1Then Yahweh said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of what happened at Ai. Lead all of your soldiers and go there again. I will help you to defeat the king of Ai, his people, and his city, and enable you to take his land.
2Your army will do to the people of Ai and their king like what you did to the people of Jericho and their king. But this time I will permit you to take all their possessions and keep them for yourselves. But first, tell some of your soldiers to hide behind the city and prepare to suddenly attack it.”
3So Joshua led all his army toward Ai. He chose 30,000 of his best fighters/warriors and prepared to send them out during the night.
4He said to them, “Listen carefully. Some of you must hide on the other side of the city. Do not go far from the city. Just be ready to attack.
5I and the men who are with me will march toward the city in the morning. The men in the city will come out to fight us, like they did before. Then we will turn around and start to run away from them.
6They will think that we are running away from them like we did before. So they will chase us away from the city. While we are running away,
7those of you who are hiding come out and rush into the city and capture it. Yahweh your God will enable you to conquer it.
8After you capture the city, burn it. Do what Yahweh has commanded us to do. Those are the orders I am giving to you.”
9Then Joshua prepared to send some of them to hide and wait between Ai and Bethel, which was west of Ai. But Joshua stayed with his other soldiers that night.
10Early the next morning, Joshua gathered his soldiers together. Then he and the other Israeli leaders led them up to Ai.
11They all set up their tents close to Ai, just to the north of the city, where all the people of the city could see them. There was a valley between them and the city.
12Then Joshua chose about 5,000 men and told them to go and hide just west of the city, between Ai and Bethel.
13So those men did that. The main group of soldiers was north of the city, and the others were hiding west of the city. That night Joshua went down into the valley.
14When the king of Ai saw the Israeli army, he and his soldiers got up early the next morning and quickly went out of the city to fight them. They went to a place east of the city, but they did not know that some Israeli soldiers were hiding behind the city.
15Joshua and the Israeli soldiers who were with him allowed the army of Ai to push them back. They ran toward the desert.
16The men in Ai were ordered to chase after Joshua and his men. So they left the city and started to pursue the Israelis.
17All the men of Ai and the men of Bethel pursued the Israeli army. They did not leave even one man in Ai to defend it. The gates of the city were left wide open.
18Then Yahweh said to Joshua, “ Lift up your spear and point it toward Ai, because I am going to enable your soldiers to capture it!” So Joshua pointed his spear toward Ai.
19When the Israeli men who were hiding saw that, they rushed out from the places where they were hiding and ran into the city. They quickly captured it and set it on fire.
20When the men of Ai looked back, they saw smoke rising from their city. But they could not escape, because the Israeli troops stopped running away.
21Joshua and his men saw that the men who had been hiding had captured the city and were burning it, and they saw the smoke rising. So they turned around and started to attack the men of Ai.
22Meanwhile, the soldiers who had captured the city came out and attacked them from the rear. So the men of Ai were caught between the two groups of Israeli soldiers. None of the men of Ai escaped. The Israelis fought until they killed all of them. Only the king of Ai was still alive.
23Then they seized the king of Ai and brought him to Joshua.
24While they were fighting, the Israeli army pursued the men of Ai into the fields and into the desert, and killed all of them. Then they went to Ai and killed everyone who was there.
25They killed 12,000 men and women.
26Joshua continued to point his spear LIT toward Ai, until all the people in Ai had been killed.
27The Israeli soldiers took for themselves the animals and the other things that had belonged to the people of Ai, just like Yahweh had told Joshua that they should do.
28Joshua and his soldiers burned Ai city and caused it to become a pile of ruins. It is still like that today.
29Joshua hanged the king of Ai on a tree and left his corpse hanging there until the evening. At sunset Joshua told his men to take the king's corpse down from the tree and to throw it on the ground at the city gate. After they did that, they piled a lot of rocks on top of the corpse, and that pile of rocks is still there.
30Joshua told his men to build on Ebal Mountain an altar for Yahweh, the God who is worshiped by the Israeli people.
31They built it just like Moses, the man who served God well, had written previously in the laws that God had given to him. They made it from stones that had not been cut using iron tools. The Israelis then offered sacrifices to Yahweh that were burned completely on the altar. They also offered sacrifices to restore fellowship with Yahweh.
32As the Israelis watched, Joshua wrote on stones the laws that Yahweh had given to Moses previously.
33The Israeli leaders, the officials, the judges, and other Israelis were there, standing nearby. Many people who were not Israelis were also there. Half of the people stood on one side of the valley below Ebal Mountain, and the other half of the people stood on the other side of the valley below Gerizim Mountain. The sacred chest was in the valley between the two groups. That was what Moses had previously commanded that the people should do when Yahweh was about to bless them.
34Then Joshua read to the people all that Moses had written previously. That included what Yahweh had taught them and the ways that he promised to bless them if they obeyed his commands, or to curse them if they disobeyed them.
35All the Israelis gathered together to listen —the men, the women, and the children. The ◄foreigners/people who were not Israelis► who were living among them also listened, while Joshua read all the commands that Moses had written.