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Bible Commentaries

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Joshua 10

Introduction

A.M. 2553. B.C. 1451.

In this chapter we nave an account of the confederacy against Gibeon, and the request of the Gibeonites to Joshua , vv1-6. Of Joshua’s marching and defeating the confederate kings, Joshua 10:7-11 . Of the sun’s standing still, Joshua 10:12-14 . Of the execution of the kings, Joshua 10:15-27 . Of the taking their cities, and conquering all that country,28-42. Of the return of the army to Gilgal, Joshua 10:43 .

Verse 1

Joshua 10:1. Adoni-zedek, king of Jerusalem Who seems to have been the most powerful prince in Canaan, and carried in his name, which signifies The Lord of righteousness, an honourable title, such as had been anciently given to the kings of this place, who had been famous for doing justice. So Melchizedek undoubtedly was, of whom we have such honourable mention, Genesis 14:18. King of Jerusalem It is thought by many, that this city retained the name of Salem, which they suppose it had in Abraham’s time, till the Israelites came into the land of Canaan, and took possession of it, when they called it Jerusalem, from ירשׁ , Jarash, and שׁלום , Shalum, to possess peace: or from Jerus, the same as Jebus, with the change of one letter only, and Shalem, the place having belonged to the Jebusites. How the inhabitants of Gibeon were among them Among the Israelites, that is, were conversant with them, had submitted to their laws, and mingled interests with them.

Verses 2-3

Joshua 10:2-3. They feared greatly Namely, Adoni-zedek and his people, he being spoken of ( Jos 10:1 ) as a public person, representing all his people. Gibeon was as one of the royal cities Either really a royal city, and having a king, or equal to one of the royal cities, though it had not a king.

It seems indeed to have been governed by elders, Joshua 9:11. Adoni- zedek sent Either because he was superior to them, or because he was nearest the danger, and most forward in the work.

Verse 5

Joshua 10:5. The five kings of the Amorites This name is here taken generally for any of the Canaanites. But, strictly speaking, the citizens of Hebron were Hittites, those of Jerusalem, Jebusites, and the Gibeonites made a part of the Hivites. It is reasonably supposed that the Amorites, being numerous and victorious beyond Jordan, had poured forth colonies into the land of Canaan, subdued divers places, and so communicated their name to all the rest.

Verses 6-7

Joshua 10:6-7. Slack not thy hand from thy servants Do not neglect or delay to help us, whom thou art obliged to protect both in duty, as thou art our master, and for thy own interest, we being part of thy possessions; and because we have given ourselves to thee, and put ourselves under thy protection. In the mountains In the mountainous country. So Joshua ascended Having no doubt asked counsel of God first, which is implied in the answer God gives him, Joshua 10:8. All the mighty men That is, an army of the most valiant men picked out from the rest: for it is not probable either that he would take the whole army with him, consisting of so many hundreds of thousands, who would only have embarrassed and hindered one another, or that he would leave the camp without an army to defend it.

Verse 9

Joshua 10:9. Joshua came unto them suddenly Though assured by God of the victory, yet he uses all prudent means. And went up from Gilgal all night It is not said that he went from Gilgal to Gibeon in a night’s space, but only that he travelled all night; unto which you may add part either of the foregoing or of the following day. It is true, God had promised that he would, without fail, deliver the enemies into his hand. But God’s promises are intended, not to slacken, but to quicken our endeavours. He that believeth, doth not make haste to anticipate providence; but doth make haste to attend it, with a diligent, not a distrustful speed.

Verse 10

Joshua 10:10. At Gibeon That is, near Gibeon; for it is plain they were not in the city; and so ought we to take the particle at, in many other places of Scripture, as signifying no more than nigh unto. Along the way that goeth up to Beth-horon That is, to the place which was afterward called by that name; for there was no such place at the time of this battle, it being built after they were settled in Canaan, as we read 1 Chronicles 7:24. And it probably was so called from the miraculous destruction which overtook the enemies of Israel here; for Beth-horon signifies the place of anger or fury. It stood upon a hill, as appears by the expression here used, of going up to Beth-horon.

Verse 11

Joshua 10:11. The Lord cast down great stones That is, hail-stones of an extraordinary greatness, cast down with that certainty as to hit the Canaanites, and not their pursuers the Israelites. Josephus affirms that thunder and lightning were mixed with the hail, which may seem probable from Habakkuk 3:11. They had robbed the true God of his honour, by worshipping the host of heaven, and now the host of heaven fights against them, and triumphs in their ruin. Beth-horon lay north of Gibeon, Azekah and Makkedah south, so that they fled each way. But which way soever they fled, the hailstones pursued them. There is no fleeing out of the hands of God!

Verse 12

Joshua 10:12. Then spake Joshua Being moved so to do out of zeal to destroy God’s enemies, and directed by the motion of God’s Spirit, and being filled with a holy confidence, that what he said would be accomplished. And he spake it in the sight That is, in the presence and audience; of all Israel That they might be witnesses of the fact. Sun, stand thou still Joshua does not speak according to the terms of modern astronomy, which it would have been highly improper for him to have done, as he would not have been understood by the people that heard him, but according to the appearance of things. The sun appeared to the Israelites over Gibeon, the moon was over the valley of Ajalon, which we may suppose to be situated in a different direction; and there, in the name of God, he commanded them to continue to appear, which they did for a whole day That is, either for the space of twelve hours, or for the time of one whole diurnal revolution. “Nothing,” we may observe in the words of Dr. Dodd, “is more common in Scripture than to express things, not according to the strict rules of philosophy, but according to their appearance, and the vulgar apprehension concerning them. For instance, Moses calls the sun and moon two great lights; but however this appellation may agree with the sun, it cannot in the same sense signify the moon, which is now well known to be but a small body, and the least of all the planets, and to have no light at all but what it borrows by a reflection of the rays of the sun; appearing to us larger than the other planets, merely because it is placed nearer to us. From this appearance it is that the Holy Scriptures give it the title of a great light. In like manner, because the sun seems to us to move, and the earth to be at rest, the Scriptures represent the latter as placed on pillars, bases, and foundations, compare the former to a bridegroom issuing from his chamber, and rejoicing as a giant, to run his course, and speak of his arising and going down, and hastening to the place from whence he arose, &c., when it is certain, that if the sun were made to revolve round the earth, the general laws of nature would thereby be violated, the harmony and proportion of the heavenly bodies destroyed, and the economy of the universe thrown into confusion and disorder. The general design of God, when he inspired the sacred writers, having been to form mankind to holiness and virtue, not to make them philosophers, it no way derogates from the respect due to the Holy Spirit, or from the consideration which the writings of those holy men merit, whose pens he directed, to suppose that, in order to accommodate themselves to the capacity, the notions, and language of the vulgar, they have purposely spoken of the phenomena of nature in terms most conformable to the testimony of the senses.” Add to this, those who are best informed in, and most assured of, the system of modern astronomy, and therefore well know that the succession of day and night is not caused by any motion of the sun and moon, but by the rotation of the earth upon its own axis; yet continually speak of the rising and setting, ascending and declining of the sun and moon, according as they appear to our senses to do. Indeed, if they spoke otherwise they would not be understood by people in general.

Verse 13

Joshua 10:13. And the sun stood still God heard Joshua’s request, and gave him the thing he asked for, a prolongation of the day to near twice the length of any other day. This is the fact here attested, and this we are bound to believe on the divine testimony. But as to the manner in which this wonderful miracle was accomplished, God has not informed us; and to make inquiries concerning it would be a mere waste of time, being beyond our discovery and comprehension. Until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies That is, till they had utterly destroyed them. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? This book was written and made public before Joshua wrote his history, and is therefore properly alluded to here. It was probably a collection of records, or of poems, concerning the principal events of these wars, and no doubt gave a further account of this miracle. But this and some other books of these ages have long been lost, not being canonical, and therefore not preserved by the Jews with the same care wherewith they guarded their inspired writings. If it seem strange to any one that so wonderful an event as is here recorded should not be mentioned by any heathen writers, it may be answered, 1st, That many learned men have shown that there is a great appearance of its being alluded to in many of the fables of the heathen poets, and mythologists of Greece and Rome, and in the histories of the Chinese. But whether or not, it must be observed, 2d, That it is confessed by the generality of writers, heathen and others, that there is no certain history or monument in heathen authors of any thing done before the Trojan war, which happened a thousand years after Joshua’s time, and that all the ages preceding that war are termed, by the most learned heathen, the uncertain, unknown, or obscure time.

Verse 14

Joshua 10:14. There was no day like that Namely in those parts of the world in which he here speaks. Vain, therefore, is that objection, that the days are longer near the northern and southern poles, where they are constantly longer at certain seasons, and that by the order of nature; whereas the length of this day was surely contingent, and granted by God in answer to Joshua’s prayer. The Lord hearkened to a man Namely, in such a manner as to alter the course of nature, that a man might have more time to pursue and destroy his enemies. The Lord fought This is added as the reason why God was so ready to answer Joshua’s petition, because he was resolved to fight for Israel, and that in a more than ordinary manner. We may observe here how remarkably pertinent both the miracle of the hailstones, and this of the sun’s being arrested in his course, were to the circumstances of the persons concerned in them. All nations had at this time their several tutelar deities, to whose protection they committed themselves and their country, and to whose power they imputed their successes in war. Now, the three principal deities whom the inhabitants of Canaan adored, were the sun, moon, and heavens, or air. To convince them, therefore, that the gods in whom they trusted were subject to the God of Israel, and to punish them, at the same time, for the false worship they paid them, “the Lord showered down great hailstones from the heavens, or air, which slew vast numbers of their powerful army; and then stopped the two great luminaries in their course,” which gave the Israelites time and opportunity to complete their victory over the remainder. It may be thought, perhaps, that the whole motive which induced Joshua to put up his prayer for the prolongation of the day, was only his zeal and eagerness for gaining an entire conquest over his enemies; but we cannot imagine that Joshua should, without a special intimation from heaven, have addressed unto God the prayer concerning the sun and moon, which he is recorded to have done in the sight of Israel; for of what an extravagance would he have appeared guilty, if an effect had not been given to what he asked for? Or how could he be so wild as to think of an accomplishment of so strange an expectation as this would have been, had it been only a thought of his own heart to wish for it? But unquestionably the same Lord who spake unto him before the battle, who bade him not fear the armies of the Canaanites, who assured him that they should not be able to stand before him, directed him to ask for this wonderful miracle, and in granting what he asked for, gave a full testimony, both to the Israelites and their enemies, that the gods of the heathen were but idols, and that it is the Lord that made (and that ruleth in) the heavens.

Verse 15

Joshua 10:15. And Joshua returned Not immediately, but after he had performed what is related in the following part of this chapter, as appears by Joshua 10:43, where the very same words are repeated.

Verse 16

Joshua 10:16. These five kings hid themselves in a cave A place of the greatest secrecy; but there is no escaping the eye or hand of God, who here brought them into a net of their own making. At Hebrew, in, Makkedah Not in the city, for that was not yet taken; but in the territory of it.

Verse 19

Joshua 10:19. Suffer them not to enter their cities Whereby they would have recovered their strength, and renewed the war. God hath delivered them Your work will be easy; God hath already done the work to your hands.

Verses 20-21

Joshua 10:20-21. Joshua and the children of Israel Rather, the children of Israel, by the command of Joshua; for Joshua himself went not with them, but abode at the siege before Makkedah. And all the people returned to the camp To the body of the army, who were encamped there with Joshua, to besiege that place. In peace That is, in safety; all that detachment sent to pursue the enemies came back safe to the camp; not a man of them was lost, or so much as wounded. None moved his tongue Not only their men of war could not find their hands, but they were so confounded that they could not move their tongues to reproach any of the children of Israel, as doubtless they did when the Israelites were first repulsed and smitten at Ai: but now they were silenced as well as conquered.

Verse 24

Joshua 10:24. Put your feet on the necks, &c. This he commanded, not in insolence and pride, but in token that these kings and their countries were brought into an absolute subjection to the Israelites, that God had fulfilled his promise in part, (Deuteronomy 33:29,) and to assure his captains that he would completely fulfil it, and subdue the proudest of their enemies under their feet.

Verses 27-29

Joshua 10:27-29. They took them down That neither wild beasts might come to devour them, nor any of their people to give them honourable burial. Thus, that which they thought would have been their shelter was made their prison first, and then their grave. So shall we surely be disappointed, in whatever we flee to from God. And that day On which the sun stood still. Nor is it strange that so much work was done, and places so far distant were taken in one day, when the day was so long, and the Canaanites struck with such a terror. He let none remain From the severity wherewith this and the following cities were treated, and the command given, (Deuteronomy 20:10,) it has been inferred, with much probability, that offers of peace had been made them by Joshua before he fought against them, and that they had rejected these offers. All Israel with him unto Libnah Namely, all who were with him in this expedition.

Verses 35-37

Joshua 10:35-37. They took it on that day On which they first attempted it. Unto Hebron The conquest of Hebron, here generally related, is afterward repeated, and more particularly described, chap. Joshua 15:13-14. And the king thereof Their former king was one of the five whom Joshua had lately killed and hanged, but it seems they had now set up a new sovereign, their city being of great note, since it had other cities depending on it, and subject to its jurisdiction, as appears from the next words.

Verse 38

Joshua 10:38. Joshua returned to Debir Joshua had not been there before, but having advanced as far south and west as he thought expedient, even as far as Gaza, which was in the western coast, (Joshua 10:41,) he now returned toward the camp at Gilgal, which was north-east from him, and in his march thither took Debir, which afterward was a city of Judah, (Joshua 15:49,) and one of the cities of the priests, Joshua 21:15.

Verse 40

Joshua 10:40. All that breathed That is, all mankind; they reserved the cattle for their own uses. As God had commanded This is added for the vindication of the Israelites, whom God would not have to suffer in their reputation for executing his commands; and therefore, he acquits them of that cruelty which they might be thought guilty of, and ascribes it to his own just indignation. And hereby was typified the final destruction of all the impenitent enemies of the Lord Jesus, who, having slighted the riches of his grace, must for ever feel the weight of his wrath.

Verse 41

Joshua 10:41. From Kadesh-barnea Which lay in the south of Canaan, (Numbers 34:4; Deuteronomy 1:19,) and belonged to the tribe of Judah, Joshua 15:3. Gaza was a city of the Philistines, in the south-west part. So he here signifies that Joshua did, in this expedition, subdue all those parts which lay south and west from Gilgal. All the country of Goshen There was a city in the tribe of Judah of this name, which, like Hebron, was situated in the mountains, in the southern part of the country, (Joshua 15:51,) from which city the adjacent region was called the country of Goshen. This tract was enriched with excellent pasture lands and plenteous streams, like that country in Egypt of the same denomination, and thence was called Goshen, as Pellicanus conjectures; because the Hebrew word geshem signifies copious showers, which impart fertility to the earth. Even unto Gibeon Which was in the more northerly part of the country. And therefore, as the former account specified the conquests of Joshua from the south to the west, so here his conquests from the south to the north are related.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 10". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/joshua-10.html. 1857.