Joshua shows his strategic abilities and now sends 30,000 men to lie in ambush while he and the others encourage the men of Ai to come out and fight. When the men of Ai come out, Joshua and his band run away, and the people of Ai follow. Which is when the 30,000 men lying in ambush take the city and burn it to the ground. Joshua and his men turn around and continue the fight killing everyone and hanging the king in a tree. After killing all the men and women and taking the cattle and gold, they build a alter out of stones and Joshua writes down the entire Law of Moses and then recites it aloud, the blessings and the curses.
Or, to put it another way:
Since it took over 30,000 people to conquer Ai, it is pretty clear now that Joshua set up the 2,000 men he sent out before to fail in order to make a point that if you steal you will harm everyone. Regardless, having made that point, he is now free to properly lay seige to Ai, which he does with a great bit of military strategy.
Joshua 8:34 “And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law.” I just find it funny that the book of laws has both blessings and cursings.
Least favorite bit:
Joshua 8:29 – finding out that when they took the king, they hung him and then threw his carcass at the entrance to the city they had just burned. It’s kind of gross and brutal.
Just because someone is a crazy homicidal dictator doesn’t mean they can’t think strategically.