Joshua: Ai Defeated

Joshua 8:1-35

On a visit to my doctor, I was pleasantly surprised
to find that he had installed taped music in the
waiting room. As I sat there enjoying a piano
recording, I overheard an elderly lady say to her
companion, “Just like these young doctors—a
crowded waiting room, and he’s in there playing
the piano!”

Last week we saw Israel attempt to defeat Ai on their
own terms without receiving direction from God.
And we saw them fail miserably.
We were reminded that we must confess our sin to God
and He is faithful and just to forgive us.
This week is an encouraging story of obedience and

Joshua 8:1

God Encourages Joshua

Israel has just lost 36 men due to not listening to God.
Achan acted unfaithfully and sinned against God.
Now God has forgiven them. And here He speaks to
Joshua with similar words to Moses when he spoke to
Israel in

Deut 31:6-8 “‘Be strong and courageous, do not be
afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is
the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or
forsake you.’ Then Moses called to Joshua and said
to him in the sight of all Israel, ‘Be strong and
courageous, for you shall go with this people into
the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers
to give them, and you shall give it to them as an
inheritance. The Lord is the one who goes ahead of
you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or
forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.’”

God tells Joshua the same thing He did before the battle
at Jericho, see, I have given them into your hand, the
king of Ai, his people, his city and his land.

Notice the character of God here. Even though we sin and
fall short of His glory, He is quick to forgive and
encourage. What if we were more like God in the
relationships in our lives? Remember, God will never
leave us or forsake us! And He is quick to forgive.

Joshua 8:2

God Explains His Plan

Here God tells Joshua he is to go and conquer the king of
Ai but this time it’s going to be different.
God’s not going to do all the work this time.
God tells them this time they can keep some of the spoil
and cattle as plunder.

Spoil in Hebrew is Shalal it’s a noun that refers to that
which is taken by force, spoils, plunder, booty.

The word plunder in Hebrew is bazaz and it is a verb
which means the activity taken against cities, people,
cattle as they are looting, plundering or robbing.

Again we see the perfect timing of God. He will always
care for His people. This city will provide Israel with some
resources. God’s always looking for our obedience.

In the final phrase of v.2 we see God’s plan. He tells them
to ambush their enemies this time.
V. 2 doesn’t go into all the details, but clearly God
explained it all to Joshua because he gives the fighting
men all the details of the battle plan in the following

Joshua 8:3-9

Preparations for Battle

If you read these verses as they are translated and try to
understand it chronologically you will get a headache.
Hebrew is different than English, so we have to read it
with the understanding that sometimes things appear out
of order but they are worded that way for a reason by the

Commentators are all over the place in how they
interpret the number of fighting men and how many
groups of them there are, but suffice it to say, God
wanted an ambush to take out the city of Ai and He got
it. The plan was this…
One group of soldiers would appear to attack and when
the army of Ai came out they would turn and flee like
they did last time, this time though they were only
Because another larger group would come out after all
the men left the city and burn it down.

Joshua 8:10-22

The Battle at Ai

Israel had a couple of signals that were known only to
For the first sign Joshua was to raise his javelin
towards the city. That would be a sign to the people
waiting in ambush to attack the city.
This is reminiscent of the battle against Amalek when
Moses raised his hand Israel would win, but if he lowered
it they would lose. Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ hands
until the victory was finished.
In a similar fashion Joshua held up his javelin until the
army ravished the entire city.
The point is God asked them to do it. As long as they
obeyed God, God gave them the victory.

The second sign would be for the fleeing men.
When the city was on fire, the smoke would signal
them to turn around and fight. This would cause the
people of Ai to be sandwiched between Israelites.

It was a wonderful plan and it worked perfectly because
it was God’s plan and it was God’s timing.
In Chapter 7 God hadn’t told them to attack Ai and they
were defeated.
In chapter 8 it was God’s plan for them to overtake Ai.

We cannot fail when we follow God’s plan and obey Him

Joshua 8:23-29

A City and it’s King Annihilated

The king is brought alive to Joshua only to be killed and
hung on a tree. Everyone in the city is slaughtered and
only what God allowed is kept by Israel. Everything else
is destroyed.

In the evening they took down the king’s body and threw
it at the city gate and piled a heap of stones on it.
Quite a different memorial than the ones set up at Gilgal.
Here the king was covered with a heap of stones and no
one was to rebuild the city ever again.

Joshua 8:30-35

Joshua Worships God

Joshua built an altar and he led the people in worship.
They offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.
They were showing their gratitude to the Lord for helping
them in this victory.
Also they were keeping the command that Moses had
given Joshua back in Deuteronomy 27:2-8 to write again
the commandments that God had given Moses.

What a great reminder for the people to see again the
law that God had given Moses and to assemble for

It’s also important for us to gather together for worship
and to stay connected to God through His word and


We’ve already had a few points of application during our
study this morning.

To put it succinctly we must
Acknowledge God’s lordship and follow Him obediently

The only way we will be able to do that is to listen for
His voice so we can know the way.