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Joshua 8:3 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up to Ai: and Joshua chose out thirty thousand men, the mighty men of valor, and sent them forth by night.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai: and Joshua chose out thirty thousand mighty men of valour, and sent them away by night.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— So Joshua rose with all the people of war to go up to Ai; and Joshua chose 30,000 men, valiant warriors, and sent them out at night.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ai: and Joshua chose out thirty thousand mighty men of valor, and sent them away by night.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— And Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up to Ai. And Joshua chose thirty thousand valiant men, and sent them away by night.
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— So Joshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up to Ai,—and Joshua chose out thirty thousand men, the mighty men of valour, and sent them forth by night.
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— And Joshua riseth, and all the people of war, to go up to Ai, and Joshua chooseth thirty thousand men, mighty ones of valour, and sendeth them away by night,
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— And Josue arose, and all the army of the fighting men with him, to go up against Hai: and he sent thirty thousand chosen valiant men in the night,
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— So Ioshua arose, and all the people of warre, to goe vp against Ai: and Ioshua chose out thirtie thousand mighty men of valour, and sent them away by night:
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— And Joshua{gr.Jesus} and all the men of war rose to go up to Ai{gr.Gai}; and Joshua{gr.Jesus} chose out thirty thousand mighty men, and he sent them away by night.
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— So Yehoshua arose, and all the people of war, to go up against Ay: and Yehoshua chose out thirty thousand mighty men of valour, and sent them away by night.

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
So Yhu` יְהוֹשֻׁעַ 3091
{3091} Prime
From H3068 and H3467; Jehovah-saved; Jehoshua (that is, Joshua), the Jewish leader.
arose, 6965
{6965} Prime
A primitive root; to rise (in various applications, literally, figuratively, intensively and causatively).
<8799> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 19885
and all x3605
(3605) Complement
From H3634; properly the whole; hence all, any or every (in the singular only, but often in a plural sense).
the people 5971
{5971} Prime
From H6004; a people (as a congregated unit); specifically a tribe (as those of Israel); hence (collectively) troops or attendants; figuratively a flock.
of war, 4421
{4421} Prime
From H3898 (in the sense of fighting); a battle (that is, the engagement); generally war (that is, warfare).
to go up 5927
{5927} Prime
A primitive root; to ascend, intransitively (be high) or active (mount); used in a great variety of senses, primary and secondary, literally and figuratively.
<8800> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Infinitive (See H8812)
Count - 4888
against `Ay עַי: 5857
{5857} Prime
For H5856; Ai, Aja or Ajath, a place in Palestine.
and Yhu` יְהוֹשֻׁעַ 3091
{3091} Prime
From H3068 and H3467; Jehovah-saved; Jehoshua (that is, Joshua), the Jewish leader.
chose out 977
{0977} Prime
A primitive root; properly to try, that is, (by implication) select.
<8799> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 19885
thirty 7970
{7970} Prime
Multiple of H7969; thirty; or (ordinal) thirtieth.
thousand 505
{0505} Prime
Properly the same as H0504; hence (an ox's head being the first letter of the alphabet, and this eventually used as a numeral) a thousand.
mighty 1368
{1368} Prime
Intensive from the same as H1397; powerful; by implication warrior, tyrant.
men 376
{0376} Prime
Contracted for H0582 (or perhaps rather from an unused root meaning to be extant); a man as an individual or a male person; often used as an adjunct to a more definite term (and in such cases frequently not expressed in translation.).
of valour, 2428
{2428} Prime
From H2342; probably a force, whether of men, means or other resources; an army, wealth, virtue, valor, strength.
and sent them away 7971
{7971} Prime
A primitive root; to send away, for, or out (in a great variety of applications).
<8799> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 19885
by night. 3915
{3915} Prime
From the same as H3883; properly a twist (away of the light), that is, night; figuratively adversity.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Joshua 8:3

_ _ So Joshua ... chose out thirty thousand mighty men of valour — Joshua dispatched thirty thousand men under cover of night, to station themselves at the place appointed for the ambuscade. Out of this number a detachment of five thousand was sent forward to conceal themselves in the immediate precincts of the town, in order to seize the first opportunity of throwing themselves into it [Joshua 8:12].

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Joshua 8:3-22

_ _ We have here an account of the taking of Ai by stratagem. The stratagem here used, we are sure, was lawful and good; God himself appointed it, and we have no reason to think but that the like is lawful and good in other wars. Here was no league broken, no treaty of peace, that the advantage was gained; no, these are sacred things, and not to be jested with, nor used to serve a turn; truth, when once it is plighted, becomes a debt even to the enemy. But in this stratagem here was no untruth told; nothing was concealed but their own counsels, which no enemy ever pretended a right to be entrusted with; nothing was dissembled, nothing counterfeited but a retreat, which was no natural or necessary indication at all of their inability to maintain their onset, or of any design not to renew it. The enemy ought to have been upon their guard, and to have kept within the defence of their own walls. Common prudence, had they been governed by it, would have directed them not to venture on the pursuit of an army which they saw was so far superior to them in numbers, and leave their city unguarded; but (si populus vult decipi, decipiaturif the people will be deceived, let them) if the Canaanites will be so easily imposed upon, and in pursuit of God's Israel will break through all the laws of policy and good management, the Israelites are not at all to be blamed for taking advantage of their fury and thoughtlessness; nor is it any way inconsistent with the character God is pleased to give of them, that they are children that will not lie. Now in the account here given of this matter,

_ _ I. There is some difficulty in adjusting the numbers that were employed to effect it. Mention is made (Joshua 8:3) of 30,000 that were chosen and sent away by night, to whom the charge was given to surprise the city as soon as ever they perceived it was evacuated, Joshua 8:4, Joshua 8:7, Joshua 8:8. And yet afterwards (Joshua 8:12) it is said, Joshua took 5000 men and set them to lie in ambush behind the city, and that ambush entered the city, and set it on fire, Joshua 8:19. Now, 1. Some think there were two parties sent out to lie in ambush, 30,000 first, and afterwards 5000 to guard the roads, and to intercept those that were first sent out; and that Joshua made his open attack upon the city with all the thousands of Israel. So the learned bishop Patrick, insisting upon God's command (Joshua 8:1) to take all the people of war with him. But, 2. Others think that all the people were taken only to encamp before the city, and that out of them Joshua chose out 30,000 men to be employed in the action, out of which he sent out 5000 to lie in ambush, which were as many as could be supposed to march incognitowithout being discovered (more would have been seen, and thus the design would have been broken) and that then with the other 25,000 he made the open attack, as Masius thinks, or with the 30,000, which, as Calvin thinks, he kept entire for that purpose, having, besides them, sent out 5000 for an ambuscade. And those 5000 (they think) must be meant by those (Joshua 8:3) whom he sent away by night, with orders to lie in wait behind the city, though the particular number is not specified till Joshua 8:12. If we admit such a seeming disturbance in the order of the narrative (of which, perhaps, similar instances might be cited from the other scripture histories), it seems most probable that there was but one ambushment, which consisted only of 5000, enough for such a purpose.

_ _ II. Yet the principal parts of the story are plain enough, that a detachment being secretly marched behind the city, on the other side to that on which the main body of the army lay (the situation of the country, it is probable, favouring their concealment), Joshua, and the forces with him, faced the city; the garrison made a vigorous sally out upon them, whereupon they withdrew, gave ground, and retreated in some seeming disorder towards the wilderness, which being perceived by the men of Ai, they drew out all the force they had to pursue them. This gave a fair opportunity for those that lay in ambush to make themselves masters of the city, whereof when they had given notice by a smoke to Joshua, he, with all his force, returned upon the pursuers, who now, when it was too late, were aware of the snare they were drawn into, and, their retreat being intercepted, they were every man of them cut off. The like artifice we find used, Judges 20:30, etc. Now in this story we may observe,

_ _ 1. What a brave commander Joshua was. See, (1.) His conduct and prudence. God gave him the hint (v. 2) that he should lay an ambush behind the city, but left him to himself to order the particulars, which he did admirably well. Doubtless wisdom strengthens the wise more than ten mighty men, Ecclesiastes 7:19. (2.) His care and industry (Joshua 8:10): He rose up early in the morning, that he might lose no time, and to show how intent his mind was upon his business. Those that would maintain their spiritual conflicts must not love their ease. (3.) His courage and resolution; though an army of Israelites had been repulsed before Ai, yet he resolves to lead them on in person the second time, Joshua 8:5. Being himself also an elder, he took the elders of Israel with him to make this attack upon the city (Joshua 8:10), as if he were going rather to sit in judgment upon them as criminals than to fight them as enemies. (4.) His caution and consideration (Joshua 8:13): He went that night into the midst of the valley, to make the necessary dispositions for an attack, and to see that every thing was in good order. It is the pious conjecture of the learned bishop Patrick that he went into the valley alone, to pray to God for a blessing upon his enterprise, and he did not seek in vain. (5.) His constancy and perseverance; when he had stretched out his spear towards the city (Joshua 8:18, a spear almost as fatal and formidable to the enemies of Israel as the rod of Moses was) he never drew back his hand till the work was done. His hands in fighting, like Moses's in interceding, were steady till the going down of the sun. Those that have stretched out their hands against their spiritual enemies must never draw them back. Lastly, What Joshua did in the stratagem is applicable to our Lord Jesus, of whom he was a type. Joshua conquered by yielding, as if he had himself been conquered; so our Lord Jesus, when he bowed his head and gave up the ghost, seemed as if death and triumphed over him, and as if he and all his interests had been routed and ruined; but in his resurrection he rallied again and gave the powers of darkness a total defeat; he broke the serpent's head, by suffering him to bruise his heel. A glorious stratagem!

_ _ 2. What an obedient people Israel was. What Joshua commanded them to do, according to the commandment of the Lord (Joshua 8:8), they did it without murmuring or disputing. Those that were sent to lie in ambush between Beth-el and Ai (two cities confederate against them) were in a post of danger, and had they been discovered might all have been cut off, and yet they ventured; and, when the body of the army retreated and fled, it was both disgraceful and perilous, and yet, in obedience to Joshua, they did it.

_ _ 3. What an infatuated enemy the king of Ai was, (1.) That he did not by his scouts discover those that lay in ambush behind the city, Joshua 8:14. Some observe it as a remarkable instance of the power of God in making men blind to their own interest, and the things that belong to their peace, that he wist not that there were liers in wait against him. Those are most in danger who are least aware that they are so. (2.) That when Israel seemed to fly he drew out all his forces to pursue them, and left none to guard his city and to secure his retreat, Joshua 8:17. Thus the church's enemies often run themselves into destruction by their own fury and the violence of their rage against the Israel of God. Pharaoh plunged himself into the Red Sea by the eagerness with which he pursued Israel. (3.) That from the killing of thirty-six men out of 3000, when Israel made the former attack upon his city, he should infer the total routing of so great an army as now he had to deal with (Joshua 8:6): They flee before us as at the first. See how the prosperity of fools destroys them and hardens them to their ruin. God had made use of the men of Ai as a scourge to chastise his people for meddling with the accursed thing, and this had puffed them up with a conceit that they must have the honour of delivering their country from these formidable invaders; but they were soon made to see their mistake, and that when the Israelites had reconciled themselves to their God they could have no power against them. God had made use of them only for the rebuking of Israel, with a purpose, when the correction was over, to throw the rod itself into the fire; howbeit, they meant not so, but it was in their heart to destroy and cut off, Isaiah 10:5-7.

_ _ 4. What a complete victory Israel obtained over them by the favour and blessing of God. Each did his part: the divided forces of Israel, by signals agreed on, understood one another, and every thing succeeded according to the project; so that the men of Ai, even when they were most confident of victory, found themselves surrounded, so that they had neither spirit to resist nor room to fly, but were under a fatal necessity of yielding their lives to the destroyers. And now it is hard to say whether the shouts of the men of Israel, or the shrieks of the men of Ai, were the louder, but easy to imagine what terror and confusion they were filled with, when their highest assurances sunk so suddenly into the heaviest despair. Note, The triumphing of the wicked is short, Job 20:5. They are exalted for a little while, that their fall and ruin may be the sorer, Job 24:24. See how easily, how quickly, the scale turns against those that have not God on their side.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Joshua 8:3

To go up against Ai — That is, to consider about this expedition; not as if all the people of war did actually go up, which was both unnecessary and burdensome: but it seems to be resolved by Joshua and all the council of war, that the thirty thousand here following should be selected for the enterprize. Either,

1, the thirty thousand now mentioned; or, 2. part of them; namely, such as were to lie in wait; and these were

only five thousand men, as is expressed, Joshua 8:12.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

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Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
by night:

Matthew 24:39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Matthew 24:50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for [him], and in an hour that he is not aware of,
Matthew 25:6 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
1 Thessalonians 5:2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
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Mt 24:39, 50; 25:6. 1Th 5:2. 2P 3:10.

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