Joshua 8 Lexham English Bible (LEB)
Ai Is Destroyed
8 Then Yahweh said to Joshua, “Do not fear or be dismayed. Take all the fighting men[a] with you and go up immediately to Ai.[b] Look, I am giving into your hand the king of Ai, his city, and his land. 2 You will do to Ai and its king that which you did to Jericho and its king; you may take only its spoils[c] and livestock as booty for yourself. Set for yourself an ambush against the city from behind it.”
3 So Joshua and all the fighting men[d] went up immediately to Ai. Joshua chose thirty thousand of the best fighting men and sent them by night. 4 And he commanded them, saying, “Look, you are to lay an ambush against the city from behind. Do not go very far from the city and be ready. 5 Then I and all of the people who are with me will approach the city. And when they go out to meet us as before,[e] we will flee from them.[f] 6 They will come out after us until we draw them away from the city, because they will think, ‘They are fleeing from us[g] as before.’[h] So we will flee from them.[i] 7 Then you will rise up from the ambush and take possession of the city, for Yahweh your God will give it into your hand. 8 And when you capture the city you will set it on fire as Yahweh commanded. Look, I have commanded you.” 9 So Joshua sent them out, and they went to the place of the ambush, and they sat between Bethel and Ai, to the west of Ai; but Joshua spent the night with the people.[j]
10 Joshua rose early in the morning and mustered the people, and he went up with the elders of Israel before the people of Ai.[k] 11 All the fighting men[l] who were with him went up and drew near before the city[m] and camped north of Ai; there was a valley between him and Ai. 12 And he took about five thousand men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, to the west of the city. 13 So they stationed the forces; all the army was north of the city while the rear guard was west.[n] But Joshua went that night to the middle of the valley. 14 When the king of Ai saw this, the men of the city hurried and rose early and went out to meet Israel for battle—he[o] and all his army—to the meeting place before the Arabah.[p] He did not know that there was an ambush for him behind the city. 15 Then Joshua and all Israel acted like they were beaten before them, and they fled in the direction of the wilderness.[q] 16 All of the people who were in the city were called to pursue after them. As they pursued after Joshua, they were drawn away from the city. 17 Not a man remained in Ai or Bethel who had not gone out after Israel; they left the city open and pursued after Israel.
18 And Yahweh said to Joshua, “Stretch out the sword[r] that is in your hand to Ai, because I will give it into your hand.” And Joshua stretched out the sword that was in his hand to the city. 19 The moment he stretched out his hand, those in the ambush stood up quickly from their place and ran. And they went into the city and captured it, quickly setting the city ablaze with fire. 20 Then the men of Ai looked behind them, and they saw smoke from the city rising to the sky; they had no power to flee this way or that,[s] and the people fleeing the wilderness turned around to the pursuers.[t] 21 And Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had captured the city and that the smoke of the city was rising; they returned and struck down the men of Ai. 22 Then the others from the city came out to meet them, and they found themselves surrounded by Israel,[u] some on one side, and others on the other side.[v] And they[w] struck them down until no survivor or fugitive was left. 23 But they captured the king of Ai alive, and they brought him to Joshua.
24 When Israel finished slaughtering all the inhabitants of Ai in the open field, in the wilderness where they pursued them, and when all of them had fallen by the edge of the sword[x] until they all had perished, all Israel returned to Ai and attacked it with the edge of the sword.[y] 25 All the people that fell on that day, both men and women, were twelve thousand—all the inhabitants of Ai. 26 For Joshua did not draw back his hand that was stretched out with the sword until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. 27 Only the livestock and the spoil of that city Israel took as booty for themselves, according to the word of Yahweh that Joshua commanded. 28 So Joshua burned Ai and made it an everlasting heap of rubbish, a desolate place until this day. 29 The king of Ai he hanged on a tree until the time of evening, and as the sun went down Joshua commanded them, and they brought down his dead body from the tree. Then they threw it at the entrance of the gate of the city, and they raised over it a great heap of stones that remains to this day.
Israel Renews the Covenant
30 Then Joshua built an altar on Mount Ebal for Yahweh the God of Israel, 31 as Moses Yahweh’s servant commanded the Israelites,[z] as it is written in the scroll of the law of Moses: “an altar of unhewn[aa] stones on which no one has wielded[ab] an iron implement.”[ac] And they offered burnt offerings on it and sacrificed fellowship offerings. 32 And there Joshua wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he[ad] had written, in the presence of the Israelites.[ae] 33 Then all Israel, foreigner as well as native,[af] with the elders, officials, and judges stood on either side[ag] of the ark before the priests and the Levites, who carried the ark of the covenant of Yahweh. Half of them stood in front of Mount Gerizim, and the other half in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses Yahweh’s servant had commanded before to bless the people of Israel. 34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings[ah] and the curses,[ai] according to all that was written in the scroll of the law. 35 There was not a word from all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before the assembly of all Israel, and the women, the little children, and the traveling foreigners[aj] among them.
Joshua 8 New International Version (NIV)
8 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land. 2 You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king, except that you may carry off their plunder and livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the city.”
3 So Joshua and the whole army moved out to attack Ai. He chose thirty thousand of his best fighting men and sent them out at night 4 with these orders: “Listen carefully. You are to set an ambush behind the city. Don’t go very far from it. All of you be on the alert. 5 I and all those with me will advance on the city, and when the men come out against us, as they did before, we will flee from them. 6 They will pursue us until we have lured them away from the city, for they will say, ‘They are running away from us as they did before.’ So when we flee from them, 7 you are to rise up from ambush and take the city. The Lord your God will give it into your hand. 8 When you have taken the city, set it on fire. Do what the Lord has commanded. See to it; you have my orders.”
9 Then Joshua sent them off, and they went to the place of ambush and lay in wait between Bethel and Ai, to the west of Ai—but Joshua spent that night with the people.
10 Early the next morning Joshua mustered his army, and he and the leaders of Israel marched before them to Ai. 11 The entire force that was with him marched up and approached the city and arrived in front of it. They set up camp north of Ai, with the valley between them and the city. 12 Joshua had taken about five thousand men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, to the west of the city. 13 So the soldiers took up their positions—with the main camp to the north of the city and the ambush to the west of it. That night Joshua went into the valley.
14 When the king of Ai saw this, he and all the men of the city hurried out early in the morning to meet Israel in battle at a certain place overlooking the Arabah. But he did not know that an ambush had been set against him behind the city. 15 Joshua and all Israel let themselves be driven back before them, and they fled toward the wilderness. 16 All the men of Ai were called to pursue them, and they pursued Joshua and were lured away from the city. 17 Not a man remained in Ai or Bethel who did not go after Israel. They left the city open and went in pursuit of Israel.
18 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Hold out toward Ai the javelin that is in your hand, for into your hand I will deliver the city.” So Joshua held out toward the city the javelin that was in his hand. 19 As soon as he did this, the men in the ambush rose quickly from their position and rushed forward. They entered the city and captured it and quickly set it on fire.
20 The men of Ai looked back and saw the smoke of the city rising up into the sky, but they had no chance to escape in any direction; the Israelites who had been fleeing toward the wilderness had turned back against their pursuers. 21 For when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city and that smoke was going up from it, they turned around and attacked the men of Ai. 22 Those in the ambush also came out of the city against them, so that they were caught in the middle, with Israelites on both sides. Israel cut them down, leaving them neither survivors nor fugitives. 23 But they took the king of Ai alive and brought him to Joshua.
24 When Israel had finished killing all the men of Ai in the fields and in the wilderness where they had chased them, and when every one of them had been put to the sword, all the Israelites returned to Ai and killed those who were in it. 25 Twelve thousand men and women fell that day—all the people of Ai. 26 For Joshua did not draw back the hand that held out his javelin until he had destroyed[a] all who lived in Ai. 27 But Israel did carry off for themselves the livestock and plunder of this city, as the Lord had instructed Joshua.
28 So Joshua burned Ai[b] and made it a permanent heap of ruins, a desolate place to this day. 29 He impaled the body of the king of Ai on a pole and left it there until evening. At sunset, Joshua ordered them to take the body from the pole and throw it down at the entrance of the city gate. And they raised a large pile of rocks over it, which remains to this day.
The Covenant Renewed at Mount Ebal
30 Then Joshua built on Mount Ebal an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, 31 as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the Israelites. He built it according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses—an altar of uncut stones, on which no iron tool had been used. On it they offered to the Lord burnt offerings and sacrificed fellowship offerings. 32 There, in the presence of the Israelites, Joshua wrote on stones a copy of the law of Moses. 33 All the Israelites, with their elders, officials and judges, were standing on both sides of the ark of the covenant of the Lord, facing the Levitical priests who carried it. Both the foreigners living among them and the native-born were there. Half of the people stood in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord had formerly commanded when he gave instructions to bless the people of Israel.
34 Afterward, Joshua read all the words of the law—the blessings and the curses—just as it is written in the Book of the Law. 35 There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the foreigners who lived among them.