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Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 10

Coffman's Commentaries on the BibleCoffman's Commentaries


Here we have the record of the conquest of Southern Canaan in which is featured the great third and final miracle of the Book of Joshua, the miracle of Beth-horon, the mighty hailstorm and the very long day. Commonly called “the Miracle of the Sun Standing Still,” the event described in this chapter is one of the most talked-about occurrences in the O.T. A great deal of the scholarly comments focus on skillful attempts to avoid the acceptance, as fact, of what is related here. We shall give careful attention to these. It is impossible, of course, for anyone to profess a knowledge of exactly WHAT happened at Beth-horon, or precisely HOW it occurred, but there is no good reason whatever for denying God’s intervention on behalf of the Gibeonites and of Israel in this most decisive battle in the conquest of Canaan. Given the fact that it was GOD who intervened here, where is any problem? Is anything TOO HARD for God?

We shall turn our attention at once to the text.

Verses 1-5

“Now it came to pass when Adonizedek king of Jerusalem heard how Joshua had taken Ai, and 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; 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. Wherefore Adonizedek king of Jerusalem sent unto Hotham king of Hebron, and unto Piram king of Jarmuth, and unto Japhia king of Lachish, and unto Debir king of Eglon, saying, Come up unto me, and help me, and let us smite Gibeon; for it hath made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel. Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, the king of Eglon, gathered themselves together and went up, they and all their hosts, and encamped against Gibeon, and made war against it.”

“Adonizedek” (Joshua 10:1). This king of Jerusalem, unlike his famous predecessor, Melchizedek, the king of Salem (Salem here being understood as an earlier name for Jerusalem), was an evil man. And like every wicked man, he was utterly blind to the presence and purpose of God which promulgated the invasion of Canaan. Notice that Adonizedek did not fear God, but only Joshua. He failed to see that Joshua was not his primary enemy, but that God Himself was the Person who would drive the wicked Canaanites out of Palestine, and that Joshua was only God’s INSTRUMENT in that operation.


The word “Zedek” means “righteousness.” Adonizedek has the meaning of “lord of righteousness, nearly synonymous with Melchizedek, which means `king of righteousness.’“(F1) There cannot be any doubt that Melchizedek was a “Priest of God Most High,” as emphatically declared in Genesis 14:18, making it absolutely certain that Melchizedek was a monotheist and a worshipper of the One True and Almighty God. Otherwise, Abraham’s paying tithes to him, and his being singled out in the N.T. as a Great Type of the Son of God Himself (Hebrews 7:1 ff) would make no sense at all. The expression “God Most High” receives further light in the N.T., where the expression is found five times: (1) in Mark 5:7, where a demon protested an order from Christ, addressing Jesus Christ as, “Jesus, thou Son of God Most High”; (2) Luke 8:28 states that a demon, pleading with Christ not to torment him, addressed Our Lord as, “Thou Son of the Most High God”; (3) the Christian martyr Stephen declared that, “The Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands”; (4) the demon-possessed girl who followed Paul and Silas for days at Philippi, continually cried out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim unto you the way of salvation”; and (5) the passage in Hebrews 7:1 affirms that, “Melchizedek was a priest of the Most High God.”

The critical community, however, have long accepted the false view that monotheism was unknown until the Jews “developed” the idea, and, therefore, as a rule, the critical scholars deny that Melchizedek was a priest of the one and only God Almighty, despite the passage in Hebrews that affirms flatly that he was a worshipper of “God Most High,” which in Biblical history never referred to anyone else, other than the One True God.

How do they manage to claim this? It is done simply by that old trick of false teachers, namely, the device of finding some off-beat, unusual use, or alternative meaning of some well-known word, and then ramming such a bizarre meaning into the Sacred Text. We gave a classical example of this in our exegesis of 1 Peter 3:21. (See Vol. 11 of my N.T. series of commentaries, pp. 236-237).

How is this wicked device implemented here? Note the following: “Some have suggested that Zedek was originally the name of a deity. This would make the meaning of Adonizedek to be, `My lord is Zedek.’“(F2) Therefore, unbelievers will reject what the text plainly declares and announce the postulation that both Melchizedek and Adonizedek were not worshippers of the One God at all, but worshippers of Zedek! We need to remember, however, that “There is no sufficient evidence for this suggestion.”(F3) Very recent scholars like Boling and Wright have pointed out that, “The form and meaning of this name (Zedek) tell nothing with certainty about the identity of this (alleged) Jerusalem deity.”(F4) Morton attempted to make a big thing out of the Zedek suggestion, as follows: “Since Zedek is known to have been a Canaanite divine name, its earlier meaning probably was `My lord (the god) Zedek.’ The same element appears also in the name Melchizedek.”(F5) Note that Morton uses the word probably, which means that there is no solid evidence whatever to sustain this evil suggestion. Absolutely nothing is known of any Canaanite god called Zedek! For generations, the meaning of Zedek has been understood as “righteous”, or “righteousness”.(F6) Similar efforts have been made to corrupt the plain meaning of “Most High God” through the `discovery’ of a Babylonian pagan god called Elyon, or “the Most High.”(F7) In all such cases, the Biblical usage of “God Most High” (all three of these titles have the same meaning) squarely denies the aberrations that men would impose upon the word Zedek or Adonizedek and Melchizedek.

“They feared greatly… etc.” (Joshua 10:2). Not only had the victories of Israel at Jordan and Ai demonstrated the need for this fear, there was the additional fact that Gibeon, a powerful city, with some of the most magnificent fighting men of ancient history enrolled among them, had defected to Israel and was now an ally of the invaders. As Boling said, “The awareness of the opposition had increased enormously!”(F8) The fact of Gibeon having no king and its related monarchical system to support enabled them to develop a powerful middle class, many of whom were prosperous enough to provide armament, and a squire, and the leisure to become skilled in the use of such equipment. The Hebrew word here rendered “mighty” is translated “knights” by Boling.(F9)

Bible students once had to contend with the bald, unsupported assertions of Biblical enemies that the account in this chapter is “unhistorical.” Samuel Holmes, for example said: “This section (Joshua 10:28-40) is quite unhistorical.”(F10) The spade of the archeologist has proved the historical nature of this account.

Unger noted that:

“When Israel entered Canaan (about 1400 B.C.), there were more than 25 of these city-states (like the ones mentioned in this chapter), but by 1390 B.C., Israel had swallowed up many of them. The Tel El-Amarna letters reveal that by 1375 B.C., there remained only four main independent states.”(F11)

“Hebron” (Joshua 10:3). This was indeed a powerful city from very ancient times. Moses tells us that “Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt” (Numbers 13:22). And who, we might ask, could ever have known a fact like that except Moses? F. F. Bruce identified Hebron as having the highest elevation of any city in Palestine 3,040 feet above sea level, situated 19 miles south-southwest of Jerusalem. The date of its founding was about 1720 B.C.(F12) Dating from the times of Abraham when that patriarch pitched his tent under the Oaks of Mamre near there, Hebron was destined to play a major role in Jewish history:

(1) There is the cave of Machpelah, purchased from the sons of Heth, where many of the patriarchs are buried.

(2) When the spies were sent out by Moses, they reported on Hebron.

(3) In this chapter Hebron joins the group of five allies who attack Gibeon and were defeated by Joshua.

(4) Caleb finally took possession of the city and received it as his possession.

(5) In Hebron, David was anointed king of Judah (2 Samuel 2:4).

(6) It remained as David’s capital for seven years.

(7) It was also Absalom’s capital when he rebelled against David.

(8) It was fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:10).

(9) Exiles returning from Babylon settled here (Nehemiah 11:25).

(10) Today, under the name of El Hilil, it is one of the four sacred cities of the Muslims.

(11) The most ancient name of the place was Kiriath-arba.

“Jarmuth” (Joshua 10:3). “The low hill tract between the high central mountains and the coastal plain of Palestine was called the Shephelah;(F13) and one of the principal fortified towns on this intermediate strip was called Jarmuth. About the time of the Israelite invasion of Canaan, Jarmuth was fortified, occupied a site of about eight acres, and is supposed to have had a population of between 1,500 and 2,000.(F14)

“Lachish” (Joshua 10:3). At one time larger than Jerusalem, Lachish was an important fortified city guarding the main road up to Jerusalem from Egypt. It was about 30 miles southwest of Jerusalem.(F15) Paganism was thoroughly entrenched here, and through Lachish, “The idolatry of the Northern Israel was successfully imported into Judah (Micah 1:13).”(F16) (See further comment on this town in Vol. 2 of my series of commentaries on the minor prophets, pp. 291, 292).

“Eglon” (Joshua 10:3). Little is known of this place except what may be gleaned from this chapter. W. F. Albright has identified the place as Tel el-Hesi, which was once thought to be Lachish.(F17)

“Come up unto me… (Joshua 10:4). Since, most of these kings were on the Shephelah, or even the lowlands, it was circumstantially accurate for the king of Jerusalem to say, “Come up” unto me, Jerusalem being on much higher ground (except in the case of Hebron). Note also that Adonizedek did not dare to propose that they fight Joshua, but only that they smite Gibeon. All such details as these, which are numerous in this chapter, are in keeping with the whole geography and history and of those times; and, collectively, they constitute an eloquent and convincing testimonial to the truth and historical accuracy of the whole passage.

Joseph R. Sizoo commented on the illogical and inaccurate allegations of scholars who would like to deny the historical nature of this narrative, identifying Martin Noth, especially, as having carried out his etiological explanation of the five kings in the cave (Joshua 10:27) to “a reductio ad absurdum.”(F18) It is refreshing, although surprising, to find a comment like that in the Interpreter’s Bible!

Verses 6-11

“And the men of Gibeon sent unto Joshua to the camp to Gilgal, 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 hill-country are gathered together against us. So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. And Jehovah said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thy hands; there shall not a man of them stand before thee. Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly; for he went up from Gilgal all the night. And Jehovah discomfited them before Israel, and he slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them by the way of the ascent of Bethhoron, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah. And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, while they were at the descent of Beth-horon, that Jehovah cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more who died with the hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.”

This was the crucial test of Israel by the Gibeonites. Under the terms of the treaty which Israel had made with Gibeon, Israel was surely obligated to come to the aid of Gibeon, and they met the test by responding at once to Gibeon’s cry for help.

The Gibeonites referred to the attacking coalition as, “all the kings of the hill-country,” but this they probably did because Jerusalem was the leader of the coalition, and Jerusalem and Hebron were both actually in the hill-country. Of course, we know that most of the attacking kings were from the lowlands, and, as Plummer said, “No one could have hit upon this apparent contradiction, yet real agreement, but one whose narrative was composed from authentic sources.”(F19) Og and Sihon, kings of the Amorites east of Jordan, had already been defeated and slain by Israel, but the reference here to these cities of Palestine as “Amorite,” is nevertheless accurate. As Woudstra pointed out, “the term `Amorite’ had a loose meaning.”(F20)

As soon as Joshua received the plea from Gibeon, he commanded an all-night moonlight march. We know it was a moonlight night because, the next morning Joshua could see the sun in the east over Gibeon and the moon not yet set over the valley of Aijalon to the westward. The coalition were encamped west of Gibeon, and by his surprise march, Joshua was able to throw his army squarely between the would-be-attackers and Gibeon. He proceeded to chase them in a northwesterly direction down a very rocky and precipitous road through Upper Beth-horon and Lower Beth-horon. As Unger said:

“Joshua chased them down the steep descent between Beth-horon the Upper (altitude of 2,022 feet) to Beth-horon the Lower (altitude of 1,210 feet). On that terrible descent, the Lord sent that disastrous storm of darkness and hail, killing more by the hail than Israel slew by the sword.”(F21)

It must have been a shocking discovery indeed when the attacking coalition were totally surprised by Joshua’s swift, lightning-like, response to their threat against Gibeon. This was one of the most decisive battles of the conquest of Canaan.

The victory here was all of God and none of Joshua.

The difficulty of Joshua’s all-night march should be noted. It was some 25 miles distance, UPHILL all the way, a climb of 2,000 feet vertical from the camp at Gilgal. Their climb was almost the equivalent of ascending the Grand Canyon by climbing from the half-way point to the rim! Anyone who has ever made that climb can testify to its difficulty. Plummer said that much of the distance covered by Joshua in that 25 miles was so steep that steps had been chiseled into the rock to provide footholds!(F22) It is to Joshua’s eternal credit that he did not hesitate to OBEY God’s order to strike!

But look at Joshua 10:10, and note the four pronouns: JEHOVAH discomfited them… and HE slew them with great slaughter… and HE smote them unto Azekah… and HE smote them unto Makkedah. The last two of these are the understood subjects, but in all four cases, GOD is the subject. “It is GOD who does it, not Israel, not Joshua!”(F23) Joshua’s part was merely to carry forward with the mopping up exercises!

The reference to the hailstones (Joshua 10:11) and merely to “great stones from heaven” a moment earlier has led some to suppose that those terrible hailstones was accompanied by a shower of meteorites striking the earth precisely at that time and place. Although possible enough, such a thing does not appear to us to be indicated at all in this text. A terrible hailstorm can be damaging enough without any aid from falling meteorites. In Washington, D.C. (1951-1953), a terrible hailstorm in Rock Creek Park severely damaged the trees by dumping millions of hailstones about the size of grapefruits! Some of these were stored in deep-freeze units, and pictures were made of some of the larger ones resting in tumblers (four inches wide), the hailstones too large to go down! Later, when visitors questioned the size of the hailstones, they were shown to them. It will also be remembered that hailstones killed both men and cattle in Egypt (Exodus 9:25).

Before leaving these verses, we should remember the words of Matthew Henry who commented upon the eternal justice involved in the destructiveness of that awful hailstorm. He said:

“The attackers of Gibeon had affronted the true God and robbed him of his honor by worshipping the host of heaven, giving that worship to the creature which is due to the Creator only, and now the host of heaven fights against them, and that part of the creation which they had idolized is at war against them!”(F24)

Verses 12-15


“Then spake Joshua to Jehovah in the day when Jehovah 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 Aijalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed. Until the nation had avenged themselves of their enemies. “Is not this written in the Book of Jashar? And the sun stayed in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that Jehovah hearkened unto the voice of a man: for Jehovah fought for Israel. “And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.”


Much of the comment one encounters on this passage is nothing more than the skillful, learned, interesting, and even brilliant explanations of why this commentator or another one CANNOT believe this story as it is clearly written here. Why do men feel called upon to explain UNBELIEF? God gave every man the right either to believe or not believe as he may choose, only with this provision that he shall, of course, accept the consequences of his choice! Here are some of the explanations:

(1) This is poetry and was never intended to be understood literally. Joshua used this poetic language to request that God stop the sun from shining, or be dumb, or silent, because the weather was hot and Joshua and his troops needed relief from the heat! Even so conservative a writer as Unger wrote:

“So the passage simply means the sun was dumb (stopped shining) at Gibeon, and the moon likewise ceased to shine in the Valley of Aijalon, their light being blotted out by the thick, black clouds of the miraculous hailstorm that the Lord sent to discomfit Israel’s foe.”(F25)

The reliance of many commentators today on that translation which makes these verses declare that Joshua asked God to stop the sun from shining is pitiful. Such a rendition is clearly a corrupt translation as admitted by Sizoo: “The interpretation `cease from shining’ is very questionable, and the very next verse proves that such a meaning was not intended.”(F26)

(2) Another explanation is that “There was a total eclipse of the sun,”(F27) and this theory also accepts the corrupt translation that says Joshua pleaded for the sun “not to shine,” or to be “dumb,” a result which is attributed to the total eclipse! Any truth in this? No! How could there be a total eclipse of the sun when on that very day Joshua mentioned seeing the sun in the east and the moon in the west? No eclipse at all is possible with the moon that far from the sun!

(3) There are other explanations, of course, which are worthy of no attention at all. Some are variations of the above; some make use of the critical device of declaring portions of the chapter a gloss, an interpolation, or a “late addition” by some writer who misunderstood the Book of Joshua that he was revising!


Boling called this interpretation “the popular interpretation”; and so it is. It is found in Thomas Morrell’s libretto for Georg Friedrich Handel’s famed oratorio, Joshua, written in 1747. Here it is:

“O thou bright orb, great ruler of the day!

Stop thy swift course, and over Gibeon stay.

And oh! thou milder lamp of light, the moon,

Stand still, prolong thy beams in Aijalon.

Behold, the list’ning sun the voice obeys,

And in mid Heav’n his rapid motion stays.

Before our arms the scattered nations fly,

Breathless they part, they yield, they fall, they die.”(F28)

Yes indeed, we believe that the sun did not set for the course of a whole day, giving us a very, very long day, unlike any ever known before or since. Now, of course, there are many arguments against receiving this view: (1) This event is unknown anywhere else in the literature of the whole world. (2) It is not even mentioned anywhere else in the O.T. (3) The normal motions of the earth rotating on its axis causes “sunsets” apart from any motion whatever by the sun itself. Therefore, for the day to have been lengthened as here indicated, some drastic change in the rotation of the earth on its axis would have been necessary. Joshua, of course, knew nothing of that; he merely prayed to God, telling what he wanted, but God knew how to grant the prayer, altogether apart from Joshua’s ignorance (and apart from our ignorance as well).

None of such objections has any value whatever. The literature of the world is chock full of wars, military campaigns, etc., and has practically nothing at all regarding the most important event ever to happen on earth, namely, the birth, life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God. The absence of any event of importance from that corpus of the world’s literature has absolutely no significance at all! Such literature does not even record who invented the wheel! The absence of the story from other O.T. books is likewise of no importance. The O.T. has only one reference to Jesus’ feet being pierced, but the event occurred none the less. God does not have to say it twice for it to be true!

Now that denial about there being no physical evidence available to support the truth of this wonder, is itself false. There is indeed solid evidence, and it is this evidence that confirms our faith that this event occurred just as recorded here. The Holy Scriptures do not need to be continued by anything that men know or think that they know, but it is of some interest that the scientific facts available today prove that the axis upon which the earth today rotates is not in the same position as always. Seams in rocks are oriented to the magnetic pole of the earth, and these, in certain areas are criss-crossed by seams indicating a change in the position of the magnetic pole of the earth. Also in the frozen wastes of Siberia, the bodies of ancient dinosaurs have been discovered with flesh still capable of being eaten by dogs, and, in the mouths of these creatures, and in their stomachs, there still remains tropical vegetation unchewed and undigested. This proves a sudden change in the climate of Siberia from tropical to arctic. If that did not occur as a result of an interruption of the earth’s rotation and the change of the position of its axis, then how did it happen? Until that question is answered, the postulation that it occurred on Joshua’s long day is as good as any! The evidence of what we have cited here is found and is discussed at length in Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer’s remarkable book, Genesis in Space and Time (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1972).

Aside from all the discussions and arguments, however, it is simply what the holy text says that is more than enough for any believer. Furthermore, what the text says may not be amended, changed, or revised by men whose avowed purpose is that of discrediting and denying the Word of God.

Many have been puzzled by what appears to be the erratic misplacement of Joshua 10:15, because, certainly, it may not be supposed that Joshua and all Israel precisely on that victorious day returned to Gilgal. Some have supposed that a scribal error copied it by accident here from Joshua 10:43; and others have considered it a prolepsis, referring parenthetically to the successful conclusion of the campaign and Joshua’s return to Gilgal. We do not know what the true answer may be.

Several other facts should be noted. John Rea pointed out that Joshua 10:12-14 did not occur after the big hail, but concurrently with it.(F29) Adam Clarke solved the problem of Joshua 10:15 by pointing out that, “It is missing from the Septuagint (LXX) and from the Anglo-Saxon; and that it probably should be omitted here.”(F30) In our view, this could do no harm at all, for the verse occurs almost verbatim again in Joshua 10:43.

Verses 16-21

“And these five kings fled, and hid themselves in the cave at Makkedah. And it was told Joshua, saying, The five kings are found, hidden in the cave at Makkedah. And Joshua said, Roll great stones to the mouth of the cave, and set men by it to keep them, but stay not ye; pursue after your enemies, and smite the hindmost of them; suffer them not to enter into their cities: for Jehovah your God hath delivered them into your hand. 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, and the remnant which remained of them had entered into the fortified cities, that all the people returned to the camp to Joshua at Makkedah in peace: none moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel.”

Here we understand that Joshua had established a temporary headquarters at Makkedah, making it highly unlikely that he returned to Gilgal until after the incident of the five kings and their execution had been completed. We have already noted Noth’s ridiculous explanation of this incident of the five kings as an etiological exercise in which some “redactor” tried to explain to his generation the mystery of a big cave with large stones in front of it! Such explanations were called absurd by Sizoo (see above), and so they are.

It is especially significant here that the account is realistic, reasonable, and free from exaggeration. Woudstra pointed out that mention is made in Joshua 10:20 of escapees who successfully avoided either capture or death and were able to take refuge in their fortified cities. Such facts as this and many others evoked a comment from Woudstra that, “Such features lend credibility; this is not just an epic, or a saga. It is HISTORY.”(F31)

After this first decisive victory at Gibeon, the Southern Campaign continued for some time, as related in the balance of this chapter.

Verses 22-27

Then said Joshua, Open the mouth of the cave, and bring forth those five kings unto me out of the cave. And they did so, and brought forth those five kings unto him out of the cave, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, the king of Eglon. And it came to pass, when they brought forth those kings unto Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said unto the chiefs of the men of war that 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. And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage: for thus shall Jehovah do to all your enemies against whom ye fight. And afterward Joshua smote them, and put them to death, and hanged them on five trees: and they were hanging upon the trees until the evening. And it came to pass at the time of the going down of the sun, that Joshua commanded, and they took them down off the trees, and cast them into the cave wherein they had hidden themselves, and laid great stones on the mouth of the cave, unto this very day.

“All the men of Israel” (Joshua 10:24). The purpose of this ceremony of placing their feet upon the necks of the kings was no doubt designed to encourage the whole people. It was certainly commendable that Joshua should have assigned his chief leaders to enact this ceremony instead of taking the honor unto himself, as most of the military leaders of that era would surely have done. One may see many examples of this type of ceremony in the sculptures and artistic depictions frequently uncovered by the excavations of the archeologist. “It serves here as a token of encouragement, symbolizing what the Lord will do to all the enemies of Israel (See Psalms 110:1).”(F32)

“Hanged them on five trees” (Joshua 10:26). This action was for the purpose of instilling fear into the hearts of all his enemies. One of the important aspects of this terrible execution was that their bodies were not allowed to remain hanging on the trees after sundown, reflecting the instructions of Deuteronomy 21:22-23. Every word of Deuteronomy was well known to all of Israel and, as we have seen, to the peoples of the Canaanites as well. Rahab the harlot, the Gibeonites, and all the rest of the proscribed peoples knew perfectly well what God had commanded regarding both Israel and themselves. In this light, the prior existence of the whole Pentateuch appears absolutely certain. As Plummer noted, Joshua strictly observed the law in this action of taking down the bodies before sundown; “and this law is to be found only in Deuteronomy. It is from minute details of this kind, which escape the superficial observer, that the authenticity of the Book of Deuteronomy is established.”(F33)

Several commentators have pointed out that the words `unto this very day,’ which conclude this paragraph do not convey the meaning that any considerable time at all had passed before this passage was written. In fact Keil even translated the words, thus: “They cast them into the cave where they had been hid, and where they had placed great stones until that very day.”(F34) Plummer favored that rendition and pointed out that the passage refers to an interval of several days between the confinement of the kings in the cave and the day of their execution, in which case, “that very day” would be a reference to the day of their death. The etiological supposition with reference to this phrase is in no sense applicable.

Verse 28

“And Joshua took Makkedah on that day, 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 left none remaining; and he did to the king of Makkedah as he had done unto the king Jericho.”

Somewhat of a summary of Joshua’s Southern Campaign is given in the rest of this chapter, where there is a great deal of abbreviation. Many have pointed out that, “Joshua’s strategy at this point consisted of a series of swift, devastating attacks upon key Canaanite cities, to crush their inhabitants, but not necessarily to occupy them at this point in time.”(F35) This view of Joshua’s strategy seems confirmed by Joshua 11:13, where it is stated that the cities that stood on their mounds (that is, the fortified towns) were not burned, with the exception of Hazor. This meant that the defeated Canaanites by their survivors could easily reoccupy their cities after their defeat; and this accounts for the fact that, later on, the Israelites had to retake many of these cities.

Of interest in this verse is the fact that Makkedah was not mentioned as a member of the coalition formed by Adonizedek, yet the city was utterly destroyed. Note too that it is not recorded that Jerusalem was destroyed, despite the fact that Adonizedek was the leader of the anti-Israelite coalition.

Verses 29-30

“And Joshua passed from Makkedah, and all Israel with him, unto Libnah: and Jehovah 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 left none remaining in it; and he did unto the king thereof as he had done unto the king of Jericho.”

Lilley defended this summary as being as good as any that could have been presented for the whole Southern Campaign.(F36) Of course, the “summary” is not complete; what summary is? Nevertheless, it provides an excellent picture of the effective conquest of Southern Canaan. Lilley also pointed out that the campaign must indeed have been very successful because there are no further evidences of Canaanite influence after Joshua’s times, despite the fact of all the old centers of that culture being mentioned right here.

Verses 31-35

“And Joshua passed from Libnab, and all Israel with him, unto Lachish, and encamped against it, and fought against it: and Jehovah delivered Lachish into the hand of Israel; and he took it on the second day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein, according to all that he had done to Libnah. “Then Horam king of Gerer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua smote him and his people, until he had left him none remaining. “And Joshua passed from Lachish, and all Israel with him, unto Eglon; and they encamped against it, and fought against it; and they took it on that day, and smote it with the edge of the sword; and all the souls that were therein he utterly destroyed that day, according to all that he had done to Lachish.”

No chronological data whatever is given from here to the end of the chapter, and the campaign here being summarized must indeed have lasted a matter of weeks, or even longer, although, of course, as Plummer thought, none of these cities could have made a prolonged resistance to Joshua.

Verses 36-37

“And Joshua went up from Eglon, and all Israel with him, unto Hebron; and they fought against it: and they took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof, and all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining, according to all that he had done to Eglon; but he utterly destroyed it, and all the souls that were therein.”

“And the king thereof” (Joshua 10:37). But had not Joshua already put Hoham the king of Hebron to death? Of course; but another king succeeded him at once. The ancient formula is, “The king is dead; long live the king!”

Note here, as Rea pointed out, that Joshua left no garrison to occupy Hebron, “So it had to be re-conquered later by Caleb (Joshua 15:11-17).”(F37) To those who understand this, it is rather amusing that Holmes cited this as a contradiction supporting his allegation that the summary is not historical.(F38) Adam Clarke pointed out that, “In several instances, no doubt the scattered Canaanites returned, re-populated, and put those cities in a state of defense.”(F39)

Verses 38-39

“And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir, and fought against it: 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 remain, as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir, and to the king thereof; as he had done also to Libnah and the king thereof.”

“And all Israel with him” (Joshua 10:38). This expression appears in every paragraph throughout the summary, but the meaning of it is clearly that “the whole army” were those who accompanied Joshua, not the entire nation. This type of hyperbole is found throughout the Bible.

“And all the cities thereof” (Joshua 10:39). This expression also is used of Hebron and its environs. The meaning is that Joshua either put to death or scattered all the inhabitants of the entire area surrounding the larger cities.

Verses 40-43

“So Joshua smote all the land, the hill-country, and the South, and the lowland, and the slopes, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but he utterly destroyed all that breathed, as Jehovah the God of Israel, commanded. And Joshua smote them from Kadesh-barnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon. And all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time, because Jehovah the God of Israel, fought for Israel. And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.”

This concludes the account of how Joshua completed the Southern Campaign. There were apparently a number of smaller places which Joshua attacked over and beyond cities of the additional seven kings mentioned in Joshua 10:28-43.

“Kadesh-barnea” (Joshua 10:42). This was the southern limits of Joshua’s campaign. The land of Goshen mentioned in Joshua 10:41 is confusing until we learn that, “It was in the southern part of Judah and must be distinguished, of course, from the land of Goshen in Egypt.”(F40) Joshua 10:42 here probably indicates that significant omissions are made in this summary. “Whatever the case, the events recorded here are a significant step toward the complete subjugation of all the land of Canaan.”(F41)

“The Lord God of Israel fought for Israel” (Joshua 10:42). Indeed he did. As Blair stated, “Archeological research has shown how strongly fortified the Canaanite cities were, and how advanced was their civilization; Israel’s victory was nothing short of miraculous!”(F42)

Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Joshua 10". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bcc/joshua-10.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
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