The Fall of Ai

Now the Lord said to Joshua: (A)“Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, (B)I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to (C)Jericho and its king. Only (D)its spoil and its cattle you shall take as booty for yourselves. Lay an ambush for the city behind it.”

So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai; and Joshua chose thirty thousand mighty men of valor and sent them away by night. And he commanded them, saying: “Behold, (E)you shall lie in ambush against the city, behind the city. Do not go very far from the city, but all of you be ready. Then I and all the people who are with me will approach the city; and it will come about, when they come out against us as at the first, that (F)we shall flee before them. For they will come out after us till we have drawn them from the city, for they will say, ‘They are fleeing before us as at the first.’ Therefore we will flee before them. Then you shall rise from the ambush and seize the city, for the Lord your God will deliver it into your hand. And it will be, when you have taken the city, that you shall set the city on fire. According to the commandment of the Lord you shall do. (G)See, I have commanded you.”

Joshua therefore sent them out; and they went to lie in ambush, and stayed between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai; but Joshua lodged that night among the people. 10 Then Joshua rose up early in the morning and mustered the people, and went up, he and the elders of Israel, before the people to Ai. 11 (H)And all the people of war who were with him went up and drew near; and they came before the city and camped on the north side of Ai. Now a valley lay between them and Ai. 12 So he took about five thousand men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of [a]the city. 13 And when they had set the people, all the army that was on the north of the city, and its rear guard on the west of the city, Joshua went that night into the midst of the valley.

14 Now it happened, when the king of Ai saw it, that the men of the city hurried and rose early and went out against Israel to battle, he and all his people, at an appointed place before the plain. But he (I)did not know that there was an ambush against him behind the city. 15 And Joshua and all Israel (J)made as if they were beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness. 16 So all the people who were in Ai were called together to pursue them. And they pursued Joshua and were drawn away from the city. 17 There was not a man left in Ai or Bethel who did not go out after Israel. So they left the city open and pursued Israel.

18 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Stretch out the spear that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.” And Joshua stretched out the spear that was in his hand toward the city. 19 So those in ambush arose quickly out of their place; they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand, and they entered the city and took it, and hurried to 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 to heaven. So they had no power to flee this way or that way, and the people who had fled to the wilderness turned back on the pursuers.

21 Now when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city and that the smoke of the city ascended, they turned back and struck down the men of Ai. 22 Then the others came out of the city against them; so they were caught in the midst of Israel, some on this side and some on that side. And they struck them down, so that they (K)let none of them remain or escape. 23 But 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 where they pursued them, and when they all had fallen by the edge of the sword until they were consumed, that all the Israelites returned to Ai and struck it with the edge of the sword. 25 So it was that all who fell that day, both men and women, were twelve thousand—all the people of Ai. 26 For Joshua did not draw back his hand, with which he stretched out the spear, until he had (L)utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. 27 (M)Only the livestock and the spoil of that city Israel took as booty for themselves, according to the word of the Lord which He had (N)commanded Joshua. 28 So Joshua burned Ai and made it (O)a heap forever, a desolation to this day. 29 (P)And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until evening. (Q)And as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his corpse down from the tree, cast it at the entrance of the gate of the city, and (R)raise over it a great heap of stones that remains to this day.

Joshua Renews the Covenant(S)

30 Now Joshua built an altar to the Lord God of Israel (T)in Mount Ebal, 31 as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses: (U)“an altar of whole stones over which no man has wielded an iron tool.” And (V)they offered on it burnt offerings to the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings. 32 And there, in the presence of the children of Israel, (W)he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written. 33 Then all Israel, with their elders and officers and judges, stood on either side of the ark before the priests, the Levites, (X)who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, (Y)the stranger as well as he who was born among them. Half of them were in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, (Z)as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel. 34 And afterward (AA)he read all the words of the law, (AB)the blessings and the cursings, according to all that is written in the (AC)Book of the Law. 35 There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, (AD)with the women, the little ones, (AE)and the strangers who were living among them.

The Treaty with the Gibeonites

And it came to pass when (AF)all the kings who were on this side of the Jordan, in the hills and in the lowland and in all the coasts of (AG)the Great Sea toward Lebanon—(AH)the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite—heard about it, that they (AI)gathered together to fight with Joshua and Israel with one [b]accord.

But when the inhabitants of (AJ)Gibeon (AK)heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they worked craftily, and went and [c]pretended to be ambassadors. And they took old sacks on their donkeys, old wineskins torn and [d]mended, old and patched sandals on their feet, and old garments on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and moldy. And they went to Joshua, (AL)to the camp at Gilgal, and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a [e]covenant with us.”

Then the men of Israel said to the (AM)Hivites, “Perhaps you dwell among us; so (AN)how can we make a covenant with you?”

But they said to Joshua, (AO)“We are your servants.”

And Joshua said to them, “Who are you, and where do you come from?”

So they said to him: (AP)“From a very far country your servants have come, because of the name of the Lord your God; for we have (AQ)heard of His fame, and all that He did in Egypt, 10 and (AR)all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan—to Sihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who was at Ashtaroth. 11 Therefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, ‘Take provisions with you for the journey, and go to meet them, and say to them, “We are your servants; now therefore, make a covenant with us.” ’ 12 This bread of ours we took hot for our provision from our houses on the day we departed to come to you. But now look, it is dry and moldy. 13 And these wineskins which we filled were new, and see, they are torn; and these our garments and our sandals have become old because of the very long journey.”

14 Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; (AS)but they [f]did not ask counsel of the Lord. 15 So Joshua (AT)made peace with them, and made a covenant with them to let them live; and the rulers of the congregation swore to them.

16 And it happened at the end of three days, after they had made a covenant with them, that they heard that they were their neighbors who dwelt near them. 17 Then the children of Israel journeyed and came to their cities on the third day. Now their cities were (AU)Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kirjath Jearim. 18 But the children of Israel did not [g]attack them, (AV)because the rulers of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord God of Israel. And all the congregation complained against the rulers.

19 Then all the rulers said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the Lord God of Israel; now therefore, we may not touch them. 20 This we will do to them: We will let them live, lest (AW)wrath be upon us because of the oath which we swore to them.” 21 And the rulers said to them, “Let them live, but let them be (AX)woodcutters and water carriers for all the congregation, as the rulers had (AY)promised them.”

22 Then Joshua called for them, and he spoke to them, saying, “Why have you deceived us, saying, (AZ)‘We are very far from you,’ when (BA)you dwell near us? 23 Now therefore, you are (BB)cursed, and none of you shall be freed from being slaves—woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.”

24 So they answered Joshua and said, “Because your servants were clearly told that the Lord your God (BC)commanded His servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you; therefore (BD)we were very much afraid for our lives because of you, and have done this thing. 25 And now, here we are, (BE)in your hands; do with us as it seems good and right to do to us.” 26 So he did to them, and delivered them out of the hand of the children of Israel, so that they did not kill them. 27 And that day Joshua made them (BF)woodcutters and water carriers for the congregation and for the altar of the Lord, (BG)in the place which He would choose, even to this day.

Footnotes

  1. Joshua 8:12 Ai
  2. Joshua 9:2 Lit. mouth
  3. Joshua 9:4 acted as envoys
  4. Joshua 9:4 Lit. tied up
  5. Joshua 9:6 treaty
  6. Joshua 9:14 Lit. did not inquire at the mouth of
  7. Joshua 9:18 strike