The Fall of Ai
1Now the Lord said to Joshua: #Deut. 1:21; 7:18; 31:8; Josh. 1:9; 10:8“Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, #Josh. 6:2I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. 2And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to #Josh. 6:21Jericho and its king. Only #Deut. 20:14; Josh. 8:27its spoil and its cattle you shall take as booty for yourselves. Lay an ambush for the city behind it.”
3So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai; and Joshua chose thirty thousand mighty men of valor and sent them away by night. 4And he commanded them, saying: “Behold, #Judg. 20:29you shall lie in ambush against the city, behind the city. Do not go very far from the city, but all of you be ready. 5Then I and all the people who are with me will approach the city; and it will come about, when they come out against us as at the first, that #Josh. 7:5; Judg. 20:32we shall flee before them. 6For they will come out after us till we have drawn them from the city, for they will say, ‘They are fleeing before us as at the first.’ Therefore we will flee before them. 7Then you shall rise from the ambush and seize the city, for the Lord your God will deliver it into your hand. 8And it will be, when you have taken the city, that you shall set the city on fire. According to the commandment of the Lord you shall do. #2 Sam. 13:28See, I have commanded you.”
9Joshua therefore sent them out; and they went to lie in ambush, and stayed between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai; but Joshua lodged that night among the people. 10Then Joshua rose up early in the morning and mustered the people, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai. 11#Josh. 8:5And all the people of war who were with him went up and drew near; and they came before the city and camped on the north side of Ai. Now a valley lay between them and Ai. 12So he took about five thousand men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the city. 13And when they had set the people, all the army that was on the north of the city, and its rear guard on the west of the city, Joshua went that night into the midst of the valley.
14Now it happened, when the king of Ai saw it, that the men of the city hurried and rose early and went out against Israel to battle, he and all his people, at an appointed place before the plain. But he #Judg. 20:34; Eccl. 9:12did not know that there was an ambush against him behind the city. 15And Joshua and all Israel #Judg. 20:36made as if they were beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness. 16So all the people who were in Ai were called together to pursue them. And they pursued Joshua and were drawn away from the city. 17There was not a man left in Ai or Bethel who did not go out after Israel. So they left the city open and pursued Israel.
18Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Stretch out the spear that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.” And Joshua stretched out the spear that was in his hand toward the city. 19So those in ambush arose quickly out of their place; they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand, and they entered the city and took it, and hurried to set the city on fire. 20And when the men of Ai looked behind them, they saw, and behold, the smoke of the city ascended to heaven. So they had no power to flee this way or that way, and the people who had fled to the wilderness turned back on the pursuers.
21Now when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city and that the smoke of the city ascended, they turned back and struck down the men of Ai. 22Then the others came out of the city against them; so they were caught in the midst of Israel, some on this side and some on that side. And they struck them down, so that they #Deut. 7:2let none of them remain or escape. 23But the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua.
24And it came to pass when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, in the wilderness where they pursued them, and when they all had fallen by the edge of the sword until they were consumed, that all the Israelites returned to Ai and struck it with the edge of the sword. 25So it was that all who fell that day, both men and women, were twelve thousand—all the people of Ai. 26For Joshua did not draw back his hand, with which he stretched out the spear, until he had #Josh. 6:21utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. 27#Num. 31:22, 26Only the livestock and the spoil of that city Israel took as booty for themselves, according to the word of the Lord which He had #Josh. 8:2commanded Joshua. 28So Joshua burned Ai and made it #Deut. 13:16a heap forever, a desolation to this day. 29#Josh. 10:26And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until evening. #Deut. 21:22, 23; Josh. 10:27And as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his corpse down from the tree, cast it at the entrance of the gate of the city, and #Josh. 7:26; 10:27raise over it a great heap of stones that remains to this day.
Joshua Renews the Covenant
30Now Joshua built an altar to the Lord God of Israel #Deut. 27:4–8in Mount Ebal, 31as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses: #Ex. 20:25; Deut. 27:5, 6“an altar of whole stones over which no man has wielded an iron tool.” And #Ex. 20:24they offered on it burnt offerings to the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings. 32And there, in the presence of the children of Israel, #Deut. 27:2, 3, 8he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written. 33Then all Israel, with their elders and officers and judges, stood on either side of the ark before the priests, the Levites, #Deut. 31:9, 25who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, #Deut. 31:12the stranger as well as he who was born among them. Half of them were in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, #Deut. 11:29; 27:12as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel. 34And afterward #Deut. 31:11; Neh. 8:3he read all the words of the law, #Deut. 28:2, 15, 45; 29:20, 21; 30:19the blessings and the cursings, according to all that is written in the #Josh. 1:8Book of the Law. 35There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, #Ex. 12:38; Deut. 31:12with the women, the little ones, #Josh. 8:33and the strangers who were living among them.