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Chapter 8

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ch. 8:1-34   ch. 8:30-35

Ai Destroyed (ch. 8:1 - 29)  

Note in verse 1 that the first thing that the Lord says to Joshua after the death of Achan and the defeat at Ai is "not to be afraid or discouraged".  Both would be the natural tendency for any of us after the events that just happened to Israel.  Even though sin was found in Israel, it was dealt with, and God is still on the side of Israel.  This is important for the Christian to know as well.  God does discipline His people out of love for us.  In the midst of such discipline, He will tell us like He told Joshua, not to be afraid or discouraged.

The Lord doesn't stop at telling Joshua not to be afraid or discouraged.  He tells him and his army to get up and attack Ai again.  There is a principle here.  When you fail, and especially if failure is due to sin or something you have done wrong, you repent, make the necessary change, and try again.  You don't give up.

In verse 2 God tells Joshua that this time, they can take a plunder from Ai, unlike His instructions concerning Jericho.

I will briefly explain the strategy that Joshua used to attack the city of Ai.  To begin, he actually used his defeat as part of his attack.  Joshua sent men to the west of Ai.  They would ambush the city and Ai's army at the appropriate time.  Joshua and his men went to the north east of Ai and camped the ight.  The army of Ai noticed this and was on alert.  When Joshua went into the valley to the north east of Ai the army of Ai left the city to pursue the Israeli army.  This is where Joshua used his defeat in the  last attack to his advantage.  When the army from Ai began to chase the Israeli army, the Israelis turned around and ran back to where they came from as if they were afraid.  The kept returning, and the army from Ai kept chasing them.  When Israel got far enough away from Ai, they stopped and Joshua lifted up his javelin, which was the signal for his army to the west of Ai to attack the city.  They did just that.  They set the city on fire.  When the army of Ai saw this, they were bewildered.  Joshua and his army thus attacked the army from Ai from one side while his army that burned the city rushed in attacked the army from Ai on the other side.  The army from Ai was trapped in the middle and was defeated.  Then Israel went and killed all the remaining women, children, and livestock in Ai and took a plunder for themselves.  Victory had now been won, but not after sin in Israel was dealt with.  Again,  there is something here to be learned for the Christian. Sin simply hinders one  from living a victorious life as a Christian.

This battle, and some others that Joshua led, have often been studied in military training.  Israel has often looked back into their past to learn from past military strategy. 

The Covenant Renewal At Mount Ebal (ch. 8:30 - 35)  

If you read the last few chapters of the Book of Deuteronomy, you will see that Moses gives Joshua specific instruction of what they were to do once they entered the land of Canaan.  One set of instructions included building an altar at Mount Ebal and offering specific sacrifices.  They were to read the curses from the book of the Law on Mount Ebal and the blessings from Mount Garizim.  So here in verse 30 Joshua begins to do these things in obedience to the Lord.

Verse 31 tells us that the altar was built from uncut stone and no tools of iron were used.  Iron, being man made, suggests to me that this altar should have no humanism associated with it.  The problem with much of Christianity is that it has always been too humanistic.  We do more of what we want to do than what the Lord wants us to do.   

There were two offerings performed at the altar as seen in verse 31.  One was a burnt offering for sin, the other was a fellowship, or, peace offering.  This fellowship or peace offering was actually the eating and sharing of bread among the people, much like our Christian Communion. 

From here to the end of the chapter Joshua continued to do as Moses told him.  He separated the camp of Israel into two, one on the slopes of Mount Garizim and the other on the slopes of Mount Ebal.  He then proceeded to write the Law of Moses on a large stone tablet. I would think that would have taken quite a while, then he proceeded to read the Law of Moses to all the people, including women and children.  When it came to the blessings and the cursings as seen in Deuteronomy 27 and following, the blessings were read from Mount Garizim and the cursings were read from Mount Ebal. 

It was important for this new generation of Israelis to both know and understand how important these blessings and cursings were.  If Israel obeyed the Law, they would be blessed, if they disobeyed, they would be cursed.  More often than not, Israel did not obey the Law of Moses, and that is why they have suffered so much throughout history.  


At this point it is important to distinguish between the Abrahamic Covenant and the Mosaic Covenant, also called the Law of Moses.  The first has no conditions while the second has.  The first was a covenant made by God to God, the second a covenant made by God to Israel.  Simply put, in the Abrahamic Covenant God promised Himself to bless and establish Israel forever.  God will never forget this promise.  It will come true.  When it comes the Mosaic Covenant that God made  with Israel, He will keep that covenant too.  If it wasn't obeyed, then Israel would be cursed.  The curses will reach their ultimate fulfillment at the end of this age.  All the curses in the Mosaic Covenant will have taken place by then and the promises that God made to Himself in the Abrahamic Covenant will come to pass.  Israel will once again become a nation, and not just any nation, but the leading nation of the world.


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