Joshua 8

1Then 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. 2You will do to Ai and its king the same thing you did to Jericho and its king. Only this time you can take all the wealth and animals and keep it for yourselves. You will share the wealth with your people. Now, tell some of your soldiers to hide behind the city.” 3So Joshua led his whole army toward Ai. Then Joshua chose 30,000 of his best fighting men. He sent these men out at night. 4Joshua gave them this command: “Listen carefully to what I tell you. You must hide in the area behind the city. Wait for the time to attack. Don’t go far from the city. Continue to watch and be ready. 5I will lead the men with me to march toward the city. The men in the city will come out to fight against us. We will turn and run away from them, like we did before. 6Those men will chase us away from the city. They will think that we are running away from them like we did before. So we will run away. 7Then you should come out of your hiding place and take control of the city. The Lord your God will give you the power to win. 8“You must do what the Lord says. Watch me and I will give you the command to attack the city. Take control of the city, and then burn it.” 9Then Joshua sent those men to their hiding place and waited. They went to a place between Bethel and Ai. This was to the west of Ai. And Joshua stayed the night with his people. 10Early the next morning Joshua gathered the men together. Then Joshua and the leaders of Israel led the men to Ai. 11All of the soldiers that were with Joshua marched to Ai. They stopped in front of the city. The army made its camp north of the city. There was a valley between the army and Ai. 12Then Joshua chose about 5,000 men. Joshua sent these men to hide in the area west of the city, between Bethel and Ai. 13So Joshua had prepared his men for the fight. The main camp was north of the city. The other men were hiding to the west. That night Joshua went down into the valley. 14Later, the king of Ai saw the army of Israel. The king and his people hurried out to fight the army of Israel. The king of Ai went out the east side of the city toward the Jordan Valley, so he did not see the soldiers hiding behind the city. 15Joshua and all the men of Israel let the army of Ai push them back. Joshua and his men began running east toward the desert. 16The people in the city began shouting and started chasing Joshua and his men. All the people left the city. 17All the people of Ai and Bethel chased the army of Israel. The city was left open—no one stayed to protect the city. 18Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Hold your spear toward the city of Ai. I will give you that city.” So Joshua held his spear toward the city of Ai. 19The men of Israel that were hiding saw this. They quickly came out from their hiding place and hurried toward the city. They entered the city and took control of it. Then the soldiers started fires to burn the city. 20The men from Ai looked back and saw their city burning. They saw the smoke rising into the sky. So they lost their strength and courage. They quit chasing the men of Israel. The men from Israel stopped running away. They turned and went to fight the men from Ai. There was no safe place for the men from Ai to run to. 21Joshua and his men saw that his army had taken control of the city. They saw the smoke rising from the city. This was when they stopped running away, turned and ran toward the men of Ai to fight them. 22Then the men that had hid themselves came out of the city to help with the fight. The army of Israel was on both sides of the men of Ai—the men of Ai were trapped. Israel defeated them. They fought until none of the men from Ai were left alive—none of the enemy escaped. 23But the king of Ai was left alive. Joshua’s men brought him to Joshua. 24During the fighting, the army of Israel chased the men from Ai into the fields and into the desert. So the army of Israel finished killing all the men from Ai in the fields and in the desert. Then the men of Israel went back to Ai and killed all the people that were still alive in the city. 25All the people of Ai died that day. There were 12,000 men and women. 26Joshua had held his spear toward Ai as a sign to his people to destroy the city. And Joshua did not stop until all the people of Ai were destroyed. 27The people of Israel kept the animals and other things from the city for themselves. This is what the Lord said they could do when he gave Joshua the commands. 28Then Joshua burned the city of Ai. That city became an empty pile of rocks. It is still like that today. 29Joshua hanged the king of Ai on a tree. He left him hanging on the tree until evening. At sunset, Joshua told his men to take the king’s body down from the tree. They threw his body down at the city gate. Then they covered the body with many rocks. That pile of rocks is still there today. 30Then Joshua built an altar for the Lord, the God of Israel. He built the altar on Mount Ebal. 31The Lord’s servant Moses told the people of Israel how to build altars. So Joshua built the altar the way it was explained in the Book of the Law of Moses. The altar was made from stones that were not cut. No tool had ever been used on those stones. They offered burnt offerings to the Lord on that altar. They also gave fellowship offerings. 32In that place Joshua wrote the Law of Moses on stones. He did this for all the people of Israel to see. 33The elders ˻(leaders)˼, officers, judges, and all the people of Israel were standing around the Holy Box. They were standing in front of the Levite priests who carried the Holy Box for the Lord’s Agreement. The people of Israel and the other people with them were all standing there. Half of the people stood in front of Mount Ebal and the other half of the people stood in front of Mount Gerizim. The Lord’s servant Moses had told the people to do this. Moses told them to do this for this blessing. 34Then Joshua read all the words from the law. Joshua read the blessings and the curses. He read everything the way it was written in the Book of the Law. 35All the people of Israel were gathered together there. All the women and children and all the foreigners that lived with the people of Israel were there. And Joshua read every command that Moses had given.

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