Joshua: Chapter 10 - The Tale of Five Cities

Bible Study @ Hurst Gospel Hall

Author: John Whitmarsh
Added: 2009-07-25

We have been working through the book verse by verse and have noted that the enemy does not always manifest itself in the same way.



At Jericho the children of Israel were able to march unhindered around the wall. They did so a total of thirteen times. There was more fear within the city than without. At the shout the walls tumbled down. There was no real battle although we must remember what 6.21 says, 'And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.'



At Ai there had been bravery in that the citizens of that city had moved outside its walls to kill 36 men and send Israel packing. The only reason that they succeeded in this ploy was because of the failure of God's people in the matter of the cursed thing at Jericho. As soon as this matter was dealt with then Ai could charge as much as it liked and it was going to fail. We must also remember that with Ai the spoil could be taken, 'And thou shalt do to Ai and her king as thou didst to Jericho and her king: only the spoil thereof, and the cattle thereof, shall ye take for a prey unto yourselves...' Joshua 8.2



Gibeon did not wish to enter into a fight at all and the method their inhabitants used was deceit. They no doubt thought that it was better to be slaves (they eventually became hewers of wood and drawers of water) and be alive than try to resist and be dead.



In chapter 10 there is a confederacy between five cities rather than the tribal unison seen at the beginning of chapter 9. Presumably the thought was that there was safety in numbers. An individual city was not going to win and would soon become part of the territory belonging to Israel. But what would happen if there were more than one city joining forces? To a certain extent this had been seen in the conquest of Ai as the men of Bethel joined those at Ai (8.17).



The five cities were at enmity with the Gibeonites in the first instance. The children of Israel were implicated as a direct result of them allowing the Gibeonites to make peace with them. Deceit and falling for the deceit had their ramifications.



The unity among the five cities and the way by which they were destroyed must have lessons for our age. In what sense do the five cities or five kings speak of the enemy that we face in 2008? It is this question that demands an answer as the scriptures written long ago were written for our learning now.



Perhaps it is that the chapter can be divided into two sections each ending with the statement, 'And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp at Gilgal.' (verses 15 and 43). In the first section the enemies are dealt with primarily by the Lord, '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. 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.' The last clause of the section before the statement about Joshua's return reads, 'The Lord fought for Israel.'



Having dealt with the five kings there were cities to destroy. The phrase edge of the sword (it should read 'mouth of the sword') is oft repeated - verses 28, 30, 32, 37, 38). There were no hailstones to help now. It was not God who was doing the chasing. It was not God who was doing the smiting. The edge of the sword was used. Joshua was the one said to be the one smiting the enemy. It is true that this same phrase, the Lord fought for Israel, occurs as the penultimate phrase in the chapter. However, there is a great emphasis on Joshua telling the people to pursue after their enemies and not to allow them to enter into their cities having incarcerated the five kings (verse 19). They were not to let up in this task.



Thus these two aspects stand side by side in the chapter. It is as if the enemies have conspired to see if they can overcome Gibeon in the first instance but really the fight is against Joshua and the people of Israel. The defeat of these oppressors is two fold. One is predominately where the Lord fights on the people's behalf and does things that have no power to do. The other is where the Lord helps Joshua and the people as they see to it that the cities are destroyed. If we like there is the one aspect where God fights for us and the other where He fights with us. In all of these things it is true to say that God fights for us and helps us but there is an element of responsibility in the second part of the chapter.



Is it not true that sometimes the forces of evil gang up against the child of God and that the attack may be obtuse to begin with? Sometimes these forces are too great for us to be able to cope with and we are in great need of supernatural help and intervention to be able to subdue and control this evil. Perhaps the evil is unseen and we do not know what it is that is arrayed against us. He knows and has the power to be able to deal with the problem. But then there is, at times, the situation where we have to see to it that these many forces of evil that we can see present in our lives need to be destroyed and we need to do that with the Lord's help or else these things will be constantly present to tempt and annoy.



10:1 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;



Chapter 9.1-2 should be read in association with the verses to be found in Joshua 10. It is indicated there that there was a league between the different tribes or nations. In chapter 10 the league is between different the kings of five cities belonging to the one tribe, the Amorites (see verse 5).



The question was asked, 'Why does the Canaanitish king have a spiritual sounding name?' The name Adonizedek means 'my lord is righteous'. Adonizedek was a Canaanitish king and yet his name appears to have some connection with the true God. It is conceivable that he was called such a name because it was thought that the god/s that his people worshipped were righteous. Does he represent a form of godliness but denying the power thereof?



Jerusalem is defined as the chief city of Palestine and capital of the united kingdom and then the nation of Judah after the split of the twelve tribes into ten northern tribes and two southern ones. This is the first mention of Jerusalem in the scriptures. The name Jerusalem has to do with peace as this is the meaning of the last part of the name. There is much discussion as to the meaning of the first part of the name. Some say 'teaching of', others ''foundation of', others 'possession of'. It is understood that the name of Jerusalem was Jebus at the first (Judges 19.10 and 11, I Chronicles 11.4-5, Joshua 18.16 and 28 (Jebusi)) and that this was the principal 'city' of the tribe of the Jebusites. The king of Jerusalem is referred to as one of the kings of the Amorites in verse 5.



News of what happened with the Jerichoites, those at Ai and the Gibeonites must have travelled fast for the king of Jerusalem was well briefed. 6.27 says, 'So the Lord was with Joshua: and his fame was noised throughout all the country.'



10:2 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.



The notes in chapter 9 said this of Gibeon - Gibeon was a Levitical city of Benjamin, modern 'el-Jib', which lies 5-6 miles or 8 km in a northerly direction from Jerusalem. The name means 'hill city'. It appears from verse 7 of this chapter that the inhabitants of the city belonged to Hivite tribe. The city was allotted to Benjamin and set apart for the Levites (Joshua 18.25 and 21.17).



Notice 'feared greatly', 'great city', 'greater than Ai' and 'mighty'. This is the first mention of the might of Gibeon. The narrative in chapter 9 does not suggest that the Gibeonites were a mighty people. They were a desperate people by the description that we are given. But this chapter lets us know more. The word for 'greatly' is different from 'great' and 'greater' (same word) used to describe the cities (Gibeon and Ai). The word for 'mighty' is yet another word meaning strong, mighty and brave.



Why should they have been afraid? Did Gibeon have any plans to attack them? Had they not capitulated to the children of Israel and gone over to them without a fight? Was it that they feared the children of Israel for if this great city, greater even than Ai that had at least killed 36 men, and full of brave men, had defected to Israel then Israel must be powerful?



10:3 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,



This is the only mention of Hoham in the scriptures. The name means 'whom Jehovah impels'. Again this is a spiritual sounding name even though this man was a Canaanitish king. Hebron means 'association'. Hoham was a city in south Judah approx 20 miles south of Jerusalem and approx 20 miles (30 km) north of Beersheba and near where Abraham built an altar. It had a history that included connections with spiritual people. Whether some of that influence had rubbed off is not known. We must remember that Abraham had been alive about five hundred years before this event.



Piram means 'like a wild ass' and was the Amorite king of Jarmuth, meaning 'heights'. At the time of the conquest this Jarmuth was a Canaanitish city in the lowlands of Judah and located between Hebron and Lachish but to the north west of Hebron. Lachish is to the west of Hebron.



Japhia means 'shining'. Lachish means 'invincible'. Debir means 'sanctuary'. Eglon means 'calf-like'. It was close to Lachish.



It was not felt that much could be gleaned from the names of the kings. What was noted was that all the kings were reasonably close to each other and to the south of Jerusalem with Gibeon being slightly to the north of Jerusalem. It was felt that they formed a coalition to protect the valuable trade route that was present and fed up the backbone of the country.



10:4 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.



The proposed fight was against the Gibeonites and not against the children of Israel. They had capitulated and, presumably as far as the king of Jerusalem was concerned, broken ranks though we do not read of their being any special league that included Gibeon. This is the second time that we have read of Gibeon making peace in this chapter. It grieved the king of Jerusalem that one of its near neighbours had formed an alliance, albeit by dubious means, with what he considered to be the enemy. There is something else to be said about the observation and statement that is made of the Gibeonites making peace with Joshua. If the Gibeonites were at peace with Joshua then surely they had the right to ask Joshua to help them in this intertribal dispute and confrontation.



It may be reading too much into the text to say that the king of Jerusalem, Adonizedek, calculated that any battle with the Gibeonites could well have involved Joshua and the children of Israel. It may well be that he thought that there was safety in numbers in any dispute with Gibeon and that Joshua and his men did not come into his thinking but the mention of Joshua in the statement ('for it hath (hath and not had) made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel') that was made to the four kings suggests otherwise. Also did he need to call upon the four kings to help him to defeat Gibeon? The situation was fraught with danger not because of the Gibeonites but because he had heard of the children of Israel's exploits. If Joshua and his men became involved then he would have needed all the help that he could get. He could not go alone.



10:5 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.



Whatever the case the 4 kings acceded to his request and joined each other. Together they went up (same word as 'ascended' in verse 7, and 'went up' in verse 9) and made a camp before Gibeon and made war against it. The camp came first; the war came afterwards. In between times the events recorded in verses 7-9 took place.



10:6 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.



As the king of Jerusalem had sent to his four friends to help him so the Gibeonites sent to Joshua at Gilgal and asked him to come quickly as they were under threat from the men of the coalition. The idea in the phrase 'slack not' is not to relax. The request was threefold - come quickly, save us and help us. It is interesting that the Gibeonites described the kings of the Amorites as those who lived in the mountains. Verse 5 has said that the kings went up, that is, they ascended. This may well mean that they went up country for they certainly headed northwards.



10:7 So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valour.



Joshua ascended from Gilgal and all the people of war with him. This surely means that they physically ascended from Gilgal towards Gibeon. It should be pointed out that it is a physical ascent from Gilgal to just about anywhere in the land. He had not at this stage received any specific instruction from the Lord to go to this battle but there does not appear to be any condemnation of him being involved in an intertribal dispute. In fact the next verse expresses God's blessing on the situation. The only thing that we thought was remarkable is that verse 7 precedes verse 8. It is as if Joshua puts his foot forward and then God steps in to give him the message not to fear. Maybe it is that we have to do that sometimes as far as Christian things are concerned without running ahead of our God. Perhaps there is a need in certain circumstances to put our best foot forward, to step out in faith, and to see God step in to bless.



That said there are surely lessons to be learnt. If there had been less haste and response to pressure from the Gibeonites then they would not have been able to bring off a successful, from their point of view, conclusion to their deceit. Having made peace with the Israelites, Joshua is duty bound to assist them in their battle with the five kings. It may well have been that the battle would have taken place anyway but Joshua is drawn into something that is a matter of honour. There is little control in this situation. There are times in our Christian experience when we make hasty decisions the ramifications of which last a very long time afterwards and draw us into situations over which we have little or no control. How good it is of our God that, as with Joshua here, He does not hold our weakness from a previous occasion against us but is prepared to help us in these difficulties and, as in this case, turn the situation to our advantage.



10:8 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.



It would appear from the amount of times that God tells Joshua not to fear that fear was a big problem. It certainly would seem that way by an analysis of the number of times that fear and being afraid appear in the scriptures. Fear is a great problem to any human being and Christians are not shielded from that. Fear has to be managed and in many ways defeated. Sometimes the fear is good as it is fear, in the sense of reverential fear, of God. But often God has to say to His people, 'Fear not.' This has happened with Joshua in chapter 1. Joshua was one of the two spies who came back with the good report. He had seen the grapes rather than the giants but he is still told not to be afraid. The people of God took courage from the message passed onto them from Joshua as he repeated what he had heard of the Lord and the people won the battle at Jericho. In chapter 7 God does not tell Joshua not to be afraid before the battle of Ai even though and because there was every reason for him to be afraid. This was due to Achan's sin though Joshua did not know about it and did not know to be afraid. It is only when the matter is put right and Joshua, understandably, has lost confidence in the people of God, that God tells him not to be afraid. The battle of Ai is won. Now there was another battle. This was one was with five colluding cities and this experience had not been encountered before. This was a new experience and there were new fears. There was a need for Joshua not to be afraid and not to show fear to those who were around him. God spoke with Joshua again and gave him the assurance that he needed to fight the foe. Every time thus far in the book that the Lord has spoken words of peace, comfort and courage to Joshua there has been an immediate victory. If we wish to know victory in our lives then, similarly, we will need to hear the words of comfort that the Lord has supplied in His word before we enter the battle.



10:9 Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night.



Joshua responded as the Gibeonites intended (see verse 6) and came suddenly. To do so meant a night time march from Gilgal to Gibeon. Joshua must have known what to do for this had taken place before when the 30,000 were sent to Ai (8.3). There was an element of surprise associated with the arrival of Joshua and his men. The text says that he came unto them suddenly rather than quickly (see the request in verse 6). The distance from Gilgal to Gibeon is not quite 20 miles as the crow flies. At 4 miles per hour that makes five hours solid marching and all this at night. There was the suggestion made that chapter 9 verse 17 indicates that the journey from Gilgal to Gibeon (or vice versa as in the previous verses in that chapter) was a three day journey. Just over six miles in a day seems a small amount but the terrain may have been difficult. This journey had to be done at dead of night by men prepared for battle.



10:10 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.



There does not seem to be a break in between the arrival of Joshua and the troops and the battle against the five kings. There is no mention of Joshua and his men being victorious. The text says that the Lord discomfited them and slew them and chased them and smote them. The word for discomfit means to trouble, to vex and confuse. It can also be rendered to move noisily. Of the 143 times that the word for 'chase' is mentioned in scripture 74 of them are translated as pursue. The word may also be translated by persecute. The Lord did this according to this verse. The next verse may say that the people fled from before Israel but it was the Lord who chased them according to verse 10. It was the Lord who smote and slew them as well.



Bethhoron means 'house of hollowness' and is a town on the mountains of Ephraim to the north west of Gibeon; Azekah means 'dug over' and is a town in the lowlands of what was to become Judah; Makkedah is located near to Libnah to the south west of Jerusalem. This piece of information is very important because, although the initial chase was further to the north, they were eventually making their way back to their own territory.



The word for 'going up' is different from that in the previous verse - 'went up'. It means a small incline. They were on the run and as they did so they came to a part where they had to climb a certain amount. They were chased there and smitten as they, no doubt, descended to the lowlands.



The word for 'great' is the same as that used to describe Gibeon and Ai in verse 2.



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 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.



Verse 10 speaks of going up to Bethhoron and the next verse of going down to Bethhoron. It is well known that there is an upper and a lower Bethhoron. Whatever the topography the incident took place in the region of Bethhoron and probably on the descent to Azekah. They were being chased to the north west of Gibeon which in itself was to the north of their own territory. They were being chased away from their fenced cities. The word for 'great' is the same as that used in the previous verse and twice over in verse 2. The word used for 'stones' in the earlier part of the verse is that used for hail stones in the later part of the same verse. Of the 272 times that this word appears in the scriptures there are only five occasions when it is translated 'hailstones'. One of these is here.



Job 38.22-23 says, 'Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? Or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail? Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?' What a strange pair of questions. The suggestion is that snow and hail are reserved against the day of battle. Hailstones were certainly used on this day and large, great, hailstones at that. The hailstones fell on the Amorites and not on the children of Israel as far as we read. The text says, 'they died' - they being the ones who had fled before Israel. When the hailstones came as one of the plagues in Egypt it was only Egyptians who were killed. The same is true here as far as we know.



The last phrase in the verse is highly significant. Israel was chasing the Amorites but over and above that God was doing so. What took place was a supernatural event that resulted in more deaths as a result of the hail than the sword.



10:12 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.



The following is reproduced with kind permission from the author and taken from http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/stewart.cfm?ID=625 on 040109. It summarises the views that are held for the explanation of what took place that day and is reproduced for that very reason.




Brought to you with permission of Don Stewart, the Bible Explorer


Did the Sun Actually Stand Still in Joshua's Long Day?



Whenever the subject arises concerning biblical events and their relationship to science, the story of Joshua and the sun standing still is usually brought up. It is one of the favourite texts of unbelievers to demonstrate the ignorance of the writers of Scripture. Sun Stood Still In the tenth chapter of the Book of Joshua the following account is recorded:


Then Joshua spoke 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 still over Gibeon; and Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon. So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the people had revenge upon their enemies. Is this not written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hastened to go down for about a whole day. And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded a voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel (Joshua 10:12-14).


We know that the sun does not move around the earth causing day and night but rather the earth revolves around the sun. Why did Joshua address the sun rather than the earth? Did he believe the sun actually moved? Language Of Appearance As we have already mentioned, Scripture speaks in the language of appearance, the language of observation. From our point of view here on earth the sun does rise in the morning and set at night. From that vantage point Joshua addresses the sun with his request. Marten Woodstra, Old Testament authority, writes: The language that Joshua uses in addressing the sun and moon is the language of ordinary observation still used today in the scientific age. Probably Joshua and his contemporaries thought of the sun as moving around the earth, but his language should not be pressed to construct a "view of the universe" any more than should today's reference to the rising and setting of the sun (Marten Woodstra, The Book of Joshua, Grand Rapids, Eerdmans: 1981, p. 175). Scientifically Accurate? Some people feel that Joshua made a scientifically accurate request. We might say, "How little Joshua knew." But he knew his God! He knew that God had promised to go before His people to fight their battles and give them victory (Joshua 10:8). And in this battle he saw victory in its grasp, but time was running out. If he didn't conquer the enemy before dark, they would regroup and attack Israel the next day. Knowing his God, his God's power, and his God's promise, he called out to God for help, and in the presence of all Israel, he commanded the "sun to stand still." But the sun was already standing still, Joshua. It is the earth that moves, not the sun. Why didn't Joshua cry out, "Earth quit moving," or "Earth, slow down your spinning on your axis to prolong time." Joshua had no idea that his command slowed down 6.6 sextrillion tons of spinning gravel and water to give Israel victory over her enemies. But Joshua did know something that God had revealed to him. Over 3,000 years ago he said something that would have met the approval of today's scientific establishment. His command in the Hebrew language was not "Sun, stand thou still," but "Sun, cease acting, or "Sun, stop working." It was then that the gravitational pull of the sun affected the earth. It was then the earth began to slow down and the day was lengthened (Robert Boyd, Boyd's Bible Handbook, Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 1983 p. 124). This argument is rather weak. It is not necessary to assume Joshua was scientifically sophisticated. It is more likely that God honoured the spirit of his request than to assume Joshua had some scientific insight that was not shared by the people of his day. Long Day Legends? Some have argued that evidence for this long day is found in other cultures: It is interesting to note that parallel accounts in the records of other nations show that the incident of "Joshua's Long Day" is not an isolated one. There is indisputable evidence from the modern science of ethnology that such an event occurred as Joshua records. In the ancient Chinese writings there is a legend of a long day. The Incas of Peru and the Aztecs of Mexico have a like record. There is a Babylonian and Persian legend of a day that was miraculously extended. Herodotus, an ancient historian, recounts that while in Egypt, priest showed him their temple records, and that he read of a day which was twice the natural length of any day that had ever been recorded (Robert Boyd, Boyd's Bible Handbook, pp. 122,123). This, however, does not seem to be the case. The record of the long day has been much debated. Parallels have been found in Chinese, Egyptian and Mexican stories, but these will not coincide with the date or time of day (E.W. Maunder, JTVI, 1921, pp. 120-148); and an astronomical aberration would not have gone unrecorded in Babylon (John Lilley, The New Laymans Bible Commentary, G.C.D. Howley, F.F. Bruce, H.L. Ellison, eds., Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1979, pp. 320,321). Many Questions There are many questions that this account brings up. How are we to understand the phrase, "the sun stood still?" What was the nature of Joshua's command? Did he want more sunlight or less sunlight? Did he need more time to win the battle or did he need relief from the heat of the sun? If the earth actually stopped rotating for 24 hours would not incredible catastrophe occur to everything upon the planet? Background Before we examine the various views, it is important to know something of the background of the event. Joshua's army had marched all night from Gilgal to Gibeon, a distance of twenty miles, to do battle with their enemies. Joshua needed the battle time prolonged because five strong kings had brought out their armies to fight his army in the open country. Joshua had the enemy on the run and he did not want them to get back to their fortified cities. More time was needed for his troops to catch them. To prevent their return more daylight was needed. Hence, he asked God to lengthen the day. Sun Stopped The text does say that the sun stopped. The Hebrew uses two words daman and amad which have the idea "to stop." The word translated stand still (Heb dom) means literally to be silent and frequently has the sense cease or leave off (cf. Ps. 35:15; La. 2:18). Similarly the word translated stayed (Heb amad), stood still in v. 13b, has the sense of cease (cf. 2 Ki. 4:6; Jon. 1:15) (Hugh J. Blair, "Joshua," The New Bible Commentary Revised, D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer, A.M. Stibbs, D.J. Wiseman eds., Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, Third Edition, 1970, p. 244). The fact that Joshua asked the sun to stop is not the issue. The question is, "In what sense did the sun stop?" What Happened? Joshua gave the command for the sun to "stand still." There have been a number of ways in which commentators have sought to understand what occurred: 1. The passage is poetical and not to be understood literally. 2. The sun "standing still" refers to an eclipse of the sun. 3. The earth actually stopped its rotation around the sun for almost twenty-four hours per Joshua's request. 4. The earth's rotation was slowed down, not stopped. This lengthened the day by almost twenty-four hours. 5. The sun and moon appeared to be out of their regular place by a supernaturally given mirage. 6. The sun stopped shining during the latter half of the day. 7. Rather than the day being prolonged, God prolonged the previous night. We will look at each of these explanations and examine their strengths and weaknesses. 1. Poetical There are some Bible students who see this account as being a poetical description of the battle and not to be taken literally. Donald H. Madvig notes: The final statement in this verse 13 clearly favours the notion that the sun stood still or that it slowed down its course across the sky. In either event the problem for geophysics are so great that some other solution has been eagerly sought by scholars both liberal and conservative (Donald H. Madvig, "Joshua," The Expositors Bible Commentary, Frank E. Gaebelein, General editor, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992, p. 303). The Pulpit Commentary provides us with an example of interpreting the passage poetically: The poetic form of this passage is clear to anyone who has the smallest acquaintance with the laws of Hebrew poetry . . . These words belong rather to the domain of poetry than history, and this language is that of hyperbole rather than the exact narration of facts (Pulpit Commentary, Volume 7, pp. 166,167). Though couched in poetical language, it is clear from the text that some sign did occur in the heavens. The entire passage is written as a narrative of a miraculous event that actually happened. The question, therefore, is, "What is the nature of that event?" 2. Eclipse Of The Sun Some feel the passage refers to an eclipse of the sun. One such person was the great Old Testament scholar, Robert Dick Wilson who translated Joshua 10:12b-14 as follows: Be eclipsed, O sun, in Gibeon, and thou moon in the valley of Aijalon! And the sun was eclipsed and the moon turned back, while the nation was avenged on its enemies. It is not written in the Book of Jasher? And the sun stayed in the half of the heaven, and set not hastily as when a day is done. And there was never a day like that day before or since, in respect to Jehovah's hearing the voice of a man. (Robert Dick Wilson, "What Does The Sun Stood Still Mean? " Moody Monthly, October 1920). According to this view, God granted Joshua's request for a favourable sign by causing an eclipse of the sun. 3. Earth Literally Stopped Rotating Many have held that the earth actually stopped rotating for about twenty-four hours. From the peoples vantage point the sun would have appeared to have stopped. Though this would give Joshua the time to win the battle, it would also cause terrible catastrophes on the planet. Those who believe in the power of God realize that He could have prevented these catastrophes from occurring. 4. Slower Rotation Of Earth Some read the text to mean that a retardation of the movement of the earth is what happened. Instead of taking twenty-four hours for one rotation, it took from thirty-six to forty-eight hours. This would have given Joshua and his armies sufficient daylight to win the battle over their enemies without causing the major disturbances that would have happened if the earth stopped rotating. Old Testament authority Gleason Archer writes: It has been objected that if in fact the earth was stopped for a period of twenty-four hours, inconceivable catastrophe would have befallen the entire planet and everything on its surface. While those who believe in the omnipotence of God would hardly concede that Yahweh could not have prevented such catastrophe and held in abeyance the physical laws that might be brought to pass, it does not seem to be absolutely necessary (on the basis of the Hebrew text itself) to hold that the planet was suddenly halted in its rotation. Verse 13 states that the sun "did not hasten to go down for about a whole day" (NASB). The words "did not hasten" seem to point to a retardation of the movement so that the rotation required forty-eight hours rather than the usual twenty-four (Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1982, p. 161). Donald K. Campbell concurs: The best explanation seems to be the view that in answer to Joshua's prayer God caused the rotation of the earth to slow down so that it made one full rotation in 48 hours rather than in 24. It seems apparent that this view is supported by both the poem in verses 12b-13a and the prose in verse 13b (Donald K. Campbell, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, John Walvoord and Roy Zuck. eds., Wheaton, Illinois: Victor Books, 1985, p. 351). God caused the rotation of the earth to slow down. The earth, therefore, made one full rotation around the sun in a longer period of time. This fits with verse 13 which says, "The sun . . . delayed going down about a full day." Thus the sun was abnormally slow in getting to sunset, giving Joshua and his soldiers sufficient time to complete their victorious battle. 5. Miracle Of Refraction There are some who see this as a miracle of refraction. This theory contends the earth continued to rotate at its normal speed while God supernaturally gave a mirage that made it appear that the sun and the moon were out of their regular place. Thus, God supernaturally provided more daylight so that Joshua could win the battle. This provides Joshua with the necessary light to fight the battle, yet to do so does not force us to accept any change in the rotation of the earth. 6. Stop Moving Or Stop Shining? Another view is that the prayer of Joshua was not for the prolongation of the day, but rather that the sun would cease pouring down its heat on him and his troops. The prayer was actually for the cessation of light, not its prolongation. God answered by sending a hailstorm that allowed Joshuas weary troops to win the battle. Thus stand still means to keep from shining. E.W. Maunder explains: From what was it then that Joshua wished the sun to cease: from its moving or from its shining? It is not possible that, engaged as he was in a desperate battle, he was even so much as thinking of the suns motion at all. But its shining, its scorching heat, must have been most seriously felt by him. At noon, in high summer, southern Palestine is one of the hottest countries in the world. It is impossible to suppose Joshua wished for the sun to be fixed overhead, where it must have been distressing his men who had already been seventeen hours on foot. A very arduous pursuit lay before them and the enemy must have been fresher than the Israelites. The suns heat therefore must have been a serious hindrance, and Joshua must have desired it to be tempered. And the Lord hearkened to his voice and gave him this and much more. A great hailstorm swept up from the west, bringing with it a sudden lowering of temperature, and no doubt hiding the sun (E.W. Maunder, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, W. Lotz, M.G. Kyle, C.E. Armerding, eds., Revised edition, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979, Vol. 1, p. 448). Thus, the miracle was not a prolonging of the light but rather a cessation of it. Joshua's prayer was not at the end of the day asking for prolonged sunlight, rather it was at high noon asking for relief from the sun. The sun stopped shining in that it became dark. It was the sun that stopped shining, not that the whole solar system was stopped. 7. Night Prolonged There are those who say that it was not the day that was prolonged but actually the darkness from the previous night. Hugh J. Blair says: It has usually been assumed that Joshua prayed for the day to be prolonged. But is it not possible that what Joshua needed even more, since, as is expressly stated in v.9, he came upon the camp of the enemy by night, was that the darkness continue and the night be prolonged for a surprise attack? That it was early morning when he made his request is evident from the position of the moon in the valley of Aijalon (to the west) and the position of the sun over Gibeon (to the east) (v.12). The answer came in a hailstorm which had the effect of prolonging the darkness. (Hugh J. Blair, New Bible Commentary, p. 244). This view would be make it Joshua's long night rather than a long day. Conclusion We have seen that there are a variety of explanations to Joshua's long day without having to admit to scientific error. Although several of these views are possible, the theory that the sun actually slowed down its movement seems to be the best way of looking at the evidence. Leon Wood writes: The traditional view must be maintained, however, for these alternate explanations do not do justice to the language of the text. Though it is true the verb dum (translated stand still in Joshua's call) means basically "be silent" and so could refer to being silent in other ways than retardation of movement, still the verb amadh is also used (twice in v. 13) and it definitely indicates a change in pattern of movement. Further, verse 13 closes with the expression "and hasted not to go down," where the word "hasted" (uz) again speaks of motion, and the phrase "to go down" (labho) is normally in reference to the sun setting. Still further, verse 14 states that this day was unique in history which suggests a major miracle occurred such as to the prolongation of a natural day. The extent of the prolongation can also be estimated. Since the hour was noon when Joshua voiced the call, and it was stated that the sun did not go down for "about a whole day" (keyom tamin), it is likely that the afternoon hours until sunset were prolonged twice their normal length. In other words, the total daylight hours of the day were one and one-half times normal (Leon Wood, A Survey of Israels History, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970, p. 181). Wood explains how this would have effected the universe: As to how this was effected, the closing words of vs. 13 "and hasted not to go down about a whole day," suggest that the relative positions of the sun and the earth did not hold still but merely slowed in their change. This means that the earth simply slowed, in its speed of rotation on its axis, approximately to half that of normal. This did not affect the speed of movement around the sun of the rest of the solar system, which complicating factors have been mentioned in criticism by those advocating other explanations (Leon Wood, A Survey of Israels History, p. 181, note 47). Though this may be the best view, several of the others are certainly possible. Donald H. Madvig writes: Reverence for Gods Word should encourage us to suspend judgment until more evidence is available. In the meantime no single explanation can be made a test of orthodoxy (Donald H. Madvig, "Joshua," The Expositors Bible Commentary, p. 304). There have been stories circulating about reports of a "missing day" in ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Hindu sources. There is also the story of a Yale astronomer who found that the earth was twenty-four hours out of schedule: Another professor at Yale, Dr. Totten, suggested the astronomer read the Bible starting at the beginning and going as far as necessary, to see if the Bible could account for the missing time. When he came to the account of the long day of Joshua, the astronomer rechecked the figures and found that at the time of Joshua there were only twenty-three hours and twenty minutes lost. His skepticism justified, he decided that the Bible was not the Word of God because there was a mistake by forty minutes. Professor Totten showed him that the Bible account does not say twenty-four hours, but rather about the space of a whole day. On reading farther the astronomer found that God, through the prophet Isaiah and in answer to Hezekiah's prayer, promised to add fifteen years to his life (II Kings 20:1-11; Isaiah 38:1-21). To confirm this promise, the shadow of the sundial was turned back ten degrees. Ten degrees on a sundial is forty minutes on the face of a clock. When he found his day of missing time accounted for in the Bible, the astronomer bowed his head in worship of its Author, saying, "Lord, I believe!" (Harry Rimmer, The Harmony of Science and Scripture, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1936, p. 33). It is unfortunate that these often-told stories lack any documentation. Bernard Ramm explains: There are two other matters that have been urged as evidence for a lengthened day and this material the author has not been able to track down nor confirm to his own satisfaction as to their accuracy or validity. First, there are Egyptian, Chinese, and Hindu reports of a long day . . . Second, there is the claim . . . that it is common knowledge among astronomers that one full day is missing in our astronomical calculations and that Prof. Pickering of the Harvard Observatory traced it back to the time of Joshua. Maunder of Greenwich and Totten of Yale are then supposed to have taken it right back to the time of Joshua, practically to the year and day. Then Totten added to this the 10 of Ahaz dial to found out the full day. This I have not been able to verify to my own satisfaction (Bernard Ramm, A Christian View of Science and The Scripture, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955, p. 109).



The story of the Yale University professor has been heard in a different format by the compiler of these notes in and from his youth and it is equally disturbing to him that he has found no documentation of said story. The version he heard had to do with the NASA space programme and a computer program that was used to calculate Apollo's path to the moon and back. It was claimed that there was a day missing from the beginning of time and that the scientists could not work out what had happened with the missing day. There was something about the solution to this problem being vital to the successful launch of the spacecraft and completion of the mission. The version heard by the compiler of these notes was that a professor of mathematics in a Welsh university, who happened to be a Christian, heard of the dilemma and supplied the answer!!!



There was much discussion within the Bible reading itself on this and the surrounding verses. There was also discussion after meetings that were not convened for Bible study with people joining and not leaving for their homes until later. It was felt that the request for the sun and the moon to stand still was made in the morning when the moon could well have been still visible in the sky. Some felt that it was noon when this took place (see above article as well).



It is a remarkable thing that the Joshua who is constantly told not to fear is the Joshua who commands the sun and moon to stand still when there had never been a soul on earth who had done such a thing before (verse 14). What is even more remarkable is that God heard Joshua's request and moved the earth (literally) to do at his bidding. What took place was a supernatural event to assist God's people at the request of their leader - phenomenal. How God did it we are not told in the same as we are not told any number of things that God did.



Ajalon, the same as Aijalon, is a Levitical city in Dan, 14 miles or 25 km NW of Jerusalem and about 8 miles west of Gibeon, later ruled by the Amorites, then the Benjamites of Judah, then by the Philistines. The Bethhorons (there is a lower and a upper Bethhoron) are about six miles NW of Gibeon.



10:13 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.



The explanation of the words 'still' and 'stayed' is given in the article above.



There is mention made of the people avenging themselves. In what sense did the people avenge themselves? Does this mean the Gibeonites in particular? Do we know that the Gibeonites were involved? They sent to get Joshua. Were they involved in the battle?



To avenge or to take vengeance are the same word in Hebrew. The coalition that was formed to attack Gibeon was a result of the Gibeonites allying themselves to the Israelites, but was formed more as a response to the security threat posed by the Israelite invading forces and was ultimately men trying to oppose God's plan and purpose for the land. The covenant with the Gibeonites meant that their enemies were Israel's enemies. Hence slaying them was taking vengeance on Israel's (and God's) enemies.



Jasher means 'upright, righteous' and suggests a moral dimension. What is the book of Jasher? The words that are found in the scriptures are also found in this book whatever and wherever it is. The Book of Jasher is a book that the author of the Book of Joshua referred to when compiling his account. The book of Jasher is mentioned in 2 Sam 1:18 and the language used suggests that it may be a somewhat poetic account, 'Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow (although some translations have 'song of the bow' here): behold it is written in the book of Jasher'. It could be that a military manual or other formal record might contain a 'song of the bow'. It is quite clear that the biblical authors referred to other historic documents when compiling their accounts. This occurs frequently in Kings and Chronicles. These other books were not included in the Scriptures and hence have probably long since perished.



The extension to the day meant that the victory was Israel's. Had the men been allowed to regroup and hence become able to get back to their fenced cities it might have been otherwise.



One thing should be stated: if these events are recorded chronologically (and we have no reason to doubt this especially as verse 12 starts with the word 'then') then the hailstones came before the command to the sun to stand still.



10:14 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.



It is very clear that from verse 10-14 the Lord fought for Israel. There were supernatural events that took place against which no earthly army, no matter how strong and numerical, could have contended.



The final statement in this verse encapsulates this truth.



10:15 And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.



No sooner than we read that the Lord had fought for Israel than we read that Joshua and the men returned to Gilgal. There was discussion as to whether there were two occasions when the people returned to Gilgal or just the one. The notes in the introduction to this chapter indicate that we believed that there were two occasions and that these mark the breaks in the proceedings. The counter argument against that would be that there is no mention of Joshua going up from Gilgal to Makkedah. Also verse 21 says that the people returned to Joshua at Makkedah. Why insert verse 15 if we were not meant to be told about the return to Gilgal until the end of the chapter?



The fact that it was all Israel indicates that it was the only the Amorites who were slain.



10:16 But these five kings fled, and hid themselves in a cave at Makkedah.



They were being chased towards Azekah and Makkedah. These two towns are close together. They hid themselves in the cave at Makkedah.



10:17 And it was told Joshua, saying, The five kings are found hid in a cave at Makkedah.



Makkedah means 'place of shepherds' and is located near Libnah to the south west of Jerusalem. It is some fifteen miles as the crow flies from Bethhoron in a south-south-westerly direction. This had been some chase. It had gone to the NW of Gibeon by some eight miles. Gibeon itself was 6 miles or so to the north of Jerusalem and now it had come down to Makkedah. The place of shepherds had become the home and hiding place of kings.



The important point about the location is that they were getting close to home and their fenced cities.



10:18 And Joshua said, Roll great stones upon the mouth of the cave, and set men by it for to keep them:



A pursuit was necessary and the kings would have to wait until the pursuit was completed. But they were not to escape. They had not been destroyed by the hailstones. All five had escaped this form of death. But perish they must.



The word 'great' is as seen on a number of occasions already in the chapter. The word for 'mouth' is very interesting as this is the same word that is used later for 'edge' as in edge of the sword. Of the 498 times that this particular word is used 340 of them are translated as mouth and 35 as edge.



Stones were set to the cave and a watch placed over it.



10:19 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.



In verses 10-14 we are specifically told that God did the chasing and the slaying. Now Joshua gives the command to do the same. There was a need for the retreating army not to get back to the cities.



We must notice the tense in the last clause in this verse as the tense is changed when Joshua makes a similar statement in verse 25.



10:20 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.



The emphasis in verse 20 is upon Joshua and the people of Israel slaying the enemies. Our word 'great' appears in the text again. Some of those who were pursued actually reached the fenced cities.



10:21 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.



The implication is that no one got hurt and there was safety and harmony. The idea of 'moving his tongue' is that none spoke with hostility. There was perfect harmony. Why should such a thing be mentioned?



10:22 Then said Joshua, Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings unto me out of the cave.



There was unfinished business to deal with. It was vitally important that the men were pursued so that not too many made it home. Now the kings could be judged; not in the sense of them having a hearing and a sentence being passed. Their guilt was clear. They had been the aggressors and now their aggression was to be over.



Is there a parallel here with Revelation 20.12-13? The Lord has reserved the wicked for the day of judgment (Job 21.30).



10:23 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.



The reader was not meant to forget who the 5 kings were as the cities over which they were kings are named one by one. They were treated individually in that they were each given a tree on which to hang (verse 26). Every man died for his own rebellion (Numbers 27.3).



10:24 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.



This action is extremely symbolic. The men were publicly humbled and even humiliated. Is there some connection with I Corinthians 15.25-27, For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith, All things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put things under him.'? Or is this typical of the teaching found in Romans 16.20, 'And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.'? Clearly the sight of victors with their feet on the necks of their enemies shows the emphatic nature of the victory.



10:25 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.



Verse 19 explains that Joshua did not want the enemies to enter into their cities and then gave the reason - 'the Lord hath delivered them into your hand.' Joshua told the people not to be afraid in this and then gave the reason - 'for thus shall the Lord do to all your enemies against whom ye fight.' The reason given here was for all future occasions when they faced enemies. The Lord was to subdue all enemies beneath their feet. He had done so recently with these kings and He was going to do so again in the future.



It is interesting to note that God speaks His words of comfort to Joshua and that Joshua often passes these same or similar words onto the people. In verse 8 the words that God spoke were specific to the five kings. Joshua takes such a promise and applies that to all their enemies



10:26 And afterward Joshua smote them, and slew them, and hanged them on five trees: and they were hanging upon the trees until the evening.



In verses 10-14 it was the Lord who did the smiting and slaying. This verse says that Joshua did the same as far as the five kings were concerned. They were slain before they were hanged on the tree. Cursed is every one who hangs upon a tree. As the placing of the feet upon the necks of these men while they were still alive was symbolic so the hanging of these men on the trees was a sign to the people who viewed them. This action was very public. The bodies were not to stay upon the tree after sunset according to God's law, 'And if a man have committed sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him upon a tree: his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is cursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.' Deuteronomy 21.22-23.



10:27 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 fulfilled the law in this action and did not mar the inheritance. The five kings were thrown into the cave. What an undignified ending to their lives. Their necks had been trodden upon in public. They had been slain and now, after a period hanging on the tree for all to see, they are taken down and flung into the cave in which they tried to hide. The word 'great' is used once again in this chapter.



10:28 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.



The kings having been executed it was time to make sure that the cities were also destroyed. Makkedah was a sixth city and not mentioned in the first section of the book. Whether the residents of this city were guilty of harbouring the five kings or whether the five kings found the hiding place themselves we are not told though verse 16 suggests the latter was true. Makkedah was destroyed just because it was the place where the five kings hid. It was never a part of the coalition. It was just the hiding place of these five rebellious kings. Both the city and its king were destroyed - utterly destroyed. This phrase has been already in the book. In 2.10 the kings of the Amorites, Sihon and Og, were described by Rahab as being utterly destroyed on the other side Jordan. 6.21 says, 'And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.' The walls coming down did not destroy everything. Then 8.26 says, 'For Joshua drew not his hand back, wherewith he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.' We remember that the cattle and the spoil of that city were taken as a prey. We remember, too, that the king of Jerusalem was conscious of Joshua taking Ai and utterly destroying it in the first verse of this chapter. This phrase will be used a further four times in this chapter and four times in the next. Verse 28 indicates that it was the people who were slain. 11.14 says of other cities, 'and all the spoil of those cities, and the cattle, the children of Israel took for a prey unto themselves; but every man they smote with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, neither left they any to breathe.'



The execution of the king of Makkedah was as that of the king of Jericho. The destruction of the city of Makkedah does not appear to have been the same in that all living things were destroyed there.



10:29 Then Joshua passed from Makkedah, and all Israel with him, unto Libnah, and fought against Libnah:


10:30 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.



Joshua and his men moved on. Libnah was a seventh city with its own king. This city was destroyed. Libnah means 'pavement'. It was a royal city of the Canaanites in the southwest captured by Joshua. It later was allocated to Judah and made a Levitical city.



The execution of the king of Libnah was similar to that of the king of Jericho. The city was smitten with the edge of the sword. We have already noted that this word means mouth (verse 18). It was felt that this was significant - the mouth of the sword - especially when we consider that the word of God speaks of itself as the sword of the Spirit. The phrase has appeared in verse 28 and is there in verse 32, 35, 37 and verse 39.



10:31 And Joshua passed from Libnah, and all Israel with him, unto Lachish, and encamped against it, and fought against it:


10:32 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.



Libnah having been destroyed, Joshua and his men moved on. Lachish was one of the five cities. We have already learnt that Lachish means 'invincible'. It wasn't. It may have taken longer to conquer, subdue and destroy (there is mention of encamping in verse 31 and the second day in verse 32) but it fell nonetheless. There is no specific mention of the king in verses 31 and 32 but he gets a mention in Joshua 12.15.



10:33 Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua smote him and his people, until he had left him none remaining.



Moving on Joshua and his men came against Gezer which was an extra city with its own king. It is some 20 miles from Lachish so that there may not have been a detour to this city. It appears that the people from this city came to help Lachish. At the end of the verse it is clear that this king should not have got involved. Eight cities with their kings have now been mentioned (see Joshua 12.9-24). Gezer means 'portion'. It became a Levitical city and was on the border of Ephraim.



10:34 And from Lachish Joshua passed unto Eglon, and all Israel with him; and they encamped against it, and fought against it:


10:35 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.



Verse 34 says that Joshua went from Lachish and not Gezer. Eglon was one of the five cities mentioned at the start of the chapter. It appears that it was necessary to set a camp outside the city but that it did not need more than one day to defeat and destroy the city.



10:36 And Joshua went up from Eglon, and all Israel with him, unto Hebron; and they fought against it:


10:37 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.



Hebron was also one of the five cities. It suffered a similar fate.



10:38 And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir; and fought against it:


10:39 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.



Earlier in the chapter Debir was the name of the king of Eglon. This Debir is a city and a extra city to the five that had its own king who was destroyed along with the city. That makes nine named cities and their kings. Five kings and four extra kings. Five cities and four extra ones.



10:40 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.



Verse 40 spells out what has taken place in the detail of the preceding verses. These places were/are all in the south. We have found that out by looking on the map but the scripture gives us the location. It mattered not whether the terrain was mountainous or they encountered valleys or springs. Wherever the cities were located they were destroyed and their kings with them.



There was discussion about this verse in that it was thought that 'all that breathed' could include animals. It appears that 11.14, 'And the spoil of these cities, and the cattle, the children of Israel took for a prey unto themselves, but every man they smote with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, neither left they any to breathe.' This may refer to the cities that are found in chapter 11 only but this is not thought likely. Slaying all that breathed refers to humans.



10:41 And Joshua smote them from Kadeshbarnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon.



This verse summarises what has been achieved thus far. The children of Israel had crossed the Jordan at Gilgal and the attacked Jericho and Ai. Then they swung around Jerusalem and down to Hebron in the south defeating these five kings and the extra ones in the process.


This last phrase indicates that everything between Kadeshbarnea and Gaza was also smitten. Kadeshbarnea means 'holy' and is 70 or 75 miles to the south west of Hebron. Gaza means 'strong' and is west of Hebron and on the coast. This large triangle of land right in the south of the country became Joshua's. Goshen means 'drawing near'. This is a different Goshen from that in Egypt (obviously). The territory that Joshua gained was huge but not all was done as the next chapter teaches.



10:42 And all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel.



The first phrase is very significant. Until this point there had only been one city taken at one time. Now there were nine named cities and a vast territory. It was God's doing. He had fought for Israel (see verse 14).



10:43 And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.



This is a repeat of verse 15. It is believed that there were two occasions when they returned to Gilgal. Whatever the case it is important to note that they went back to base. Generally this is mentioned though it should be noted that there is no mention whatsoever of Joshua in Gilgal in chapter 11.



Conclusion



The key verse in the chapter is that found in verse 42. There is a repetition of the phrase used in verse 14 as well in this particular verse. There is no sense going out to any battle if the Lord does not go with us. It was Asa who said, 'Lord, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O Lord our God: for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O Lord, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee.' II Chronicles 14.11. Similarly we need our God to fight for us and with us against the foe seeing that its power is greater than ours. 'Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.' I John 4.4