2 You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king, except that you may carry off their plunder and livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the city.”
3 So Joshua and the whole army moved out to attack Ai. He chose thirty thousand of his best fighting men and sent them out at night 4 with these orders: “Listen carefully. You are to set an ambush behind the city. Don’t go very far from it. All of you be on the alert. 5 I and all those with me will advance on the city, and when the men come out against us, as they did before, we will flee from them. 6 They will pursue us until we have lured them away from the city, for they will say, ‘They are running away from us as they did before.’ So when we flee from them, 7 you are to rise up from ambush and take the city. The Lord your God will give it into your hand.
Jericho was under God’s ban, so plunder could not be taken. This was because of the idolatry in that city. If the Israelites took that plunder it would infect them. God’s people were to be kept holy and separate from the influences of idolatry. The city of Ai was not under God’s ban, so the captured goods from that city would be used for food, flocks, and weapons. The plunder was part of a soldiers pay, since they were not paid. Conquering Ai was very important. If Ai had not been conquered, other cities may have banded together and attack Israel. But because Israel had confessed their sin from taking the plunder of Jericho, asked for forgiveness, and moved to change their behavior; God restored his power and protection over the nation. Israel was learning to depend on God with absolute obedience. Do you depend on God? Do you look to him first for direction and consultation over decisions? Are you learning these lessons as you live life? Like Israel, you must depend on God with absolute obedience, then you like Israel, may have the life victories that God promises.