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Ai Destroyed

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid or dismayed. Take all the fighting men with you. Arise, and go up to Ai. See, I have given the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land into your hand. Do to Ai and its king what you did to Jericho and its king, except you may plunder its spoils and its livestock. Now set an ambush for the city behind it.”

So Joshua and all the fighting men arose to go up to Ai. Joshua chose thirty thousand men, mighty men of valor, and sent them out at night. He commanded them, “You shall ambush the city from behind. Do not go very far from the city. All of you be ready. I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. When they come out to engage us as before, we will flee from them. They will come after us until we have lured them away from the city, for they will think, ‘They are fleeing from us as before!’ So we will flee from them. Then you shall rise up for the ambush and take possession of the city. The Lord your God will give it into your hands. When you have seized the city, set it on fire. Act according to the word of the Lord. See, I have commanded you.”

So Joshua sent them out. They went to the place of ambush and took up a position between Bethel and Ai, westward of Ai, and Joshua spent the night among the people.

10 Joshua got up early in the morning and mustered the people. He and the elders of Israel went up before the people to Ai. 11 All the fighting men who were with him went up and drew near to the city. They camped north of Ai, and there was a valley between them and Ai. 12 He took about five thousand men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, westward of the city. 13 So they stationed the people, all the army that was on the north of the city, and its rear guard on the west of the city, and Joshua spent that night in the midst of the valley.

14 When the king of Ai saw this, the men of the city hurriedly got up early and went out to engage Israel in battle at the assembly point near the Arabah. Yet he did not know that there was an ambush for him behind the city. 15 So Joshua and all Israel allowed themselves to be beaten before them, and they fled in the direction of the wilderness. 16 All the people who were in Ai were assembled to pursue them, so they pursued Joshua and were drawn away from the city. 17 Not a man was left in Ai or Bethel who did not go out after Israel. They left the city wide open, and they pursued Israel.

18 The Lord said to Joshua, “Point toward Ai with the sword that is in your hand, for I will give it into your hand.” So Joshua pointed toward the city with the sword in his hand. 19 When his hand pointed, the men in ambush got up quickly from their place and ran. They came into the city, captured it, and quickly set the city on fire.

20 The men of Ai turned around and looked, and there from the city came smoke rising to the sky! They could not flee in any direction, and the people who had fled into the wilderness had turned back toward their pursuers. 21 When Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had captured the city and that smoke rose from it, they turned and struck down the men of Ai. 22 Then the men in the city came out to engage them in battle, so they were now in the middle, with Israel on each side. Israel struck them down until neither survivors nor escapees were left. 23 They took the king of Ai alive and brought him to Joshua.

24 When Israel completed killing all the inhabitants of Ai in the open wilderness where they had pursued them, and when all of them had finally fallen by the edge of the sword, all Israel returned to Ai and struck it with the edge of the sword. 25 All who had fallen that day, men and women, numbered twelve thousand, all the people of Ai. 26 Joshua did not draw back his hand with the stretched-out sword until he destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. 27 Israel plundered only the livestock and the spoil of that city for themselves, according to the word of the Lord that He had commanded Joshua.

28 Joshua burned Ai and made it a heap forever, a desolation to this day. 29 The king of Ai hanged on a tree until evening. At sunset, Joshua commanded that the people take down the body from the tree and throw it down at the city gate. They erected a large heap of stones over it that remains to this day.

The Covenant Renewal at Mount Ebal

30 Then Joshua built an altar to the Lord God of Israel on Mount Ebal, 31 as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the children of Israel. As is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, it was “an altar of uncut stones not shaped by iron tools.” They sacrificed burnt offerings to the Lord on it, as well as peace offerings. 32 There in the presence of the children of Israel he wrote a copy of the Law of Moses on the stones. 33 All Israel, resident alien and native alike, with its elders, officials, and judges, were standing on either side of the ark in front of the Levite priests carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord, half in front of Mount Gerizim and half in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded from the beginning, in order to bless the people of Israel.

34 After this, Joshua read out all the words of the law, both blessing and curse, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. 35 There was not a word from all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read out before the whole assembly of Israel, with the women, the children, and the resident aliens who were among them.