Joshua 8:19
And the ambush arose quickly out of their place, and they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand: and they entered into the city, and took it, and hasted and set the city on fire.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Joshua 8:19-23. They entered and set the city on fire — That is, some part of it, sufficient to raise a smoke, and give notice to their brethren of their success. But certainly not all of it, because in that case they would have lost the prey which God had allowed them. Indeed, it is evident from verse

28, that the main part of the city was not burned till after the battle, and they had taken out all the cattle and other spoils that were therein. The people that fled turned back — That is, the Israelites, who had counterfeited a flight, turned upon the men of Ai, who pursued them. The other issued out of the city — Namely, those who lay in ambush, and were now in possession of the city. The king they took alive — Reserved him to a more ignominious death.

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.No doubt Joshua had ascended the heights, most likely those to the north of the valley, so as to separate himself from the flying Israelites on the lower ground, and to be visible to the men in ambush behind the city. He now, at the command of God, gives the appointed signal to the ambush. 18-25. Joshua stretched out the spear that he had in his hand toward the city—The uplifted spear had probably a flag, or streamer on it, to render it the more conspicuous from the height where he stood. At the sight of this understood signal the ambush nearest the city, informed by their scouts, made a sudden rush and took possession of the city, telegraphing to their brethren by raising a smoke from the walls. Upon seeing this, the main body, who had been reigning a flight, turned round at the head of the pass upon their pursuers, while the twenty-five thousand issuing from their ambuscade, fell back upon their rear. The Ai-ites surprised, looked back, and found their situation now desperate. i.e. Not all of it, as appears both from Joshua 8:28, and because then they had lost that prey which God had allowed them; but some part of it, enough to raise a smoke, and give notice to their brethren of their success.

And the ambush arose quickly out of their place,.... As soon as the sentinels set in proper places observed the signal, and gave them notice of it, which was the stretching out of the spear, as appears by what follows:

and they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand; and the spear in his hand; from whence it is plain, that though the Lord is said to bid Joshua do this now, he had orders from him for it before and the ambush must have been made acquainted with it before they were sent away; and this was only a renewal of the order from the Lord, and which pointed out the proper time, the very crisis, when it should be stretched out:

and they entered into the city; without any difficulty, the gates being open:

and took it; took possession of it, and the strong holds in it:

and hasted and set the city on fire; that is, they made haste to set some houses on fire as the signal to the army of Israel to return.

And the ambush arose quickly out of their place, and they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand: and they entered into the city, and took it, and hasted and set the city on fire.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Joshua 8:19At the command of God Joshua now stretched out the javelin in his hand towards the town. At this sign the ambuscade rose hastily from its concealment, rushed into the town, and set it on fire. בּכּידון נטה signifies to stretch out the hand with the spear. The object יד, which is missing (cf. Joshua 8:19, Joshua 8:26), may easily be supplied from the apposition בּידך אשׁר. The raising of the javelin would probably be visible at a considerable distance, even if it was not provided with a small flag, as both earlier and later commentators assume, since Joshua would hardly be in the mist of the flying Israelites, but would take his station as commander upon some eminence on one side. And the men in ambush would have scouts posted to watch for the signal, which had certainly been arranged beforehand, and convey the information to the others.
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