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Joshua Chapter 8 | Parsha:

1The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be frightened or dismayed. Take all the fighting troops with you, go and march against Ai. See, I will deliver the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land into your hands. 2You shall treat Ai and her king as you treated Jericho and her king; however, you may take the spoil and the cattle as booty for yourselves. Now set an ambush against the city behind it.”

3So Joshua and all the fighting troops prepared for the march on Ai. Joshua chose thirty thousand men, valiant warriors, and sent them ahead by night. 4He instructed them as follows: “Mind, you are to lie in ambush behind the city; don’t stay too far from the city, and all of you be on the alert. 5I and all the troops with me will approach the city; and when they come out against us, as they did the first time, we will flee from them. 6They will come rushing after us until we have drawn them away from the city. They will think, ‘They are fleeing from us the same as last time’; but while we are fleeing before them, 7you will dash out from your ambush and seize the city, and the Lord your God will deliver it into your hands. 8And when you take the city, set it on fire. Do as the Lord has commanded. Mind, I have given you your orders.”

9Joshua then sent them off, and they proceeded to the ambush; they took up a position between Ai and Bethel—west of Ai—while Joshua spent the night with the rest of the troops.

10Early in the morning, Joshua mustered the troops; then he and the elders of Israel marched upon Ai at the head of the troops. 11All the fighting force that was with him advanced near the city and encamped to the north of Ai, with a hollow between them and Ai. — 12He selected about five thousand men and stationed them as an ambush between Bethel and Ai, west of the city. 13Thus the main body of the army was disposed on the north of the city, but the far end of it was on the west. (This was after Joshua had spent the night in the valley.) — 14When the king of Ai saw them, he and all his people, the inhabitants of the city, rushed out in the early morning to the meeting place, facing the Arabah, to engage the Israelites in battle; for he was unaware that a force was lying in ambush behind the city. 15Joshua and all Israel fled in the direction of the wilderness, as though routed by them. 16All the troops in the city gathered to pursue them; pursuing Joshua, they were drawn out of the city. 17Not a man was left in Ai or in Bethel who did not go out after Israel; they left the city open while they pursued Israel.

18The Lord then said to Joshua, “Hold out the javelin in your hand toward Ai, for I will deliver it into your hands.” So Joshua held out the javelin in his hand toward the city. 19As soon as he held out his hand, the ambush came rushing out of their station. They entered the city and captured it; and they swiftly set fire to the city. 20The men of Ai looked back and saw the smoke of the city rising to the sky; they had no room for flight in any direction.
The people who had been fleeing to the wilderness now became the pursuers.
21For when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had captured the city, and that smoke was rising from the city, they turned around and attacked the men of Ai. 22Now the other [Israelites] were coming out of the city against them, so that they were between two bodies of Israelites, one on each side of them. They were slaughtered, so that no one escaped or got away. 23The king of Ai was taken alive and brought to Joshua.

24When Israel had killed all the inhabitants of Ai who had pursued them into the open wilderness, and all of them, to the last man, had fallen by the sword, all the Israelites turned back to Ai and put it to the sword.

25The total of those who fell that day, men and women, the entire population of Ai, came to twelve thousand.

26Joshua did not draw back the hand with which he held out his javelin until all the inhabitants of Ai had been exterminated. 27However, the Israelites took the cattle and the spoil of the city as their booty, in accordance with the instructions that the Lord had given to Joshua.

28Then Joshua burned down Ai, and turned it into a mound of ruins for all time, a desolation to this day. 29And the king of Ai was impaled on a stake until the evening. At sunset, Joshua had the corpse taken down from the stake and it was left lying at the entrance to the city gate. They raised a great heap of stones over it, which is there to this day.

30At that time Joshua built an altar to the Lord, the God of Israel, on Mount Ebal, 31as Moses, the servant of the Lord, had commanded the Israelites—as is written in the Book of the Teaching of Moses—an altar of unhewn stone upon which no iron had been wielded. They offered on it burnt offerings to the Lord, and brought sacrifices of well-being. 32And there, on the stones, he inscribed a copy of the Teaching that Moses had written for the Israelites. 33All Israel—stranger and citizen alike—with their elders, officials, and magistrates, stood on either side of the Ark, facing the levitical priests who carried the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant. Half of them faced Mount Gerizim and half of them faced Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded them of old, in order to bless the people of Israel. 34After that, he read all the words of the Teaching, the blessing and the curse, just as is written in the Book of the Teaching. 35There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua failed to read in the presence of the entire assembly of Israel, including the women and children and the strangers who accompanied them.

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