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Ai Is Destroyed

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Don’t be afraid. Don’t give up. Lead all your fighting men to Ai. I will help you defeat the king of Ai. I am giving you 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. You may keep it for yourselves. Now tell some of your soldiers to set up an ambush behind the city.”

So Joshua led his whole army toward Ai. Then he chose 30,000 of his best fighting men. He sent these men 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. Continue to watch and be ready. I and the men who are with me will march toward the city. The men in the city will come out to fight us. Then we will turn and run away from them as we did before. They will chase us away from the city. They will think we are running away from them as we did before. When we run away, come out from your ambush and take the city. The Lord your God will give you the power to win. After you take the city, burn it. See to it! You have your orders.”

Then Joshua sent them to their place of ambush to wait. They went to a place between Bethel and Ai, to the west of Ai. But Joshua stayed the night with his people.

10 Early the next morning Joshua gathered his men together. He and the older leaders of Israel led them to Ai. 11 All of the soldiers who were with Joshua marched to Ai. They stopped in front of the city and made camp north of Ai. There was a valley between them and the city. 12 Then Joshua chose about 5,000 men. He set them in ambush in the area west of the city between Bethel and Ai. 13 So the people took their positions. The main camp was north of the city. The other men were hiding to the west. That night Joshua went down into the valley.

14 Now the king of Ai saw the army of Israel. So he and his people got up early the next morning and hurried out to fight them. They went out to a place east of the city. The king did not know soldiers were waiting in ambush behind the city. 15 Joshua and all the men of Israel let the army of Ai push them back. Then they ran east toward the desert. 16 The men in Ai were called to chase Joshua and his men. So they left the city and went after them. 17 All the men of Ai and Bethel chased the army of Israel. The city was left open. Not a man stayed to protect it.

18 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Hold your spear toward Ai. I will give you that city.” So Joshua held his spear toward the city of Ai. 19 The men of Israel who were in ambush saw this. They quickly came out of their hiding place and hurried toward the city. They entered the city and took control of it. Then they quickly set it on fire.

20 When the men of Ai looked back, they saw smoke rising from their city. At the same time the men of Israel stopped running. They turned against the men of Ai. The men of Ai could not escape in any direction. 21 Joshua and all his men saw that the army had taken control of the city. They saw the smoke rising from it. So they stopped running and turned to fight the men of Ai. 22 The men who were in ambush also came out of the city to help with the fight. The men of Ai were caught between the armies of Israel. The Israelites fought until not one of the men of Ai was left alive. None of the enemy escaped. 23 But the king of Ai was left alive. And Joshua’s men brought him to Joshua.

A Review of the Fighting

24 During the fighting the army of Israel chased the men of Ai into the fields and desert. So the Israelites killed all of them in the fields and desert. Then they went back to Ai and killed everyone there. 25 All the people of Ai died that day, 12,000 men and women. 26 Joshua had held his spear toward Ai. It was a sign to his people to destroy the city. And Joshua held out his spear until all the people of Ai were destroyed. 27 The people of Israel kept the animals for themselves. They also kept the other things the people of Ai had owned. This is what the Lord told them to do when he gave Joshua the commands.

28 Then Joshua burned the city of Ai. It became an empty pile of ruins. And it is still like that today. 29 Joshua hung the king of Ai on a tree. He left him hanging there until evening. At sunset Joshua told his men to take the king’s body down from the tree. He told them to throw it down at the city gate. Then they covered it with rocks. That pile of rocks is still there today.

30 Then Joshua built an altar for the Lord, the God of Israel. He built it on Mount Ebal, as 31 Moses, the Lord’s servant, had commanded. Joshua built the altar as it was explained in the Book of the Teachings of Moses. The altar was made from stones that were not cut. No tool was ever used on them. The Israelites offered burnt offerings to the Lord on that altar. They also offered fellowship offerings. 32 There Joshua wrote the teachings of Moses on stones. He did this for all the people of Israel to see. 33 The elders, officers, judges and all the Israelites were there. They were standing around the Ark of the Covenant with the Lord. They stood before the priests, the Levites who had carried the Ark of the Covenant. Israelites and non-Israelites were all standing there. Half of the people stood in front of Mount Ebal. The other half stood in front of Mount Gerizim. This was the way the Lord’s servant Moses had earlier commanded the people to be blessed.

34 Then Joshua read all the words of the teachings. He read the blessings and the curses. He read it exactly as they were written in the Book of the Teachings. 35 All the Israelites were gathered together. All the women and children were there. All the non-Israelites living with the Israelites were there. Joshua read every command that Moses had given.

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