Joshua 8:2
You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king, except that you may carry off their plunder and livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the city.

Why does God allow Joshua to keep the livestock of Ai?

  • Each city was treated differently - that was God's sovereign choice. – Dottard Mar 19 at 20:19

Deuteronomy 20:16

However, in the cities of the nations the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes.

Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth] Heb. any breath, i.e. human life (Genesis 2:7, 1 Kings 17:17, Isaiah 42:5), cp. the deuteronomic Joshua 10:40; Joshua 11:11; Joshua 11:14. Only in Genesis 7:22 does the phrase cover animals.

The treatment of Jericho was severe and different:

Joshua 6:20 When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city. 21They devoted the city to the Lord and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys.

That wasn't the norm. Joshua 11:14 was more the norm:

The Israelites carried off for themselves all the plunder and livestock of these cities, but all the people they put to the sword until they completely destroyed them, not sparing anyone that breathed.

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