Joshua 8:21
And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city, and that the smoke of the city ascended, then they turned again, and slew the men of Ai.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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. All Israel, i.e. all the Israelites there present, or all those who seemed to flee away before.

And when Joshua,.... Or "for Joshua" (z):

and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city; which they knew by the smoke, as follows:

and that the smoke of the city ascended; in large columns, which sufficiently indicated that the whole city was taken and fired by the ambush:

then, or, "and":

they turned again and slew the men of Ai; great numbers of them.

(z) "et enim Josua", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Masius.

And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city, and that the smoke of the city ascended, then they turned again, and slew the men of Ai.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Joshua 8:21The men of Ai then turned round behind them, being evidently led to do so by the Israelites, who may have continued looking round to the town of Ai when the signal had been given by Joshua, to see whether the men in ambush had taken it and set it on fire, and as soon as they saw that this had been done began to offer still further resistance to their pursuers, and to defend themselves vigorously against them. On looking back to their town the Aites saw the smoke of the town ascending towards heaven: "and there were not hands in them to flee hither and thither," i.e., they were utterly unable to flee. "Hand," as the organs of enterprise and labour, in the sense of "strength," not "room," for which we should expect to find להם instead of בּהם. There is an analogous passage in Psalm 76:6, "None of the men of might have found their hands." For the people that fled to the wilderness (the Israelitish army) turned against the pursuers (the warriors of Ai), or, as is added by way of explanation in Joshua 8:21, when Joshua and all Israel saw the town in the hands of the ambuscade, and the smoke ascending, they turned round and smote the people of Ai; and (Joshua 8:22) these (i.e., the Israelites who had formed the ambuscade) came out of the town to meet them. "These" (Eng. the other), as contrasted with "the people that fled" in Joshua 8:20, refers back to "the ambush" in Joshua 8:19. In this way the Aites were in the midst of the people of Israel, who came from this side and that side, and smote them to the last man. "So that they let none of them remain:" as in Numbers 21:35 and Deuteronomy 3:3, except that in this case it is strengthened still further by וּפליט, "or escape."
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