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  1. 1 The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid. Do not be overwhelmed. Take with you the whole military force[a] and get ready to go up to Ai. You see, I have given the king of Ai into your hand with his people, his city, and his land. 2 You shall do to Ai and its king just as you did to Jericho and its king, but its plunder and its livestock you may take as spoils of war for yourselves. Set an ambush for the city on the west side of it.”

    3 So Joshua and the whole military force got ready to go up to Ai. Joshua chose thirty thousand men, strong warriors, and sent them out during the night. 4 He commanded them, “See to it that you set up an ambush against the city on its west side, not very far from the city. All of you are to be on alert. 5 Then I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. When the men of Ai come out to face us just as they did the first time, we will flee from them. 6 They will come out after us until we lure them away from the city, because they will say, ‘They are fleeing from us just as they did the first time!’ and we will flee from them. 7 Then you are to spring up from the ambush and seize the city, and the Lord your God will give it into your hand. 8 When you have taken the city, you are to set the city on fire. According to the word of the Lord you are to act in this way. Look, I have commanded you.”

    9 So Joshua sent them out, and they went to the place for the ambush. They lay hidden on the west side of Ai, between Bethel and Ai. But Joshua spent that night among the people of the main force.

    10 Joshua got up early in the morning, and he mustered the people. Then he went up—he and the elders of Israel—leading the main force of the people to Ai. 11 The whole military force that was with him went up and advanced. They arrived opposite the city, and they camped north of Ai. The valley was between Joshua and Ai. 12 He had taken about five thousand men and set them as an ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the city.

    13 This is how they positioned the people: The whole army that had come from the camp was north of the city, but the detachment in the ambush was west of the city. That night Joshua went out into the middle of the valley.

    14 When the king of Ai saw this, the men of the city got up quickly and went out to face Israel in battle—the king and all his people—at the chosen place[b] facing the Arabah. But he did not know that there was an ambush for him west of the city. 15 Then Joshua and all Israel pretended to be beaten before them and fled toward the wilderness. 16 All the people that were in the city were marshaled to pursue them. As they pursued Joshua, they were lured away from the city. 17 So not a man was left in Ai or Bethel who did not go out after Israel. They left the city open and pursued Israel.

    18 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Point toward Ai with the javelin that is in your hand, because I will give Ai into your hand.” So Joshua reached out toward the city with the javelin that was in his hand. 19 The ambush force quickly sprang up from its place and came running as soon as he reached out his hand. Then they went into the city, took it, and quickly set it on fire.

    20 The men of Ai turned to look behind them, and, to their surprise, the smoke of the city was rising to the sky! They were not strong enough to escape this way or that, because the people of Israel who had been fleeing toward the wilderness turned back against the pursuers. 21 When Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush force had taken the city and that smoke was rising from the city, they turned back and struck the men of Ai. 22 Then the other Israelites came out of the city against the men of Ai so that they were trapped in the middle of Israel, with some Israelites on this side of them and some on that. So Israel struck them down until there was no one left, no survivor, no escapee.

    [a] Joshua 8:1 Literally the people of war
    [b] Joshua 8:14 The battle site may have been chosen by either army or dictated by the terrain.

  2. There is much more in the scriptures about tactics, and how a larger or smaller fighting force should be organized. Most military’s unknowingly owe something to how they operate today to these scriptures. Any knowledge about small unit tactics improves our ability to defend ourselves. I only delved into it reluctantly as I found there was no one else who would do the job. Some one has to, so I force fed myself. Eventually it came easily. It was a mental block I had to overcome. And even though I am not physically up to leading the young and fit. As old folks, we can set up defenses and tactics given our particular limitations. We cannot acquire the skills of a solder without having been one, but we can grasp the fundamentals and pass those along to our younger family and friends, and let them run with it. We can equip and teach.

    If we do not yet have a plan, then we are at serious risk of loosing it all until we have one. Above all else, security will be job one. We should not assume that some one else can or will do the job. And if you do have some one with training, they will need your help.

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