Joshua 7:2: The Reconnaissance of Ai, Part 1

Verse 2:[1] And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east side of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai.

[And when he sent…men] Not because he distrusted the promises of God (what could be more absurd, after the most recent miracle?), but because he understood that God requires our attention to His will and leadership in most things. In addition, Joshua is moved by Divine impulse, so that the relation of the spies might be the reason for suffering a lesser defeat. For, as the events themselves happen according to the will of Divine providence, so also it is to be considered that the reasons for the events flow forth in a certain order and sequence from the some fount, and are suitable (Masius).

[To Ai] Ai was removed from Jericho by only three leugæ or miles[2] (Masius). There was also another like-named Ai among the Ammonites, Jeremiah 49:3.[3] But this our city is here called הָעַי, the Ai, by eminency, with the article ה prefixed; and also in Nehemiah 11:31, where he calls it עַיָא, making use of the Chaldean tongue, in which א at the end signifies the same thing as ה in the beginning in Hebrew (Masius). The situation of this Ai is so meticulously described, 1. because this city was greater than the Ai of the Ammonites (Vatablus); 2. for the credit of the history (Masius).

Ai, called Hai, Genesis 12:8, and Aija, Nehemiah 11:31. They were not to go into the city of Ai, but into the country bordering and belonging to it, and there to understand the state and quality of the place and people.

[Which is beside Beth-aven[4] (thus Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals, similarly Jonathan, Syriac, Junius and Tremellius)] עִם/with elsewhere signifies beside, near; as in Judges 9:6, עִם/with, that is, near the oak-forest;[5] and in Judges 18:3, when they were עִם־בֵּית, that is, near the house of Micah; and in Judges 19:11, they were עִם־יְבוּס, that is, near Jebus (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 2:5:15:756). Thus עִם/with is taken in Genesis 25:11;[6] 35:4.[7] The ancients here published κατὰ/against.[8] Thus this particle is taken in Psalm 94:16[9] (Drusius). Hence it is evident that this place is not Beth-el (although Beth-el is called Beth-aven[10] on account of the worship of iolds, Hosea 4:15; 10:5). Moreover, whether it was a little town, or village, which may have given its name to the nearby wilderness, or indeed the wilderness itself, of which there shall be mention in Joshua 18:12, is uncertain (Masius).

Beside; so the Hebrew עִם/im is used, Genesis 25:11; 35:4; Judges 9:6; 18:3; 19:11. Beth-aven; a city or town distinct from, but nigh unto Beth-el, though Beth-el was afterwards by allusion called Beth-aven, Hosea 4:15; 10:5. Compare Joshua 18:12.

[On the eastern side of Beth-el] The same is said in Joshua 8:9, 12; Genesis 12:8. Therefore, Adrichomius incorrectly states that it is on the western side of Beth-el, unless occidens/west be supposed in the place of oriente/east; which is made more likely in this, that in his Geography he locates it on the eastern side of that city (Bonfrerius). As the beginning of the war is made in the East, so to this point its progress is toward the West. Moreover, from Ai to Bethel there was only a space of one leuga (Masius).

On the east side of Beth-el: compare Genesis 12:8; Joshua 8:9, 12.

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּשְׁלַח֩ יְהוֹשֻׁ֙עַ אֲנָשִׁ֜ים מִֽירִיח֗וֹ הָעַ֞י אֲשֶׁ֙ר עִם־בֵּ֥ית אָ֙וֶן֙ מִקֶּ֣דֶם לְבֵֽית־אֵ֔ל וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֲלֵיהֶם֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר עֲל֖וּ וְרַגְּל֣וּ אֶת־הָאָ֑רֶץ וַֽיַּעֲלוּ֙ הָאֲנָשִׁ֔ים וַֽיְרַגְּל֖וּ אֶת־הָעָֽי׃

[2] A Roman mile is a little less than the English equivalent; the leuga about a third more.

[3] Ai of the Ammonites was located on the eastern side of Jordan.

[4] Hebrew: אֲשֶׁ֙ר עִם־בֵּ֥ית אָ֙וֶן֙.

[5] Judges 9:6b:  “…and made Abimelech king, by the plain (עִם־אֵלוֹן, or near the terebinth) of the pillar that was in Shechem.”

[6] Genesis 25:11:  “And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac dwelt by the well Lahai-roi (עִם־בְּאֵ֥ר לַחַ֖י רֹאִֽי׃).”

[7] Genesis 35:4b:  “…and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem (עִם־שְׁכֶם).”

[8] Thus the Septuagint.

[9] Psalm 94:16:  “Who will rise up for me against the evildoers (עִם־מְרֵעִים;ἐπὶ πονηρευομένους), in the Septuagint)? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity (עִם־פֹּ֥עֲלֵי אָֽוֶן׃; ἐπὶ ἐργαζομένους τὴν ἀνομίαν, in the Septuagint)?”

[10] בֵּית־אֵל means House of God; בֵּית אָוֶן, House of Iniquity.

1 thought on “Joshua 7:2: The Reconnaissance of Ai, Part 1

  1. Note Masius’ comments above. Even in judgment, the Lord remembers mercy, preparing and measuring the chastisement so that His people might not be overtaken with overmuch sorrow.

    –Dr. Dilday

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