Ai Defeats the Israelites
1But Israel violated the instructions about the things set apart for the Lord.*7:1a The Hebrew term used here refers to the complete consecration of things or people to the Lord, either by destroying them or by giving them as an offering; similarly in 7:11, 12, 13, 15. A man named Achan had stolen some of these dedicated things, so the Lord was very angry with the Israelites. Achan was the son of Carmi, a descendant of Zimri*7:1b As in parallel text at 1 Chr 2:6; Hebrew reads Zabdi. Also in 7:17, 18. son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah.
2Joshua sent some of his men from Jericho to spy out the town of Ai, east of Bethel, near Beth-aven. 3When they returned, they told Joshua, “There’s no need for all of us to go up there; it won’t take more than two or three thousand men to attack Ai. Since there are so few of them, don’t make all our people struggle to go up there.”
4So approximately 3,000 warriors were sent, but they were soundly defeated. The men of Ai 5chased the Israelites from the town gate as far as the quarries,*7:5 Or as far as Shebarim. and they killed about thirty-six who were retreating down the slope. The Israelites were paralyzed with fear at this turn of events, and their courage melted away.
6Joshua and the elders of Israel tore their clothing in dismay, threw dust on their heads, and bowed face down to the ground before the Ark of the Lord until evening. 7Then Joshua cried out, “Oh, Sovereign Lord, why did you bring us across the Jordan River if you are going to let the Amorites kill us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side! 8Lord, what can I say now that Israel has fled from its enemies? 9For when the Canaanites and all the other people living in the land hear about it, they will surround us and wipe our name off the face of the earth. And then what will happen to the honor of your great name?”
10But the Lord said to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this? 11Israel has sinned and broken my covenant! They have stolen some of the things that I commanded must be set apart for me. And they have not only stolen them but have lied about it and hidden the things among their own belongings. 12That is why the Israelites are running from their enemies in defeat. For now Israel itself has been set apart for destruction. I will not remain with you any longer unless you destroy the things among you that were set apart for destruction.