Joshua 8:1: God’s Promise and Command concerning Ai, Part 1

Verse 1:[1] And the LORD said unto Joshua, (Deut. 1:21; 7:18; 31:8; Josh. 1:9) Fear not, neither be thou dismayed: take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai: see, (Josh. 6:2) I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land…

[Fear not] It is not to be marveled at that Joshua has need of a new confirmation, who observed the corruption of his compatriots, and in what position he would be, etc. (Masius).

[All the multitude of fighters] Hebrew: all the people of war[2] (Montanus), apt for war (Junius and Tremellius, Massius); all the warlike men (Septuagint, Arabic, similarly Vatablus). Why so? Responses: 1. To suppress the fear of all. 2. So that the circumstances of all might be equal in the first plunder (Masius, Lapide), since all had abstained from the spoils of Jericho (Bonfrerius). Or it is thus to be taken, that is to say, that no one is to be led out that is not strong in martial courage: For a multitude would be an impediment in feigning flight. Although it is able to be spoken to this purposes, that part of the troops proceeded into the valley, the rest remained in the camp (Masius).

Take all the people of war with thee; partly to strengthen them against those fears which their late defeat had wrought in them; and partly that all of them might be partakers of this first spoil, and thereby be encouraged to proceed in their work. The weak multitude were not to go, because they might have hindered them in the following stratagem; and it was but fit that the military men who run the greatest hazards, should have the precedency and privilege in the spoils.

[Go up] We are said to go up into the North, to go down into the South: Thus, one goes up into Babylon; in Hosea 8:9, they have gone up into Assyria (Ibn Ezra in Drusius). The command to ascend stands for an argument that Ai was a more elevated place (Masius).

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֙אמֶר יְהוָ֤ה אֶל־יְהוֹשֻׁ֙עַ֙ אַל־תִּירָ֣א וְאַל־תֵּחָ֔ת קַ֣ח עִמְּךָ֗ אֵ֚ת כָּל־עַ֣ם הַמִּלְחָמָ֔ה וְק֖וּם עֲלֵ֣ה הָעָ֑י רְאֵ֣ה׀ נָתַ֣תִּי בְיָדְךָ֗ אֶת־מֶ֤לֶךְ הָעַי֙ וְאֶת־עַמּ֔וֹ וְאֶת־עִיר֖וֹ וְאֶת־אַרְצֽוֹ׃

[2] Hebrew: כָּל־עַ֣ם הַמִּלְחָמָ֔ה.

1 thought on “Joshua 8:1: God’s Promise and Command concerning Ai, Part 1

  1. Matthew Henry: “Israel were very happy in having such a commander as Joshua, but Joshua was more happy in having such a director as God himself; when any difficulty occurred, he needed not to call a council of war who had God so nigh unto him, not only to answer, but even to anticipate, his enquiries. It should seem, Joshua was now at a stand, had scarcely recovered the discomposure he was put into by the trouble Achan gave them, and could not think, without fear and trembling, of pushing forward, lest there should be in the camp another Achan; then God spoke to him, either by vision, as before (Joshua 5), or by the breastplate of judgment. Note, When we have faithfully put away sin, that accursed thing, which separates between us and God, then, and not till then, we may expect to hear from God to our comfort; and God’s directing us how to go on in our Christian work and warfare is a good evidence of his being reconciled to us. Observe here…The encouragement God gives to Joshua to proceed: Fear not, neither be thou dismayed, Joshua 8:1. This intimates that the sin of Achan, and the consequences of it, had been a very great discouragement to Joshua, and made his heart almost ready to fail. Corruptions within the church weaken the hands, and damp the spirits, of her guides and helpers, more than oppositions from without; treacherous Israelites are to be dreaded more than malicious Canaanites. But God bids Joshua not be dismayed; the same power that keeps Israel from being ruined by their enemies shall keep them from ruining themselves. To animate him, 1. He assures him of success against Ai, tells him it is all his own; but he must take it as God’s gift: I have given it into thy hands, which secured him both title and possession, and obliged him to give God the glory of both, Psalm 44:3. 2. He allows the people to take the spoil to themselves. Here the spoil was not consecrated to God as that of Jericho, and therefore there was no danger of the people’s committing such a trespass as they had committed there. Observe, How Achan who caught at forbidden spoil lost that, and life, and all, but the rest of the people who had conscientiously refrained from the accursed thing were quickly recompensed for their obedience with the spoil of Ai. The way to have the comfort of what God allows us is to forbear what he forbids us. No man shall lose by his self-denial; let God have his dues first, and then all will be clean to us and sure, 1 Kings 17:13. God did not bring them to these goodly cities, and houses filled with all good things, to tantalize them with the sight of that which they might not touch; but, having received the firstfruits from Jericho, the spoil of Ai, and of all the cities which thenceforward came into their hands, they might take for a prey to themselves.”

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