probably not the spear because the expression is clarified in the next verse. See on Jos 8:1. The waiting ones did arise and enter the city setting it on fire.
 19 - Set the city on fire The meaning of the words indicate that they lit a fire. The Hebrew term for a consuming fire is different.
  20 - Smoke ... ascended Compare ge1927,8.
  22 - None ... remain The people had chosen to keep their idolatrous ways even after seeing the hand of God.
 23 ¶ And the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua.
 24 And it came to pass, when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, in the wilderness wherein they chased them, and when they were all fallen on the edge of the sword, until they were consumed, that all the Israelites returned unto Ai, and smote it with the edge of the sword.
 25 And so it was, that all that fell that day, both of men and women, were twelve thousand, even all the men of Ai.
.26 For Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.
  23 - King ... took alive See verse 29.
  26 - Joshua drew not ... back At Rephidim he had led the battle. The Israelites were winning as long as Moses held up his rod ex1708-13.
 27 Only the cattle and the spoil of that city Israel took for a prey unto themselves, according unto the word of the LORD which he commanded Joshua.
.28 And Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap for ever, even a desolation unto this day.
.29 And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until eventide: and as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his carcase down from the tree, and cast it at the entering of the gate of the city, and raise thereon a great heap of stones, that remaineth unto this day.
  28 - Joshua burnt Ai Compare v19.
  28 - Made an heap The word means "mound" after the Arabic word tell which is used to describe the sites of ancient cities which were mounds after the accumulation of debris and having been rebuilt a number of times.
  29 - Hanged Probably after having been slain as had been the kings of the Amorites jos1026. Also see de2122.
.30 Then Joshua built an altar unto the LORD God of Israel in mount Ebal,
.31 As Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings.
.32 And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel.
  30 - Then The Hebrew word here means "at that time."
  30 - Mount Ebal It became a place of solemn meeting de1126, de2702. It was about 20 miles (33 km.) from Ai. The people went to a point between Mout Ebal and Mount Gerizim. Seeking God was a priority. Also mt0633. The area of Shechem. See jos2401.
  31 - Whole stones Perhaps to avoid the human element of pride of construction. Using the chisel would have tempted the people to construct carved images for idolatry ex2025.
  32 - Copy of the law Probably written on a monument by the altar de2802. In the dry climate the monument could have lasted for centuries as a testimony.
.33 And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, as well the stranger, as he that was born among them; half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel.
 34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law.
.35 There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them.
  All were to hear the word. A serious lesson for us who tend to neglect it and to forget to teach our children. See map. Also de1129.



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