And you shall do to Ai and her king as you did unto Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall you take for a prey unto yourselves: lay you an ambush for the city behind it.
Read Chapter 8
George Leo Haydock
King. There was this difference, that the king of Hai was to be gibbeted, and his corpse stoned, while the city was to be plundered by the Israelites.
It. This mode of warfare is equally just, as if the enemy was attacked in the open field. Dolus an virtus quis in hoste requirat? (Virgil)
God was pleased to authorize it on this occasion, that his people might be less exposed, being under some apprehensions on account of the former defeat. Some nations have preferred to encounter the enemy openly. (Grotius, Jur. iii. 1, 20.) But their example is no law for others. "When the war is just, it matters not whether a person gain the victory by open fighting or by stratagem. "(St. Augustine, q. 10.) "It is often prudent to conceal the truth. "(contra Mend. x.) People engaged in warfare, allow each other to take such advantages. God could easily have routed these few men by means of the army of Israel, or by a miracle, as he did at Jericho. (Haydock)
But he is at liberty to act as he thinks proper. The ambush was laid on the south-west side of Hai, so that those of Bethel might not perceive it, as they came out to the assistance of their countrymen, ver. 17. Five thousand were placed in one place, and 25,000 in another, while the main body of the army, under Josue, took a circuit by the east, and came to attack the city on the north side. (Calmet)