Joshua 8:9
Joshua therefore sent them forth: and they went to lie in ambush, and abode between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai: but Joshua lodged that night among the people.
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(9) They went to lie in ambush.—Or, they went to the lurking-place; and remained between Bethel and Ai. The ambush itself (Joshua 8:2; Joshua 8:7; Joshua 8:19; Joshua 8:21) is described by a slightly different word.

Among the people—i.e., at Gilgal.

10) Joshua . . . numbered.—Or, rather, mustered the people.

He then went up with the elders of Israel at the head of the main body, and made an imposing demonstration with a large force in front of the town.

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.

9. between Beth-el and Ai—Beth-el, though lying quite near in the direction of west by north, cannot be seen from Tell-el-hajar; two rocky heights rise between both places, in the wady El-Murogede, just as the laying of an ambush to the west of Ai would require [Van De Velde; Robinson]. Sent them forth; the same party designed by the pronoun them, Joshua 8:3, of which see the notes there.

Among the people, Heb. that people, to wit, the people of war, as they are called, Joshua 8:11, to wit, the main body of that host, consisting of thirty thousand.

Joshua therefore sent them forth,.... The thirty thousand chosen men:

and they went to lie in ambush; as they were ordered, Joshua 8:2,

and abode between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai; for as Ai was on the east of Bethel, Joshua 7:2. Bethel must be on the west of Ai, as Jarchi notes:

but Joshua lodged that night among the people; the main body of the army, to direct them in the affair of war, how they should behave the next day, when they came to fight; and to inspire them with courage and confidence, that they might not be afraid, because of their having been smitten before by this people, so Ben Gersom; or rather that he and they might be ready in the morning to march towards Ai, as Jarchi and Kimchi.

Joshua therefore sent them forth: and they went to lie in ambush, and abode between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai: but Joshua lodged that night {c} among the people.

(c) With the rest of the army.

Verse 9. - Between Bethel and Ai. (see above, Joshua 7:2). Joshua 8:9Accordingly 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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