Joshua 8:13
And when they had set the people, even all the host that was on the north of the city, and their liers in wait on the west of the city, Joshua went that night into the middle of the valley.
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(13) Joshua went that night into the. . . . valley (Emek).—Not the ravine (or Gai) before mentioned (Joshua 8:11), but a wider and more open part of the valley, probably a little further to the south;· the object being to draw the men of Ai into a pursuit in the direction of the road to Gilgal.

8:3-22 Observe Joshua's conduct and prudence. Those that would maintain their spiritual conflicts must not love their ease. Probably he went into the valley alone, to pray to God for a blessing, and he did not seek in vain. He never drew back till the work was done. Those that have stretched out their hands against their spiritual enemies, must never draw them back.Joshua went down by night into the valley where He would be seen at daylight by the men of Ai, and was accompanied no doubt by a picked body of troops. The king of Ai, in the morning, would see neither the ambush in his rear, nor the whole of the great host of Israel among the hills away to the north on his left; but supposing, as it appears, that the Israelites before him were a body detached as on the former occasion to assail his city, he sallied out promptly to attack them. 13. Joshua went that night into the midst of the valley—The deep and steep-sided glen to the north of Tell-el-hajar, into which one looks down from the tell, fully agrees with this account [Van De Velde]. Joshua himself took up his position on the north side of "the ravine"—the deep chasm of the wady El-Murogede; "that night"—means, while it was dark, probably after midnight, or very early in the morning (Joh 20:1). The king of Ai, in the early dawn, rouses his slumbering subjects and makes a hasty sally with all his people who were capable of bearing arms, once more to surprise and annihilate them. To wit, accompanied with a small part of the host now mentioned, i.e. very early in the morning, when it was yet dark, as is said in a like case, John 20:1, whence it is here called night, though it was early in the morning, as is said Joshua 8:10; for it seems most probable that all was done in one night’s space, and in this manner: Joshua sends away the ambush by night, Joshua 8:3, and lodgeth that night with twenty-five thousand men, Joshua 8:9, not far from the city. But not able nor willing to sleep all night, he rises very early, Joshua 8:10, and numbers his men, which by the help of the several officers was quickly done, and so immediately leads them towards Ai; and while it was yet duskish or night, he goes into the midst of the valley, Joshua 8:13; and when the day dawns he is discovered by the king and people of Ai, who thereupon rose up early to fight with them, Joshua 8:14. Though others conceive this was the second night, and so the ambush had lain hid a night and a day together. But then there might be danger of their being discovered, although that danger may seem to be the less, because Ai might be shut up, that none might go out nor come in, but by order, and upon necessity, because of the nearness of their enemies, as Jericho formerly was for the same reason, Joshua 6:1. Into the midst of the valley; which was near the city, thereby to allure them forth. And when they had set the people,.... In battle array, as in 1 Kings 20:12; that is, Joshua and the officers of the army:

even all the host that was on the north of the city; where Joshua and the main army were:

and the liers in wait on the west of the city: both the first and second ambush; when all, were prepared and got ready by their several officers, to act the part they were to do:

Joshua went that night into the midst of the valley; according to Ben Gersom, to see whether the guards or sentinels which were placed there were awake or asleep, lest the men of Ai should come suddenly upon them and smite them; but perhaps it might be to pray and meditate.

And when they had set the people, even all the host that was on the north of the city, and their liers in wait on the west of the city, Joshua went that night into the {f} midst of the valley.

(f) To the intent that they in the city more easily discover his army.

Verse 13. - And when they had set. This may mean the leaders of the detachment of 30,000. Joshua does not appear to have been with them, for he is not mentioned till the latter part of the verse (see note on ver. 3). Joshua went that night. Having made all his dispositions, he descended in the evening from his vantage ground on the hill into the plain, so as to invite attack in the morning, a stratagem which (see next verse) was completely successful. Some MSS., however, have וַיָּלֶן "and he rested," for וַיֵּלֶך "and he went" here. The valley. The word here is עֶמֶק not גָי as in ver. 11. Therefore the narrow waterless ravine in which the troops in ambush were to lie hid is not meant here, but a wider valley. A consideration of this fact might do something to settle the much disputed question of the situation of Ai. The עֶמֶק though deep, as the name implies, was a valley large enough for cultivation or luxuriant vegetation (Job 39:10; Psalm 65:14; Song of Solomon 2:1). Even a battle might be fought there (Job 39:21). Such a valley as that of Chamonix or Lauterbrunnen would answer to the description, and so would the passes of Glencoe and Killiecrankie. Accordingly Joshua set out with all the people of war against Ai, and selected 30,000 brave men, and sent them out in the night, with instructions to station themselves as an ambuscade behind the town, and at no great distance from it. As the distance from Gilgal to Ai was about fifteen miles, and the road runs pretty straight in a north-westerly direction from Jericho through the Wady Faran, the detachment sent forward might easily accomplish the distance in a night, so as to arrive on the western side of Ai before the break of day. They were then to hold themselves in readiness to fight. He (Joshua) himself would approach the town with the people of war that remained with him; and if the inhabitants of Ai should come out against him as they did before, they would flee before them till they had drawn them quite away from their town (Joshua 8:5). This was to be expected; "for they will say, They flee before us, as at the first: and we will flee before them" (Joshua 8:6). When this was done, the warriors were to come forth from their ambush, fall upon the town, and set it on fire (Joshua 8:7, Joshua 8:8). Having been sent away with these instructions, the 30,000 men went into ambush, and posted themselves "between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai" (Joshua 8:9), i.e., according to Strauss, in the Wady es Suweinit, to the north-west of Ai, where it forms almost a perpendicular wall, near to which the ruins of Chai are to be found, though "not near enough to the rocky wady for it to be possible to look down its almost perpendicular wall" (Ritter, Erdk. xvi. p. 528). Joshua remained for the night in the midst of the people, i.e., in the camp of that portion of the army that had gone with him towards Ai; not in Gilgal, as Knobel supposes.
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