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:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.

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.

8:1,2 When we have faithfully put away sin, that accursed thing which separates between us and God, then, and not till then, we may look to hear from God to our comfort; and God's directing us how to go on in our Christian work and warfare, is a good evidence of his being reconciled to us. God encouraged Joshua to proceed. At Ai the spoil was not to be destroyed as at Jericho, therefore there was no danger of the people's committing such a trespass. Achan, who caught at forbidden spoil, lost that, and life, and all; but the rest of the people, who kept themselves from the accursed thing, were quickly rewarded for their obedience. The way to have the comfort of what God allows us, is, to keep from what he forbids us. No man shall lose by self-denial.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. CHAPTER 8

Jos 8:1-28. God Encourages Joshua.

1, 2. The Lord said unto Joshua, Fear not—By the execution of justice on Achan, the divine wrath was averted, the Israelites were reassured, 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 the 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 Jos 1:6; De 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 six hundred thousand, 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 (Jos 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 (De 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 the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land … lay thee an ambush for the city—God assured Joshua of Ai's capture, but allowed him to follow his own tactics in obtaining the possession.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.

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.

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:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ch. Joshua 8:1-29. The Capture of Ai

1. And the Lord said unto Joshua] The same encouraging address, and one much needed after all that had taken place, is now given as that recorded in Joshua 1:9. The sin of Israel having been removed, the Almighty once more assures Joshua of His presence to give success in the reduction of Ai.

all the people of war] Not three thousand men only as at the first attempt.

Verse 1. - Fear not. Joshua was down cast at his former failure, and well he might. "Treacherous Israelites are to be dreaded more than malicious Canaanites" (Matthew Henry). Take all the people of wax with thee. Not, as has been before stated, because 3,000 men were too few to take the city, for the capture of Jericho was a far greater marvel than that of Ai with this number of men. The true reason is indicated by Calvin, and is indeed suggested by the words "Fear not, neither be thou dismayed." It was to reassure the people, whose hearts had "melted and become as water." Sometimes God calls upon His people for a display of faith, as when He led them through the Jordan, or commanded them to compass Jericho seven days. But in days of despondency He compassionates their weakness and permits them to rely upon visible means of support (see also below, ver. 3). Matthew Henry thinks that a tacit rebuke is here administered to Joshua for sending so few men to Ai on the frowner occasion. He ought to have permitted all to have shared the toil and glory. I have given into thy hand. The work, let man do his best, is God's after all. The king. For the political condition of Palestine before the Israelitish invasion see Introduction. And his land. As in the case of the early Germanic peoples, there was a certain portion of their land in the neigbourhood attached to each city which was used for agricultural purposes (see Introduction; also Joshua 13:28; Joshua 14:4). Joshua 8:1Conquest and Burning of Ai. - Joshua 8:1, Joshua 8:2. After the ban which rested upon the people had been wiped away, the Lord encouraged Joshua to make war upon Ai, promising him that the city should be taken, and giving him instructions what to do to ensure the success of his undertaking. With evident allusion to Joshua's despair after the failure of the first attack, the Lord commences with these words, "Fear not, neither be thou dismayed" (as in Deuteronomy 1:21; Deuteronomy 31:8), and then commands him to go against Ai with all the people of war. By "all the people of war" we are hardly to understand all the men out of the whole nation who were capable of bearing arms; but as only a third of these were contributed by the two tribes and a half to cross over into Canaan and take part in the war, the other tribes also are not likely to have levied more than a third, say about 160,000, which would form altogether an army of about 200,000 men. But even such an army as this seems out of all proportion to the size of Ai, with its 12,000 inhabitants (Joshua 8:25). On the other hand, however, we must bear in mind that the expression "all the people of war" simply denotes the whole army, in contrast with the advice of the spies that only a portion of the army should be sent (Joshua 7:3), so that we are not warranted in pressing the word "all" to absolutely;

(Note: "As we have just before seen how their hearts melted, God consulted their weakness, by putting no heavier burden upon them than they were able to bear, until they had recovered from their alarm, and hearkened readily to His commands." - Calvin.)

and also that this command of God was not given with reference to the conquest of Ai alone, but applied at the same time to the conquest of the whole land, which Joshua was not to attempt by sending out detachments only, but was to carry out with the whole of the force at his command. עלה, to go up, is applied to the advance of an army against a hostile town, independently of the question whether the town was situated upon an eminence or not, as every town that had to be taken was looked upon as a height to be scaled, though as a fact in this instance the army had really to ascend from Jericho to Ai, which was situated up in the mountains (On Joshua 8:1, see Joshua 6:2.) "His land" is the country round, which belonged to the town and was under its king.

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