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Compare Translations for Joshua 8:4

Joshua 8:4 ASV
And he commanded them, saying, Behold, ye shall lie in ambush against the city, behind the city; go not very far from the city, but be ye all ready:
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Joshua 8:4 BBE
And he gave them their orders, saying, Go and take up your position secretly at the back of the town: do not go very far away, and let all of you be ready:
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Joshua 8:4 CEB
He commanded them, "Look. You are to ambush the city from behind. Don't move too far away from the city. Be ready, all of you.
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Joshua 8:4 CJB
He instructed them, "You are to lie in wait to ambush the city from behind. Stay close to the city; and all of you, be ready.
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Joshua 8:4 RHE
And commanded them, saying: Lay an ambush behind the city: and go not very far from it: and be ye all ready.
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Joshua 8:4 ESV
And he commanded them, "Behold, you shall lie in ambush against the city, behind it. Do not go very far from the city, but all of you remain ready.
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Joshua 8:4 GW
with these orders: "Set an ambush behind the city. Don't go very far away from the city. Everyone must be ready.
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Joshua 8:4 GNT
with these orders: "Hide on the other side of the city, but not too far away from it; be ready to attack.
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Joshua 8:4 HNV
He commanded them, saying, Behold, you shall lie in ambush against the city, behind the city; don't go very far from the city, but be all ready:
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Joshua 8:4 CSB
He commanded them: "Pay attention. Lie in ambush behind the city, not too far from it, and all of you be ready.
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Joshua 8:4 KJV
And he commanded them, saying , Behold , ye shall lie in wait against the city, even behind the city: go not very far from the city, but be ye all ready :
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Joshua 8:4 LEB
And he commanded them, saying, "Look, you are to lay an ambush against the city from behind. Do not go very far from the city and be ready.
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Joshua 8:4 NAS
He commanded them, saying, "See, you are going to ambush the city from behind it. Do not go very far from the city, but all of you be ready.
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Joshua 8:4 NCV
Joshua gave them these orders: "Listen carefully. You must set up an ambush behind the city. Don't go far from it, but continue to watch and be ready.
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Joshua 8:4 NIRV
He gave them orders. He said, "Listen carefully to what I'm saying. You must hide behind the city. Don't go very far away from it. All of you must be ready to attack it.
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Joshua 8:4 NIV
with these orders: "Listen carefully. You are to set an ambush behind the city. Don't go very far from it. All of you be on the alert.
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Joshua 8:4 NKJV
And he commanded them, saying: "Behold, you shall lie in ambush against the city, behind the city. Do not go very far from the city, but all of you be ready.
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Joshua 8:4 NLT
with these orders: "Hide in ambush close behind the city and be ready for action.
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Joshua 8:4 NRS
with the command, "You shall lie in ambush against the city, behind it; do not go very far from the city, but all of you stay alert.
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Joshua 8:4 RSV
And he commanded them, "Behold, you shall lie in ambush against the city, behind it; do not go very far from the city, but hold yourselves all in readiness;
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Joshua 8:4 DBY
And he commanded them, saying, See, ye shall be in ambush against the city, behind the city: go not very far from the city, and be all of you ready.
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Joshua 8:4 MSG
with these orders: "Look sharp now. Lie in ambush behind the city. Get as close as you can. Stay alert.
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Joshua 8:4 WBT
And he commanded them, saying, Behold, ye shall lie in wait against the city, [even] behind the city: go not very far from the city, but be ye all ready:
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Joshua 8:4 TMB
And he commanded them, saying, "Behold, ye shall lie in wait against the city, even behind the city. Go not very far from the city, but be ye all ready;
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Joshua 8:4 TNIV
with these orders: "Listen carefully. You are to set an ambush behind the city. Don't go very far from it. All of you be on the alert.
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Joshua 8:4 WEB
He commanded them, saying, Behold, you shall lie in ambush against the city, behind the city; don't go very far from the city, but be all ready:
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Joshua 8:4 WYC
and he commanded to them, and said, Set ye ambushments behind the city, and go ye not further; and all ye shall be ready (and all of ye be ready to fight);
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Joshua 8:4 YLT
and commandeth them, saying, `See, ye are liers in wait against the city, at the rear of the city, ye go not very far off from the city, and all of you have been prepared,
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Joshua 8 Commentary - Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Concise)

Chapter 8

God encourages Joshua. (1,2) The taking of Ai. (3-22) The destruction of Ai and its king. (23-29) The law read on Ebal and Gerizim. (30-35)

Verses 1-2 When we have faithfully put away sin, that accursed thing which separates between us and God, then, and not till then, we may look 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. God encouraged Joshua to proceed. At Ai the spoil was not to be destroyed as at Jericho, therefore there was no danger of the people's committing such a trespass. Achan, who caught at forbidden spoil, lost that, and life, and all; but the rest of the people, who kept themselves from the accursed thing, were quickly rewarded for their obedience. The way to have the comfort of what God allows us, is, to keep from what he forbids us. No man shall lose by self-denial.

Verses 3-22 Observe Joshua's conduct and prudence. Those that would maintain their spiritual conflicts must not love their ease. Probably he went into the valley alone, to pray to God for a blessing, and he did not seek in vain. He never drew back till the work was done. Those that have stretched out their hands against their spiritual enemies, must never draw them back.

Verses 23-29 God, the righteous Judge, had sentenced the Canaanites for their wickedness; the Israelites only executed his doom. None of their conduct can be drawn into an example for others. Especial reason no doubt there was for this severity to the king of Ai; it is likely he had been notoriously wicked and vile, and a blasphemer of the God of Israel.

Verses 30-35 As soon as Joshua got to the mountains Ebal and Gerizim, without delay, and without caring for the unsettled state of Israel, or their enemies, he confirmed the covenant of the Lord with his people, as appointed, ( Deuteronomy 11 , Deuteronomy 27 ) . We must not think to defer covenanting with God till we are settled in the world; nor must any business put us from minding and pursuing the one thing needful. The way to prosper is to begin with God, ( Matthew 6:33 ) . They built an altar, and offered sacrifice to God, in token of their dedicating themselves to God, as living sacrifices to his honour, in and by a Mediator. By Christ's sacrifice of himself for us, we have peace with God. It is a great mercy to any people to have the law of God in writing, and it is fit that the written law should be in a known tongue, that it may be seen and read of all men.

Joshua 8 Commentary - Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible



1, 2. The Lord said unto Joshua, Fear not--By the execution of justice on Achan, the divine wrath was averted, the Israelites were reassured, defeat was succeeded by victory; and thus the case of Ai affords a striking example of God's disciplinary government, in which chastisements for sin are often made to pave the way for the bestowment of those temporal benefits, which, on account of sin, have been withdrawn, or withheld for a time. Joshua, who had been greatly dispirited, was encouraged by a special communication promising him (see Joshua 1:6 , Deuteronomy 31:6-8 ) success in the next attempt, which, however, was to be conducted on different principles.
take all the people of war with thee, and arise, go up to Ai--The number of fighting men amounted to six hundred thousand, and the whole force was ordered on this occasion, partly because the spies, in their self-confidence, had said that a few were sufficient to attack the place ( Joshua 7:3 ), partly to dispel any misgivings which the memory of the late disaster might have created, and partly that the circumstance of the first spoil obtained in Canaan being shared among all, might operate both as a reward for obedience in refraining from the booty of Jericho, and as an incentive to future exertions ( Deuteronomy 6:10 ). The rest of the people, including the women and children, remained in the camp at Gilgal. Being in the plains of Jericho, it was an ascent to Ai, which was on a hill.
I have given into thy hand the king of Ai, and his people, and his city, and his land . . . lay thee an ambush for the city--God assured Joshua of Ai's capture, but allowed him to follow his own tactics in obtaining the possession.

3. So Joshua . . . chose out thirty thousand mighty men of valour--Joshua despatched 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 ].

4. behind the city--is rendered ( Joshua 8:9 ), "on the west side of Ai."

9. between Beth-el and Ai--Beth-el, though lying quite near in the direction of west by north, cannot be seen from Tell-el-hajar; two rocky heights rise between both places, in the wady El-Murogede, just as the laying of an ambush to the west of Ai would require [VAN DE VELDE; ROBINSON].

10. Joshua . . . numbered the people--that is, the detachment of liers-in-wait; he did this, to be furnished with clear evidence afterwards, that the work had been done without any loss of men, whereby the people's confidence in God would be strengthened and encouragement given them to prosecute the war of invasion with vigor.
he and the elders of Israel--the chief magistrates and rulers, whose presence and official authority were necessary to ensure that the cattle and spoil of the city might be equally divided between the combatants and the rest of the people ( Numbers 31:27 )--a military rule in Israel, that would have been very liable to be infringed, if an excited soldiery, eager for booty, had been left to their own will.

11-14. there was a valley between them and Ai--literally, "the valley."

13. Joshua went that night into the midst of the valley--The deep and steep-sided glen to the north of Tell-el-hajar, into which one looks down from the tell, fully agrees with this account [VAN DE VELDE]. Joshua himself took up his position on the north side of "the ravine"--the deep chasm of the wady El-Murogede; "that night"--means, while it was dark, probably after midnight, or very early in the morning ( John 20:1 ). The king of Ai, in the early dawn, rouses his slumbering subjects and makes a hasty sally with all his people who were capable of bearing arms, once more to surprise and annihilate them.

14. at a time appointed--either an hour concocted between the king and people of Ai and those of Beth-el, who were confederates in this enterprise, or perhaps they had fixed on the same time of day, as they had fought successfully against Israel on the former occasion, deeming it a lucky hour ( Judges 20:38 ).
but he wist not that there were liers in ambush against him behind the city--It is evident that this king and his subjects were little experienced in war; otherwise they would have sent out scouts to reconnoitre the neighborhood; at all events, they would not have left their town wholly unprotected and open. Perhaps an ambuscade may have been a war stratagem hitherto unknown in that country, and among that people.

15-17. Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them--the pretended flight in the direction of the wilderness; that is, southeast, into the Ghor, the desert valley of the Jordan, decoyed all the inhabitants of Ai out of the city, while the people of Beth-el hastened to participate in the expected victory. It is supposed by some, from "the city," and not "cities," being spoken of, that the effective force of Beth-el had been concentrated in Ai, as the two places were closely contiguous, and Ai the larger of the two. (See Joshua 12:9 ). It may be remarked, however, that the words, "or Beth-el," are not in the Septuagint, and are rejected by some eminent scholars, as an interpolation not found in the most ancient manuscripts.

18-25. Joshua stretched out the spear that he had in his hand toward the city--The uplifted spear had probably a flag, or streamer on it, to render it the more conspicuous from the height where he stood. At the sight of this understood signal the ambush nearest the city, informed by their scouts, made a sudden rush and took possession of the city, telegraphing to their brethren by raising a smoke from the walls. Upon seeing this, the main body, who had been reigning a flight, turned round at the head of the pass upon their pursuers, while the twenty-five thousand issuing from their ambuscade, fell back upon their rear. The Ai-ites surprised, looked back, and found their situation now desperate.

23. the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua--to be reserved for a more ignominious death, as a greater criminal in God's sight than his subjects. In the mingled attack from before and behind, all the men were massacred.

24. all the Israelites returned unto Ai, and smote it with the edge of the sword--the women, children, and old persons left behind, amounting, in all, to twelve thousand people [ Joshua 8:25 ].

26. Joshua drew not his hand back--Perhaps, from the long continuance of the posture, it might have been a means appointed by God, to animate the people, and kept up in the same devout spirit as Moses had shown, in lifting up his hands, until the work of slaughter had been completed--the ban executed.

28. Joshua burnt Ai, and made it an heap for ever--"For ever" often signifies "a long time" ( Genesis 6:3 ). One of the remarkable things with regard to the tell we have identified with Ai is its name--the tell of the heap of stones--a name which to this day remains [VAN DE VELDE].

Joshua 8:29 . THE KING HANGED.

29. The king of Ai he hanged on a tree until eventide--that is, gibbeted. In ancient, and particularly Oriental wars, the chiefs, when taken prisoners, were usually executed. The Israelites were obliged, by the divine law, to put them to death. The execution of the king of Ai would tend to facilitate the conquest of the land, by striking terror into the other chiefs, and making it appear a judicial process, in which they were inflicting the vengeance of God upon His enemies.
take his carcass down . . . and raise thereon a great heap of stones--It was taken down at sunset, according to the divine command ( Deuteronomy 21:23 ), and cast into a pit dug "at the entering of the gate," because that was the most public place. An immense cairn was raised over his grave--an ancient usage, still existing in the East, whereby is marked the sepulchre of persons whose memory is infamous.

Joshua 8:30 Joshua 8:31 . JOSHUA BUILDS AN ALTAR.

30,31. Then Joshua built an altar unto the Lord God of Israel in twenty miles from Ai. The march through a hostile country and the unmolested performance of the religious ceremonial observed at this mountain, would be greatly facilitated, through the blessing of God, by the disastrous fall of Ai. The solemn duty was to be attended to at the first convenient opportunity after the entrance into Canaan ( Deuteronomy 27:2 ); and with this in view Joshua seems to have conducted the people through the mountainous region that intervened though no details of the journey have been recorded. Ebal was on the north, opposite to Gerizim, which was on the south side of the town Sichem (Nablous).

31. an altar of whole stones--according to the instructions given to Moses ( Exodus 20:25 , Deuteronomy 27:5 ).
over which no man hath lifted up any iron--that is, iron tool. The reason for this was that every altar of the true God ought properly to have been built of earth ( Exodus 20:24 ); and if it was constructed of stone, rough, unhewn stones were to be employed that it might retain both the appearance and nature of earth, since every bloody sacrifice was connected with sin and death, by which man, the creature of earth, is brought to earth again [KEIL].
they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings--This had been done when the covenant was established ( Exodus 24:5 ); and by the observance of these rites ( Deuteronomy 27:6 ), the covenant was solemnly renewed--the people were reconciled to God by the burnt offering, and this feast accompanying the peace or thank offering, a happy communion with God was enjoyed by all the families in Israel.

32. he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of that is, the blessings and curses of the law. Some think that the stones which contained this inscription were the stones of the altar: but this verse seems rather to indicate that a number of stone pillars were erected alongside of the altar, and on which, after they were plastered, this duplicate of the law was inscribed.

33. all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side--One half of Israel was arranged on Gerizim, and the other half on Ebal--along the sides and base of each.
before the priests the Levites--in full view of them.

34. afterward he read all the words of the law--caused the priests or Levites to read it ( Deuteronomy 27:14 ). Persons are often said in Scripture to do that which they only command to be done.

35. There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not--It appears that a much larger portion of the law was read on this occasion than the brief summary inscribed on the stones; and this must have been the essence of the law as contained in Deuteronomy ( Deuteronomy 4:44 , 6:9 , 27:8 ). It was not written on the stones, but on the plaster. The immediate design of this rehearsal was attained by the performance of the act itself. It only related to posterity, in so far as the record of the event would be handed down in the Book of Joshua, or the documents which form the groundwork of it [HENGSTENBERG]. Thus faithfully did Joshua execute the instructions given by Moses. How awfully solemn must have been the assemblage and the occasion! The eye and the ear of the people being both addressed, it was calculated to leave an indelible impression; and with spirits elevated by their brilliant victories in the land of promise, memory would often revert to the striking scene on mounts Ebal and Gerizim, and in the vale of Sychar.