Chapter 7

Defeat at Ai. 1But the Israelites acted treacherously with regard to the ban; Achan, son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah of the tribe of Judah, took goods that were under the ban, and the anger of the Lord flared up against the Israelites.

2Joshua next sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven and east of Bethel, with the order, “Go up and reconnoiter the land.” When they had explored Ai, 3they returned to Joshua and advised, “Do not send all the people up; if only about two or three thousand go up, they can attack and overcome Ai. You need not tire all the people: the enemy there are few.” 4About three thousand of the people made the attack, but they fled before the army at Ai, 5who killed some thirty-six of them. They pursued them from the city gate to the Shebarim, and defeated them on the descent, so that the confidence of the people melted away like water.

6Joshua, together with the elders of Israel, tore their garments and fell face down before the ark of the Lord until evening; and they threw dust on their heads. 7“Alas, Lord God,” Joshua prayed, “why did you ever allow this people to cross over the Jordan, delivering us into the power of the Amorites, that they might destroy us? Would that we had been content to dwell on the other side of the Jordan. 8Please, Lord, what can I say, now that Israel has turned its back to its enemies? 9When the Canaanites and the other inhabitants of the land hear of it, they will close in around us and efface our name from the earth. What will you do for your great name?”

10The Lord replied to Joshua: Stand up. Why are you lying there? 11Israel has sinned: they have transgressed the covenant which I enjoined on them. They have taken goods subject to the ban. They have stolen and lied, placing the goods in their baggage. 12If the Israelites cannot stand up to their enemies, but must turn their back to them, it is because they are under the ban. I will not continue to be with you unless you remove that which is banned from among you. 13Get up, sanctify the people. Tell them, “Sanctify yourselves before tomorrow, for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: That which is banned is in your midst, Israel. You cannot stand up to your enemies until you remove it from among you. 14In the morning you must come forward by tribes. The tribe which the Lord designates shall come forward by clans; the clan which the Lord designates shall come forward by families; the family which the Lord designates shall come forward one by one. 15Whoever is designated as having incurred the ban shall be destroyed by fire, with all that is his, because he has trangressed the covenant of the Lord and has committed a shameful crime in Israel.”

Achan’s Guilt and Punishment. 16Early the next morning Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes, and the tribe of Judah was designated. 17Then he had the clans of Judah come forward, and the clan of Zerah was designated. He had the clan of Zerah come forward by families, and Zabdi was designated. 18Finally he had that family come forward one by one, and Achan, son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah of the tribe of Judah, was designated. 19Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and praise him by telling me what you have done; do not hide it from me.” 20Achan answered Joshua, “I have indeed sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: 21Among the spoils, I saw a beautiful Babylonian mantle, two hundred shekels of silver, and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight; I coveted them and I took them. They are now hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.” 22Joshua sent messengers and they ran to the tent and there they were, hidden in the tent, with the silver underneath. 23They took them from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites, and spread them out before the Lord.

24Then Joshua and all Israel took Achan, son of Zerah, with the silver, the mantle, and the bar of gold, and with his sons and daughters, his ox, his donkey and his sheep, his tent, and all his possessions, and led them off to the Valley of Achor. 25Joshua said, “What misery have you caused us? May the Lord bring misery upon you today!” And all Israel stoned him to death. They burnt them with fire and they stoned them. 26Over Achan they piled a great heap of stones, which remains to the present day. Then the Lord turned from his anger. That is why the place is called the Valley of Achor to this day.

Chapter 8

Capture of Ai. 1The Lord then said to Joshua: Do not be afraid or dismayed. Take all the army with you and prepare to attack Ai. I have delivered the king of Ai into your power, with his people, city, and land. 2Do to Ai and its king what you did to Jericho and its king—except that you may take its spoil and livestock as plunder. Set an ambush behind the city. 3So Joshua and all the soldiers prepared to attack Ai. Picking out thirty thousand warriors, Joshua sent them off by night 4with these orders: “See that you ambush the city from the rear. Do not be very far from the city. All of you must be ready. 5The rest of the people and I will come up to the city, and when they make a sortie against us as they did the last time, we will flee from them. 6They will keep coming out after us until we have drawn them away from the city, for they will think, ‘They are fleeing from us as they did the last time.’ When we flee, 7then you rise from ambush and take possession of the city, which the Lord, your God, will deliver into your power. 8When you have taken the city, set it on fire in obedience to the Lord’s command. These are my orders to you.” 9Then Joshua sent them away. They went to the place of ambush, taking up their position to the west of Ai, toward Bethel. Joshua, however, spent that night with the army.

10Early the next morning Joshua mustered the army and went up to Ai at its head, with the elders of Israel. 11When all the troops he led were drawn up in position before the city, they pitched camp north of Ai, on the other side of the ravine. 12He took about five thousand warriors and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, west of the city. 13Thus the people took up their stations, with the main body north of the city and the ambush west of it, and Joshua waited overnight in the valley. 14The king of Ai saw this, and he and all his army came out very early in the morning to engage Israel in battle at the place in front of the Arabah, not knowing that there was an ambush behind the city. 15Joshua and the main body of the Israelites fled toward the wilderness, pretending defeat, 16until the last of the soldiers in the city had been called out to pursue them. Since they were drawn away from the city, with everyone pursuing Joshua, 17not a soldier remained in Ai or Bethel. They abandoned the city, leaving it open, as they pursued Israel.

18Then the Lord directed Joshua: Stretch out the javelin in your hand toward Ai, for I will deliver it into your power. Joshua stretched out the javelin in his hand toward the city, 19and as soon as he did so, the men in ambush rose from their post, rushed in, captured the city, and immediately set it on fire. 20By the time the army of Ai looked back, the smoke from the city was going up to the heavens. Escape in any direction was impossible, because the Israelites retreating toward the wilderness now turned on their pursuers; 21for when Joshua and the main body of Israelites saw that the city had been taken by ambush and was going up in smoke, they struck back at the forces of Ai. 22Since those in the city came out to intercept them, Ai’s army was hemmed in by Israelites on both sides, who cut them down without any fugitives or survivors 23except the king, whom they took alive and brought to Joshua.

24When Israel finished killing all the inhabitants of Ai in the open, who had pursued them into the wilderness, and all of them to the last man fell by the sword, then all Israel returned and put to the sword those inside the city. 25There fell that day a total of twelve thousand men and women, the entire population of Ai. 26Joshua kept the javelin in his hand stretched out until he had carried out the ban on all the inhabitants of Ai. 27However, the Israelites took for themselves as plunder the livestock and the spoil of that city, according to the command of the Lord issued to Joshua. 28Then Joshua destroyed Ai by fire, reducing it to an everlasting mound of ruins, as it remains today. 29He had the king of Ai hanged on a tree until evening; then at sunset Joshua ordered the body removed from the tree and cast at the entrance of the city gate, where a great heap of stones was piled up over it, which remains to the present day.