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by night to a place not very far from the city, but behind it, where the people of Ai could not see them, and told them what they were to do and how they were to lie in wait. The next morning Joshua and some of his people came out against Ai, and the king and his people went forth to give them battle. Then Joshua and his army made as if they were beaten, and fled toward the wilderness, and the king of Ai, who knew nothing about the soldiers lying in ambush, went after Joshua to pursue him, taking all his army, so that the city was left open, without any men at all in it to defend it.
And the LORD said to Joshua,“ Stretch out the spear that is in thine hand towards Ai, for I will give it into thy hand.” Then the men who were lying in ambush went quickly into the city and took it, and as the Lord bade them, they set it on fire. The men of Ai looked back, and saw the smoke of their burning city rise up to the sky, and the Israelites who saw it too, turned round upon them and slew them. When they would have fled back to Ai, they were met from that side also, so that they found themselves beset on all sides, and all the people were killed, both men and women, within the
city and without, except the king, who was taken alive and carried to Joshua, and put to death. GOD bade Joshua take the cattle and spoil of the city, and then to burn it, and make it a heap and a desolation.
Then Joshua built an altar on Mount Ebal, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings unto the LORD, and the priests blessed the people; and Joshua read to them all the words of the law-Both the blessings and the cursings that were set before them; thus fulfilling the command Moses had spoken before his death, as to what the elders of Israel should do when the people had passed over Jordan, and safely reached the Land of Canaan—the Promised Land.
When the kings of the country round heard how Jericho and Ai had been overthrown, they gathered together and made ready for battle. But the people of Gibeon set to work by craft, hoping to make sure of their own safety. They put on old ragged clothes, and shoes that looked as if they were worn out with a long journey.
They also laid old sacks upon their asses, in which they took dry mouldy bread, and leather wine-bottles, all cracked and rent. Then these Gibeonites went to the Israelitish camp, and said to Joshua, “ We be come from a far country, now therefore make ye a league with us.”
Joshua answered them, that he did not know but what they might be a people dwelling close at hand, and that if so, the Israelites could not make a league or friendship with them, because the LORD had bidden them not to do so.
The Gibeonites said they were Joshua's servants, and when he asked whence they came, they lied, and said, “From a very far country thy servants are come because of the Name of the LORD thy God, for we have heard the fame of Him, and all that He did in Egypt, and to the kings of the Amorites. Wherefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spake to us, saying, Take victuals with you for the journey, and go to meet them, and say unto them, We are your servants, therefore now make ye a league with us. bread we took hot for our provision out of our houses on the day we came forth to go unto you; but now, behold, it is dry and it is mouldy. And these bottles of wine, which we filled,
were new, and behold, they be rent; and these our garments, and our shoes are become old by reason of the very long journey.” Then Joshua and the elders of Israel forgot to ask counsel of the LORD, and of their own wisdom they believed the Gibeonites, and made peace with them, and pledged themselves by an oath not to destroy them. But three days after Joshua found that he had been deceived, and that the children of Israel had reached Gibeon, the country whence these people came. So now they were in a difficulty, because while on the one hand God had ordered the Israelites to destroy all these people of Canaan, on the other hand, Joshua and the elders had sworn by the Lord God of Israel to save their lives; and this was an oath that must not be broken.
Then it was decided that the Gibeonites should live, but only to serve the children of Israel. So Joshua called them, and told them that they were accursed of God because of their deceit, and that they should only live as bondmen, hewing wood and drawing water for the Israelites. The Gibeonites confessed why they had deceived Joshua, and said, “And now, behold, we are in thine hand; as it seemeth
good and right unto thee to do unto us, do." Therefore from that time forward the Gibeonites were bondmen to the Israelites.
THE CONQUEST OF CANAAN.
Now when Adonizedec, the king of Jerusalem heard how Joshua had taken Jericho and Ai, and how the great and mighty people of Gibeon had made peace and become as slaves to the Israelites, he was very much afraid, and he sent to four other kings around and asked them to help him to destroy Gibeon, lest that people should make Joshua still more powerful. Then these five kings and their armies went and encamped before Gibeon, in order to destroy it. But the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua, begging him to come and help them and save them. And the LORD said to Joshua, “ Fear them not, for I have delivered them into thine hands; there shall not a man of them stand before thee.” Then Joshua and his soldiers, went from Gilgal by night, and came upon the Amorite kings and their armies, and slew them with a great slaughter. The children of Israel chased them, and the LORD sent great hail