After the people had once again been consecrated, the Lord reminded Joshua not to be dismayed, and told him to take the fighting men to Ai and victory will be theirs. An ambush is what God commanded, and that is what they did. Joshua sent one group of warriors behind the city at night to lay in ambush to the west, between Bethel and Ai. Joshua took the other group to camp north of the city, and he made sure to be seen.
So the king of Ai went out with all the men of the city to meet the Israelites in battle. Taking advantage of the defeat of chapter 7, Joshua has them flee again – pretending a second defeat – while the men in ambush come and take the city (verses 14-17). Seeing that the city was captured, the Israelites turn around and fight their pursuers. As God instructed, Joshua held out his javelin toward the city and kept it pointed until the victory was complete (verses 18, 26), much as Moses did in the defeat of Amalek in Exodus 17:8-13.
The victory is significant and historic, as verses 30-35 tell us how Joshua builds the altar on Mount Ebal, following the command of Moses from Deuteronomy 27:1-8. In verse 32, Joshua creates the fourth stone monument in the new land.
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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