Songs and Praise



Joshua 8:1-29;

Lesson 173 Senior Lessons

MEMORY VERSE:  "Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves" (James 1:22).

I Divine Stratagem

God commanded Israel to take all the men of war against Ai, in con¬trast with the few who went before, Joshua 8:1; 7:2-4 God promised victory at Ai similar to the victory at Jericho, Joshua 8:2; 6:2; Psalm 44:1-7; Daniel 2:21; 4:35 The plan of attack was given Joshua by the Lord, Joshua 8:3-8; Judges 20:28-48; Proverbs 21:30, 31; I Samuel 14:6-10

II Divine Victory

God's plan of attack gave Israel victory over Ai, Joshua 8:9-29; Judges 20:28-48; II Kings 3:9-25; Proverbs 20:18; 24:6 The loot of Jericho was to be consecrated as the firstfrults unto the Lord, but the spoils of Ai were Israel's, Joshua 8:2, 27; 6:18, 19, 24; Exodus 22:29



Promise of Victory

The Scripture declares: 'Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee' (Psalm 84:5). And Israel's strength was in their true devotion andworship of the living God. Israel had been ignominiously defeated at Ai because one of the Israelites had partaken of the accursed thing, and thereby brought the curse of God upon them.

Joshua, by the guidance of God, had searched through all Israel until the one guilty of sin was revealed. The camp of Israel had been purged of their guilt by destroying Achan, who was the transgressor against God. Now God was again ready to bless Israel as He had at Jericho.

'Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, I have given into thy hand the king of Al, and his people, and his city, and his land:
'Aid thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst unto Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall ye take for a prey unto yourselves': lay thee an ambush for the city behind it' (Joshua 8:1, 2).

With such words God spoke to Joshua and encouraged him to take the men of war and again attack Ai. God also told Joshua how to proceed to take the city. The history of ancient wars has proved that the attack of a walled city has often been unsuccessful. Modern textbooks on warfare declare that the attacking party against a fortified position should out number the defenders at least three to one. In ancient days when walled cities were successfully conquered the city usually was taken by guile or subterfuge and not by military might alone.

The citizens of Ai, like all the Canaanites, were well acquainted with war and the shedding of blood, and may have been well able to hold out against Israel for a long time, outnumbered though they were.

Israel had no formally trained generals or military men, for it was a nation of herdsmen. Their military success did not come from their own ability or genius but from the purposeful intervention of the Lord, who overthrew the heathen nations in behalf of His people.

The heathen nations that resisted Israel had refused for many generations to admit or consider the homage and duty they owed to the Lord, the Creator of the earth and all that is therein. Now because of that resist¬ance they were suffering attack by God's people, and God had ordained their defeat because of their sin.

Plan of Attack

The Lord knew Israel had no machines of war to breach the walls of Ai to enable them to capture the city. At Jericho God had super¬naturally caused the walls of Jericho to fall down, so that Israel was able to enter the city without great difficulty. God could have easily repeated the miracle of Jericho, but He chose to do otherwise.

Perhaps Israel had shown too much self-confidence when they so hastily went up to attack Ai with but a few men. We read of no consultation with God as to the advisability of such action, and the results seem to have proved that their hastiness was not ordered by the Lord. Achan caused the curse of God to come upon the camp of Israel, and Israel found themselves without power against their enemies, and were shamefully defeated.

Now God's plan was to take all the men of war against Ai. The generalship of God has never been matched, nor indeed ever will be. The Angel of God who met Joshua preceding the siege of Jericho informed Joshua He had come as the Captain of the host of the Lord. That Captain has proved His leadership many times over, for we believe He is no other than the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Joshua needed to have no fear of defeat when the Lord was at the command position in battle


God gave Joshua a plan of strategy to lure the inhabitants of Ai out into the open where they would be outnumbered by the Israelites many times over. How easily are the wicked defeated when God is permitted to plan the battle for their defeat!

Victory at Ai

Joshua placed some of his men of war behind Ai in ambush. Then the next morning, approaching the city with the rest of the soldiers, the Israelites lured the men of Ai out of their city to attack them. The Israelites retreated, acting as though they were being defeated. The men of Ai at once thought they were victorious, and had all their citizens leave the city to pursue Israel. Whereupon those Israelites behind the city rushed into the then-undefended city, and set it on fire. When the people of Ai saw their city on fire, they attempted to retreat but found themselves surrounded, and so were destroyed. All the men and women of Al, numbering about twelve thousand, were destroyed; and so God gave Israel victory over Ai.

It can be said that the men of Ai were victims of their own self-confidence, for they had low regard for the ability of the God of Israel to give the Israelites victory. 'He disappointeth the devices of the crafty, so that their hands cannot perform their enterprise. He taketh the wise in their own craftiness: and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong' (Job 5:12, 13). Such seems to have been the fate of the people of Ai.

Victory Through Obedience

'To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams' (I Samuel 15:22). The Israelites finally won the victory at Ai because they were obedient to the voice of God. Humiliated because of disobedience in their midst, they obeyed God and sought out the one who was troubling Israel. And when they had cleansed their camp from all defilement, God was again with them to give them victory over their enemies.

The citizens of Ai would have had no quarrel with the God of Israel had they obeyed His voice in the years preceding this conquest. It was stubborn refusal to heed the commands of God that caused God to use Israel as an instrument of judgment that Ai, as also the rest of Canaan, might be judged for sin.

Israel was told by the Lord that it was not for any righteousness of their own that they were given victory over their enemies. 'Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Understand therefore, that the LORD thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people' (Deuteronomy 9:5, 6).

We have read that later on Israel became disobedient to the point that they were dispersed throughout all the world, and also destroyed as a nation. For hundreds of years Israel had no seat of government, because of their disobedience, and only recently have they again come into recognition as a political nation. Israel's individuality has been kept in existence by divine command. This has not been so in the case 'of other nations. The nation that will not serve God and will not honor Him, eventually goes into extinction. History is full of the names of great nations which do not exist at the present time because they had no time for the honor of God. This is also the case with individuals. Achan was guilty of such a misdemeanor; he troubled Israel, and was destroyed. The citizens of Ai had no time for the service and honor of God, and therefore they suffered destruc¬tion at the hands of those who did honor and serve Him.

Reigning with Christ

The saints of God shall in the end rule the world, because God has ordained that they who love Him shall rule and reign with Him. All sinners shall be cast into the lake of everlasting fire.


1 Describe the plan of attack Israel used to capture Ai.
2 Who was the author of this plan of attack?
3 Why did God help Israel to defeat the people of Ai?
4 Why did God want Joshua to take all the men of war with him to attack Ai?
5 What happened to Israel because they were disobedient to God?
6 Who was the leader of Israel's armies?

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