Harris, Brown and Moore (2000) explain that in the instance depicted in Joshua 8:9, where Joshua again sent out his army, Joshua's attitude has changed. He has realized that he needed to take the threat of the enemy seriously; that to win he had to plan in accordance to and had to adhere to God's directives "on the west side of Ai" (Joshua 8:9 (NKJV) (Blue Letter Bible 2010).
Joshua's neglect of prayer, according to Rick Grieve (2009) in the book, On the Way, proved to be the beginning of his downfall, noted in Joshua 7. "In this second battle plan, Joshua did not hear from God…. At Jericho[,] Israel won because their leader listened to the directives of the Lord and followed through. Absolute obedience brought absolute victory. Yet before the skirmish against Ai no such meeting occurred" (Grieve, p. 86). With Joshua's prayerlessness, he basically told God, that he thought he could handle Ai; that he did not need God's help in this battle. The failure to prayer, Joshua later learned, led to failure.
Mack (2010) explains:
As a consequence of the sin of Achan…, the Israelites were routed in the attack upon the town; but after confession and expiation, a second assault was successful, the city was taken and burned, and left a heap of ruins, the inhabitants, in number twelve thousand, were put to death, the king captured, hanged and buried under a heap of stones at the gate of the ruined city, only the cattle being kept as spoil by the people (Joshua 7; Joshua 8). The town had not been rebuilt when Joshua was written (Joshua 8:28). The fall of Ai gave the Israelites entrance to the heart of Canaan…. (Mack 2010, ¶ 1).
After the Israelites defeated Ai and became established there, Ai, Mack (2010) reports, the Israelites then easily overcame Bethel and a number of other towns in this region. At some point later in time, Isaiah 10:28 reports that Ai was rebuilt.
In addition to failing to pray, Joshua failed to place his trust in God. Instead, he listened to the advice of the spies he sent to assess the situation. Instead of listening to the Lord, Joshua sought after what people had to say. Joshua also trusted that his past success would continue, even if he did neglect to pray and listened to men instead of God. The battle at Ai, however, proved Joshua to be wrong.
The dearth of evidence to confirm the occupation of Ai from 1400 to 1200 B.C.E, the projected conquest dates, Harris, Brown and Moore (2000) contend, confirm that the three following options exists:
1. Confirming another site to be the Biblical Ai;
2. Determining another date that the conquest occurred; when Ai was occupied;
3. Renouncing the account of this incident (Harris, Brown and Moore. 2000, p. 56).
From the apparently insignificant events that occurred at Ai, which the researcher contends, that the Christian cannot renounce, God displays His mysterious power. "By the power of God a ruin (Ai) becomes a heap and defeat becomes victory. The heap at Ai celebrates the victory of the Lord and the folly of opposing God" (Harris, Brown and Moore 2000, p. 58). Even though the location of Ai remains "a matter of mystery and controversy" (Wood 2010, ¶ 1), this historical city noted in Joshua 7-8, the researcher asserts, relates a timeless lesson. In fact, the "message," from Ai, confirming the need to pray and seek God's directives, proves particularly potent in contemporary times. No matter if one is in their familiar place, in Ai or any other mysterious location, God can empower those who follow His lead to overcome any challenge; to conquer any enemy.