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The five kings mentioned (Joshua 10:3) unite to form a powerful army to punish apostate Gibeon. When Joshua gets the request to help, he is in Gilgal. From there he leaves (Joshua 10:7) and the LORD gives him a great victory. Then he goes back to Gilgal. Even after he has taken several cities in southern Canaan, he returns to Gilgal (Joshua 10:43).
Gilgal is the place where the people have been circumcised (Joshua 5:2-1 Samuel :). For us it means that the Lord Jesus bore the judgment we deserved. To go from victory to victory, we must always remember what the Lord Jesus did for us. Otherwise we will rely on ourselves and the defeat will come.
Joshua is heard in a way no one has ever had (Joshua 10:14). We can also receive such hearing if we trust that the Lord Jesus will fight for us.
In Joshua 10 Joshua comes to our attention in a special way. It is a different Joshua from the failing Joshua of the previous chapters. He shows here the Divine power that characterizes him so much and in which he looks so much like the Lord Jesus in His acting through the Holy Spirit. With this he is also a picture of the individual believer who can come to powerful acts of faith through the Holy Spirit.
After his failure in Joshua 7 he goes to battle against Ai in Joshua 8. He extends the javelin until all enemies are defeated (Joshua 8:26). The same order we see in Joshua 9-10. After falling into Gibeon’s stratagem in Joshua 9, in Joshua 10 he uncompromisingly attacks the enemy in spiritual power. Joshua is the head of the people. In this chapter they will gain experiences that they would never have had if they had not been weak, such as the standing still of the sun and the stopping of the moon and God’s use of hailstones to defeat enemies.
After weakness come the greatest victories and experiences of faith. That is no excuse for weakness and unbelief. Nevertheless, grace proves itself stronger afterwards. That is typical of grace. God did not want the fall into sin either. Yet thereby His grace shines in a way that would not otherwise have been possible. We may experience this in our lives.
The Amorites Unite Against Gibeon
After the Gibeonite trick, the enemies unite and form a large army. This is the result of the weakness of God’s people shown in the previous chapter. But God knows how to use the failure of His people and even the wicked actions of man to His glorification. “But they do not know the thoughts of the LORD, And they do not understand His purpose; For He has gathered them like sheaves to the threshing floor” (Micah 4:12; cf. Revelation 17:17).
Adoni-zedek – that means ‘lord of justice’ – the king of Jerusalem, takes the initiative to form a common army to fight Israel. He heads the enemy allies. Here for the first time Jerusalem is mentioned, apart from Genesis 14, where Melchizedek – that is, ‘king of righteousness’ – the king of Salem, is mentioned (Genesis 14:18). Melchizedek blesses Abraham, unlike Adoni-zedek who heads the enemies of Abraham’s offspring. Adoni-zedek is a picture of the antichrist who will also be king of Jerusalem.
The application for us is that the further we get into the land, the more we meet an enemy that defends itself more and more, making the fight more and more fierce. Those who do not know the heavenly blessings, do not know any struggle in the land. Often the reason for not knowing the blessings is that one does not want to make an effort to get to know them. The believer has to make spiritual things his own. To be aware that the spiritual blessings are there is something else than to really know them.
Gibeon is a big city, her men are heroes and want to stay alive. Therefore they have entered into the people of God with deceit. This requires a certain amount of courage. They don’t belong to the people, but neither to the world, which is now hostile to them. They are never really happy. First they are afraid of Israel, now they are afraid of their former friends.
The Gibeonites Call Joshua for Help
Through their friendship with Israel, Israel is now also obliged to work for them. Israel does not use them, but they need Israel. ‘Gibeonites’ among us can be influential in the world, but they always lack spiritual strength. For this they call upon the people of God. They are just a plague and a burden. But God stands above it and can still use it to fulfill His plans. He has allowed it for that.
The LORD Defeats the Amorites
God wants His blessing to emerge from the failure of His own. If we see that, fear will disappear (Joshua 10:8). If faith is directed toward God, that is, if we trust in Him, we can continue trustingly. God has promised them victory. They must act, there must be fight. But when fighting with the LORD’s promise in mind, fight is only victory.
They move in the night. The attack is surprising. The LORD is fighting along. He confuses the enemy, so that the people can gain victory. The LORD has his own weapon in the hailstones: “Have you seen the storehouses of the hail, Which I have reserved for the time of distress, For the day of war and battle? (Job 38:22-Isaiah :; cf. Exodus 9:24-Lamentations :). With it He kills more than His people do by the sword.
The prophetic application is obvious when we think of the book of Revelation, where we also see hailstones coming as judgment from heaven (Revelation 16:21). The events in Joshua indicate the final victory. If we rejoice for the appearance of the Lord Jesus, we are also pleased that God will cleanse the earth of all evil and that our victories have also come to an end in the final victory. Then there is no more battle to fight.
From what Joshua says, speaks an enormous faith (Joshua 10:12). The Lord Jesus told us that we can move mountains if we have faith (Matthew 21:21-Song of Solomon :; Mark 9:23). Joshua is aware of the blessing God wants to give. Therefore he turns to God in faith and commands the sun and moon to stand still in the Name of God. He speaks his words before the eyes of the people, making them all witnesses of the consequences of his statement of faith. It gives his faith an extra dimension. He is sure of the hearing and bears witness to it. The people did not have that faith, but after seeing the hearing they will be strengthened by it. It may also have that effect on us.
We live in the day of victory, fighting against the wickedness in the heavenly places. The battle is not only between Joshua and Adoni-zedek, but between the God of Israel and the idols of the Canaanites, which are in reality the demonic powers that are concealed behind these idols. Baal is the sun god and Astarte the moon god. The enemy believes that the sun and moon are on their side. Through Joshua’s faith, they are fixed in their movement as proof that the God of Israel is truly and solely God.
We have the struggle against spiritual rulers and powers. Joshua seems to understand that it is not only about the kings of flesh and blood, but about those they are led by and who are on the side of the enemies. Joshua asks God to show His power over the evil powers.
When Joshua commands the sun to stand still, he fulfills God’s purpose, Whose power is all-powerful and Whose command sun and moon obey. Idolaters may call to the sun and moon for help, that is to say to Baal and Astarte, but the LORD, the supreme One, shows to His people that the powers of heaven are but his servants.
When Joshua says “sun, stand still”, it is not scientific language, but what is said in everyday language. Everyone says that the sun rises and sets. On that day the sun stays in the sky twelve hours longer. It is a very special, unique day. The voice of Joshua is heard as never was the voice of anyone else. He is a picture of the Lord Jesus.
We can also see the sun as a picture of the Lord Jesus. When the sun stands still, the light remains longer. The sun does not set over the world until the believers are caught up. The believers are “for you are all sons of light and sons of day” (1 Thessalonians 5:5). By the power of the Spirit of Christ, they can already in faith achieve victories that God will once publicly achieve over the whole earth.
We already see the Lord Jesus. He is heard by God in His death and resurrection. He is the Sun at God’s right hand. We live in the day that does not end until full victory is achieved. We see Him to Whom “all authority has been given … in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). The demonic powers shudder and tremble before this light of the sun.
The “the book of Jashar” or “the book of the upright” is a history book in which certain acts are recorded, possibly in poetic form, which are generally not included in the Scriptures (2 Samuel 1:18; Numbers 21:14; 1 Kings 14:19; 1 Kings 14:29). It is ancient Hebrew literature that has been lost. If it fits into God’s plan for His Word, Bible writers quote from it (cf. Titus 1:12).
Joshua Kills the Five Kings
In battle we don’t always have time to consider. Therefore, we must always listen to the Lord Jesus. The kings who have fled are first locked up, then the battle continues and later they deal with the kings. For every action the people receive instructions from Joshua.
Because the sun continues to shine, the kings flee for the light and seek the darkness of a cave to hide (John 3:20; cf. Revelation 6:15-Esther :). Their self-sought safety becomes first their prison and finally their grave. First they are locked up there, kept for the moment of judgment (cf. 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6). When the time for this has come, they are called out of darkness by name (Joshua 10:23), brought into light, and killed (Joshua 10:26).
The kings have escaped the hailstones, like Pharaoh and his horsemen escaped the plagues of Egypt. But escaping judgment is only temporary and for a purpose. God has let Pharaoh and his horsemen escape, “to show”, as He says to Pharaoh “you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth” (Exodus 9:16). That is also the case with these kings. It makes the final judgment all the clearer and includes a message, an encouragement, for the people.
Furthermore, some of them manage to escape (Joshua 10:20). That also fits in with God’s plan. There are always enemies left. That determines us that we must always remain vigilant.
The people return to the camp unharmed. The fact that no one dared to utter a word against them (Joshua 10:21) indicates that no Israelite has been in trouble for a single moment during the struggle or pursuit (cf. Exodus 11:7). Also, their actions were entirely in accordance with God’s will, so that no one could come up with and express a complaint about a wrong treatment.
The kings must be humiliated. This can seem overconfident and the danger of becoming overconfident is always present. We are never so weak as when we have achieved a great victory. But here it is an encouragement to the people. Every enemy will fall down for the people. Haman, the hater of the Jews, is an example of this: “If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish origin, you will not overcome him, but will surely fall before him” (Esther 6:13).
The people see the big, impressive enemies. Joshua orders the captains to put their feet on the kings’ necks. The putting of the foot on the neck is a proof of the complete victory and for the conquered a proof of complete humiliation (1 Kings 5:3; Psalms 110:1). Thus, according to the word of Moses, they step, spiritually spoken, on the heights – the heights we see here in these great men – of their enemies (Deuteronomy 33:29).
In the same way we are encouraged by the following promise: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Romans 16:20). This is not Paul bragging, but the language of faith. Thus will all enemies be to the Lord Jesus as a footstool for Him (1 Corinthians 15:25; Hebrews 1:13).
Joshua makes it clear through his command (Joshua 10:24) that there is no power left in the feared kings. They must accept this in faith. There is no more reason for fear (Joshua 10:25). Joshua kills the kings. This is also the final victory for the Lord Jesus. He kills His enemies. God gave “Him authority to execute judgment, because He is [the] Son of Man” (John 5:27). We, the church, are involved. We will judge the world and even angels, that is to say, rule it, govern it (1 Corinthians 6:2-Leviticus :).
The Cities in the Negev Conquered
Striking in this section is the recurring expression “Joshua and all Israel with him” (Joshua 10:29; Joshua 10:31Joshua 10:34; Joshua 10:36Joshua 10:38; Joshua 10:43). Here we can see a picture of the unity of the Lord Jesus and His own in judgment (Revelation 19:14-Ezra :).
Joshua captures the cities of three of the five kings: Lachis (Joshua 10:31-Jonah :), Eglon (Joshua 10:34-Habakkuk :) and Hebron (Joshua 10:36-Haggai :). The other two cities, Jerusalem and Jarmuth, are not yet captured. In this part of the land Gezer is also defeated (Joshua 10:33). Horam, the king of Gezer, wants to come to the rescue with his army Lachis, who has lost his king. He appears to be interfering in the matter to his own destruction.
Joshua also captures three more royal cities. First Makkedah (Joshua 10:28), in the neighborhood of which the five kings fled (Joshua 10:16). Now that Joshua and his armed forces have come there to persecute and kill the kings who have fled, he captures by the way the city. The flight of the kings thus accelerates the fall of this city. After that he also takes Libnah (Joshua 10:29-Amos :) and Debir (Joshua 10:38-Malachi :).
The king of Hebron is killed (Joshua 10:37). But, as we might notice, he is already killed among the five (Joshua 10:23; Joshua 10:26), isn’t it? One solution may be that a new king has risen immediately after his death. Enemies quickly follow each other to resist God’s people.
We could suppose that, now that the army has already entered the land so far and conquered it, they can also set their camp a bit further. But the army stays always in Gilgal (Joshua 10:43; Joshua 10:7). There the army is always reminded of the circumcision. This is necessary to gain strength for the next battle. That the LORD fights for Israel does not diminish the need to be reminded of the judgment of sin, of the flesh. We must always return to the place that suits us for God: the complete discarding of ourselves. There is a time to act and there is also a time to be still and to place ourselves before God so that we may be able to act.
Our consciousness of who we are we gain when we look at the death of Christ on the cross. That is the starting point for the battle in which the Lord is leading. Just then we will give Him everything in His hands. If the flesh starts to boast, the next defeat is a fact. Then there is no place for Him and He cannot fight for us. We return, not to be circumcised again, but to be reminded of the words of the Lord Jesus: “The flesh profits nothing” (John 6:63). If we remember that, we will perform the command: “Put to death therefore your members which [are] upon the earth” (Colossians 3:5 Darby Translation).
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Joshua 10". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
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