Joshua 8

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016




We are in the process of looking at the conquest of Canaan which extends from 5:13 - 12:24. The conquest of Canaan is divided into the central campaign, the southern campaign, and the northern campaign.


We have seen the introduction of the Divine Commander in 5:13-15, and we are in the process of looking at the central campaign. We have seen the conquest at Jericho in chapter 6 and the defeat at Ai in chapter 7. In this message we will be looking at the victory over Ai in 8:1-35.


You remember Joshua 1:8 , don’t you. Well, you should, because I refer to it quite often.


Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.


When you do things God’s way, you will have God’s success. When you don’t do things God’s way, you will not have God’s success. In chapter 7, the people persuaded Joshua to do things without seeking God’s direction; and it cost them dearly. They thought they could take a small force of only two or three thousand men against Ai, and they were defeated in battle.


In chapter 8 we see that they followed the Lord’s direction and were successful.


    I.     THE SETTING OF THE BATTLE – 8:1-2


Joshua 8:1 And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear not [i.e. do not be afraid], neither be thou [this is addressed to Joshua] dismayed [i.e. discouraged. Fear and discouragement might be expected as a result of the Israelites’ having been defeated by the men of Ai in chapter 7.]: take all the people of war with thee [not just two or three thousand as in chapter 7], 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 [In God’s sight it was a done deal, but Joshua still had to take all the men of war with him and go defeat the king and people of Ai; yet, victory was assured.]:


Joshua 8:2 And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof [i.e. the plunder of Ai], and the cattle thereof [i.e. and the livestock of Ai], shall ye take for a prey [i.e. as booty, as plunder] unto yourselves [Although the people were forbidden from taking of the spoil for themselves at Jericho, this time they were permitted to do so. It’s too bad for Achan that he was greedy and didn’t wait.]: lay thee [i.e. Set] an ambush for the city behind it.


            II. THE SEQUENCE OF THE BATTLE – 8:3-29


Joshua 8:3 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. [It is this force of 30,000 men who will do the ambushing.]


Joshua 8:4 And he commanded them, saying, Behold, ye shall lie in wait [i.e. you will lie in ambush] against the city, even behind the city [i.e. on the west side of the city]: go not very far from the city, but be ye all ready [So, there is a force of 30,000 men on the west side of Ai. They are supposed to ambush the city from the west when the men of the city are drawn out of Ai to fight with Joshua’s main force which will be located on the north side of Ai.]:


Joshua 8:5 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 [This is Joshua’s main force. When they approach the city from the north, their intent will be to draw the men of Ai out of the city to engage them in battle; but they will retreat as if fleeing from the men of Ai. Meanwhile, the second force of 30,000 men who are hiding on the west side of Ai will attack the unprotected city of Ai. In addition, there is a third force of about 5,000 men, also on the west side of the Ai, whose purpose is to protect the Israelite soldiers from an attack coming from the men of the city of Bethel which is a short distance to the west.],


Joshua 8:6 (For they [i.e. the men of Ai] 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.


Joshua 8:7 Then ye [i.e. you 30,000 men lying in ambush] shall rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city: for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand.



Joshua 8:8 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.


Joshua 8:9 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.


Joshua 8:10 And Joshua rose up early in the morning, and numbered [i.e. mustered] the people, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai.


Joshua 8:11 And all the people, even the people of war that were with him, went up, and drew nigh, and came before the city, and pitched [i.e. camped, encamped] on the north side of Ai: now there was a valley between them and Ai. [This was Joshua’s main army. It was encamped on the north side of Ai and was setting up to decoy the men of Ai out of Ai.]


Joshua 8:12 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. [These 5,000 men were sent to prevent an attack by the men of Beth-el.]


Joshua 8:13 And when they had set the people, even all the host [i.e. army] that was on the north of the city, and their liers in wait [and its rear guard] on the west of the city, Joshua went that night into the midst of the valley.


Joshua 8:14 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 [i.e. overlooking the plain]; but he wist [i.e. the king of Ai knew] not that there were liers in ambush [i.e. that there was an ambush] against him behind the city.


Joshua 8:15 And Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness.


Joshua 8:16 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.



Joshua 8:17 And there was not a man left in Ai or Bethel, that went not out after Israel: and they left the city open [i.e. unguarded], and pursued after Israel.


Joshua 8:18 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. [It has been suggested that Joshua’s spear signaled the ambushing party by reflecting the sun from its flat blade.]


Joshua 8:19 And the ambush arose quickly out of their place, and they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand: and they entered into the city, and took it [i.e. captured it], and hasted and set [i.e. quickly set] the city on fire.


Joshua 8:20 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 [i.e. the main force of the Israelites] turned back upon the pursuers [i.e. upon the men of Ai who were pursuing them].


Joshua 8:21 And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city, and that the smoke of the city ascended, then they turned again, and slew the men of Ai.


Joshua 8:22 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 [i.e. struck them down], so that they let none of them remain or escape.


Joshua 8:23 And the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua.


Joshua 8:24 And it came to pass, when Israel had made an end of slaying [i.e. had finished killing] all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, in the wilderness wherein they chased them [i.e. where they pursued 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 [i.e. struck it] with the edge of the sword.


Joshua 8:25 And so it was, that all that fell that day, both of men and women, were twelve thousand, even all the men [i.e. all the people] of Ai.


Joshua 8:26 For Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.


Joshua 8:27 Only the cattle and the spoil of that city Israel took for a prey unto themselves [i.e. as booty (or plunder) for themselves], according unto the word of the LORD which he commanded Joshua.


Joshua 8:28 And Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap for ever, even a desolation unto this day.


Joshua 8:29 And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until eventide [i.e. evening]: and as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his carcase [i.e. body, corpse] 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.




Joshua 8:30 Then Joshua built an altar unto the LORD God of Israel in mount Ebal,


Joshua 8:31 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.


Joshua 8:32 And he wrote there upon the stones [RSB - the stones were not of the altar but of a large pillar] a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel.


Joshua 8:33 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.


Joshua 8:34 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.


Joshua 8:35 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 [i.e. that lived] among them.