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:
It would seem, from this verse, that all that were capable of bearing arms were to march out of the camp on this occasion: 30,000 formed an ambuscade in one place; and 5,000 were placed in another, who all gained their positions in the night. With the rest of the army, Joshua appeared the next morning before Ai, which the men of that city would naturally suppose was the whole of the Israelitish force and, consequently, be the more emboldened to come out and attack them. Some, however, think that 30,000 men were the whole that were employed on this occasion, 5,000 of whom were placed in ambush on the west of the city, between Bethel and Ai (ver. 12,) and, with the rest, Joshua appeared before the city in the morning. The king, seeing but about 25,000 coming against him, though he had but 12,000 persons in the whole city (ver. 25), determined to risk a battle, issued out, and was defeated by stratagem.
see, I have
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.
do to Ai
See on ch
only the spoil
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.
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:
lie in wait
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,
that we will
(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.
Then ye shall rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city: for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand.
for the Lord
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.
set the city
See, I have
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.
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.
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.
of the city
or, of Ai.
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.
liers in wait
Heb. lying in wait.
on the west
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.
Ai saw it
he wist not
And Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness.
by the way
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.
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.
Bethel is not mentioned in the Greek version, and some, with Houbigant and Pilkington, think it was not originally in the Hebrew; because, had the men of Bethel pursued, as well as those of Ai, it would have been said that they left the cities, and not the city, open. The principal strength of Bethel might have been previously taken into Ai, as the strongest place to make a stand in; Bethel being but about three miles westward from Ai.
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.
The word keedon is rendered clypeum, a shield or buckler, by the Vulgate but the LXX. translate it [gaison] which Suidas says, signifies a kind of weapon, [hoion doratos] like a spear. It may denote a short spear, javelin, or lance; for it is evident that it signifies neither the larger spear nor the shield, because it is distinguished from both.
1 Samuel 17:6,41,45 Job 39:23 Joshua may have had a flag or ensign at the end of the spear, which might be seen at a considerable distance when extended, which was the sign agreed upon by him and the ambush.
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.
and they had
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.
And the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua.
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.
returned unto Ai
This must refer to the women, children, and old persons left behind; for it seems that all the effective men had sallied out when they imagined the Israelites had fled. (ver. 16.)
For Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.
Joshua seems to have been not only the general but the standard-bearer of the army, (ver. 18,) and continued in this employment, by holding up or extending his spear, during the whole of the battle; and did not slacken from the pursuit till the forces of Ai were utterly discomfited. Some commentators, however, understand this action in a figurative sense, like the holding up of Moses' hands, as if it implied that Joshua continued in prayer for the success of his troops, nor ceased till the armies of Ai were annihilated, and the city taken and destroyed.
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.
And Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap for ever, even a desolation unto this day.
unto this day
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.
The kings of Canaan lay under the same curse as their subjects and probably were more deeply criminal. The reserving of the king of Ai for a solemn execution, would tend to strike terror into the other kings, contribute to the success of Israel, and give their proceedings the stamp of a judicial process, and of executing the vengeance of God upon his enemies.
a great heap
Then Joshua built an altar unto the LORD God of Israel in mount Ebal,
built an altar
in mount Ebal
Moses himself had twice given express orders for this solemnity; once De 11:29, 30, in which he pointed out the very place where it was to be performed; and again, at the 27th chapter, there is a renewal of the instructions to Joshua, with special reference to minute particulars. It was a federal transaction: the covenant was now renewed between God and Israel upon their taking possession of the land of promise, that they might be encouraged in the conquest of it, and might know upon what terms they held it, and come under fresh obligations to obedience.
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.
as it is
and they offered
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.
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.
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.
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.
Heb. walked. conversant. The word conversant, from the Latin conversor, is here used in the classical sense of having intercourse with.