Victory at Ai
Verse 1 – The Israelites learned some important lessons with what happened with Ai. They had to find the one who had sinned and get them to admit it. When we fail as they did, deal with it and move on. When their focus was placed on conquering Ai instead of consulting God they failed, and so will we. In any situation we fail at, there can always be something to learn from it. We can tell what we are made of when our second or third attempt at something brings good results.
Verse 2 – Joshua finds out from talking to God, this time that they will be allowed to keep all the booty (spoils) from Ai. Here’s the difference between keeping the spoils from Jericho and keeping it when they attacked Ai. Jericho was under a judgment for idolatry and Ai wasn’t. This booty from Ai would provide the army and nation with food, livestock, and weapons to sustain them in wartime.
Verse 3 – Ai was only 11 miles from Jericho and was a buffer fortress for Bethal (Joshua 8:12). If the Canaanite kings heard of Israel’s defeat at Ai, they would unite a coordinated attack. They had no idea though of God dealing with the first attack and had already given Israel victory over the second. Obedience plays an important role in our victories as Christians today. We won’t always get it right the first time, but by the grace of God we are allowed to try again and again and again if need be.
Verse 4 – There was a ravine between Ai and Bethel that Joshua’s men were in ready to ambush Ai.
Verse 5 – Joshua and his men were going to approach the city from the front where their army would see them, and then they would come out, chase Joshua and his men, and then lead them straight out of the city.
Verse 7 – Then as Joshua led their army away from the city, the men in the ravine would attack an unprotected city.
Verse 13 – The position of Joshua’s forces were far from the road that Ai would expect them to approach by providing an element of surprise.
Verses 14-17 – The attack took place early in the morning when the attack would be to Israel’s advantage because the rising sun would be in the eyes of Ai’s army. All the men in Ai and Bethal pursued Joshua and his men. Both cities had not one man left in them to protect them.
Verses 18, 19 – No matter how difficult a setback is, we must renew our efforts to carry out God’s will.
Verses 20-23 – As the men of Ai looked back towards their city; they saw it ablaze and knew they couldn’t return because they were now trapped between Israel’s army.
Verses 26, 27 – All of Ai’s inhabitants were killed. Only the king, whom was taken to Joshua, and the livestock were spared.
Verse 28 – The word Ai means, “Ruin.” It was burned to the ground just as Jericho was, as ordered by God.
Verse 29 – The king of Ai was hanged and taken down at evening and thrown at the gate of the city.
Verses 30-35 – When they were done, they traveled to Mount Ebal. From looking at a map, it looks to be a little over 20 miles. Joshua built an altar out of stones and in the presence of the children of Israel wrote a copy of Moses law (probably the 10 commandments). These laws were read in front of the entire body of the Israelites, with half standing in front of Mount Gerizim and half in front to Mount Ebal.