Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Joshua 10

Verses 1-43

The Conquest of Southern Canaan

This chapter narrates the successful campaign against the five confederate chiefs of the S., who are roused by the fall of Jericho and Ai and the alliance with Gibeon, and combine under the leadership of Adonizedek of Jerusalem to retaliate upon the Gibeonites. Bringing succour, as in duty bound, to his new allies, Joshua encounters the confederate forces in Beth-horon. By divine aid he inflicts on them a signal defeat, captures and slays all five kings, and follows up his success by a prompt reduction of six Amorite strongholds in swift succession. A concluding paragraph (Joshua 10:40-43) describes the work of conquest so far, as summary and complete.

1. Adonizedek] The name recalls that of his famous predecessor Melchizedek, the contemporary of Abraham: see on Genesis 14:18.

2. Because Gibeon was a great city] commanding the chief pass to the western plains and but a few miles from Jerusalem: see on Joshua 10:10.

3, 4. Of the confederate cities three were subsequently reduced by Joshua: see on Joshua 10:29-38.

5. Amorites] a general name for the mountain tribes.

6-14. Battle of Gibeon (or Beth-horon): Joshua, summoned by the Gibeonites to their aid, def eates the Amorites.

10. The pass of Beth-horon leading to the valley of Aijalon is of great strategic importance, being the main outlet from Gibeon and Jerusalem towards the coast. 'Throughout history,' says G. A. Smith, 'we see hosts swarming up this avenue or swept down it in flight.' Azekah.. Makkedah] between Philistia and the hill-country of Judah.

11. Great stones from heaven] a hailstorm, in which the hand of God is discerned.

12-14. Then spake Joshua] This celebrated passage (as will be seen in RV) consists of (1) a prose introduction, Joshua 10:12; (2) a poetical fragment quoted from the book of Jasher, Joshua 10:12, Joshua 10:13; and (3) a prose comment on that quotation, 13b; 14.

The four lines from the book of Jasher run, literally, as follows:—Sun, be thou dumb upon Gibeon; And thou, moon, in valley of Aijalon!

And the sun became dumb, and the moon stood, Till the people were avenged on their foes.

Taken by themselves these four lines might refer to an eclipse, or to a prolongation of the darkness of the hailstorm (see Joshua 10:11). The sun is spoken of as 'dumb' when not shining, as in Dante's 'Inferno,'

1. 60, the sunless shade is 'dove il sol tace' (where the sun is speechless). At first sight the comment in Joshua 10:13; Joshua 14 seems decisive against this interpretation. But Edersheim regards these vv. as themselves (substantially) quoted from the book of Jasher; in which case they would be poetical and figurative, and other writers boldly take them as a later gloss, written at a time when the figurative language of the poem was misunderstood. In favour of this view is the fact that there are no certain references to this event as miraculous in the other books of the OT.; and it is not till Joshua 180 b.c. (Sirach 46:4) that we find the first clear mention of the miracle as making 'the sun go back'; an interpretation which was followed by the author of the 'Psalms of Solomon' (Joshua 18:14) Joshua 50 b.c., and by Josephus, and has been the 'traditional' one till lately. This interpretation of the incident, which makes it involve a literal 'staying of the sun,' i.e. in modern language, an arresting of the earth's rotatory motion, has not unnaturally tried the faith of many who, while accepting the doctrine of God's omnipotence, feel that such a kind of interpretation contradicts what God Himself has taught them about the orderly working of His universe. Whether we regard the divine answer to Joshua's prayer as given in the form of a prolongation of the daylight, in spite of the hailstorm (see Edersheim), or (perhaps better) as prolongation of the storm darkness, we must not forget that the record is poetry and not prose, and the inspired language of the passage ancient and oriental, not modern, western, and scientific.

13. The Book of Jasher] Yashar='Upright' or 'Pious.' The book was presumably a collection of national heroic songs. Elsewhere it is quoted by name only in 2 Samuel 1:18 (David's elegy over Saul and Jonathan). Possibly we may ascribe to the same source other poems, like the Song of Deborah (Judges 5), which has itself a later prose commentary attached to it (Judges 4).

24. Put their feet upon the necks] The monuments of Assyria and Egypt afford graphic parallels.

26. Slew them and hanged them] The hanging was an additional insult wreaked on the corpse: cp. Deuteronomy 21:22, Deuteronomy 21:23.

29. Libnah] in the lowlands of Judah: also Lachish (Joshua 10:31), Gezer (Joshua 10:33) and Eglon (Joshua 10:34).

36. Hebron] (El Khalil, 'the friend' of God) Abraham's city in the mountain of Judah, and one of the six Levitical cities of refuge (20 T).

38. Debir] also called Kirjath-Sepher, and falling, like Hebron, to Caleb. It lay in the hill-country of Judah, or in the Negeb (Joshua 15:15-19), perhaps on the border.

40-43. On these divisions of the country see on Joshua 15. A summary like this must not be pressed too literally, but read in the light of other narratives like Judges 1. The meaning is that Joshua's work was thorough, as far as it went; that it was carried out in a spirit of absolute loyalty to the divine commands (cp. Deuteronomy 20:16-17); and that all its success (Joshua 10:42) was due to the divine leadership and assistance.

40. The campaign in southern Palestine included the hills of Judah, the south, i.e. the Negeb, the vale (RV 'the lowland'), i.e. the Shephelah, and the springs (RV 'the slopes') between the hill-country and the Shephelah.

41. Goshen] in the mountain of Judah (Joshua 15:51).

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Joshua 10". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.