29 Apr. Joshua 8:1-29

29 Apr. The Israelites attack and destroy Ai

“Then the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Don’t be afraid or give up. Lead all your fighting men to Ai. I will help you defeat the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land. You will do to Ai and its king what you did to Jericho and its king. Only this time you may take all the wealth and keep it for yourselves.’”

“’Now tell some of your soldiers to set up an ambush behind the city.’ So Joshua led his whole army towards Ai. Then he chose 30,000 of his best fighting men and sent them out at night. Joshua gave them these orders: ‘Listen carefully. You must set up an ambush behind the city. Don’t go far from it, but continue to watch and be ready.’”

“’I and the men who are with me will march towards the city, and the men in the city will come out to fight us, just as they did before. Then we will turn and run away from them. They will chase us away from the city, thinking we are running away from them as we did before. When we run away, come out from your ambush and take the city…’”

“Then Joshua sent them to wait in ambush between Bethel and Ai, to the west of Ai… Early the next morning Joshua gathered his men together. He and the elders of Israel led them up to Ai… Now when the king of Ai saw the army of Israel, he and his people got up early the next morning and hurried out to fight them… Joshua and all the men of Israel let the army of Ai push them back.”

“Then they ran towards the desert. The men in Ai were called to chase Joshua and his men, so they left the city and went after them… The city was left open; not a man stayed to protect it.”

“Then the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Hold your spear towards Ai, because I will give you that city.’ So Joshua held his spear towards the city of Ai. When the Israelites who were in ambush saw this, they quickly came out of their hiding place and hurried towards the city. They entered the city, took control of it, and quickly set it on fire.”

“When the men of Ai looked back, they saw smoke rising from their city. At the same time, the Israelites stopped running and turned against the men of Ai, who could not escape in any direction… the men who were in ambush also came out of the city to help with the fight. So the men of Ai were caught between the armies of Israel.”

“None of the enemy escaped. The Israelites fought until not one of the men of Ai was left alive, except the king of Ai, and they brought him to Joshua… The people of Israel kept for themselves the animals and the other things the people of Ai had owned, as the LORD had commanded Joshua to do. Then Joshua burned the city of Ai and made it a pile of ruins...”

“Joshua hanged the king of Ai on a tree and left him there until evening. At sunset Joshua told his men to take the king’s body down from the tree and to throw it down at the city gate. Then they covered it with a pile of rocks, which is still there today.”

          (Joshua 8:1-29)



After the Israelites’ first disastrous attempt to capture Ai, God instructed Joshua to launch a new attack, which he promised would be successful. The defenders were lured away from Ai by a feigned retreat, and the city was then attacked and captured by a force of Israelites who had hidden close by.

After confiscating all the animals and precious items found here (which the LORD allowed the Israelites to keep on this occasion), Joshua burnt down the city of Ai (meaning a ‘heap’ or ‘ruin’) and made it a permanent heap of ruins.

The king of Ai was captured, humiliated, and then executed, before his body was buried under a cairn of stones at the remains of the city gate.

Ai lay to the west of Jericho, north of Jerusalem between Bethel and Bethaven (see 3 on the map on 23 April). The exact site of the city is uncertain, but it may be at Et-Tell or at nearby Khirbet el-Maqatir which was destroyed in the Late Bronze Age, c.1400BC.

The photo (by Alex Ostrovski) shows ruins at Tell Et-Tell near Ramallah, thought by some to be the Biblical city of Ai.

You can read how the Israelites conquered Jericho and Ai @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/27-the-israelites-move-into-canaan/the-israelites-conquer-southern-canaan/

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