Joshua Chapter 8

The Israelites have begun to take over the promised land. They were part of the miracle of the walls of Jericho coming down, which allowed them the ability to take that city. They attempted to take over the people of Ai, but failed because the Lord was not with them at that time. They gained the support of the Lord again, by destroying the cause of the loss, which was a man and the forbidden items he took while in Jericho. At this point, they were once again ready to take the city of Ai.

1 And the Lord said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, 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:
2 And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall ye take for a prey unto yourselves: lay thee an ambush for the city behind it.

Joshua was told by the Lord to take the army of Israel to fight against Ai. This time, the Lord told them they could take the spoil and cattle of the city for themselves. They were to ambush the city.

I notice that in the previous chapter, it does not say that the Lord told them to fight against Ai. As far as we can tell, there was no commandment given to the Israelites at that time. I think that if Joshua, as their leader, sought direction from the Lord before going straight into battle, the Lord may have instructed him to sanctify his people first. Perhaps the loss of several men, would have been avoided. In this chapter, it seems that Joshua waited upon the Lord for the instructions to go up to battle again. Because he waited, the army of Israel was prepared and instructed as to what strategy to use in order to be victorious. In Doctrine and Covenants 98:33, modern revelation teaches us, “And again, this is the law that I gave unto mine ancients, that they should not go out unto battle against any nation, kindred, tongue, or people, save I, the Lord, commanded them.” It is important for the people of God, to have the Lord on their side in times of battle.

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.
4 And he commanded them, saying, Behold, ye shall lie in wait against the city, even behind the city: go not very far from the city, but be ye all ready:
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,
6 (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 before them.
7 Then ye shall rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city: for the Lord your God will deliver it into your hand.
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.

30,000 men of the Israelite army, were chosen to go lie in wait, behind the city, in the night. They were instructed to be ready, while the rest of Israel would go towards the other side of the city. When the people of Ai would come to fight against them and the Israelites flee from them, but would be followed from the city. Then the 30,000 would ambush the city of Ai and it would be delivered to them by the Lord. They were commanded to burn the city.

9 Joshua therefore sent them forth: and they went to lie in ambush, and abode between Beth-el and Ai, on the west side of Ai: but Joshua lodged that night among the people.
10 And Joshua rose up early in the morning, and numbered the people, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai.
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 on the north side of Ai: now there was a valley between them and Ai.
12 And he took about five thousand men, and set them to lie in ambush between Beth-el and Ai, on the west side of the city.
13 And when they had set the people, even all the host that was on the north of the city, and their liers in wait on the west of the city, Joshua went that night into the midst of the valley.

The men went in the night and prepared to ambush the city. Joshua and his people approached the city to fight.

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.
15 And Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness.
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.
17 And there was not a man left in Ai or Beth-el, that went not out after Israel: and they left the city open, and pursued after Israel.
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.
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, and hasted and set the city on fire.
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 turned back upon the pursuers.
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.
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, 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 all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, in the wilderness wherein 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 with the edge of the sword.
25 And so it was, that all that fell that day, both of men and women, were twelve thousand, even all the men of Ai.
26 For Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.
27 Only the cattle and the spoil of that city Israel took for a prey unto themselves, according unto the word of the Lord which he commanded Joshua.
28 And Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap for ever, even a desolation unto this day.
29 And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until eventide: and as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his carcase 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.

Not knowing of the ambush that awaited him, the king of Ai took his men out to fight against the Israelites. The men with Joshua, began to flee and were followed by the people of Ai. The city was left open for the taking. The Lord told Joshua to point his spear towards Ai. At that, the men ambushed the city and burned it. The men of Ai had nowhere to go, so the Israelites were able to go against them and destroy all of them. They brought the king to Joshua. The people and city were completely destroyed and they only took the spoil and cattle, as they had been instructed. The king was hung and his body left at the gate of the city on a pile of stones.

30 Then Joshua built an altar unto the Lord God of Israel in mount Ebal,
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 gave thanks to God, by building an altar of whole stones in mount Ebal. The Israelites gave burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord.

32 And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel.
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.
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.
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 among them.

The blessings and cursings were given at mount Gerizim and Ebal, as they had been commanded by the Lord through the prophet Moses. In Deuteronomy 11:29, we read, “And it shall come to pass, when the Lord thy God hath brought thee in unto the land whither thou goest to possess it, that thou shalt put the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal.” (See also Deuteronomy 27).

Here, the Israelites are blessed for repenting of the wrong previously done, and being strictly obedient to the directions of the Lord. Joshua made a copy of the law of Moses, which was read to the people of Israel. We can see here the importance of keeping a record of the word of the Lord. They had been given the commandment to make and keep this record, while Moses was the prophet. Joshua understood the importance of this commandment, and followed through just as they had been instructed to do. The people of Israel would fall without the commandments in the teachings by the leaders. We also need the scriptures to teach us what is right and how to keep our lives focused on the true and living God. When we stop looking to the word of God, we stop living it and that leads to destruction physically and spiritually. I am so glad to have the scriptures in my life and the blessings keeping the commandments brings.

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I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.

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