“And Hashem said to Yehoshua, “Do not fear or be broken hearted. Take with you all the people of war and go up to Ay. Behold I delivered into yourhands the king of Ay, his people, city and land.”
“And do unto Ay and her king as you did to Yericho and her king, but takethe spoils and animals to yourself; place an ambush behind the city.”
Our recent lesson revealed a major shift in Hashem’s approach to EretzYisroel’s conquest. Hashem initially revealed His strength through aseries of miracles thereby creating a petrified feeling amongst thenatives. This would have sufficed to secure the Jewish nation’s success asthe natural order of war. However, Achan’s serious trespass altered thisand eventually removed this feeling from amongst the nations. It was nowtime to reveal to the nations a second dimension of Hashem’s mastery. Theywere soon to learn that Hashem efficiently operates behind the scenes aswell. This however demanded from the Jewish nation tremendous levels offaith. Although they would be engaged in a full strategic battle they mustremember that their ultimate success was in Hashem’s hands.
We can develop this thought one step further. We saw earlier that Yehoshuaresponded to the defeat at Ay with one pressing concern, Hashem’s glory.We discovered that even Achan was preoccupied with this during his lastmoments of life as reflected in his moving prayer, Al Kein Nekave.Although, Hashem’s present plan did not call for open revelations Hisglory could nonetheless be revealed in full. The absolute precision andperfect results of war could also serve as open expressions of His glory.This dimension became the Jewish people’s total focus – to reveal Hashem’sinvolvement in their natural victories. They sought to inform the entireworld who truly deserved the credit for all their successes.
We now appreciate the entire nation’s participation in this war. Althoughthe war appeared to be only a strategic maneuver it was actually a fullscale miracle in disguise. The unbelievable success of capturing anddestroying an entire city’s population without one causality reflectedHashem’s glory in full. This miracle done for the Jewish people deservedtheir full involvement witnessing and sensing Hashem’s unbelievablekindness every step of the way.
This also explains the tangible air of suspense throughout the war. Theissue at hand was not how successful the war would be rather how miraculousit would be. If the Jewish people fully engaged themselves in thisobjective their results would be of miraculous nature. However, if theydid not follow the program to precision the results would also be short ofperfect. This war was, in essence, an opportunity to reestablish Hashem’sglory amongst the nations but in a more developed way. There were soon todiscover that Hashem’s strength expresses itself in more ways than one.Hashem not only defies natural laws He even performs miracles within Hisnatural order of the world. His strategy surpasses all military abilitiesand could efficiently ensnare the mighty city of Ay into total destruction.
We will discover later that only one nation read the fine print andrecognized Hashem as the master mind of this operation. Metzudos explainsthat all the other nations mistakenly interpreted the Jewish people’ssuccess as a result of numbers and careful military strategy. This inticedthe nations to respond with unprecedented unity replete with staggeringnumbers and brilliantly planned maneuvers. Their take on the situationshould not surprise us because it is typical of their general mind set.They forever find difficulty relating to the concept of Divine Providence.Although they admit Hashem performs miracles from above they can not acceptthat He involves Himself down below. How could such a great power expressHimself in basic earthly terms?
The Canaanite nations would soon learn this lesson well. Yehoshua wouldultimately battle thirty-one united powers and miraculously defeat them.They would then understand, in retrospect, the master plan behind allthese wars from its inception. It would then become clear to them thatHashem would and did involve Himself on behalf of His nation on all levels.
“And Yehoshua and all the people of war prepared to go up to Ay, and hechose thirty thousand mighty warriors and sent them at night.”
The plans will soon reveal that the basic function of these people was tocapture and torch the city. In truth this will only happen after everysingle native man leaves the city. However the warriors had a secondfunction after that point. Their role was to immediately exit the city andchase after the enemy; thus, joining the rest of the nation in the actualcombat. This is why thirty thousand warriors was necessary for the ambushof an empty city.
“And he commanded them stating, ‘See that you are ambushing the city frombehind do not go too far from the city and all of you should be prepared.'”
The words, “too far” suggest difficulty in the warrior’s position whichapparently calls for them to stand very far – yet not too far – away. Wewill soon learn that the nature of this ambush differed greatly fromgeneral military procedure. Their function was not to come from behind andattack the enemy rather to capture the open city by surprise and set itablaze. This achievement is so essential for the war that without it theJewish nation stands no physical chance in battle. Yehoshua thereforewarned all thirty thousand of them to station themselves very far away.The entire success of this battle depended upon them. The war would betotally lost if they were, Heaven forbid, discovered. Yet, there existeda second – but even greater – concern. The precision of the war called fortheir immediate attack on the city. The entire Jewish nation’s securitydepended on this fact. These warriors must rush into the city the momentthey receive their signal. Yehoshua warned them to stay far from the city -yet not too far. Stand far enough away so that it is impossible todiscover you, but do not permit yourself to stand any further thannecessary. When you receive the signal you must be capable of immediatelycharging into the city. This is a sample of the absolute precision thatwas necessary for the Jewish people’s victory. It also reminds us of thedegree of assistance from above necessary to achieve a total victory. TheJewish people undoubtedly payed full attention to the finer details of thewar and truly recognized Hashem’s unbelievable assistance every step of theway. Although this war was masked in military strategy, for the trainedeye it was truly an open miracle.
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