Joshua 10 – The Southern Kings Conquered
A. A miraculous victory for Israel.
1. (1-2) Adoni-Zedek and his fear of Israel.
Now it came to pass when Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard how Joshua had taken Ai and had utterly destroyed it; as he had done to Jericho and its king, so he had done to Ai and its king; and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them, that they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were mighty.
a. When Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard how Joshua had taken Ai and had utterly destroyed it: The king of Jerusalem (Adoni-Zedek) was rightly alarmed when he heard of the conquests of Jericho and Ai. He understood that the armies of Israel would soon come against all the cities of Canaan.
i. Especially troubling was the news that they had utterly destroyed both Jericho and Ai – that is, that they had brought the unique judgment of God against the Canaanites and did not take any plunder or profit from the cities. An Israelite army fighting for the glory of God and as a unique instrument of God’s judgment rightly made them afraid.
ii. Adoni-Zedek also had reason to be concerned from a strategic perspective. The previous victories across the middle of Canaan effectively separated Canaan between north and south. “Israel controlled the Benjaminite plateau, the crossroads between the hill country and the Judean wilderness. It provided access to the coastal plain and lowlands to the west via the Beth Horon pass.” (Hess)
b. And how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel: In addition, the surrender and subordination of the Gibeonites caused Adoni-Zedek to be afraid. Gibeon was a great city and its men were mighty – if they surrendered to Israel, things were bad for the Canaanites.
i. The Gibeonites did not submit to Israel a position of weakness; indeed, all its men were mighty. Yet it was because of their love and honor of the God of Israel that they submitted to perpetual service in His tabernacle.
c. They feared greatly: Fear did not make the Canaanites surrender. It made them organize and fight, and Adoni-Zedek became the leader of the southern Canaanite kings.
i. The enemies of Israel feared greatly; but like our spiritual enemies, they did not retreat but launched even more bold attacks, as a wild animal might fight when it feels threatened.
2. (3-5) The southern kings of Canaan assemble for an attack on Gibeon.
Therefore Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem sent to Hoham king of Hebron, Piram king of Jarmuth, Japhia king of Lachish, and Debir king of Eglon, saying, “Come up to me and help me, that we may attack Gibeon, for it has 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, and the king of Eglon, gathered together and went up, they and all their armies, and camped before Gibeon and made war against it.
a. Therefore Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem sent to Hoham king of Hebron: Acting on his fear, Adoni-Zedek began to organize the kings of southern Canaan. Since Israel occupied the land to their north, he could not get help from the kings of northern Canaan.
i. What Adoni-Zedek did was not unusual. At the same approximate time, “Jerusalem’s leader wrote at least five letters to the Pharoah regarding his town and its security. These letters, part of the collection known as the Armana letters, are longer and more literate than the contemporary missives of other Palestinian town leaders.” (Hess)
b. King of Jerusalem…king of Hebron…king of Jarmuth…king of Lachish…king of Eglon: This again displays that the Canaanites were organized as city-states instead of one unified nation. It took the leadership of Adoni-Zedek to bring them together.
i. Each one of these cities – Jerusalem, Jarmuth, Lachish, Eglon, and Hebron were important cities either for their location or for the trade routes associated with them.
ii. “Like Adoni-Zedek, the names of the four leaders can be identified with similar names from texts and peoples in and around Palestine during the same period of time that the account in Joshua purports to describe.” (Hess)
c. That we may attack Gibeon: Though they were afraid, they were still clever. Afraid to attack Israel directly, they attacked their subjects, the Gibeonites.
3. (6) The plea for help from Gibeon.
And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal, saying, “Do not forsake your servants; come up to us quickly, save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the mountains have gathered together against us.”
a. Sent to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal: Joshua and the armies of Israel were still at Gilgal. This was an important place for Israel’s conquest of Canaan.
· Gilgal was the place of memorial (Joshua 4:20).
· Gilgal was the place of radical obedience (Joshua 5:2-3).
· Gilgal was the place where reproach was removed (Joshua 5:9).
· Gilgal was the place of obedience and the remembrance of salvation (Joshua 5:10).
· Gilgal was the place where the manna stopped, and they began to live from what the Promised Land provided (Joshua 5:11-12).
b. Do not forsake your servants; come up to us quickly, save us and help us: The Gibeonites rightly looked to the people of Israel as their helpers and protectors. They were not too proud to call for help.
i. Just like the Gibeonites claimed protection on the basis of covenant, so do we because of our participation in the New Covenant. In light of our covenant with God, “Do not forsake Your servant…save us and help us” is a good prayer to pray.
B. The defeat of the Southern kings of Canaan.
1. (7) Joshua and the people of Israel are faithful to their vow to the Gibeonites.
So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor.
a. So Joshua ascended from Gilgal: We saw that in Joshua 9, Joshua, the leaders of Israel, and all the people of Israel knew they had made a bad vow to the Gibeonites, yet they did not turn their backs on that vow.
i. This is the first example in Joshua of counterattack – the enemy initiating a battle against Israel. “Here for the first time Israel does not initiate the aggression but responds to an ally’s appeal.” (Hess)
b. He and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor: Joshua not only kept the vow made to the Gibeonites, but he kept it with great energy and dedication. He sent his best men into this battle to defend Gibeon.
i. Allowing these Canaanite kings to wipe out the Gibeonites would have been a convenient way to get out of a vow that should not have been made, but they will have none of it.
ii. We should have the same sense of honor. Though Joshua was only bound to not kill the Gibeonites himself (Joshua 9:15), he also felt obliged to fulfill the spirit of the vow he made to the Gibeonites.
2. (8) God’s command and promise to Joshua.
And the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.”
a. Do not fear them: This was a command. Though Joshua had reason to fear because Israel faced a confederation of five kings, God commanded Joshua to not fear his enemies.
b. I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you: The command was joined to a promise. Joshua could obey God’s command to not fear because he had God’s promise of victory.
i. Fear takes away our ability to fight God’s battles. Even in the face of strong enemies, Joshua was commanded to not fear. For Joshua, fear was unbelief – being unwilling to believe what God promised. So it is with us today.
3. (9) Joshua’s response of faith.
Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly, having marched all night from Gilgal.
a. Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly: With the assurance of God’s promise (Joshua 10:8), Joshua did not sit back to passively watch God work without his participation. He went to great effort to participate in the work and will of God.
b. Having marched all night from Gilgal: This took hard work and initiative on Joshua’s part. The march from Gilgal to Gibeon involved a climb of 3,300 feet (1,000 meters), over a distance of about 20 miles (32 kilometers). This was eight to ten hours of hard marching, all through the night.
i. God does His work, but He draws us into working with Him. Often God waits to see our initiative, our willingness to be a partner with Him, before He does what only He can do.
ii. This is not the idea that “God helps those who help themselves.” The idea is “God wants to draw His people into partnership with Him in seeing His work done.”
4. (10-11) God sends giant hailstones to defeat the Canaanites.
So the LORD routed them before Israel, killed them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, chased them along the road that goes to Beth Horon, and struck them down as far as Azekah and Makkedah. And it happened, as they fled before Israel and were on the descent of Beth Horon, that the LORD cast down large hailstones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword.
a. So the LORD routed them before Israel: God’s work, and the partnership of Joshua’s work with the LORD, accomplished something great. The enemies of God were routed.
b. The LORD cast down large hailstones from heaven: The hailstones that killed the retreating armies of the Canaanites were obviously miraculous. The hail itself could have been a phenomenon of nature, but its aim and timing were evidence of the hand of God.
i. “The Canaanites, who worshipped nature deities, must have thought that their own gods were aiding the Israelites.” (Madvig)
ii. In Worlds in Collision, Immanuel Velikovsky suggested that this rain of hailstones was actually a sustained meteor show, the train of a comet. He also theorized that the passing of the comet was related to the next amazing work of God for Israel and Joshua.
c. There were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword: God’s miraculous work was much greater than Israel’s work. Yet we notice that Joshua didn’t wait around for the hail to come. He did what he could do in partnership with God, and God did what only God could do.
5. (12-15) God extends the day to maximize Israel’s victory.
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 hasten 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 the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel. Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.
a. “Sun, stand still over Gibeon; and Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still: Seeing God’s miraculous hand in action gave Joshua the boldness to ask for an even more remarkable miracle – to keep the day going, to keep the sun from setting, so that Israel had time to accomplish a complete victory before darkness fell.
i. The sun and the moon had long stood as silent witnesses to the sin, wickedness, and demonic religion of these Canaanites. Now, under the command of God, they helped Joshua to complete this victory over the Canaanites.
b. So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. And there has been no day like that, before it or after it: In a completely unique miracle, God answered Joshua’s bold prayer and the LORD fought for Israel in a unique way during Israel’s conquest of Canaan.
i. Some people wonder how the length of the day was extended. It could have been a slowing of the earth’s rotation; it could have been a tilting of the earth’s axis; it could have been a miracle of reflection of light; it could have been simply the presence of God manifested in light.
ii. However it was done, the result was clear. The sun seemed to stay still in the sky, and Israel was able to complete the victory.
iii. In Worlds in Collision, Immanuel Velikovsky suggested that the long day was caused by the near pass of a comet, that was powerful enough to tilt the axis of the earth. “The tilting of the axis could produce the visual effect of a retrogressing or arrested sun; a greater tilting, a multiple day or night” [page 385]. He also noted that there are records among the ancient Americans that speak of an extraordinarily long night in the same approximate time.
iv. Some criticize this account, saying that obviously, since the sun is still, and the earth rotates around the sun, that Joshua is wrong when he says the sun stood still. This kind of criticism doesn’t account for our normal way of speaking. We use the terms sunrise and sunset without a second thought. In addition, more modern astronomy tells us that the sun is in motion; perhaps the sun did literally stand still.
v. Hundreds of years later, God used the prophet Isaiah to bring a heavy word of coming judgment to His people. In that word, God remembered Gibeon, where He had won a great victory for Israel in Joshua’s day (Isaiah 28:20-22). Isaiah warned the people that this miraculous strength of God would be turned against His people if they did not repent. As Isaiah put it, this use of God’s strength against His people is surely His awesome work, or as the King James Version puts it, His strange work.
c. Till the people had revenge upon their enemies: Joshua did not ask God to do the fighting for him, even though God did do some of that. Joshua simply asked that God miraculously give him the opportunity to fight for Him.
i. Like Joshua, we often wish that time would stay still. We would do well to imitate Joshua’s reasons for an extended time. Joshua wanted time to stay still so that:
· God would be glorified.
· God would be obeyed.
· God’s work would be continued without hindrance.
· God’s people would triumph.
6. (16-21) The completion of the battle.
But these five kings had fled and hidden themselves in a cave at Makkedah. And it was told Joshua, saying, “The five kings have been found hidden in the cave at Makkedah.” So Joshua said, “Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave, and set men by it to guard them. And do not stay there yourselves, but pursue your enemies, and attack their rear guard. Do not allow them to enter their cities, for the LORD your God has delivered them into your hand.” Then it happened, while Joshua and the children of Israel made an end of slaying them with a very great slaughter, till they had finished, that those who escaped entered fortified cities. And all the people returned to the camp, to Joshua at Makkedah, in peace. No one moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel.
a. Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave, and set men by it to guard them. And do not stay there yourselves, but pursue your enemies, and attack their rear guard: Joshua would not allow anything – even the personal capture of the kings – to keep him from completing Israel’s victory. The kings could be imprisoned and dealt with later.
b. Made an end of slaying them with a very great slaughter: This repeats a significant theme throughout the book of Joshua; that they were to conduct a unique war of judgment against the Canaanites.
c. No one moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel: The people of Canaan knew – beyond any doubt – that God was with Joshua and the nation of Israel.
i. By analogy and application, the church – just like Israel – should be feared in the sense that it should be a place where people know God will conquer them. They should have the idea “If I keep coming here, God is going to conquer me. I’ll have to submit my life to Him.” Too many churches present a harmless sort of God who demands no surrender from His people.
7. (22-27) The execution of the Canaanite kings.
Then Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings to me from the cave.” And they did so, and brought out those five kings to him from the cave: the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon. So it was, when they brought out those kings to Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the captains of the men of war who went with him, “Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings.” And they drew near and put their feet on their necks. Then Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.” And afterward Joshua struck them and killed them, and hanged them on five trees; and they were hanging on the trees until evening. So it was at the time of the going down of the sun that Joshua commanded, and they took them down from the trees, cast them into the cave where they had been hidden, and laid large stones against the cave’s mouth, which remain until this very day.
a. Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings: Joshua delayed dealing with the kings so he could finish the battle. Yet in time, he dealt with them. Joshua did not sin in the way Saul later would in failing to carry out God’s judgment against Agag (1 Samuel 15).
i. The king of Jerusalem, Adoni-Zedek, was among these five kings. This would be the end of his reign and his life. Taken together, he is a fascinating picture or type.
· His name means, “Lord of Righteousness.”
· He was the pagan king of Jerusalem.
· He led a confederation of kings.
· He fought against Joshua.
· He resisted God’s occupation of the land.
· He kept with other kings in caves.
ii. The Bible tells us of a coming false messiah (Revelation 13:3), who will rule over Jerusalem (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4), who will lead a confederation of kings (Revelation 17:12-13), fighting against Yeshua (Revelation 17:14), resisting His occupation of the land (Revelation 19:19), and hiding in caves (Revelation 6:15-17). All in all, Adoni-Zedek is a fascinating picture of the coming Antichrist.
b. Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings: This was dramatic and undeniably brutal. Joshua, directed by God, wanted to give these captains of the men of war courage and the sense of victory in obedience to God. This said, “God has allowed you to conquer kings.”
i. The idea of partnership with God in the pursuit of victory is again repeated in Joshua 10:25. God promised victory over all your enemies against whom you fight.
c. And afterward Joshua struck them and killed them, and hanged them on five trees: By this dramatic execution, Joshua made it clear that there could be absolutely no accommodation with these Canaanite kings. By performing the execution himself, he accepted a great risk. Often rulers will spare other rulers, thinking they might be on the losing side in the future. In doing this, Joshua knew that if Israel’s armies were ever defeated, he would be killed.
i. After this pattern, we can allow no place in our lives to our spiritual enemies. All the ground belongs to Jesus and must be taken for Him.
ii. “Hanging alive seems a barbarous custom: among the Hebrews, criminals were first deprived of life; this was the debt required by justice: then they were hanged up, perhaps generally by the hands, not by the neck; this was done by way of example, to deter others from committing the crimes for which those had suffered.” (Clarke)
C. Conquest of the South completed.
“The annalistic form corresponds as closely as any Ancient Near Eastern conquest account can to the recitation of what we know of as history.” (Hess)
1. (28) The fall of the Canaanite city of Makkedah.
On that day Joshua took Makkedah, and struck it and its king with the edge of the sword. He utterly destroyed them; all the people who were in it. He let none remain. He also did to the king of Makkedah as he had done to the king of Jericho.
2. (29-30) The fall of the Canaanite city of Libnah.
Then Joshua passed from Makkedah, and all Israel with him, to Libnah; and they fought against Libnah. And the LORD also delivered it and its king into the hand of Israel; he struck it and all the people who were in it with the edge of the sword. He let none remain in it, but did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho.
3. (31-32) The fall of the Canaanite city of Lachish.
Then Joshua passed from Libnah, and all Israel with him, to Lachish; and they encamped against it and fought against it. And the LORD delivered Lachish into the hand of Israel, who took it on the second day, and struck it and all the people who were in it with the edge of the sword, according to all that he had done to Libnah.
4. (33) The fall of the Canaanite city of Gezer.
Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua struck him and his people, until he left him none remaining.
5. (34-35) The fall of the Canaanite city of Eglon.
From Lachish Joshua passed to Eglon, and all Israel with him; and they encamped against it and fought against it. They took it on that day and struck it with the edge of the sword; all the people who were in it he utterly destroyed that day, according to all that he had done to Lachish.
6. (36-37) The fall of the Canaanite city of Hebron.
So Joshua went up from Eglon, and all Israel with him, to Hebron; and they fought against it. And they took it and struck it with the edge of the sword; its king, all its cities, and all the people who were in it; he left none remaining, according to all that he had done to Eglon, but utterly destroyed it and all the people who were in it.
7. (38-39) The fall of the Canaanite city of Debir.
Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir; and they fought against it. And he took it and its king and all its cities; they struck them with the edge of the sword and utterly destroyed all the people who were in it. He left none remaining; as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir and its king, as he had done also to Libnah and its king.
8. (40-43) Summary of the conquest of the Southern Canaanite Kingdoms.
So Joshua conquered all the land: the mountain country and the South and the lowland and the wilderness slopes, and all their kings; he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel had commanded. And Joshua conquered them from Kadesh Barnea as far as Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even as far as Gibeon. All these kings and their land Joshua took at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel. Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.
a. So Joshua conquered all the land: In a period of weeks (perhaps months) these six cities were defeated, without a single lost battle for Israel. Each battle was a test. None of them were easy, but under the leadership of Joshua, they all were victorious.
i. This was a lot of war. “It is eternally true that the land of full blessing is a land of intensive warfare.” (Redpath)
ii. God’s desire is that we should enjoy the same life of victory. But we all… are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
b. The Lord God of Israel fought for Israel: This was obviously the most important factor. This illustrates the key aspect in our battle against our own spiritual enemies. We can only win as we see the LORD fighting on our behalf. He provides the victory and we walk in it.
i. We come to realize that the victory was won at the cross, and now we need to live in light of that victory. Colossians 2:15 speaks to this idea: Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it [the cross]. It is in this sense that we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)
ii. To be disappointed in yourself is to have trusted in yourself. It shows that we tried to fight the battle with our own resources, not trusting in the LORD’s victory.
c. Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal: Israel’s victories always came from Gilgal. This was the place of total faith, commitment and fellowship with God, and the place where Israel had been conquered by God.