I was recently teaching a class on the book of Joshua in which we were discussing Israel’s preparations for attacking the city of Ai in Joshua 7. The passage in question involves a conversation between Joshua and member of his army. This conversation took place in Gilgal, in an area on the floor of the Jordan Rift Valley near Jericho. Notice the language that the men use in describing the location of Ai in reference to where they currently are located.
Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and said to them, “Go up and spy out the land.” And the men went up and spied out Ai. And they returned to Joshua and said to him, “Do not have all the people go up, but let about two or three thousand men go up and attack Ai. Do not make the whole people toil up there, for they are few.” So about three thousand men went up there from the people. And they fled before the men of Ai, and the men of Ai killed about thirty-six of their men and chased them before the gate as far as Shebarim and struck them at the descent. And the hearts of the people melted and became as water. – Joshua 7:2-5
The picture at the top of this post is from BiblePlaces.com. It is an aerial picture south of Jericho looking north. Be sure to notice the dramatic elevation change from the city of Jericho as the terrain rises into the Central Mountain range. Now, go back and read the passage again. As you can tell, Joshua and his men described the situation perfectly from their point of view.
Words truly do mean something. Don’t skip over them when reading these Biblical stories.