Aerial view of Ai.

Ai, located about 10 miles north of Jerusalem, sits on a tell in a hilly region within the territory of Benjamin. A wadi, or dry riverbed, winds down from Ai eastward to Jericho. In order to conquer the well-defended Canaanite city of Ai, the Israelites came up this wadi from Jericho.

The Israelite forces marched on Ai and then feigned a withdrawal in order to draw the defenders of Ai out of the city in pursuit; then a hidden ambush force of Israelites raced into the undefended city, burned it, and turned on the pursuing men of Ai who were caught in a pincer movement—between the Israelite ambush force and the main force of Israelites who suddenly stopped fleeing and turned to attack their pursuers. See topographic plan and schematic plan.