Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 8:1

Now the Lord said to Joshua, "Do not fear or be dismayed. Take all the people of war with you and arise, go up to Ai; see, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Communion;   Thompson Chain Reference - Ai;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Armies of Israel, the;   Jews, the;   Sieges;   Theocracy, the, or Immediate Government by God;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Ai;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Joshua, the Book of;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Ai;   Ambush;   Joshua, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ai;   Israel;   Joshua;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Ai, Hai ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Ai;   Journeyings of israel from egypt to canaan;   Smith Bible Dictionary - A'i;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Conquest of Canaan;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - City;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Ai;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Fear not - The iniquity being now purged away, because of which God had turned his hand against Israel, there was now no cause to dread any other disaster, and therefore Joshua is ordered to take courage.

Take all the people of war with thee - From the letter of this verse it appears that all that were capable of carrying arms were to march out of the camp on this occasion: thirty thousand chosen men formed an ambuscade in one place; five thousand he placed in another, who had all gained their positions in the night season: with the rest of the army he appeared the next morning before Ai, which the men of that city would naturally suppose were the whole of the Israelitish forces; and consequently be the more emboldened to come out and attack them. But some think that thirty thousand men were the whole that were employed on this occasion; five thousand of whom were placed as an ambuscade on the west side of the city between Beth-el and Ai, Joshua 8:12, and with the rest he appeared before the city in the morning. The king of Ai seeing but about twenty-five thousand coming against him, and being determined to defend his city and crown to the last extremity, though he had but twelve thousand persons in the whole city, Joshua 8:25, scarcely one half of whom we can suppose to be effective men, he was determined to risk a battle; and accordingly issued out, and was defeated by the stratagem mentioned in the preceding part of this chapter. Several eminent commentators are of opinion that the whole Israelitish force was employed on this occasion, because of what is said in the first verse; but this is not at all likely.

  1. It appears that but thirty thousand were chosen out of the whole camp for this expedition, the rest being drawn up in readiness should their co-operation be necessary. See Joshua 8:3, Joshua 8:10.
  • That all the people were mustered in order to make this selection, Joshua 8:1.
  • That these thirty thousand were sent off by night, Joshua 8:3, Joshua himself continuing in the camp a part of that night, Joshua 8:9, with the design of putting himself at the head of the army next morning.
  • That of the thirty thousand men five thousand were directed to lie in ambush between Beth-el and Ai, on the west side of the city, Joshua 8:12; the twenty-five thousand having taken a position on the north side of the city, Joshua 8:11.
  • That the whole of the troops employed against Ai on this occasion were those on the north and west, Joshua 8:13, which we know from the preceding verses were composed of thirty thousand chosen men.
  • That Joshua went in the course of the night, probably before daybreak, into the valley between Beth-el and Ai, where the ambuscade of five thousand men was placed, Joshua 8:13, and gave them the proper directions how they were to proceed, and agreed on the sign he was to give them at the moment he wished them to act, see Joshua 8:18; : and that, after having done so, he put himself at the head of the twenty-five thousand men on the north side of the city: for we find him among them when the men of Ai issued out, Joshua 8:15, though he was the night before in the valley on the west side, where the ambuscade lay, Joshua 8:13.
  • That as Ai was but a small city, containing only twelve thousand inhabitants, it would have been absurd to have employed an army of several hundred thousand men against them.
  • This is confirmed by the opinion of the spies, Joshua 7:3, who, from the smallness of the place, the fewness of its inhabitants, and the panic-struck state in which they found them, judged that three thousand troops would be quite sufficient to reduce the place.
  • That it appears this judgment was correctly enough formed, as the whole population of the place amounted only to twelve thousand persons, as we have already seen, Joshua 8:25.
  • That even a less force might have been sufficient for the reduction of this place, had they been supplied with battering-rams, and such like instruments, which it does not appear the Israelites possessed.
  • That this is the reason why Joshua employed the stratagems detailed in this chapter: having no proper instruments or machines by means of which he might hope to take the city by assault, (and to reduce it by famine, which was quite possible, would have consumed too much time), he used the feigned flight, Joshua 8:19, to draw the inhabitants from the city, that the ambush, Joshua 8:12, Joshua 8:15, might then enter, and take possession of it.
  • That had he advanced with a greater force against the city the inhabitants would have had no confidence in risking a battle, and consequently would have kept within their walls, which would have defeated the design of the Israelites, which was to get them to issue from their city.
  • 13. That, all these circumstances considered thirty thousand men, disposed as above, were amply sufficient for the reduction of the city, and were the whole of the Israelitish troops which were employed on the occasion.

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    Bibliographical Information
    Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 8:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/joshua-8.html. 1832.

    Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

    God rouses Joshua from his dejection Joshua 7:6, and bids him lmarch against Ai with the main body. Though Ai was but a small city (compare Joshua 8:25 and Joshua 7:3), yet the discouragement of the people rendered it inexpedient to send a second time a mere detachment against it; and the people of Ai had, as appears from Joshua 8:17, help from Bethel, and possibly from other places also. It was fitting too that all the people should witness with their own eyes the happy consequences of having faithfully put away the sin which had separated them from God.

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    Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Joshua 8:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/joshua-8.html. 1870.

    Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

    CAPTURE OF AI

    The shameful failure of Israel to capture Ai, as related in the previous chapter, having at this time been discovered as due to the treachery of Achan, and that sin having now been punished by the death of the offender, the people of Israel at this point in time are again considered to be in full favor with God as His covenant children. The disastrous failure at Ai had surely taught the whole nation an effective lesson, that, if they obeyed God, He would bless them, and that, if they did not obey Him, they would suffer.

    Every student of this chapter is at once confronted with what is alleged to be a contradiction between the number of 30,000 chosen for the ambush in Joshua 8:3, and the number 5,000 mentioned allegedly for the same ambush in Joshua 8:12. We have read several explanations of this: (1) Keil and other very dependable scholars affirm that a scribal error is responsible, and that the number 5,000 is correct.[1] It is evident that the expedient of finding a scribal error here does not solve the problem, for Cook asserted that, "The error would have been in writing 30,000 instead of 5,000,"[2] but Holmes said, "the error would have been in writing 30,000 for 3,000."[3] (2) Woudstra mentioned the possibility that the 30,000 included the 5,000 later detached for the ambush, but mentioned earlier in Joshua 8:3, as the principal feature of the attack.[4] Holmes, and nearly all critical assailants against the Bible declare unequivocally, "That two accounts have been combined is obvious."[5] Of course, in this explanation, the great hoax of all allegedly higher criticism, the ubiquitous "editor," or the ever-ready "redactor," is identified as responsible for "combining" these allegedly different accounts! But, if any such person combined two accounts to give us this record, what an incredibly stupid, egregious person he must have been! The impossibility of even imagining such a character outlaws this explanation as absolutely untenable! We shall refrain from comment on those "scholars" who are constantly appealing to this very class of "editors" and "redactors." Could anyone in his right mind mention a group of people as being 30,000 in number, and then ten seconds later state that they numbered 5,000?

    We do not pretend to know the proper solution of this obvious difficulty, but, in all probability, the difficulty itself lies in the complexity and weakness of the Hebrew style of narrative, with the problem of the Hebrew tenses making it virtually impossible, at times, to determine the chronology of several parallel actions occurring simultaneously. Aside from this one tiny problem, the grand action of this chapter is as clear as broad, open daylight.

    We might summarize as follows:

    (1) God commanded the deployment of a very large force, "all the people," against Ai.

    (2) There was to be an ambush set behind the city.

    (3) Another detachment was to protect against any assistance that Bethel might give Ai.

    (4) The main body of Israel would make a feint of frontal assault against Ai.

    (5) They would, at first, fall back, pretending to flee, before the king of Ai's attack.

    (6) Joshua, with his javelin, or spear, situated strategically, would signal for the ambush to enter and burn Ai.

    (7) All Israel would at that point turn and crush the men of Ai. Now, the Lord has not given us any detailed report of the orders that went out to the various detachments, nor any of the remainder of the devices by which this complicated strategy successfully destroyed Ai, but nobody can miss the main points of it, which we may be sure include all that Christians of the 20th century need to know about it!

    "And Jehovah said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai; see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land; and thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall ye take for a prey unto yourselves: set thee an ambush for the city behind it."

    "Fear not, neither be thou dismayed ..." Joshua indeed had much to fear, as Matthew Henry said, "The treacherous Israelites were more to be dreaded than the malicious Canaanites!"[6] As for the reason why God commanded so many to be involved in the capture of Ai, Calvin thought it was to give all the people a chance to view the struggle as their own, and "to reassure the people"[7] by giving them a close-up view of the coming victory. As Blair put it, "In order that the morale of all the people could be restored."[8]

    "Take all the people of war with thee ..." Keil stated that this merely means "the whole army,"[9] but even that limitation indicated a tremendous number of people. The armed men of Israel at this point numbered over "600,000 fighting men."[10] With such a vast force under his command, whatever number might have been needed in a given task would have been available.

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    Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
    Bibliographical Information
    Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Joshua 8:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/joshua-8.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

    John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

    And the Lord said unto Joshua,.... Immediately after the execution of Achan, the fierceness of his anger being turned away:

    fear not, neither be thou dismayed; on account of the defeat of his troops he had sent to take Ai:

    take all the people of war with thee; all above twenty years of age, which, with the forty thousand of the tribes on the other side Jordan he brought over with him, must make an arm, five hundred thousand men; these Joshua was to take with so much to animate and encourage him, or to terrify the enemy, nor because such a number was necessary for the reduction of Ai, which was but a small city; but that all might have a part in the spoil and plunder of it, which they were denied at Jericho, and chiefly to draw all the men out of the city, seeing such a numerous host approaching:

    and arise, go up to Ai; which lay high, and Joshua being now in the plains of Jericho; see Gill on Joshua 7:2,

    see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land; this city, though a small one, had a king over it, as most cities in the land of Canaan had; the number of his people in it were twelve thousand, and his land were the fields about it; all which were given to Joshua by the Lord, and were as sure as if he had them already in his hand.

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    The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
    A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
    Bibliographical Information
    Gill, John. "Commentary on Joshua 8:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-8.html. 1999.

    Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

    CONTENTS

    In this chapter we have an account of the renewal of Israel's victories. The Lord encourageth Joshua, and the holy army conquereth Ai: the king of Ai is taken and hanged: Joshua erects an altar to the Lord: writes the law on stones; causeth the repeatal of the blessings, and cursings, and of the law to be read in the ears of the people.

    Joshua 8:1

    Observe, the renewal of the friendly intercourse between God and his people, begins on God's part. If we love him, it is because he first loved us. Probably Joshua paused on the further prosecution of war, after what had happened, of Israel being chased by the men of Ai: the Lord therefore encourageth him. Reader! it is sweet amidst all our doubts and fears in our spiritual warfare, to hear the voice of Jesus calling us to come on. Song of Solomon 5:2.

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    Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Joshua 8:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/joshua-8.html. 1828.

    Wesley's Explanatory Notes

    And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land:

    Take all the people — That all of them might be partakers of this first spoil, and thereby encouraged to proceed in their work. The weak multitude indeed were not to go, because they might have hindered them in the following stratagem; and it was but fit that the military men who run the greatest hazards, should have the precedency in the spoils.

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    Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 8:1". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-8.html. 1765.

    John Trapp Complete Commentary

    Joshua 8:1 And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land:

    Ver. 1. Fear not, neither be thou dismayed.] For I have found an atonement, as Job 33:24. And as a bone once broken is stronger after setting: as lovers are never greater friends than after a falling out: so is it betwixt God and his offending servants.

    Take all the people.] That all may partake of the spoil.

    See, I have given it into thine hand.] Thine it is assuredly; but by my free gift, not by thine own prowess or policy.

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    Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 8:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-8.html. 1865-1868.

    Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

    JOSHUA CHAPTER 8

    God puts new courage into Joshua; commands him to go and besiege Ai, promising he should take it, Joshua 8:1,2. The stratagem whereby it is taken; it is burnt, Joshua 8:3-22. The king is taken prisoner; the inhabitants are put to the sword; the cattle and goods spoiled; the king is hanged, Joshua 8:23-29. Joshua builds an altar, Joshua 8:30; offers thereon, Joshua 8:31; writes the law on stones, Joshua 8:32. It and its blessings and curses are read before the people, Joshua 8:33-35.

    Take all the people of war with thee; partly to strengthen them against those fears which their late defeat had wrought in them; and partly that all of them might be partakers of this first spoil, and thereby be encouraged to proceed in their work. The weak multitude were not to go, because they might have hindered them in the following stratagem; and it was but fit that the military men who run the greatest hazards, should have the precedency and privilege in the spoils.

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    Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 8:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/joshua-8.html. 1685.

    Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

    Chapter 8. The Defeat of Ai and Bethel.

    Joshua was now encouraged to go up and take Ai, and was directed as to what method he should use. Accordingly he set an ambush on the west side of it, and he and the rest of the army then advanced upwards towards its gates. When the king of Ai saw them, he sallied out against them, and the Israelites, pretending that they were beaten, withdrew, with the men of Ai pursuing them. On this occurring the ambush rose and entered the city and set fire to it. As soon as the smoke was observed by Joshua and Israel, they turned back on their pursuers, and with the ambush sallying out of the city in their rear, they destroyed them. Then they slew all the inhabitants, took the spoil, burnt the city, and hanged its king. After this Joshua built an altar at Ebal, where he wrote the law on stones, and read the blessings and the curses in it before all Israel.

    Joshua 8:1

    And YHWH said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed. Take all the people of war with you and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land.” ’

    We have in this chapter the record of the capture of Ai and the defeat of the combined forces of Ai and Bethel (Joshua 8:17). At this stage the capture of Ai was seen as a most vital element in the campaign. It barred the way to the hill country. The importance given to it and the way it was seen suggests that the account was recorded not long after the event itself before things were viewed from a wider perspective. It was their second victory and opened up the hill country.

    Being aware of YHWH speaking to him again must have been a great relief to Joshua. Things were now back to normal and they could go ahead aware that YHWH was with them. His anger was no longer directed at them. We may tend to assume that YHWH spoke to Joshua constantly but this was not the case. Such revelations were spared for special occasions.

    “See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land.” God spoke in terms of Joshua’s understanding at this point. God knew that Bethel was the more important city. At this stage Joshua did not. Joshua did not need a history and geography lesson. He needed assurance in terms of what he knew.

    Again we have echoes of Deuteronomy (just as we previously had echoes of Exodus). See Deuteronomy 1:21; Deuteronomy 31:8; Deuteronomy 2:14; Deuteronomy 2:16; Deuteronomy 2:24; Deuteronomy 3:2. Joshua was soaked in the language of the Scriptures.

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    Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Joshua 8:1". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/joshua-8.html. 2013.

    Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

    CAPTURE OF AI, Joshua 8:1-29.

    1.Fear not — Joshua had need of reassurance and encouragement after the disasters and humiliation which Israel had suffered for the sin of Achan. As shines the sun emerging from behind a thunder cloud, so the returning mercy of Jehovah upon the camp of Israel.

    Take all the people of war with thee — How different from the counsel of the spies, (Joshua 7:3,) “Let not all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up.” The Lord could, indeed, have given Ai into the hands of two or three thousand as easily as to all, but he would not encourage Israel in a rash, imprudent dependence on Omnipotence. It appears from Joshua 8:3 that the expression all the people of war, like the oft-recurring phrase, “all Israel,” is not to be taken in its widest import. It is probable that the whole camp was put in preparation, and the whole force was reviewed, and thirty thousand of the most suitable were detached for this expedition, while the rest of the army was held in reserve.

    Go up to Ai — The march from Jericho to Ai was actually an ascent, but the term go up is often used in a military sense of an advance against a city or nation where the advance is not an actual ascent.

    Have given — The conquest of Ai was a foregone conclusion in the Divine mind. Compare Joshua 6:2, note.

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    Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 8:1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/joshua-8.html. 1874-1909.

    Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

    Joshua 8:1. And the Lord said unto Joshua — Who, it is probable, now consulted God about the progress of the war, which he had omitted to do before, thinking himself, it seems, sufficiently authorised to proceed according to his own judgment, by what God had often said to him, and his success against Jericho. Take all the people of war with thee — This order may seem strange, since the people themselves thought that two or three thousand men would be sufficient, if God were with and not against them. But God would have them all to share in the spoil of Ai, the first spoil of the country, that they might be encouraged to go on with the work, and that they, who had obeyed him in abstaining from taking any thing in Jericho, might now be rewarded by the prey of the city.

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    Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 8:1". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/joshua-8.html. 1857.

    George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

    Men. Masius and Salien (Haydock) suppose that Josue selected out of them 30,000; 5000 of whom were to be placed in ambush, and the rest were to pretend that they were terrified at the approach of the king of Hai, and to flee with Josue. But the text seems to assert that all accompanied their general, (Calmet) excepting such as were left to guard the camp.

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    Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Joshua 8:1". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/joshua-8.html. 1859.

    E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

    the LORD. Hebrew. Jehovah. App-4.

    said. See note on Joshua 3:7.

    see. Figure of speech Asterienios (App-6).

    and. Note the Figure of speech Polysyndeton (App-6) emphasising each particular.

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    Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Joshua 8:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/joshua-8.html. 1909-1922.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

    And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land:

    The Lord said unto Joshua, Fear not. By the execution of justice on Achan, the divine wrath was averted, the Israelites were re-assured, defeat was succeeded by victory, and thus the case of Ai affords a striking example of God's disciplinary government, in which chastisements for sin are often made to pave the way for a bestowment of those temporal benefits which, on account of sin, have been withdrawn, or withheld for a time. Joshua, who had been greatly dispirited, was encouraged by a special communication promising him (see Joshua 1:6; Deuteronomy 31:6-8) success in the next attempt, which, however, was to be conducted on, different principles.

    Take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai. The number of fighting men amounted to Take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai. The number of fighting men amounted to 600,000; and the whole force was ordered on this occasion, partly because the spies, in their self-confidence, had said that a few were sufficient to attack the place (Joshua 7:3), partly to dispel any misgivings which the memory of the late disaster might have created, and partly that the circumstance of the first spoil obtained in Canaan being shared among all might operate both as a reward for obedience in refraining from the booty of Jericho, and as an incentive to future exertions (Deuteronomy 6:10). The rest of the people, including the women and children, remained in the camp at Gilgal. Being in the plains of Jericho, it was an ascent to Ai, which was on a hill.

    I have given into thy hand ...

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    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 8:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/joshua-8.html. 1871-8.

    Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

    VIII.

    (1) Fear not, neither be thou dismayed.—See Joshua 1:9; Joshua 10:25. In Joshua 1:9, “For the Lord thy God is with thee.” These words indicate the return of Jehovah to the host of Israel, for the prosecution of the war.

    Take all the people.—Not merely “two or three thousand,” as before.

    Ai.—In Hebrew, Hâ-ai. Ai is intended for one syllable, not two as often sounded in English. It means “the heap” (of ruins apparently). In Joshua 8:28 we read that Joshua made it “an heap for ever” (Tel-ôlâm in Hebrew). Thus its first and last names agree. It is remarked that whereas Palestine is full of “Tels” with other names appended to them (as Tell-es Sultan, and some ten others near Jericho alone), the place called et-Tel by Bethel has no other appendage. It is not the heap of anything, but simply the heap, to this day; and this fact, which is apparently without parallel, seems to fix the site of Ai at et-Tel. (See Note on Joshua 7:2.)

    And his land.—The capture of Ai was not simply the capture of a town or fortress, but of the chief town of a territory, the extent of which we are not told. If we knew the circumstances of the time more precisely, we might apprehend the strategical reasons which made it desirable to obtain possession of Ai in particular at this stage of the campaign.

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    Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Joshua 8:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/joshua-8.html. 1905.

    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

    And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land:
    Fear not
    1:9; 7:6,7,9; Deuteronomy 1:21; 7:18; 31:8; Psalms 27:1; 46:11; Isaiah 12:2; 41:10-16; Isaiah 43:2; Jeremiah 46:27; Matthew 8:26
    take all
    It would seem, from this verse, that all that were capable of bearing arms were to march out of the camp on this occasion: 30,000 formed an ambuscade in one place; and 5,000 were placed in another, who all gained their positions in the night. With the rest of the army, Joshua appeared the next morning before Ai, which the men of that city would naturally suppose was the whole of the Israelitish force and, consequently, be the more emboldened to come out and attack them. Some, however, think that 30,000 men were the whole that were employed on this occasion, 5,000 of whom were placed in ambush on the west of the city, between Bethel and Ai (ver. 12,) and, with the rest, Joshua appeared before the city in the morning. The king, seeing but about 25,000 coming against him, though he had but 12,000 persons in the whole city (ver. 25), determined to risk a battle, issued out, and was defeated by stratagem.
    see, I have
    6:2; Psalms 44:3; Daniel 2:21,37,38; 4:25,35
    Reciprocal: Joshua 8:7 - for the Lord;  Joshua 8:11 - GeneralJoshua 9:3 - Jericho;  Joshua 10:8 - GeneralJoshua 12:9 - Ai;  1 Kings 8:44 - whithersoever;  2 Chronicles 6:34 - by the way;  Ecclesiastes 3:8 - a time of war;  Haggai 2:5 - fear

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    Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 8:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-8.html.

    Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

    1.And the Lord said unto Joshua, etc It was of great consequence to Joshua, as well as the people, to inspire new courage, that they might prepare with confidence to assault the city of Ai, from which they had lately been repulsed with loss and greater disgrace. God, therefore, to inspire them with intrepidity on this expedition, promises that he will give them the city. With the same view he enjoins them to fight by stratagem more than open war, to entice the enemy out, and to select a secret place for an ambuscade which might take them by surprise. A few thousands might without any difficulty have been overthrown by an immense host attacking the city suddenly and unexpectedly. But as we formerly saw that the hearts of all had melted away, God consulted for their weakness by laying no greater burden upon them than they were able to bear, until they had recovered from their excessive panic, and could execute his commands with alacrity.

    It is true, indeed, that he now used their own exertion, partly that they might not always keep looking for miracles, and so give themselves up to laziness, and partly that in different and unequal modes of acting they might nevertheless recognize that his power is the same. But care must be taken not to omit the special reason, namely, that not having yet recovered from their terror, they could scarcely have been induced to engage in an open conflict, had they not seen stratagem employed as a subsidiary aid. The first place, however, is due to the promise, Fear not, for I have delivered it into thy hands: for although it is verbally directed to Joshua, it belongs in common to the whole people, as it was most necessary that all to a man should be freed from anxiety and furnished with new confidence. The order to burn the city like Jericho, appears to be a concession to the popular feeling, the vengeance thus taken serving to wipe out the remembrance of their disgrace. At the same time that they may engage in the expedition more willingly, the spoils are left to them as the reward of victory.

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    Bibliographical Information
    Calvin, John. "Commentary on Joshua 8:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/joshua-8.html. 1840-57.