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Joshua 8:1-29

Israel Conquers Ai

8:1 The Lord told Joshua, “Don’t be afraid and don’t panic! 1  Take the whole army with you and march against Ai! 2  See, I am handing over to you 3  the king of Ai, along with his people, city, and land. 8:2 Do to Ai and its king what you did to Jericho 4  and its king, except you may plunder its goods and cattle. Set an ambush behind the city!”

8:3 Joshua and the whole army marched against Ai. 5  Joshua selected thirty thousand brave warriors and sent them out at night. 8:4 He told 6  them, “Look, set an ambush behind the city. Don’t go very far from the city; all of you be ready! 8:5 I and all the troops 7  who are with me will approach the city. When they come out to fight us like before, we will retreat from them. 8:6 They will attack 8  us until we have lured them from the city, for they will say, ‘They are retreating from us like before.’ We will retreat from them. 8:7 Then you rise up from your hiding place 9  and seize 10  the city. The Lord your God will hand it over to you. 8:8 When you capture the city, set it 11  on fire. Do as the Lord says! See, I have given you orders.” 12  8:9 Joshua sent them away and they went to their hiding place 13  west of Ai, between Bethel 14  and Ai. 15  Joshua spent that night with the army. 16 

8:10 Bright and early the next morning Joshua gathered 17  the army, 18  and he and the leaders 19  of Israel marched 20  at the head of it 21  to Ai. 8:11 All the troops that were with him marched up and drew near the city. 22  They camped north of Ai on the other side of the valley. 23  8:12 He took five thousand men and set an ambush west of the city between Bethel 24  and Ai. 8:13 The army was in position – the main army north of the city and the rear guard west of the city. That night Joshua went into 25  the middle of the valley.

8:14 When the king of Ai saw Israel, he and his whole army quickly got up the next day and went out to fight Israel at the meeting place near the Arabah. 26  But he did not realize 27  men were hiding behind the city. 28  8:15 Joshua and all Israel pretended to be defeated by them and they retreated along the way to the desert. 8:16 All the reinforcements 29  in Ai 30  were ordered 31  to chase them; they chased Joshua and were lured away from the city. 8:17 No men were left in Ai or Bethel; 32  they all went out after Israel. 33  They left the city wide open and chased Israel.

8:18 The Lord told Joshua, “Hold out toward Ai the curved sword in your hand, for I am handing the city 34  over to you.” So Joshua held out toward Ai the curved sword in his hand. 8:19 When he held out his hand, the men waiting in ambush rose up quickly from their place and attacked. 35  They entered the city, captured it, and immediately set it on fire. 8:20 When the men of Ai turned around, they saw 36  the smoke from the city ascending into the sky and were so shocked they were unable to flee in any direction. 37  In the meantime the men who were retreating to the desert turned against their pursuers. 8:21 When Joshua and all Israel saw that the men in ambush had captured the city and that the city was going up in smoke, 38  they turned around and struck down the men of Ai. 8:22 At the same time the men who had taken the city came out to fight, and the men of Ai were trapped in the middle. 39  The Israelites struck them down, leaving no survivors or refugees. 8:23 But they captured the king of Ai alive and brought him to Joshua.

8:24 When Israel had finished killing all the men 40  of Ai who had chased them toward the desert 41  (they all fell by the sword), 42  all Israel returned to Ai and put the sword to it. 8:25 Twelve thousand men and women died 43  that day, including all the men of Ai. 8:26 Joshua kept holding out his curved sword until Israel had annihilated all who lived in Ai. 44  8:27 But Israel did plunder the cattle and the goods of the city, in accordance with the Lord’s orders to Joshua. 45  8:28 Joshua burned Ai and made it a permanently uninhabited mound (it remains that way to this very day). 46  8:29 He hung the king of Ai on a tree, leaving him exposed until evening. 47  At sunset Joshua ordered that his corpse be taken down from the tree. 48  They threw it down at the entrance of the city gate and erected over it a large pile of stones (it remains to this very day). 49 

1 tn Or perhaps “and don’t get discouraged!”

2 tn Heb “Take with you all the people of war and arise, go up against Ai!”

3 tn Heb “I have given into our hand.” The verbal form, a perfect, is probably best understood as a perfect of certitude, indicating the certainty of the action.

4 map For location see Map5 B2; Map6 E1; Map7 E1; Map8 E3; Map10 A2; Map11 A1.

5 tn “And Joshua and all the people of war arose to go up [against] Ai.”

6 tn Or “commanded, ordered.”

7 tn Heb “the people.”

8 tn Heb “come out after.”

9 tn Heb “from the ambush.”

10 tn Heb “take possession of.”

11 tn Heb “the city.”

12 tn Heb “I have commanded you.”

13 tn Or “the place of ambush.”

14 map For location see Map4 G4; Map5 C1; Map6 E3; Map7 D1; Map8 G3.

15 tn Heb “and they stayed between Bethel and Ai, west of Ai.”

16 tn Heb “in the midst of the people.”

17 tn Or “summoned, mustered.”

18 tn Heb “the people.”

19 tn Or “elders.”

20 tn Heb “went up.”

21 tn Heb “them” (referring to “the people” in the previous clause, which requires a plural pronoun). Since the translation used “army” in the previous clause, a singular pronoun (“it”) is required in English.

22 tn Heb “All the people of war who were with him went up and approached and came opposite the city.”

23 tn Heb “and the valley [was] between them and Ai.”

24 map For location see Map4 G4; Map5 C1; Map6 E3; Map7 D1; Map8 G3.

25 tn Some Hebrew mss read, “spent the night in.”

26 tn Heb “When the king of Ai saw, the men of Ai hurried and rose early and went out to meet Israel for battle, he and all his people at the meeting place before the Arabah.”

27 tn Or “know.”

28 tn Heb “that (there was) an ambush for him behind the city.”

29 tn Heb “All the people.”

30 tc Some textual witnesses read “the city.”

31 tn Or “were summoned”; or “were mustered.”

32 tc The LXX omits the words “or Bethel.”

map For location see Map4 G4; Map5 C1; Map6 E3; Map7 D1; Map8 G3.

33 tn Heb “who did not go out after Israel.”

34 tn Heb “it”; the referent (the city of Ai) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

35 tn Heb “and ran.”

36 tn Heb “and they saw, and look.” The Hebrew term הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”) draws attention to the scene and invites the audience to view the events from the perspective of the men of Ai.

37 tn Heb “and there was not in them hands to flee here or there.” The Hebrew term יָדַיִם (yadayim, “hands”) is idiomatic for “strength.”

38 tn Heb “and that the smoke of the city ascended.”

39 tn Heb “and these went out from the city to meet them and they were for Israel in the middle, some on this side, and others on the other side.”

40 tn Heb “residents.”

41 tn Heb “in the field, in the desert in which they chased them.”

42 tc Heb “and all of them fell by the edge of the sword until they were destroyed.” The LXX omits the words, “and all of them fell by the edge of the sword.” They may represent a later scribal addition.

43 tn Heb “fell.”

44 tn Heb “Joshua did not draw back his hand which held out the curved sword until he had annihilated all the residents of Ai.”

45 tn Heb “according to the word of the Lord which he commanded Joshua.”

46 tn Heb “and made it a permanent mound, a desolation, to this day.”

47 tn Heb “on a tree until evening.” The words “leaving him exposed” are supplied in the translation for clarity.

48 sn For the legal background of this action, see Deut 21:22-23.

49 tn Heb “to this day.”

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