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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Joshua 10

 

 

Verses 1-43

Joshua 10:1. Adonizedek, lord of righteousness. Zedek was common in the names of the kings of Jerusalem, as Melchizedek.

Joshua 10:11. Great stones—hail stones, as in many versions. So is Psalms 68:14. “When the Almighty scattered kings, it was white as snow in Salmon.” The hail in Egypt destroyed men and cattle. Diodorus Siculus says, that “as the Persians were on their march to plunder the temple of Delphos, a violent storm of thunder and lightning fell on their camp, which killed a great number of the men.” Mr. Harmer mentions a Saracen army almost cut to pieces with sheets of hail.

Calmet contends, but without proof, that these were real stones which fell from heaven. It is a fact fully demonstrated, that ærolites or air-stones have fallen from the clouds, and in countless showers, in different ages. Some of those stones weigh a few ounces; others of various weights, from one to three hundred pounds. On the 13th of Dec. 1795, one fell in Major Topham’s park, at Wold Cottage, near Scarborough, which weighed fifty six pounds.

Those large ærolites have been analyzed by the ablest chemists, and found to contain in 100 parts, 50 silica (flint) and from 30 to 36 iron, about the same proportion as in the great rock of primitive iron ore at Taberg in Sweden. The other parts are one tenth magnesia, with small proportions of nickel and sulphur.

Therefore those ærolites are, without a doubt, real iron ores. Those I have inspected are radiated, and somewhat in appearance like the radiated pyrites found in the chalk. They must have been formed in the matrices of subterranean strata.—If so, how could they fall from the air?

It is recorded in our books of science, and in our encyclopedias, that in the year 1660, a mountain of South America burst with so terrible an explosion as to cover the whole country to the distance of sixty miles, with the detritus eight inches deep, and some fragments were propelled to the distance of ninety, and others of a hundred and thirty miles.

Now, as we cannot propel a cannon ball more than three miles, those fragments having attained a high elevation, must have met with little or no obstruction from the levity of the air in the higher regions. Why then might not those ærolites, and perhaps much aided by the electric fluid, have taken their flights to unaccountable distances? Their fall has often been accompanied with a hissing noise, and brilliant flashes of lightning; hence the name thunder-bolt stones.

Joshua 10:12. Sun, stand thou still. Consequently it was noon at Gibeon for the space of ten or twelve hours. The moon, as seen from the valley of Ajalon, about to set in the western sky, lingered to shroud herself below the horizon. The whole heavens delayed their course to see the victories of the Lord; or rather, the earth stopped her diurnal motion, to prolong the day for the Lord’s servant to avenge his quarrel. Kimchi gives us a Hebrew tradition, that the sun and moon stood still for thirty six hours. The battle being fought on the eve of the sabbath, Joshua, fearing lest the Hebrews might profane the sabbath, spread his hands abroad that the sun might stop his course on the sixth day, according to the measure of the sabbath.

Agamemnon seems to have known all this, when he rose in the council of the Grecian kings, and prayed, “Oh Jove, first in glory, Being supreme, high ruler of storms! Oh dweller of heaven, Jove, let not the sun go down, nor darkness shroud the silent world, till I shall throw down the proud towers of aged Priam, till with hostile fire I consume the gates of the devoted Troy. Edit. Macpherson.

Astronomy being one of the earliest studies of humankind, the double length of this day must very much have struck and alarmed the world. And as it happened but a few ages before the commencement of Grecian literature, tradition must have conveyed it to their poets and historians, who, in conformity to the taste of the age, dressed up all the traditions of antiquity in curious fables. Hence we find that Statius had heard of it, and supposed it to have happened about the time of the Theban war, when Atreus made an inhuman banquet of Thyestes’ children. Other writers imagined it to have been in the days of Phaeton, and Ovid has beautified the fable told of him, that he occasioned it, by having obtained leave to guide the chariot of the sun that day, which he was in nowise able to manage. Thus the heathen poets and mythologists dressed up and disfigured the hints which they found in ancient records. Atreus was father of Agamemnon, and lived but a generation before the Trojan war, and therefore the sun’s standing still in the days of Joshua could not have happened in his time; so that Statius, or any other writer from whom he took the hint, was not true in their chronology; but Phaeton lived much earlier. The sun stood still in the days of Joshua, in the year of the world 2554. Phaeton was then about twenty four years old; and thus the time of Phaeton’s life may synchronize with the year of the sun’s standing still in the days of Joshua. The fable told of him might have its first rise from a fact recorded to have happened in his youth, dressed up and diversified with the various fictions of succeeding mythologists, until it was brought up to what Ovid left it.

On recurring to the history of China, we there find historical facts relating to the subject before us. The very ancient records of the Chinese report, that in the reign of their emperor Yao, the sun did not set for the space of ten days, and they feared the world would be involved in a conflagration. Yao, according to Martin, was the seventh emperor of China, Fohi being the first: and as he computes, from the first year of Gohi’s reign to Yao’s, are three hundred and eighty seven years. Fohi reigned one hundred and fifteen years; after him Xin-num, one hundred and forty; Hoang-ti one hundred, Xaohaon eighty four, Chuen-hio seventy eight, Cou seventy, and next to him succeeded Yao. The first year of Fohi’s reign in China was in the year of the world 1891: count down from hence 587 years, and the first year of Yao will be the year of the world 2479. Yao reigned ninety years, in the year of the world 2560. The year in which the sun stood still in the days of Joshua, was in the year of the world 2554, in about the seventy fifth year of Yao’s reign. And thus what is recorded in the Chinese annals synchronizes to the fact related by Joshua. The Chinese records are said to report, that the sun did not set for ten days: but we suspect our European writers have not here exactly hit the meaning of the Chinese annals, and that the word they have translated days, may perhaps rather signify a space of time little more than one of our hours. If so, the sacred historian, and the Chinese annals agree minutely in their time of the duration of this miracle. In Herodotus we have a clear and undisputed testimony to the same effect. The priests of Egypt shewed him a record of a long day. See Isaiah 38.

Joshua 10:13. The book of Jasher. See on Numbers 21:14. 2 Samuel 1:18.

Joshua 10:40. So Joshua—left none remaining, for reasons assigned in the law. Leviticus 18:24-25.

REFLECTIONS.

How glorious is the accession of so many heathen testimonies in this astonishing interposition of heaven, to avenge itself of the seven nations, whose iniquities were full. How glorious is the triumph of Israel over all their foes. And God still fights for his people: they also shall triumph, and put their feet on death the last enemy, as the Hebrew warriors trampled on the allied kings.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 10:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/joshua-10.html. 1835.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, December 8th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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