Joshua 8:8
And it shall be, when ye have taken the city, that ye shall set the city on fire: according to the commandment of the LORD shall ye do. See, I have commanded you.
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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.Thirty thousand men - comparing Joshua 8:3 and Joshua 8:12 ("five thousand men"), there is probably a mistake in the numbers of this verse, where an early copyist may have written the sign for 30,000 instead of that for 5,000.

Sent them away by night - The selected 5,000 would accordingly post themselves in the main ravine between Ai and Bethel in the night and early morning. The neighhorhood in which Ai was situated is described as "a wild entanglement of hill and valley;" and amidst its recesses the detachment could easily shelter itself from observation until Joshua's other measures were taken.

4. behind the city—is rendered (Jos 8:9), "on the west side of Ai." Ye shall set the city on fire, to wit, part of it, as a sign to their brethren of their success; for the whole city was not burnt now, but afterwards, as is said Joshua 8:28.

And it shall be, when ye have taken the city,.... Entered it and become masters of it:

that ye shall set the city on fire; not the whole city, only some outlying houses of it, to make a smoke which might be seen both by Israel and the men of Ai, for different purposes; for the spoil of the city was first to be taken before it was utterly burnt with fire:

according to the commandment of the Lord shall ye do; plunder the city, destroy the inhabitants of it, and then burn it:

see I have commanded you; delivered the command of the Lord unto them, and therefore were left without excuse, and could not plead ignorance; besides, he was their general, and he expected his orders to be obeyed, as they ought to have been.

And it shall be, when ye have taken the city, that ye shall set the city on fire: according to the commandment of the LORD shall ye do. See, I have commanded you.
8. See, I have commanded you] Comp. the words of Jehovah to Joshua, Joshua 1:9, “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong, and of a good courage;” and of Absalom to his servants, 2 Samuel 13:28, “Have not I commanded you? Be courageous and be valiant.”

Verse 8. - According to the commandment of the lord. The LXX. seems to have read ׃דרוו סךהת ות גנךדרושׂשׂא כִדְבַר הַזֶה Joshua 8:8Accordingly 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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