They conquer Ai.
VERSE 1. The LORD said to Joshua, “Don’t be afraid, and don’t be dismayed. Take all the warriors with you, and arise, go up to Ai. Behold, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, with his people, his city, and his land.
Don’t be afraid. Joshua may have been dismayed by their defeat at Ai.
However, Achan’s crime has been judged. And punished by death.
arise, go up to Ai. The LORD God sends the nation back to Ai.
VERSE 2. You shall do to Ai and her king as you did to Jericho and her king, except you shall take its goods and its livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush for the city behind it.”
you shall take its goods and its livestock. When they conquered Jericho, they were forbidden from taking booty.
But now they are required to take booty.
VERSE 3. So Joshua arose, with all the warriors, to go up to Ai. Joshua chose thirty thousand men, the mighty men of valor, and sent them out by night.
thirty thousand men. When they attacked Ai previously, they only had 3,000 soldiers. Now they have ten times more.
VERSE 4. He commanded them, saying, “Behold, you shall lie in ambush against the city, behind the city. Don’t go very far from the city, but all of you be ready.
lie in ambush. When they conquered Jericho, they simply marched around it. And then shouted.
But now they will conquer Ai by normal combat operations.
The LORD God is not limited to any specific way of doing things.
VERSE 5. I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. It shall happen, when they come out against us, as at the first, that we will flee before them.
we will flee. Joshua has a brilliant strategy. The first unit of soldiers attacks the city from the west, and then flees.
VERSE 6. They will come out after us until we have drawn them away from the city; for they will say, ‘They flee before us, like the first time.’ So we will flee before them,
They will come out after us. They will have tricked the army of Ai into chasing after them.
VERSE 7. and you shall rise up from the ambush, and take possession of the city; for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand.
take possession of the city. While the army of Ai is chasing after the first unit of soldiers, the second unit of soldiers takes the city.
VERSE 8. It shall be, when you have seized the city, that you shall set the city on fire. You shall do this according to the LORD’s word. Behold, I have commanded you.”
do this according to the LORD’s word. It is the LORD God who commands them to do these things. Joshua merely delivers the message.
VERSE 9. Joshua sent them out; and they went to set up the ambush, and stayed between Bethel and Ai on the west side of Ai; but Joshua stayed among the people that night.
Joshua stayed among the people. Joshua does not live as an elite. Instead, he lives as one of the people.
VERSE 10. Joshua rose up early in the morning, mustered the people, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai.
VERSE 11. All the people, even the men of war who were with him, went up and came near, and came before the city and encamped on the north side of Ai. Now there was a valley between him and Ai.
VERSE 12. He took about five thousand men, and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the city.
set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai. This is a third unit of soldiers. They ambush the army of Ai as it is chasing the first unit of soldiers.
VERSE 13. So they set the people, even all the army who was on the north of the city, and their ambush on the west of the city; and Joshua went that night into the middle of the valley.
VERSE 14. When the king of Ai saw it, they hurried and rose up early, and the men of the city went out against Israel to battle, he and all his people, at the time appointed, before the Arabah; but he didn’t know that there was an ambush against him behind the city.
Joshua’s plan worked. Perfectly.
VERSE 15. Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness.
VERSE 16. All the people who were in the city were called together to pursue after them. They pursued Joshua, and were drawn away from the city.
VERSE 17. There was not a man left in Ai or Bethel who didn’t go out after Israel. They left the city open, and pursued Israel.
VERSE 18. The LORD said to Joshua, “Stretch out the javelin that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.” Joshua stretched out the javelin that was in his hand toward the city.
Stretch out the javelin that is in your hand toward Ai. This is similar to the gesture Moses was instructed to use to part the Red Sea.
VERSE 19. The ambush arose quickly out of their place, and they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand and entered into the city and took it. They hurried and set the city on fire.
set the city on fire. The city of Ai is destroyed.
VERSE 20. 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. The people who fled to the wilderness turned back on the pursuers.
VERSE 21. When Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city, and that the smoke of the city ascended, then they turned back and killed the men of Ai.
killed the men of Ai. The city of Ai is destroyed. And now their army is exterminated.
VERSE 22. The others came out of the city against them, so they were in the middle of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side. They struck them, so that they let none of them remain or escape.
VERSE 23. They captured the king of Ai alive, and brought him to Joshua.
VERSE 24. When Israel had finished killing all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, in the wilderness in which they pursued them, and they had all fallen by the edge of the sword until they were consumed, all Israel returned to Ai and struck it with the edge of the sword.
VERSE 25. All that fell that day, both of men and women, were twelve thousand, even all the people of Ai.
VERSE 26. For Joshua didn’t draw back his hand, with which he stretched out the javelin, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.
Joshua didn’t draw back his hand. Joshua was called to kill many people. He didn’t hesitate. He didn’t stop until the job was done.
VERSE 27. Israel took for themselves only the livestock and the goods of that city, according to the LORD’s word which he commanded Joshua.
VERSE 28. So Joshua burned Ai and made it a heap forever, even a desolation, to this day.
VERSE 29. He hanged the king of Ai on a tree until the evening. At sundown, Joshua commanded, and they took his body down from the tree and threw it at the entrance of the gate of the city, and raised a great heap of stones on it that remains to this day.
He hanged the king of Ai on a tree. The king of Ai wasn’t given the dignity of death during a military attack.
Instead, he was hanged from a tree.
threw it at the entrance of the gate of the city. The dead body of the king of Ai serves as a marker of what happens to people who oppose the LORD God of Israel.
VERSE 30. Then Joshua built an altar to the LORD, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal,
VERSE 31. as Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the scroll of the Torah of Moses: an altar of uncut stones, on which no one had lifted up any iron. They offered burnt offerings on it to the LORD and sacrificed peace offerings.
the Torah of Moses. To our knowledge, this is the first time we’ve encountered this phrase.
VERSE 32. He wrote there on the stones a copy of Moses’ law, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel.
VERSE 33. All Israel, with their elders, officers, and judges, stood on both sides of the ark before the Levitical priests, who carried the ark of the LORD’s covenant, the foreigner as well as the native; half of them in front of Mount Gerizim, and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded at the first, that they should bless the people of Israel.
VERSE 34. Afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the scroll of the Torah.
he read all the words of the law . This is the world’s first Bible Reading Project.
Joshua read the entire Bible to the nation, as it existed then. And every person took part by listening.
VERSE 35. There was not a word of all that Moses commanded which Joshua didn’t read before all the assembly of Israel, with the women, the little ones, and the foreigners who were among them.
all the assembly of Israel. Joshua read all the words of the Law to everybody … including women. And children. And foreigners.
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