The corresponding letter to this chapter is Chet – new beginning; new life; a metaphysical letter above this existence.
Y’hoshua 8:1-2 Now the L-RD said to Y’hoshua, "Do not fear or be dismayed. Take all the people of war with you and arise, go up to Ai; see, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. And you shall do to Ai and its king just as you did to Yericho (Jericho) and its king; you shall take only its spoil and its cattle as plunder for yourselves. Set an ambush for the city behind it."
When they conquered Yericho they were told not to take anything for themselves. Now in the case of Ai they are permitted to take the spoils. Why?
Yericho was under judgment because of Idolatry and could not be looted.
D’varim (Deuteronomy) 20:16-18 Only in the cities of these peoples that the L-RD your G-d is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes. But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the L-RD your G-d has commanded you, in order that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods, so that you would sin against the L-RD your G-d.
Israel was not to associate with things that were not holy.
Ai was not under the ban; the normal spoils of war would provide supplies for the Israelite army.
Y’hoshua 8:3 So Y’hoshua rose with all the people of war to go up to Ai; and Y’hoshua chose 30,000 men, valiant warriors, and sent them out at night. 4 And 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. 5 Then I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. And it will come about when they come out to meet us as at the first, that we will flee before them. 6 And they will come out after us until we have drawn them away from the city, for they will say, 'They are fleeing before us as at the first.' So we will flee before them. 7 And you shall rise from your ambush and take possession of the city, for the L-RD your G-d will deliver it into your hand.
We have a great military strategy here and why not? They are following the military direction of the Commander of the L-rd’s Army.
The L-rd G-d, or the Commander of the army of the L-rd, delivers Ai into their hands. They succeed because of who He is not because of who Israel is or because of what Israel can do. This was another ruse by G-d to conquer the enemies of Israel.
Y’hoshua 8:8-17 Then it will be when you have seized the city, that you shall set the city on fire. You shall do it according to the word of the L-RD. See, I have commanded you." So Y’hoshua sent them away, and they went to the place of ambush and remained between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai; but Y’hoshua spent that night among the people. Now Y’hoshua rose early in the morning and mustered the people, and he went up with the elders of Israel before the people to Ai. Then all the people of war who were with him went up and drew near and arrived in front of the city, and camped on the north side of Ai. Now there was a valley between him and Ai. And he took about 5,000 men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the city. So they stationed the people, all the army that was on the north side of the city, and its rear guard on the west side of the city, and Y’hoshua spent that night in the midst of the valley. And it came about when the king of Ai saw it, that the men of the city hurried and rose up early and went out to meet Israel in battle, he and all his people at the appointed place before the desert plain. But he did not know that there was an ambush against him behind the city. And Y’hoshua and all Israel pretended to be beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness. And all the people who were in the city were called together to pursue them, and they pursued Y’hoshua, and were drawn away from the city. So not a man was left in Ai or Bethel who had not gone out after Israel, and they left the city unguarded and pursued Israel.
This was a tremendous victory for the Israelites.
Y’hoshua 8:18 Then the L-RD said to Y’hoshua, "Stretch out the javelin that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand." So Y’hoshua stretched out the javelin that was in his hand toward the city.
The javelin when raised by Y’hoshua would be the signal for victory. This was a foreshadowing of when the spear was raised against His Son on the execution stake so we believe because the scripture says;
Zechariah 12:10 …they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.
The soldier pierced Yeshua’s side to fulfill the prophecy. This is clear when we look at the Tanakh through the B’rit Hadashah. Hindsight is twenty-twenty. The Son then became victorious over death. Death no longer has a hold over those that belong to Him and believe in His name.
Tehillim (Psalms) 22:16-17For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me;
Yochanan (John) 19:34-37 but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water. And he who has seen has borne witness, and his witness is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. For these things came to pass, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, "Not a bone of Him shall be broken."
Y’hoshua 8:19 And the men in ambush rose quickly from their place, and when he had stretched out his hand, they ran and entered the city and captured it; and they quickly set the city on fire.
Again the raised spear signal was given. G-d instructed him to do this because He knew ahead a time what would happen to His Son with the spear, which was also prophesied in His word. If He did not spare His only Son would He not give also give Israel the victory over death from the men of Ai?
Romans 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
Back to the men of Ai
Y’hoshua 8:20-26 When the men of Ai turned back and looked, the smoke of the city ascended to the sky, and they had no place to flee this way or that, for the people who had been fleeing to the wilderness turned against the pursuers. When Y’hoshua and all Israel saw that the men in ambush had captured the city and that the smoke of the city ascended, they turned back and slew the men of Ai. And the others came out from the city to encounter them, so that they were trapped in the midst of Israel, some on this side and some on that side; and they slew them until no one was left of those who survived or escaped. But they took alive the king of Ai and brought him to Y’hoshua. Now it came about when Israel had finished killing all the inhabitants of Ai in the field in the wilderness where they pursued them, and all of them were fallen by the edge of the sword until they were destroyed, then all Israel returned to Ai and struck it with the edge of the sword. And all who fell that day, both men and women, were 12,000-- all the people of Ai. For Y’hoshua did not withdraw his hand with which he stretched out the javelin until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.
Again this was done for a reason and to illustrate a point. He was victorious only when he was willing to stretch out with his hand the javelin or type of execution stake. This brought them victory in war and over physical death in battle. Israel is led to victory by the L-rd through Y’hoshua!
When Yeshua stretched out His hand on the execution stake He was victorious. He was willing to do this command from the Father. He then rose from the dead. We will rise with Him too. Victory is for all who believe in the L-rd Yeshua HaMashiach!
1 Corinthians 15:53-57 For our earthly bodies, the ones we have now that can die, must be transformed into heavenly bodies that cannot perish but will live forever. When this happens, then at last this Scripture will come true-"Death is swallowed up in victory." O death, where then your victory? Where then your sting? For sin-the sting that causes death-will all be gone; and the law, which reveals our sins, will no longer be our judge. How we thank G-d for all of this! It is he who makes us victorious through Yeshua HaMashiach our L-rd!
Back to Israel:
Y’hoshua 8:27-29 Israel took only the cattle and the spoil of that city as plunder for themselves, according to the word of the L-RD which He had commanded Y’hoshua. So Y’hoshua burned Ai and made it a heap forever, a desolation until this day. And he hanged the king of Ai on a tree until evening; and at sunset Y’hoshua gave command and they took his body down from the tree, and threw it at the entrance of the city gate, and raised over it a great heap of stones that stands to this day.
This was the Biblical command:
D’varim (Deuteronomy) 21:22-23 "And if a man has committed a sin worthy of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of G-d), so that you do not defile your land which the L-RD your G-d gives you as an inheritance.
This is the same thing that was done to Yeshua. He was also displayed outside the city gate and buried just before sunset. He was also considered cursed. He was cursed for our sake. We are victorious because He was accursed.
Galatians 3:13-14 But Messiah has bought us out from under the doom of that impossible system by taking the curse for our wrongdoing upon Himself. For it is written in the Scripture, "Anyone who is hanged on a tree is cursed" [as Yeshua was hung on the execution stake]. Now G-d can bless the Gentiles, too, with this same blessing he promised to Abraham; and all of us as believers can have the promised Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) through this faith.
Y’hoshua 8:30-35 Then Y’hoshua built an altar to the L-RD, the G-d of Israel, in Mount Eival (Ebal), just as Moshe (Moses) the servant of the L-RD had commanded the sons of Israel, as it is written in the book of the Torah (law) of Moshe, an altar of uncut stones, on which no man had wielded an iron tool; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the L-RD, and sacrificed peace offerings. And he wrote there on the stones a copy of the law of Moshe, which he had written, in the presence of the sons of Israel. And all Israel with their elders and officers and their judges were standing on both sides of the ark before the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the L-RD, the stranger as well as the native. Half of them stood in front of Mount G’rizim (Gerizim) and half of them in front of Mount Eival, just as Moshe the servant of the L-RD had given command at first to bless the people of Israel. Then afterward he read all the words of the Torah (law), the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the book of the Torah (law). There was not a word of all that Moshe had commanded which Y’hoshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel with the women and the little ones and the strangers who were living among them.
The altar was built out of uncut stones so it was not profaned.
Sh’mot (Exodus) 20:25 if you make an altar of stone for Me, you shall not build it of cut stones, for if you wield your tool on it, you will profane it.