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ffidst unto Jericho and her king; the city must be destroyed, lest the Canaanites should take possession of it, or the Israelites should confide in fortified placcs; and to encourage them, he gives them the spoil: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall ye take for a prey unto yourselves: lay thee an
3 ambush for the city behind it. 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
4 by night, to lie in ambush behind the city. And he commanded -them, saying, Behold, ye shall lie in wait against the city, [evenj^vt thousand of you, behind the city: go not very far
5 from the city, but be ye all ready: And I, and all the people that [are] with me, will approach unto the city: and it shall come to pass, when they come wit against us, as at the firstj
6 that we will flee before them, (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 be?
7 fore them. Then ye shall rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city: for the Lord your God will deliver it
8 into your hand. And it shall be, when ye have taken the city, [that] ye shall set the city on fire : according to the comr mandment of the Lord shall ye do. See, I have commanded
9 you. Joshua therefore sent them forth, that is, the five thousand: 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, the twenty five thousand remain
10 ing. And Joshua rose up early in the morning, and numbered the people, to prove that no lives were lost, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai; the elders ivent up to be witnesses of the action, as a council of war, and to
11 assist in dividing the spoil. 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 on the north side of Ai:
12 now [there was] a valley between them and Ai. And he took about five thousand men, and set them to lie in ambush be
13 tween Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the city.* And when they had set the people, [even] all the host that [was] on the north of the city, arid their liers in wait on the west of
into the midst of the valley. 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 ; but he wist not that [there were] liers in ambush against him behind the city ; which is very
• Probably there were'two ambushes, one to surprise the enemy in front, and the other to take the city behind: while the main body might be stationed behind an hilj, where the enemy could not s« them.
probable^ considering the city was close shut up to prevent sfiies
15 coining in, or deserters going out. And Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them, and fled by the way
16 of the wilderness, toward the main body of the army. And all the people that [were] in At were called together to pursue after them : and they pursued after Joshua, and were drawn away from the Gity, suspecting no danger from the west part, and so
17 left the city unguarded. And there was not a man left in Ai or Bethel, that went not out after Israel; which shows that some from the neighbouring city had joined the garrison at Ai:
18 and they left the city open, and pursued after Israel. 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
19 toward the city, as a signal to the tiers in wait. And the ami bush arqse 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, and hasted and set the city on fire, some of
20 t/tc outer parts of it. And when the men of Ai looked be-> hjnd them, they saw, and, behold, the smoke of the city as<#nded up to heaven, and they had no power to flee this way ov that way: apd the people that fled to the wilderness turned
2.1 back upon the pursuers. And when Joshua and all Israel, the rest of the army that was with him, who seemed tofiy a,way before, saw that the ambush had taken the city, and that the smoke of the city ascended, then they turned again, and slew
22 the men of Ai. And the other, the ambush that had taken the city, 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.
23 And the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua.
24 And it came to pass, when Israel had made an end of slaying a,U ttve inhabitants of Ai in the field, in the wilderness where.; in 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, that is, the men una; hie to. bear arms, and women and children, with the edge of the
25 sword. And [so] it was, [that] all that fell that day, both of raen and women, [were] twelve thousand, [even] all the men
26 of Ai and Bethel. For Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroy-.
• ed all the inhabitants of Ai; but still led them on, and continual ed to fight till all were destroyed. Only the cattle aDd the spoil of that citjj Israel took for a prey unto themselves, which was distributed in due proportion, according unto the word of 38 the Lord which he commanded Joshua, And Joshua burnt
Ai, and made it an hea.p for ever,* [even] a desolation unta ,<39 this day. And the king of Ai, who was the greatest offender, as a bad governor, and a wicked king, he hanged of) a tree until eventide : and as soon as the sun was down, Joshua. commanded that they should take his carcass down from the tree, and cast it at the entering of the gate of the city, wherehe had used to sit in judgment, and had probably been guilty of great injustice and cruelty, and to raise thereon a great heap of stones [that remaineth] unto this day. 130 Then, after the taking of Ai, Joshua built an altar unto thft
31 Lord God of Israel in mount Ebal.f 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
32 offerings, in token of their covenant with God. And he wrotft there upon the stones, prepared for that purpose, and perhaps placed over the altar, a copy of the law of Moses, at least the ten commandments, or rather, the blessings and curses contained in the twenty seventh and twenty eighth chapters of Deuteronomy, which he wrote in the presence of the children
33 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 bora among them; half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mqunt Ebal; as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded before, that they should bless
34 the people of Israel. And afterward he read, or caused the Levites to read, after the sacrifices were over, all the words o£ the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that i*
35 written in the book of the law. There was not a word of al}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; the members of their families, and the strangers the proselytes, tq (heir religion, were all present at this solemn service,
1. "\^7"E see ^at God is ready to return to his people when V V they put away their sin. When that is removed, he returns graciously ; he is disposed to renew the friendship and union; and then also we may expect to receive direction, encouragement, and assistance from him. This is an encourage
* Forever, means only a long time; there was no. prospect of its being rebuilt wheti this book was written. But we find in Nehem. xi. 31. that it was built again, andjjoth this and Bethel were inhabited by Benjamin.
t This was at a considerable distance from Ai; but he took advantage of the terror that was struck into the Can.aan.ites, to perform thU act of religion.
ment to all to forsake their sins, and to cultivate that godly sorrow j'or sin, which worketh repentance that never needs to be repented of. The language of his grace under the law and gospel too, is, Return unto me, and I •ivill return unto thee.
2. We here see that stratagems in war are lawful in them.: selves. There is indeed something peculiar in the circumstances of the Jewish people, having God, the sovereign of the world, for their king; but he never commanded any thing to be done that was unlawful in itself. Here was no faith violated, or treaties broken ; the breach of which is scandalous and abominable. The people of Ai acted against the common rules of human prudence. It does not appear to be unlawful to deceive an enemy by a dubious action; and the common agreement among men seems to countenance this, where no previous compact renders it unlawful. But still there are degrees of honour to be observed, even toward enemies, that all men, especially christians, should show, and carefully avoid every degree of perjury, and violation of public faith.
3. We learn, that amidst the greatest hurry of business, and the most agreeable scenes of life, the worship of God must not be neglected. Joshua and the people had great work before them; their enemies were intimidated, and we may be ready to think they should have now pushed forward. But they must take time to observe God's laws ; pay their thanks to him for what is past, and seek further success. Amidst all the joy which the victory occasioned, God was to be revered, and his blessings and curses pronounced, read, and regarded. The more we are hurried with the affairs of this life, the more need we have to call off our thoughts, by renewing our dedication to God, recognizing our solemn covenant, and attending to the words of his law. The more pleasant our circumstances are, and the greater prosperity we meet with, the more peculiar reason have we to acknowledge God, lest prosperity should prove a snare.
4. Persons of every rank, sex, and station, should join in worshipping God, and attending on the instructions of his law. The elders, officers, and judges of Israel, were all to come to hear the words of God's law, and attend on the sacrifices. The poor stranger also, was to join himself to the Lord. The wrnnen and children were to attend these sacrifices and religious instructions. The greatest of men are not to think themselves above being religious ; not for their own sakes only, but that their example may influence others, and engage them to the service of God. Heads of families should bring their wives and little ones to public ordinances, and make it their resolution that they and theirs shall serve the Lord. Remember, that religion is the concern of every man; that fearing God and keeping his commandments, is the way to prosperity in both worlds.
We have in this chapter a contrivance of the Gibeoniles to gain peace and friendship with Israel; the discovery of their fraud; and Joshua's agreement to sfiare their lives, upon condition of their being in perpetual bondage.
1 /V ND it came to pass, when all the kings which [were] XX. on this side Jordan, in the hills, and in the valleys, and in all the coasts of the great sea, the Mediterranean, over against Lebanon, the Hittite, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, heard [thereof;]
2 That they gathered themselves together, and entered into a confederacy, to fight with Joshua and with Israel, with one accord. But this iMs not done till after they had heard of what the Gibeoniles had done, as we shall see in the next chapter.
3 Arid when the inhabitants of Gibeon* heard what Joshua
4 had done unto Jericho and to Ai, They did work wilily, that is, craftily, with a design to deceive the Israelites, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors sent from some far country, and took old sacks upon their -asses, and wine bottles, old>
5 and rent, and bound up where they had leaked; And old shoes and clouted upon their feet, that is, patched as if they had been worn out with long travelling; and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry [and] mouldy.
6 And they went to Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal, his head quarters, and said unto him, and to the men of Israel, the princes and elders who used to meet in council with Joshua, We be come from a far country: now therefore make ye a
7 league with us. And the men of Israel said unto the Hivites, Peradventure ye dwell among us, and are of the people with whom we are not to make a covenant or friendship; and how
•8 shall we make a league with you? And they said unto Joshua, We [are] thy servants; not enemies, but friends, who will submit to any conditions of peace. This awakened his suspicion, and Joshua said unto them, Who [are] ye? and from whence
9 come ye? And they said unto him, From a very far country thy servants are come,t because of the name of the Lord thy God: for we have heard the fame of him, and all that he did in Egypt, (not mentioning what was done lately f as if they 10 had not heard of that, because of their remoteness) And all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites, that [were] beyond
• Gibeon was a royal city, belonging to the Hivltes, v. 7, and had other towns under its government. They had little reason to be afraid, as they had many mighty mm among them, See ch. x. 8.
t They avoid coming to particulars, and answer only in general terms ; the way of all deceitful men. At length they pretended that religion was their motive, and a regard to the God of Israel; they thoiigb.etb.is the best way to secure, Joshua's favourable opinion.