And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai…
Which was the next
city of importance, though not so large as Jericho, and was, as the
Jews say F12, three miles distant from it; Abarbinel says F13 four
miles, and so Bunting F14; Jerom F15 says, that in his times very few
ruins of it appeared, only the place was shown where it stood:
which [is] beside Bethaven;
a name by which Bethel in later times was
called, (Hosea 4:15) ; but here it is manifestly a distinct place from it;
just hard by or near to this place, as Jarchi and Kimchi interpret it,
was the city of Ai: Bethaven seems to have been the suburbs of it, or
however was very near unto it:
on the east side of Bethel;
near to which Abraham built an altar, as
did Jacob also, and which in former times was called Luz, (Genesis 12:8)
(Genesis 35:1,3,6,7) ; and was well known in later ages by the name of Bethel;
it was reckoned about a mile from Ai: the situation of this city is so
particularly described to distinguish it from another city of this
name, Ai of the Amorites, (Jeremiah 49:3) ; and is here called "that Ai", that
well known Ai, as Kimchi observes:
and spake unto them;
at the time he sent them, when he gave them their
orders to go thither:
saying, go up and view the country;
the mountainous part of it; for
they were now in a plain, where Jericho was seated; and observe what
place was most proper to attack next, and which the best way of coming
and the men went up and viewed Ai;
what a sort of a city it was, how
large, and what its fortifications, and what avenues were to it: by
this it appears that Ai was built upon a hill, or at least was higher
than Jericho and its plains; and with this agrees what a traveller says
F16 of it, it is a village full of large ruins (in this he differs from
Jerom) and from hence are seen the valley of Jericho, the dead sea,
Gilgal, and Mount Quarantania, and many other places towards the east.
F12 Shemoth Rabba, sect. 32. fol. 185. 2.
F13 In Josh. xx. fol. 34. 1.
F14 Travels Of the Patriarchs… p. 95.
F15 De loc. Heb. fol. 87. E.
F16 Baumgarten. Peregrinatio, l. 3. c. 1. p. 105.