Israel Conquers Ai
1 The Lord told Joshua, “Don’t be afraid and don’t panic!#tn Or perhaps “and don’t get discouraged!” Take the whole army with you and march against Ai!#tn Heb “Take with you all the people of war and arise, go up against Ai!” See, I am handing over to you#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. the king of Ai, along with his people, city, and land. 2 Do to Ai and its king what you did to Jericho#map For location see Map5-B2; Map6-E1; Map7-E1; Map8-E3; Map10-A2; Map11-A1. and its king, except you may plunder its goods and cattle. Set an ambush behind the city!”
3 Joshua and the whole army marched against Ai.#tn “And Joshua and all the people of war arose to go up [against] Ai.” Joshua selected thirty thousand brave warriors and sent them out at night. 4 He told#tn Or “commanded, ordered.” them, “Look, set an ambush behind the city. Don’t go very far from the city; all of you be ready! 5 I and all the troops#tn Heb “the people.” who are with me will approach the city. When they come out to fight us like before, we will retreat from them. 6 They will attack#tn Heb “come out after.” 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. 7 Then you rise up from your hiding place#tn Heb “from the ambush.” and seize#tn Heb “take possession of.” the city. The Lord your God will hand it over to you. 8 When you capture the city, set it#tn Heb “the city.” on fire. Do as the Lord says! See, I have given you orders.”#tn Heb “I have commanded you.” 9 Joshua sent them away and they went to their hiding place#tn Or “the place of ambush.” west of Ai, between Bethel#map For location see Map4-G4; Map5-C1; Map6-E3; Map7-D1; Map8-G3. and Ai.#tn Heb “and they stayed between Bethel and Ai, west of Ai.” Joshua spent that night with the army.#tn Heb “in the midst of the people.”
10 Bright and early the next morning Joshua gathered#tn Or “summoned, mustered.” the army,#tn Heb “the people.” and he and the leaders#tn Or “elders.” of Israel marched#tn Heb “went up.” at the head of it#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. to Ai. 11 All the troops that were with him marched up and drew near the city.#tn Heb “All the people of war who were with him went up and approached and came opposite the city.” They camped north of Ai on the other side of the valley.#tn Heb “and the valley [was] between them and Ai.” 12 He took five thousand men and set an ambush west of the city between Bethel#map For location see Map4-G4; Map5-C1; Map6-E3; Map7-D1; Map8-G3. and Ai. 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#tn Some Hebrew mss read, “spent the night in.” the middle of the valley.
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.#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.” But he did not realize#tn Or “know.” men were hiding behind the city.#tn Heb “that (there was) an ambush for him behind the city.” 15 Joshua and all Israel pretended to be defeated by them and they retreated along the way to the desert. 16 All the reinforcements#tn Heb “All the people.” in Ai#tc Some textual witnesses read “the city.” were ordered#tn Or “were summoned”; or “were mustered.” to chase them; they chased Joshua and were lured away from the city. 17 No men were left in Ai or Bethel;#tc The LXX omits the words “or Bethel.”map For location see Map4-G4; Map5-C1; Map6-E3; Map7-D1; Map8-G3. they all went out after Israel.#tn Heb “who did not go out after Israel.” They left the city wide open and chased Israel.
18 The Lord told Joshua, “Hold out toward Ai the curved sword in your hand, for I am handing the city#tn Heb “it”; the referent (the city of Ai) has been specified in the translation for clarity. over to you.” So Joshua held out toward Ai the curved sword in his hand. 19 When he held out his hand, the men waiting in ambush rose up quickly from their place and attacked.#tn Heb “and ran.” They entered the city, captured it, and immediately set it on fire. 20 When the men of Ai turned around, they saw#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. the smoke from the city ascending into the sky and were so shocked they were unable to flee in any direction.#tn Heb “and there was not in them hands to flee here or there.” The Hebrew term יָדַיִם (yadayim, “hands”) is idiomatic for “strength.” In the meantime the men who were retreating to the desert turned against their pursuers. 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,#tn Heb “and that the smoke of the city ascended.” they turned around and struck down the men of Ai. 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.#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.” The Israelites struck them down, leaving no survivors or refugees. 23 But they captured the king of Ai alive and brought him to Joshua.
24 When Israel had finished killing all the men#tn Heb “residents.” of Ai who had chased them toward the desert#tn Heb “in the field, in the desert in which they chased them.” (they all fell by the sword),#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. all Israel returned to Ai and put the sword to it. 25 Twelve thousand men and women died#tn Heb “fell.” that day, including all the men of Ai. 26 Joshua kept holding out his curved sword until Israel had annihilated all who lived in Ai.#tn Heb “Joshua did not draw back his hand which held out the curved sword until he had annihilated all the residents of Ai.” 27 But Israel did plunder the cattle and the goods of the city, in accordance with the Lord’s orders to Joshua.#tn Heb “according to the word of the Lord which he commanded Joshua.” 28 Joshua burned Ai and made it a permanently uninhabited mound (it remains that way to this very day).#tn Heb “and made it a permanent mound, a desolation, to this day.” 29 He hung the king of Ai on a tree, leaving him exposed until evening.#tn Heb “on a tree until evening.” The words “leaving him exposed” are supplied in the translation for clarity. At sunset Joshua ordered that his corpse be taken down from the tree.#sn For the legal background of this action, see Deut 21:22-23. 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).#tn Heb “to this day.”
30 Then Joshua built an altar for the Lord God of Israel on Mount Ebal, 31 just as Moses the Lord’s servant had commanded the Israelites. As described in the law scroll of Moses, it was made with uncut stones untouched by an iron tool.#tn Heb “as it is written in the scroll of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones on which no one had wielded iron.” The expression “whole stones” refers to stones in their natural condition, i.e., not carved or shaped artificially with tools (“wielded iron”). They offered burnt sacrifices on it and sacrificed tokens of peace.#tn Or “peace offerings.” 32 There, in the presence of the Israelites, Joshua inscribed on the stones a duplicate of the law written by Moses.#tn Heb “and he wrote there on the stones a duplicate of the law of Moses which he wrote before the sons of Israel.” 33 All the people,#tn Heb “All Israel.” rulers,#tn Or “elders.” leaders, and judges were standing on either side of the ark, in front of the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord. Both resident foreigners and native Israelites were there.#tn Heb “like the resident alien, like the citizen.” The language is idiomatic, meaning that both groups were treated the same, at least in this instance. Half the people stood in front of Mount Gerizim and the other half in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the Lord’s servant had previously instructed to them to do for the formal blessing ceremony.#tn Heb “as Moses, the Lord’s servant, commanded to bless the people, Israel, formerly.”sn Moses’ earlier instructions are found in Deut 11:29. 34 Then#tn Or “afterward.” Joshua read aloud all the words of the law, including the blessings and the curses, just as they are written in the law scroll. 35 Joshua read aloud every commandment Moses had given#tn Heb “There was not a word from all which Moses commanded that Joshua did not read aloud.” before the whole assembly of Israel, including the women, children, and resident foreigners who lived among them.#tn Heb “walked in their midst.”