Joshua 10:11
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 on them to Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.
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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!10:7-14 The meanest and most feeble, who have just begun to trust the Lord, are as much entitled to be protected as those who have long and faithfully been his servants. It is our duty to defend the afflicted, who, like the Gibeonites, are brought into trouble on our account, or for the sake of the gospel. Joshua would not forsake his new vassals. How much less shall our true Joshua fail those who trust in Him! We may be wanting in our trust, but our trust never can want success. Yet God's promises are not to slacken and do away, but to quicken and encourage our endeavours. Notice the great faith of Joshua, and the power of God answering it by the miraculous staying of the sun, that the day of Israel's victories might be made longer. Joshua acted on this occasion by impulse on his mind from the Spirit of God. It was not necessary that Joshua should speak, or the miracle be recorded, according to the modern terms of astronomy. The sun appeared to the Israelites over Gibeon, and the moon over the valley of Ajalon, and there they appeared to be stopped on their course for one whole day. Is any thing too hard for the Lord? forms a sufficient answer to ten thousand difficulties, which objectors have in every age started against the truth of God as revealed in his written word. Proclamation was hereby made to the neighbouring nations, Behold the works of the Lord, and say, What nation is there so great as Israel, who has God so nigh unto them?Compare Ecclesiasticus 46:6. Frightful storms occasionally sweep over the hills of Judaea; but this was evidently a miraculous occurrence, like the hail which smote Egypt Exodus 9:24 and the tempest which fell on the Philistines at Ebenezer 1 Samuel 7:10. Jos 10:10, 11. God Fights against Them with Hailstones.

10, 11. the Lord discomfited them—Hebrew, "terrified," confounded the Amorite allies, probably by a fearful storm of lightning and thunder. So the word is usually employed (1Sa 7:10; Ps 18:13; 144:6).

and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon—This refers to the attack of the Israelites upon the besiegers. It is evident that there had been much hard fighting around the heights of Gibeon, for the day was far spent before the enemy took to flight.

chased them along the way that goeth up to Beth-horon—that is, "the House of Caves," of which there are still traces existing. There were two contiguous villages of that name, upper and nether. Upper Beth-horon was nearest Gibeon—about ten miles distant, and approached by a gradual ascent through a long and precipitous ravine. This was the first stage of the flight. The fugitives had crossed the high ridge of Upper Beth-horon, and were in full flight down the descent to Beth-horon the Nether. The road between the two places is so rocky and rugged that there is a path made by means of steps cut in the rock [Robinson]. Down this pass Joshua continued his victorious rout. Here it was that the Lord interposed, assisting His people by means of a storm, which, having been probably gathering all day, burst with such irresistible fury, that "they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword." The Oriental hailstorm is a terrific agent; the hailstones are masses of ice, large as walnuts, and sometimes as two fists; their prodigious size, and the violence with which they fall, make them always very injurious to property, and often fatal to life. The miraculous feature of this tempest, which fell on the Amorite army, was the entire preservation of the Israelites from its destructive ravages.

Great stones, i.e. hailstones of extraordinary greatness and hardness, cast down with that certainty as to hit the Canaanites, and not their pursuers the Israelites, and with that force as to kill them. Josephus affirms that thunder and lightning were mixed with the hail, which may seem probable from Habakkuk 3:11. And it came to pass, as they fled before Israel, and were in the going down to Bethhoron,.... The descent of it on that side towards Azekah, and which was also a very narrow passage, of which Josephus (s) makes mention. The Jews say (t), that the going down of Bethhoron was the place where the army of Sennacherib fell:

that the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died; the Septuagint version calls them hailstones; and so they are called in the next clause; and that such sometimes have fallen as to kill men and cattle, is certain from the plague of hail in Egypt, Exodus 9:19; and some in very late times (u) have been known to fall, which were from eight, nine, and twelve inches about, some bigger than the eggs of turkeys, and some half a pound weight; see Gill on Revelation 16:21; but these seem to be proper stones, such as did not melt away as hailstones do; though so called, because they fell from heaven, as they do, but remained, and still remain, according to the notion the Jews have of them; for they say (w) whoever sees these great stones, in the going down to Bethhoron, is bound to bless; and frequent mention is made by historians of showers of stones being rained. Livy (x) speaks of such a shower when King Tullus conquered the Sabines; and of another (y), when Scipio succeeded at Carthage; and Pomponius Mela (z) relates, that when Hercules fought with the sons of Neptune, and darts failed him, he obtained of Jupiter to rains shower of stones, which lay spread in great abundance; and some (a) think it refers to this fact in Joshua's time, who is supposed to be the same with the Tyrian Hercules (b), from hence also called Saxanus (c); and in memory of this there are stony camps in various places, called by his name (d):

they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword; but what was the number of each of them is not said; it was doubtless very great, since there was an utter destruction and consumption of them, Joshua 10:20.

(s) De Bello Jud. l. 2. c. 19. sect. 7, 8. (t) Gloss. in T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 54. 2.((u) Vid. Louthorp. Abridg. Philosoph. vol. 2. p. 144, 146. (w) T. Bab. Betacot, fol. 54. 1.((x) L. 1. p. 17. (y) L. 30. c. 30. (z) De Orbis Situ, l. 2. c. 5. (a) Vossius de Origin. Idol. c. 1. sect. 16. (b) See Gale's Court of the Gentiles, l. 2. c. 5. (c) Dickins. Delph. Phoenic. c. 4. p. 42. (d) Sanford de Descens. Christi, l. 1. sect. 20. p. 35.

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 {d} hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.

(d) So we see that all things serve to execute God's vengeance against the wicked.

11. were in the going down to Beth-horon] This was the second stage in the flight. The Amorite host had gained the height before their pursuers, and were hurrying down the pass of nether Beth-horon, “a rough, rocky road, sometimes over the upturned edges of the limestone strata, sometimes over sheets of smooth rock, sometimes over loose rectangular stones, sometimes over steps cut in the rock” (Stanley’s Lectures, 1:242), when

the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them] As afterwards in the great fight of Barak against Sisera (Jdg 5:20), one of the fearful tempests, which from time to time sweep over the hills of Palestine, burst upon the disordered army, and hailstones of enormous size fell upon their shattered ranks.

they were moe which died with hailstones] Some have explained these as meteoric stones, but it was rather a fearful storm, “thunder, lightning, and a deluge of hail,” Jos. Ant. 5:1. 17. “By a very similar mischance the Austrians were overtaken in 1859 at the battle of Solferino.” Even ordinary hailstones in Syria are often of enormous size. “I have seen some that measured two inches in diameter; but sometimes irregularly shaped pieces are found among them weighing alone twenty drams.” Russell’s Natural History of Aleppo, 1:76. “During a storm at Constantinople in 1831, many of the hailstones, or rather masses of ice, weighed from half a pound to above a pound. Under this tremendous fall, the roofs of houses were beaten in, trees were stripped of their leaves and branches, many persons who could not soon enough find shelter were killed, animals were slain, and limbs were broken. In fact, none who know the tremendous power which the hailstones of the East sometimes exhibit, will question, as some have questioned, the possibility that any hail could produce the effect described.” Kitto’s Bible Illustrations, II. p. 293.

they were moe] “and ben deed man ye mo with stonus of haiul, than whom with swerd had smyten the sons of Yrael,” Wyclif. In the edition of 1611, “moe” is the comparative of “many,” and is altered to “more” in the later editions. Compare

“For elles hadde I dweld with Theseus

I-fetered in his prisoun for ever moo.”

Chaucer, Knight’s Tale, 1231.

Bru. “Is he alone?

Lu. No, sir, there are moe with him.”

Shakespeare, Jul. Cœs. 2:1. 71.Verse 11. - Great stones from heaven. Calmet has taken great trouble to collect evidence for showers of actual stones from heaven upon the enemies of Israel. But the next sentence of the verse states that they were hailstones, אַבְנֵי בָרָד. And even if there were not sufficient evidence of the fall of hailstones large enough to do great destruction to man and beast, we might fall back upon the theory that this was a miraculous hailstorm, since the whole history teems with miraculous intervention. But in point of fact this is unnecessary. We need not go further back than the famous storm of August 2nd, 1879, for an account of hailstones of enormous size falling within fifty miles of London. And in tropical climates still more destructive storms are of no infrequent occurrence. Every treatise on physical geography teems with instances. Masius refers to the well known story of the relief afforded by a sudden shower to Marcus Aurelius and his army, which he follows Eusebius in thinking attributable to Christian prayers, but which the emperor, in a medal struck on the occasion, attributed to Jupiter Pluvius (see Neander, 'Hist. of Christian Church,' vol. 1.). He also fcites the verses of Claudian on a similar victory of Theodosius:

"O nimium dilecte Deo, tibi militat aether
Et conjurati veniunt ad praelia venti."
They were more which died with hailstones. A conclusive proof, both to the Israelites and their antagonists, that the victory was owing rather to the favour of God than to the power of man, and suggesting the exclamation of the Psalmist, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Thy Name give glory" (Psalm 115:1). See also Deuteronomy 9:4, 5. It is, perhaps, worth while to remark that the printers have modernized this passage. For more the original edition has moe; cf. Shakspeare's ' Lover's Complaint,' line 47 - "Found yet mo letters sadly penned in blood." "Faith and troth they would no mo" (Greene, 'Shepherd's Ode '). These five kings marched against Gibeon and besieged the town. The king of Jerusalem headed the expedition, as his town was so near to Gibeon that he was the first to fear an attack from the Israelites.
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