Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 8:14

It came about when the king of Ai saw it, that the men of the city hurried and rose up early and went out to meet Israel in battle, he and all his people at the appointed place before the desert plain. But he did not know that there was an ambush against him behind the city.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Ambush;   Armies;   Strategy;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Sieges;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Ai;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Ambush;   Arabah;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Arms;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Ai;   Arabah;   Bethel;   Joshua, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ai;   Israel;   Joshua;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Ai, Hai ;   Ambush, Ambushment;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Ai;   Journeyings of israel from egypt to canaan;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Conquest of Canaan;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Arabah;   Champaign;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Ai;  

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

At a time appointed - Rather, “at the place appointed,” i. e. some spot suitable for the drawing up of his men, which had been assigned beforehand. This was “before the plain,” i. e. it was at the entrance of the depressed tract of land which runs down to the Jordan valley, up which lay the route of the Israelites from Gilgal to Ai.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Joshua 8:14". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/joshua-8.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And it came to pass, when the king of Ai saw it,.... Not the ambush on the west side, but the host or army on the north side, or, however, some of his people gave him notice of it:

that they hasted and rose up early; or made haste to rise out of their beds, on the alarm given of Israel's near approach:

and the men of the city went out against Israel to battle; being raised out of their beds and accoutred with armour, and put into a military order, they marched out with their king at the head of them, to give Israel battle:

he and all his people, at a time appointed, before the plain; which was before the city, the same with the valley mentioned, Joshua 8:11; the city was built on an eminence, and this plain or valley lay at the bottom of it; and on an eminence on the other side of the valley the army of Israel was pitched; wherefore the king of Ai and all his men of war went out hither to attack Israel, and this is said to be at an appointed time; it is difficult to say what is meant by it, when they seem to have hurried out as best as they could, as soon as they perceived the Israelites were near them: Ben Gersom and Abarbinel think it was the same time of the day they went out at first, which the king might choose as lucky, being before successful, and to encourage the men, that as they conquered then they should now; which seems not amiss, though perhaps it rather designs an appointed place, as their rendezvous, and where to attack Israel, and where they had been before victorious:

but he wist not that there were liers in ambush against him behind the city; that he knew nothing of, and therefore took no precaution against them to prevent their design.

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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 8:14". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-8.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

at a time appointed — either an hour concocted between the king and people of Ai and those of Beth-el, who were confederates in this enterprise, or perhaps they had fixed on the same time of day, as they had fought successfully against Israel on the former occasion, deeming it a lucky hour (Judges 20:38).

but he wist not that there were liers in ambush against him behind the city — It is evident that this king and his subjects were little experienced in war; otherwise they would have sent out scouts to reconnoiter the neighborhood; at all events, they would not have left their town wholly unprotected and open. Perhaps an ambuscade may have been a war stratagem hitherto unknown in that country, and among that people.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 8:14". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/joshua-8.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And it came to pass, when the king of Ai saw it, that they hasted and rose up early, and the men of the city went out against Israel to battle, he and all his people, at a time appointed, before the plain; but he wist not that there were liers in ambush against him behind the city.

His people — Namely, all his men of war, for the rest were left in Ai, verse16.

At a time appointed — At a certain hour agreed upon between the king and people of Ai, and of Bethel too, who were their confederates in this enterprize, as it may seem from verse17. Possibly they might appoint the same hour of the day on which they had fought against Israel with good success, looking upon it as a lucky hour.

Before the plain — That is, towards or in sight of that plain or valley in which the Israelites were, that so they might put themselves in battle-array.

Against him — The former success having made him secure, as is usual in such cases; God also blinding his mind, and infatuating him, as he useth to do with those whom he intends to destroy.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 8:14". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-8.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 8:14 And it came to pass, when the king of Ai saw [it], that they hasted and rose up early, and the men of the city went out against Israel to battle, he and all his people, at a time appointed, before the plain; but he wist not that [there were] liers in ambush against him behind the city.

Ver. 14. They hasted and rose up early.] Sine dilatione aut deliberatione, consiliove capto, they made more haste than good speed. Warriors should do nothing rashly, Quia in proelio non datur his errare, as Lamachus said, one error is destructive. "Every purpose shall be established by counsel: therefore with good advice make war." [Proverbs 20:18] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 20:18"}

But he wist not.] And therefore all too late came in with his fool’s Had I known. Leo cassibus irretitus ait, Si praescivissem.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 8:14". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-8.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

All his people, to wit, all his men of war, for the rest were left in Ai, Joshua 8:16.

At a time appointed; at a certain hour agreed upon between the king and people of Ai, and of Beth-el too, who were their confederates in this enterprise, as it may seem from Joshua 8:17. Possibly they might appoint the same hour of the day on which they had fought against Israel with such good success, looking upon it as a lucky hour.

Before the plain, i.e. towards or in sight of that plain or valley in which the Israelites were, that so they might put themselves in battle-array.

He wist not that there were liers in ambush; the former success having made him more careless and secure, as is usual in such cases; God also blinding his mind, and infatuating him, as he useth to do with those which he intends to destroy.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 8:14". 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

And so it was that when the king of Ai saw it, they hastily stirred themselves and rose up early, and the men of the city went out against Israel to battle, he and all his people, at the time (or place’) appointed, before the Arabah. But he did not know that there was an ambush against him behind the city.’

The king of Ai responded as expected. Becoming aware of their movement into the valley during the night, he and his officers roused his troops and came out to battle. After his previous victory he was full of confidence. ‘At the place appointed’ may mean the place that Joshua had selected for battle, a place suitable for carrying out Joshua’s plans. Or it may mean the time that Joshua had expected and arranged for.

“Before the Arabah.” It is difficult to know what this means. The Arabah is the Jordan rift valley. Thus it may have been a point from which the rift valley could be seen, or from where the way down to it could easily be reached. In his confidence the king may have been seeking to ensure that he could prevent escape that way.

This was probably a preliminary sortie to test out the now much larger enemy forces. As we have suggested earlier, and as appears from what follows, he now also had troops from Bethel to call on, as yet hidden from the eyes of Joshua. But the king was not aware of Joshua’s trap and made no provision for it.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Joshua 8:14". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/joshua-8.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

14.At a time appointed — In Judges 20:38, the same word is translated an appointed sign. This makes good sense here; but Gesenius and Furst both say that it is here to be rendered, an appointed place in Joshua’s line, upon which the attack was to be made. This place is mentioned immediately afterwards as the plain, that is, the Arabah, the desert, which is spoken of in Joshua 8:15 under the name of the wilderness.

[15.

Made as if they were beaten — The original simply reads were beaten. Keil renders it suffered themselves to be beaten.

The wilderness — The eastern slope of the mountains of Judah towards Jericho and the Dead Sea. Captain Wilson says that on the east of Et-Tel “the ground, which at first breaks down rapidly from the great ridge that forms the backbone of Palestine, swells out into a small plain three quarters of a mile broad, before commencing its abrupt descent to the Jordan valley.”] 16. And all the people — That is, all capable of military service. We read in Joshua 8:24 that some were killed in the city.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 8:14". "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 8:14. He and all his people — That is, the king of Ai and his men of war, for the rest were left in the city, Joshua 8:16. At a time appointed — At a certain hour agreed on between the king and people of Ai, and Bethel too, who were confederate with them in this enterprise. Possibly they might appoint the same hour of the day on which they had fought against Israel with success, looking upon it as a lucky hour. Before the plain — That is, toward, or in sight of that plain or valley in which the Israelites were, that so they might put themselves in battle array. He knew not there were liers in ambush — The former success having made him secure, as is usual in such cases, God also blinding his mind, and infatuating him, as he is wont to do with those who have filled up the measure of their iniquities, and whom, therefore, he purposes to destroy.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 8:14". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/joshua-8.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Desert of Bethel, fit only for pasturage, chap. xviii. 12.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Joshua 8:14". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/joshua-8.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

men. Hebrew, plural of ish or "enosh. App-14.

wist not = knew not. Anglo-Saxonwitan, to know,

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Joshua 8:14". "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 it came to pass, when the king of Ai saw it, that they hasted and rose up early, and the men of the city went out against Israel to battle, he and all his people, at a time appointed, before the plain; but he wist not that there were liers in ambush against him behind the city.

At a time appointed, [ lamow`eed (Hebrew #4150)] - to the place of rendezvous (Gesenius); so that we may take the meaning to be, either to a spot agreed upon between the king and people of Ai and those of Beth-el, who were confederates in this enterprise, or perhaps they had fixed on the same time of day as they had fought successfully against Israel on the former occasion, deeming it a lucky hour (Judges 20:38).

But he wist not that there were liers in ambush. It is evident that this king and his subjects were little experienced in war, otherwise they would have sent out scouts to reconnoitre the neighbourhood. At all events, they would not have left their town wholly unprotected and open. Perhaps an ambuscade may have been a war-stratagem hitherto unknown in that country, and among that people.

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 8:14". "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

(14) When the king of Ai saw it. . . . the city went out.—The stratagem succeeded perfectly. Joshua gave them ample time, by his movements in open daylight, to discover what his apparent intentions were, viz., to renew the direct attack upon the city with a larger force. Accordingly, the Canaanites came out before the plain—i.e., in the direction of the plain of Jordan (the Arabah. On this word and Emek and Gai used above, see Stanley, Sinai and Palestine)—intending to drive Joshua down by the way he had come up. And accordingly Joshua and his army fled in that very direction by the way of the Midbar or wilderness—i.e., the mountainous district between Ai and the Jordan valley, and lying in that direction. (Comp. Joshua 7:5.)

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Joshua 8:14". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/joshua-8.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And it came to pass, when the king of Ai saw it, that they hasted and rose up early, and the men of the city went out against Israel to battle, he and all his people, at a time appointed, before the plain; but he wist not that there were liers in ambush against him behind the city.
Ai saw it
5,16
he wist not
Judges 20:34-36; Ecclesiastes 9:12; Isaiah 19:11,13; Daniel 4:31; Matthew 24:39,50; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3; 2 Peter 2:3
Reciprocal: Exodus 34:29 - wist;  Joshua 8:2 - lay thee;  Judges 20:31 - drawn;  Jeremiah 51:12 - ambushes

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 8:14". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-8.html.