Joshua 5-8 They hung the king on a tree

From Joshua 5-8

06 Joshua Jerichos Walls Fall What kinds of things happen to vanquished kings in the bible?

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

After the victory of Jericho, Joshua moves on the Ai. A city with a strange name don’t you think? Unfortunately one of the Israelites disobeys the LORD’s commands and everyone suffers for it. Joshua eventually finds who did it and they are put to death. Serious business.
In today’s passage, Joshua returns to Ai. He has a plan and he’s going to smash it.

18 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Stretch out the javelin that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.” And Joshua stretched out the javelin that was in his hand toward the city. 19 And the men in the ambush rose quickly out of their place, and as soon as he had stretched out his hand, they ran and entered the city and captured it. And they hurried to set the city on fire. 20 So when the men of Ai looked back, behold, the smoke of the city went up to heaven, and they had no power to flee this way or that, for the people who fled to the wilderness turned back against the pursuers. 21 And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had captured the city, and that the smoke of the city went up, then they turned back and struck down the men of Ai. 22 And the others came out from the city against them, so they were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side. And Israel struck them down, until there was left none that survived or escaped. 23 But the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him near to Joshua. (Josh 8.18-23)

Some of Joshua’s men capture the city. The other half contain Ai’s army. When the city is defeated the men who captured the city surround the remaining army of Ai. They have no chance and they are defeated. They take the King of Ai alive.

24 When Israel had finished killing all the inhabitants of Ai in the open wilderness where they pursued them, and all of them to the very last had fallen by the edge of the sword, all Israel returned to Ai and struck it down with the edge of the sword. 25 And all who fell that day, both men and women, were 12,000, all the people of Ai. 26 But Joshua did not draw back his hand with which he stretched out the javelin until he had devoted all the inhabitants of Ai to destruction. 27 Only the livestock and the spoil of that city Israel took as their plunder, according to the word of the Lord that he commanded Joshua. 28 So Joshua burned Ai and made it forever a heap of ruins, as it is to this day. (Josh 8.24-29)

This time they are careful to obey all the LORD’s commands. It must have been a bloodbath. We have to remember these people came under the LORD’s judgment. They were idolatrous and would have led Israel into idolatry. They had to be destroyed.

29 And he hanged the king of Ai on a tree until evening. And at sunset Joshua commanded, and they took his body down from the tree and threw it at the entrance of the gate of the city and raised over it a great heap of stones, which stands there to this day. (Josh 8.24-29)

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.
People who are hanged are cursed. Check out Deuteronomy.

22 “And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance. (Dt 21:22–23)

So the Israelites hung this man to show he was cursed by God.

Story of Jesus

We see this same thing happen again in the New Testament. They hung Jesus on a cross. When the apostles preached the gospel they occasionally called the cross a tree (Acts 5.30; 10.39; 13.29) with the full intention of implying that Jesus was cursed by God when he hung on the cross. They didn’t shy away from implying this point. Jesus was cursed for us. Paul makes it clear;

13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. (Gal 3:13–14)

Both Dt 21.22-23 and Josh 8.29 predict the suffering of the Christ which won our salvation.

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