God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with Him. God did not say go around Ai, but said to defeat Ai. King, people, city & land already delivered. “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 1:21, NIV) “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8, NIV) “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the L ORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9, NIV) “Then the L ORD 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. 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.”” (Joshua 8:1–2, NIV)
“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 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. 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.” (Joshua 8:3-5, NIV) A change from the first attack on Ai.
“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, you are to rise up from ambush and take the city. The L ORD your God will give it into your hand. When you have taken the city, set it on fire. Do what the L ORD has commanded. See to it; you have my orders.” 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.” (Joshua 8:6–9, NIV) Joshua was not going to repeat the mistake he made before.
“Early the next morning Joshua mustered his army, and he and the leaders of Israel marched before them to Ai. 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. Joshua had taken about five thousand men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, to the west of the city. 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.” (Joshua 8:10–13, NIV) Wait, Joshua already sent 30,000 men in verse 3 to set an ambush???
“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. Joshua and all Israel let themselves be driven back before them, and they fled toward the wilderness.” (Joshua 8:14–15, NIV) The king took the bait: Pride goes before the fall. “They are the most in danger who are least aware of it.”
“All the men of Ai were called to pursue them, and they pursued Joshua and were lured away from the city. 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.” (Joshua 8:16–17, NIV) Ai had reinforcements in anticipation of a second attack.
“Then the L ORD 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. 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.” (Joshua 8:18–19, NIV)
“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. 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.” (Joshua 8:20–21, NIV)
“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. But they took the king of Ai alive and brought him to Joshua.” (Joshua 8:22–23, NIV)
“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. Twelve thousand men and women fell that day—all the people of Ai. For Joshua did not draw back the hand that held out his javelin until he had destroyed all who lived in Ai. But Israel did carry off for themselves the livestock and plunder of this city, as the L ORD had instructed Joshua.” (Joshua 8:24–27, NIV)
“So Joshua burned Ai and made it a permanent heap of ruins, a desolate place to this day. 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.” (Joshua 8:28–29, NIV) This is the 2d large pile of rocks with dead people at the bottom. ““And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death..., and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the L ORD your God is giving you for an inheritance.” (Deuteronomy 21:22–23, ESV)
God’s character, nature and message never change, but his methods do change.
Ambush Your Inner Ai The lesson is to go deal with the sin issue and then go back to the Ai in your life. The promise land is full of hills and valleys, and so is your life. Failure is not final, God gives second chances Enemy’s triumph is only temporary Let God build your strategy and be your strength Go back and defeat the sin that defeated you.
“Then Joshua built on Mount Ebal an altar to the L ORD, the God of Israel, as Moses the servant of the L ORD 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 L ORD burnt offerings and sacrificed fellowship offerings.” (Joshua 8:30–31, NIV) What happened to Shechem and other city along the way?
Shechem defiles Dinah Jacob buys land from Hamor King of Shechem; pitches his tent and builds an alter (Genesis 33) One day Jacob’s daughter Dinah goes to visit the women of Shechem Dinah is defiled by the prince of Shechem; his name is Shechem Jacob and his sons are indignant, but Shechem wants to marry Dinah Jacob’s sons tells Hivities they must be circumcised to marry into the nation of Israel (Genesis 34)
“All the men who went out of the city gate agreed with Hamor and his son Shechem, and every male in the city was circumcised. Three days later, while all of them were still in pain, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and attacked the unsuspecting city, killing every male. They put Hamor and his son Shechem to the sword and took Dinah from Shechem’s house and left.” (Genesis 34:24–26, NIV) Shechem defiles Dinah Several centuries later
“There, in the presence of the Israelites, Joshua wrote on stones a copy of the law of Moses. All the Israelites, with their elders, officials and judges, were standing on both sides of the ark of the covenant of the L ORD, 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 L ORD had formerly commanded when he gave instructions to bless the people of Israel.” (Joshua 8:32–33, NIV) Instructions from Moses
“When you have crossed the Jordan into the land the L ORD your God is giving you, set up some large stones and coat them with plaster. Write on them all the words of this law when you have crossed over to enter the land the L ORD your God is giving you,... And when you have crossed the Jordan, set up these stones on Mount Ebal,..., and coat them with plaster. Build there an altar to the L ORD your God, an altar of stones. Do not use any iron tool on them.” (Deuteronomy 27:2–5, NIV)
“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. 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.” (Joshua 8:34– 35, NIV)
“Now when all the kings west of the Jordan heard about these things—the kings in the hill country, in the western foothills, and along the entire coast of the Mediterranean Sea as far as Lebanon (the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites)—they came together to wage war against Joshua and Israel.” (Joshua 9:1–2, NIV) The Hivites were from four cities, one of which was Gibeon. They were also called Gibeonites: “Except for the Hivites living in Gibeon, not one city made a treaty of peace with the Israelites, who took them all in battle.” (Joshua 11:19, NIV) These city-states did not always get along together, but they built a confederation to fight Israel.
“However, when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they resorted to a ruse: They went as a delegation whose donkeys were loaded with worn-out sacks and old wineskins, cracked and mended. They put worn and patched sandals on their feet and wore old clothes. All the bread of their food supply was dry and moldy.” (Joshua 9:3–5, NIV) Fabricated the evidence to support their testimony.
“Then they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and the Israelites, “We have come from a distant country; make a treaty with us.” The Israelites said to the Hivites, “But perhaps you live near us, so how can we make a treaty with you?” “We are your servants,” they said to Joshua. But Joshua asked, “Who are you and where do you come from?”” (Joshua 9:6–8, NIV) The truth was that they were just 3 days away and in the path of where Israel was going. God had warned Israel about treaties
“When the L ORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations— the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you—and when the L ORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons,” (Deuteronomy 7:1–3, NIV) But, compare this:
“When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. When the L ORD your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the L ORD your God gives you from your enemies. This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.” (Deuteronomy 20:10–15, NIV)
“They answered: “Your servants have come from a very distant country because of the fame of the L ORD your God. For we have heard reports of him: all that he did in Egypt, and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan—Sihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth.” (Joshua 9:9–10, NIV) Notice they make no mention of Jericho or Ai. Why not?
“And our elders and all those living in our country said to us, ‘Take provisions for your journey; go and meet them and say to them, “We are your servants; make a treaty with us.” ’ This bread of ours was warm when we packed it at home on the day we left to come to you. But now see how dry and moldy it is. And these wineskins that we filled were new, but see how cracked they are. And our clothes and sandals are worn out by the very long journey.”” (Joshua 9:11– 13, NIV) 1)They were from a far country 2)Their clothing and food 3)They were important envoys sent by elders on a peace mission 4)They were “your servants.” 5)They came because of the fame of the Lord of Israel.
“The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the L ORD. Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.” (Joshua 9:14–15, NIV) This is again Joshua’s failing. He believed he evidence and did not seek counsel from the Lord. U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section II, Clause II “He [the President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur;” Israel later broke treaty with Gibeonites
“During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought the face of the L ORD. The L ORD said, “It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death.” The king summoned the Gibeonites and spoke to them. (Now the Gibeonites were not a part of Israel but were survivors of the Amorites; the Israelites had sworn to spare them, but Saul in his zeal for Israel and Judah had tried to annihilate them.)” (2 Samuel 21:1–2, NIV)
“David asked the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? How shall I make atonement so that you will bless the L ORD ’s inheritance?” The Gibeonites answered him, “We have no right to demand silver or gold from Saul or his family, nor do we have the right to put anyone in Israel to death.” “What do you want me to do for you?” David asked. They answered the king, “As for the man who destroyed us and plotted against us..., let seven of his male descendants be given to us to be killed....” So the king said, “I will give them to you.”” (2 Samuel 21:3– 6, NIV) Back to Joshua
“Three days after they made the treaty with the Gibeonites, the Israelites heard that they were neighbors, living near them. So the Israelites set out and on the third day came to their cities: Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth and Kiriath Jearim. But the Israelites did not attack them, because the leaders of the assembly had sworn an oath to them by the L ORD, the God of Israel. The whole assembly grumbled against the leaders,” (Joshua 9:16– 18, NIV) They wanted the spoils of war The dilemma is that Israel has made a treaty with people who were under a death sentence. “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.” (Proverbs 12:19, NIV)
“but all the leaders answered, “We have given them our oath by the L ORD, the God of Israel, and we cannot touch them now. This is what we will do to them: We will let them live, so that God’s wrath will not fall on us for breaking the oath we swore to them.” They continued, “Let them live, but let them be woodcutters and water carriers in the service of the whole assembly.” So the leaders’ promise to them was kept.” (Joshua 9:18–21, NIV) Hivites become servants to Israel
“he said, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.”” (Genesis 9:25, NIV)
“Then Joshua summoned the Gibeonites and said, “Why did you deceive us by saying, ‘We live a long way from you,’ while actually you live near us? You are now under a curse: You will never be released from service as woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.”” (Joshua 9:22–23, NIV) It appears Joshua mitigated the punishment from serving all Israel, to serving the house of the Lord. “Cursed be Canaan” is revisited.
“They answered Joshua, “Your servants were clearly told how the L ORD your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you the whole land and to wipe out all its inhabitants from before you. So we feared for our lives because of you, and that is why we did this. We are now in your hands. Do to us whatever seems good and right to you.”” (Joshua 9:24–25, NIV) The enemies of God also read scripture.
“So Joshua saved them from the Israelites, and they did not kill them. That day he made the Gibeonites woodcutters and water carriers for the assembly, to provide for the needs of the altar of the L ORD at the place the L ORD would choose. And that is what they are to this day.” (Joshua 9:26–27, NIV) The point is Joshua admitted the mistake and found away to make it work to Israel’s advantage. They later became temple servants and grafted onto Israel. But the treaty issue causes more problems for Joshua in chapter 10.
Bibliography Be Strong, Wiersbe, Warren W., Be Commentary Series. The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Campbell, Donald K. Opening Up Joshua, Ellsworth, Roger, Opening Up Commentary. Matthew Henrys Commentary on the Whole Bible: Henry, Matthew. Warren W. Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the Old Testament Wiersbe, Warren, W. Commentary on the Book of Joshua, Calvin, John, and Henry Beveridge. The Teachers Bible Commentary, Philbeck, Ben F. The Books of History, Smith, James E., Old Testament Survey Series. Joshua’s Spiritual Warfare, Clarke, Thomas B.
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