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Joshua - Chapter 8

1 Yahweh then said to Joshua, 'Be fearless and undaunted. Take all your fighting men with you. Up! March against Ai. Look, I have put the king of Ai, his people, his town and his territory at your mercy.

2 You must treat Ai and its king as you treated Jericho and its king. The only booty you will take are the spoils and the cattle. Take up a concealed position by the town, to the rear of it.'

3 Joshua set out to march against Ai with all the fighting men. Joshua chose thirty thousand of the bravest and sent them out under cover of dark,

4 having given them these orders, 'Pay attention! You must take up a concealed position by the town, at the rear, not very far from the town, and be sure you all keep alert!

5 I, and the whole people with me, shall advance on the town, and when the people of Ai come out to engage us as they did the first time, we shall run away from them.

6 They will then give chase, and we shall draw them away from the town, since they will think, "They are running away from us as they did the first time."

7 You will then burst out of your concealed position and seize the town; Yahweh your God will put it at your mercy.

8 When you have captured the town, set fire to it, in obedience to Yahweh's command. Well then, these are my orders.'

9 Joshua sent them off, and they made their way to the place of ambush and took up position between Bethel and Ai, to the west of Ai. Joshua spent the night with the people,

10 then, getting up early next morning, reviewed the people and, with the elders of Israel, marched on Ai at their head.

11 All the warriors marching with him advanced on the front of the town and pitched camp north of Ai, with the valley between them and the town.

12 Joshua took about five thousand men and concealed these between Bethel and Ai, to the west of the town.

13 The people pitched the main camp to the north of the town and set up its ambush to the west of the town. Joshua went that night into the middle of the plain.

14 The king of Ai had seen this; the people of the town got up early and hurried out, so that he and all his people could engage Israel in battle on the slope facing the Arabah; but he did not know that an ambush had been laid for him to the rear of the town.

15 Joshua and all Israel pretended to be beaten by them and took to their heels along the road to the desert.

16 All the people in the town joined in the pursuit and, in pursuing Joshua, were drawn away from the town.

17 Not a man was left in Ai (nor in Bethel), who had not gone in pursuit of Israel; and in pursuing Israel they left the town undefended.

18 Yahweh then said to Joshua, 'Point the sabre in your hand at Ai; for I am about to put the town at your mercy.' Joshua pointed the sabre in his hand towards the town.

19 No sooner had he stretched out his hand than the men in ambush burst from their position, ran forward, entered the town, captured it and quickly set it on fire.

20 When the men of Ai looked back, they saw smoke rising from the town into the sky. None of them had the courage to run in any direction, for the people fleeing towards the desert turned back on their pursuers.

21 For, once Joshua and all Israel saw that the town had been seized by the men in ambush, and that smoke was rising from the town, they turned about and attacked the men of Ai.

22 The others came out from the town to engage them too, and the men of Ai were thus surrounded by Israelites, some on this side and some on that. The Israelites struck them down until not one was left alive and none to flee;

23 but the king of Ai was taken alive, and brought to Joshua.

24 When Israel had finished killing all the inhabitants of Ai in the open ground, and in the desert where they had pursued them, and when every single one had fallen to the sword, all Israel returned to Ai and slaughtered its remaining population.

25 The number of those who fell that day, men and women together, was twelve thousand, all people of Ai.

26 Joshua did not draw back the hand with which he had pointed the sabre until he had subjected all the inhabitants of Ai to the curse of destruction.

27 For booty, Israel took only the cattle and the spoils of this town, in accordance with the order that Yahweh had given to Joshua.

28 Joshua then burned Ai, making it a ruin for evermore, a desolate place even today.

29 He hanged the king of Ai from a tree till evening; but at sunset Joshua ordered his body to be taken down from the tree. It was then thrown down at the entrance to the town gate and on top of it was raised a great mound of stones, which is still there today.

30 Joshua then built an altar to Yahweh, God of Israel, on Mount Ebal,

31 as Moses, servant of Yahweh, had ordered the Israelites, as is written in the law of Moses: an altar of undressed stones, on which no iron has been used. On this they presented burnt offerings to Yahweh and communion sacrifices as well.

32 There, Joshua wrote on the stones a copy of the Law of Moses, which Moses had written in the presence of the Israelites.

33 All Israel, with their elders, their officials and their judges, stood on either side of the ark, facing the levitical priests who were carrying the ark of the covenant of Yahweh, foreigners with the native-born, half of them on the upper slopes of Mount Ebal, as Moses, servant of Yahweh, had originally ordered for the blessing of the people of Israel.

34 After this, Joshua read all the words of the Law -- the blessing and the cursing -- exactly as it stands written in the Book of the Law.

35 Of every word laid down by Moses, not one was left unread by Joshua in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the foreigners living with them.

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