Joshua 10
Benson Commentary
Now it came to pass, when Adonizedek king of Jerusalem had heard how Joshua had taken Ai, and had utterly destroyed it; as he had done to Jericho and her king, so he had done to Ai and her king; and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel, and were among them;
Joshua 10:1. Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem — Who seems to have been the most powerful prince in Canaan, and carried in his name, which signifies The Lord of righteousness, an honourable title, such as had been anciently given to the kings of this place, who had been famous for doing justice. So Melchizedek undoubtedly was, of whom we have such honourable mention, Genesis 14:18. King of Jerusalem — It is thought by many, that this city retained the name of Salem, which they suppose it had in Abraham’s time, till the Israelites came into the land of Canaan, and took possession of it, when they called it Jerusalem, from ירשׁ, Jarash, and שׁלום, Shalum, to possess peace: or from Jerus, the same as Jebus, with the change of one letter only, and Shalem, the place having belonged to the Jebusites. How the inhabitants of Gibeon — were among them — Among the Israelites, that is, were conversant with them, had submitted to their laws, and mingled interests with them.

That they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, as one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all the men thereof were mighty.
Joshua 10:2-3. They feared greatly — Namely, Adoni-zedek and his people, he being spoken of (Joshua 10:1) as a public person, representing all his people. Gibeon was — as one of the royal cities — Either really a royal city, and having a king, or equal to one of the royal cities, though it had not a king.

It seems indeed to have been governed by elders, Joshua 9:11. Adoni- zedek sent — Either because he was superior to them, or because he was nearest the danger, and most forward in the work.

Wherefore Adonizedek king of Jerusalem sent unto Hoham king of Hebron, and unto Piram king of Jarmuth, and unto Japhia king of Lachish, and unto Debir king of Eglon, saying,
Come up unto me, and help me, that we may smite Gibeon: for it hath made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel.
Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, the king of Eglon, gathered themselves together, and went up, they and all their hosts, and encamped before Gibeon, and made war against it.
Joshua 10:5. The five kings of the Amorites — This name is here taken generally for any of the Canaanites. But, strictly speaking, the citizens of Hebron were Hittites, those of Jerusalem, Jebusites, and the Gibeonites made a part of the Hivites. It is reasonably supposed that the Amorites, being numerous and victorious beyond Jordan, had poured forth colonies into the land of Canaan, subdued divers places, and so communicated their name to all the rest.

And the men of Gibeon sent unto Joshua to the camp to Gilgal, saying, Slack not thy hand from thy servants; come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us: for all the kings of the Amorites that dwell in the mountains are gathered together against us.
Joshua 10:6-7. Slack not thy hand from thy servants — Do not neglect or delay to help us, whom thou art obliged to protect both in duty, as thou art our master, and for thy own interest, we being part of thy possessions; and because we have given ourselves to thee, and put ourselves under thy protection. In the mountains — In the mountainous country. So Joshua ascended — Having no doubt asked counsel of God first, which is implied in the answer God gives him, Joshua 10:8. All the mighty men — That is, an army of the most valiant men picked out from the rest: for it is not probable either that he would take the whole army with him, consisting of so many hundreds of thousands, who would only have embarrassed and hindered one another, or that he would leave the camp without an army to defend it.

So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valour.
And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee.
Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night.
Joshua 10:9. Joshua came unto them suddenly — Though assured by God of the victory, yet he uses all prudent means. And went up from Gilgal — all night — It is not said that he went from Gilgal to Gibeon in a night’s space, but only that he travelled all night; unto which you may add part either of the foregoing or of the following day. It is true, God had promised that he would, without fail, deliver the enemies into his hand. But God’s promises are intended, not to slacken, but to quicken our endeavours. He that believeth, doth not make haste to anticipate providence; but doth make haste to attend it, with a diligent, not a distrustful speed.

And the LORD discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Bethhoron, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah.
Joshua 10:10. At Gibeon — That is, near Gibeon; for it is plain they were not in the city; and so ought we to take the particle at, in many other places of Scripture, as signifying no more than nigh unto. Along the way that goeth up to Beth-horon — That is, to the place which was afterward called by that name; for there was no such place at the time of this battle, it being built after they were settled in Canaan, as we read 1 Chronicles 7:24. And it probably was so called from the miraculous destruction which overtook the enemies of Israel here; for Beth-horon signifies the place of anger or fury. It stood upon a hill, as appears by the expression here used, of going up to Beth-horon.

And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Bethhoron, that the LORD cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.
Joshua 10:11. The Lord cast down great stones — That is, hail-stones of an extraordinary greatness, cast down with that certainty as to hit the Canaanites, and not their pursuers the Israelites. Josephus affirms that thunder and lightning were mixed with the hail, which may seem probable from Habakkuk 3:11. They had robbed the true God of his honour, by worshipping the host of heaven, and now the host of heaven fights against them, and triumphs in their ruin. Beth-horon lay north of Gibeon, Azekah and Makkedah south, so that they fled each way. But which way soever they fled, the hailstones pursued them. There is no fleeing out of the hands of God!

Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.
Joshua 10:12. Then spake Joshua — Being moved so to do out of zeal to destroy God’s enemies, and directed by the motion of God’s Spirit, and being filled with a holy confidence, that what he said would be accomplished. And he spake it in the sight — That is, in the presence and audience; of all Israel — That they might be witnesses of the fact. Sun, stand thou still — Joshua does not speak according to the terms of modern astronomy, which it would have been highly improper for him to have done, as he would not have been understood by the people that heard him, but according to the appearance of things. The sun appeared to the Israelites over Gibeon, the moon was over the valley of Ajalon, which we may suppose to be situated in a different direction; and there, in the name of God, he commanded them to continue to appear, which they did for a whole day — That is, either for the space of twelve hours, or for the time of one whole diurnal revolution. “Nothing,” we may observe in the words of Dr. Dodd, “is more common in Scripture than to express things, not according to the strict rules of philosophy, but according to their appearance, and the vulgar apprehension concerning them. For instance, Moses calls the sun and moon two great lights; but however this appellation may agree with the sun, it cannot in the same sense signify the moon, which is now well known to be but a small body, and the least of all the planets, and to have no light at all but what it borrows by a reflection of the rays of the sun; appearing to us larger than the other planets, merely because it is placed nearer to us. From this appearance it is that the Holy Scriptures give it the title of a great light. In like manner, because the sun seems to us to move, and the earth to be at rest, the Scriptures represent the latter as placed on pillars, bases, and foundations, compare the former to a bridegroom issuing from his chamber, and rejoicing as a giant, to run his course, and speak of his arising and going down, and hastening to the place from whence he arose, &c., when it is certain, that if the sun were made to revolve round the earth, the general laws of nature would thereby be violated, the harmony and proportion of the heavenly bodies destroyed, and the economy of the universe thrown into confusion and disorder. The general design of God, when he inspired the sacred writers, having been to form mankind to holiness and virtue, not to make them philosophers, it no way derogates from the respect due to the Holy Spirit, or from the consideration which the writings of those holy men merit, whose pens he directed, to suppose that, in order to accommodate themselves to the capacity, the notions, and language of the vulgar, they have purposely spoken of the phenomena of nature in terms most conformable to the testimony of the senses.” Add to this, those who are best informed in, and most assured of, the system of modern astronomy, and therefore well know that the succession of day and night is not caused by any motion of the sun and moon, but by the rotation of the earth upon its own axis; yet continually speak of the rising and setting, ascending and declining of the sun and moon, according as they appear to our senses to do. Indeed, if they spoke otherwise they would not be understood by people in general.

And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.
Joshua 10:13. And the sun stood still — God heard Joshua’s request, and gave him the thing he asked for, a prolongation of the day to near twice the length of any other day. This is the fact here attested, and this we are bound to believe on the divine testimony. But as to the manner in which this wonderful miracle was accomplished, God has not informed us; and to make inquiries concerning it would be a mere waste of time, being beyond our discovery and comprehension. Until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies — That is, till they had utterly destroyed them. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? — This book was written and made public before Joshua wrote his history, and is therefore properly alluded to here. It was probably a collection of records, or of poems, concerning the principal events of these wars, and no doubt gave a further account of this miracle. But this and some other books of these ages have long been lost, not being canonical, and therefore not preserved by the Jews with the same care wherewith they guarded their inspired writings. If it seem strange to any one that so wonderful an event as is here recorded should not be mentioned by any heathen writers, it may be answered, 1st, That many learned men have shown that there is a great appearance of its being alluded to in many of the fables of the heathen poets, and mythologists of Greece and Rome, and in the histories of the Chinese. But whether or not, it must be observed, 2d, That it is confessed by the generality of writers, heathen and others, that there is no certain history or monument in heathen authors of any thing done before the Trojan war, which happened a thousand years after Joshua’s time, and that all the ages preceding that war are termed, by the most learned heathen, the uncertain, unknown, or obscure time.

And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.
Joshua 10:14. There was no day like that — Namely in those parts of the world in which he here speaks. Vain, therefore, is that objection, that the days are longer near the northern and southern poles, where they are constantly longer at certain seasons, and that by the order of nature; whereas the length of this day was surely contingent, and granted by God in answer to Joshua’s prayer. The Lord hearkened to a man — Namely, in such a manner as to alter the course of nature, that a man might have more time to pursue and destroy his enemies. The Lord fought — This is added as the reason why God was so ready to answer Joshua’s petition, because he was resolved to fight for Israel, and that in a more than ordinary manner. We may observe here how remarkably pertinent both the miracle of the hailstones, and this of the sun’s being arrested in his course, were to the circumstances of the persons concerned in them. All nations had at this time their several tutelar deities, to whose protection they committed themselves and their country, and to whose power they imputed their successes in war. Now, the three principal deities whom the inhabitants of Canaan adored, were the sun, moon, and heavens, or air. To convince them, therefore, that the gods in whom they trusted were subject to the God of Israel, and to punish them, at the same time, for the false worship they paid them, “the Lord showered down great hailstones from the heavens, or air, which slew vast numbers of their powerful army; and then stopped the two great luminaries in their course,” which gave the Israelites time and opportunity to complete their victory over the remainder. It may be thought, perhaps, that the whole motive which induced Joshua to put up his prayer for the prolongation of the day, was only his zeal and eagerness for gaining an entire conquest over his enemies; but we cannot imagine that Joshua should, without a special intimation from heaven, have addressed unto God the prayer concerning the sun and moon, which he is recorded to have done in the sight of Israel; for of what an extravagance would he have appeared guilty, if an effect had not been given to what he asked for? Or how could he be so wild as to think of an accomplishment of so strange an expectation as this would have been, had it been only a thought of his own heart to wish for it? But unquestionably the same Lord who spake unto him before the battle, who bade him not fear the armies of the Canaanites, who assured him that they should not be able to stand before him, directed him to ask for this wonderful miracle, and in granting what he asked for, gave a full testimony, both to the Israelites and their enemies, that the gods of the heathen were but idols, and that it is the Lord that made (and that ruleth in) the heavens.

And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.
Joshua 10:15. And Joshua returned — Not immediately, but after he had performed what is related in the following part of this chapter, as appears by Joshua 10:43, where the very same words are repeated.

But these five kings fled, and hid themselves in a cave at Makkedah.
Joshua 10:16. These five kings — hid themselves in a cave — A place of the greatest secrecy; but there is no escaping the eye or hand of God, who here brought them into a net of their own making. At — Hebrew, in, Makkedah — Not in the city, for that was not yet taken; but in the territory of it.

And it was told Joshua, saying, The five kings are found hid in a cave at Makkedah.
And Joshua said, Roll great stones upon the mouth of the cave, and set men by it for to keep them:
And stay ye not, but pursue after your enemies, and smite the hindmost of them; suffer them not to enter into their cities: for the LORD your God hath delivered them into your hand.
Joshua 10:19. Suffer them not to enter their cities — Whereby they would have recovered their strength, and renewed the war. God hath delivered them — Your work will be easy; God hath already done the work to your hands.

And it came to pass, when Joshua and the children of Israel had made an end of slaying them with a very great slaughter, till they were consumed, that the rest which remained of them entered into fenced cities.
Joshua 10:20-21. Joshua and the children of Israel — Rather, the children of Israel, by the command of Joshua; for Joshua himself went not with them, but abode at the siege before Makkedah. And all the people returned to the camp — To the body of the army, who were encamped there with Joshua, to besiege that place. In peace — That is, in safety; all that detachment sent to pursue the enemies came back safe to the camp; not a man of them was lost, or so much as wounded. None moved his tongue — Not only their men of war could not find their hands, but they were so confounded that they could not move their tongues to reproach any of the children of Israel, as doubtless they did when the Israelites were first repulsed and smitten at Ai: but now they were silenced as well as conquered.

And all the people returned to the camp to Joshua at Makkedah in peace: none moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel.
Then said Joshua, Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings unto me out of the cave.
And they did so, and brought forth those five kings unto him out of the cave, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon.
And it came to pass, when they brought out those kings unto Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said unto the captains of the men of war which went with him, Come near, put your feet upon the necks of these kings. And they came near, and put their feet upon the necks of them.
Joshua 10:24. Put your feet on the necks, &c. — This he commanded, not in insolence and pride, but in token that these kings and their countries were brought into an absolute subjection to the Israelites, that God had fulfilled his promise in part, (Deuteronomy 33:29,) and to assure his captains that he would completely fulfil it, and subdue the proudest of their enemies under their feet.

And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom ye fight.
And afterward Joshua smote them, and slew them, and hanged them on five trees: and they were hanging upon the trees until the evening.
And it came to pass at the time of the going down of the sun, that Joshua commanded, and they took them down off the trees, and cast them into the cave wherein they had been hid, and laid great stones in the cave's mouth, which remain until this very day.
Joshua 10:27-29. They took them down — That neither wild beasts might come to devour them, nor any of their people to give them honourable burial. Thus, that which they thought would have been their shelter was made their prison first, and then their grave. So shall we surely be disappointed, in whatever we flee to from God. And that day — On which the sun stood still. Nor is it strange that so much work was done, and places so far distant were taken in one day, when the day was so long, and the Canaanites struck with such a terror. He let none remain — From the severity wherewith this and the following cities were treated, and the command given, (Deuteronomy 20:10,) it has been inferred, with much probability, that offers of peace had been made them by Joshua before he fought against them, and that they had rejected these offers. All Israel with him unto Libnah — Namely, all who were with him in this expedition.

And that day Joshua took Makkedah, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof he utterly destroyed, them, and all the souls that were therein; he let none remain: and he did to the king of Makkedah as he did unto the king of Jericho.
Then Joshua passed from Makkedah, and all Israel with him, unto Libnah, and fought against Libnah:
And the LORD delivered it also, and the king thereof, into the hand of Israel; and he smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein; he let none remain in it; but did unto the king thereof as he did unto the king of Jericho.
And Joshua passed from Libnah, and all Israel with him, unto Lachish, and encamped against it, and fought against it:
And the LORD delivered Lachish into the hand of Israel, which took it on the second day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein, according to all that he had done to Libnah.
Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua smote him and his people, until he had left him none remaining.
And from Lachish Joshua passed unto Eglon, and all Israel with him; and they encamped against it, and fought against it:
And they took it on that day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein he utterly destroyed that day, according to all that he had done to Lachish.
Joshua 10:35-37. They took it on that day — On which they first attempted it. Unto Hebron — The conquest of Hebron, here generally related, is afterward repeated, and more particularly described, chap. Joshua 15:13-14. And the king thereof — Their former king was one of the five whom Joshua had lately killed and hanged, but it seems they had now set up a new sovereign, their city being of great note, since it had other cities depending on it, and subject to its jurisdiction, as appears from the next words.

And Joshua went up from Eglon, and all Israel with him, unto Hebron; and they fought against it:
And they took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof, and all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining, according to all that he had done to Eglon; but destroyed it utterly, and all the souls that were therein.
And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir; and fought against it:
Joshua 10:38. Joshua returned — to Debir — Joshua had not been there before, but having advanced as far south and west as he thought expedient, even as far as Gaza, which was in the western coast, (Joshua 10:41,) he now returned toward the camp at Gilgal, which was north-east from him, and in his march thither took Debir, which afterward was a city of Judah, (Joshua 15:49,) and one of the cities of the priests, Joshua 21:15.

And he took it, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof; and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining: as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir, and to the king thereof; as he had done also to Libnah, and to her king.
So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded.
Joshua 10:40. All that breathed — That is, all mankind; they reserved the cattle for their own uses. As God had commanded — This is added for the vindication of the Israelites, whom God would not have to suffer in their reputation for executing his commands; and therefore, he acquits them of that cruelty which they might be thought guilty of, and ascribes it to his own just indignation. And hereby was typified the final destruction of all the impenitent enemies of the Lord Jesus, who, having slighted the riches of his grace, must for ever feel the weight of his wrath.

And Joshua smote them from Kadeshbarnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon.
Joshua 10:41. From Kadesh-barnea — Which lay in the south of Canaan, (Numbers 34:4; Deuteronomy 1:19,) and belonged to the tribe of Judah, Joshua 15:3. Gaza was a city of the Philistines, in the south-west part. So he here signifies that Joshua did, in this expedition, subdue all those parts which lay south and west from Gilgal. All the country of Goshen — There was a city in the tribe of Judah of this name, which, like Hebron, was situated in the mountains, in the southern part of the country, (Joshua 15:51,) from which city the adjacent region was called the country of Goshen. This tract was enriched with excellent pasture lands and plenteous streams, like that country in Egypt of the same denomination, and thence was called Goshen, as Pellicanus conjectures; because the Hebrew word geshem signifies copious showers, which impart fertility to the earth. Even unto Gibeon — Which was in the more northerly part of the country. And therefore, as the former account specified the conquests of Joshua from the south to the west, so here his conquests from the south to the north are related.

And all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel.
And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.
Benson Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

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