The fourth prayer narrated by Josephus is the prayer of Joshua after the Israelites were defeated at Ai. 3000 Israelites were driven back with thirty-six losing their lives. This totally unexpected defeat occurred shortly after the tremendous victory at Jericho when the walls came down.
The Bible tells us that Joshua rent his clothes and fell to the ground upon his face in front of the ark and said: “Alas, O Lord GOD, why hast thou brought this people over the Jordan at all, to give us into the hands of the Amorites, to destroy us? Would that we had been content to dwell beyond the Jordan! O Lord, what can I say, when Israel has turned their backs before their enemies! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land will hear of it, and will surround us, and cut off our name from the earth; and what wilt thou do for thy great name?” Josh. 7:6-9. We later learn that one of the men had stolen sacred property and placed it among his possessions.
The prayer narrated by Josephus and translated by Whiston states: “We are not come thus far out of any rashness of our own, as though we thought ourselves able to subdue this land with our own weapons, but at the instigation of Moses thy servant for this purpose, because thou hast promised us, by many signs, that thou wouldst give us this land for a possession, and that thou wouldst make our army always superior in war to our enemies, and accordingly some success has already attended upon us agreeably to thy promises; but because we have now unexpectedly been foiled, and have lost some men out of our army, we are grieved at it, as fearing what thou hast promised us, and what Moses foretold us, cannot be depended on by us; and our future expectation troubles us the more, because we have met with such a disaster in this our first attempt. But do thou, O Lord, free us from these suspicions, for thou art able to find a cure for these disorders, by giving us victory, which will both take away the grief we are in at present, and prevent our distrust as to what is to come."
Josephus omits Joshua’s question (Josh. 7:9) as to what God might do for his great name if the Canaanites were to defeat Israel. Josephus adds Joshua’s fears that the Mosaic legacy will not be fulfilled while the Biblical Joshua fears this event is a threat to the fulfillment of the promises God made to Moses and the patriarchs. Josephus thus elevates Moses and downplays the promises of God.