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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1Now it came to pass, when Adonizedek king of Jerusalem had heard how Joshua had taken Ai, and had 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;
Adoni-zedec - i. e "Lord of righteousness" (compare Melchizedek, "King of righteousness"); probably an official title of the Jebusite kings.
Jerusalem - i. e. "foundation of peace," compare Genesis 14:18. The city belonged to the inheritance of Benjamin Joshua 18:28, but was on the very edge of the territory of Judah Joshua 15:8. Hence, it was the strong and war-like tribe of Judah which eventually captured the lower part of the city, most likely in the days of Joshua's later conquests Judges 1:8, and after the warlike strength of the Jebusites had been weakened by the defeat in the open field, recorded in this chapter. The upper town, more especially the fortified hill of Zion, remained in the hands of the Jebusites, who accordingly kept a footing in the place, along with the men of Judah and Benjamin, even after the conquest Joshua 15:63; Judges 1:21; and would seem, indeed, to have so far, and no doubt gradually, regained possession of the whole, that Jerusalem was spoken of in the days of the Judges as a Jebusite city. David finally stormed "the stronghold of Zion," and called it "the City of David" 2 Samuel 5:6-9. It was, probably, only after this conquest and the adoption by David of the city as the religious and political metropolis of the whole nation, that the name Jerusalem came into use 2 Samuel 5:5 in substitution for Jehus.
2That 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.
3Wherefore Adonizedek king of Jerusalem sent unto Hoham king of Hebron, and unto Piram king of Jarmuth, and unto Japhia king of Lachish, and unto Debir king of Eglon, saying,
For Hebron, see Genesis 13:18. Jarmuth, afterward one of the cities of Judah Joshua 15:35, is probably identified with the modern Yarmuk. Lachish was also a city of Judah Joshua 15:39, and, like Jarmuth, occupied by Jews after the captivity, Nehemiah 11:39. It was fortified by Rehoboam after the revolt of the Ten tribes 2 Chronicles 11:9, and seems to have been regarded as one of the safest places of refuge 2 Kings 14:19. Through Lachish the idolatry of Israel was imported into Judah Micah 1:13, and of this sin the capture of the city by Sennacherib was the punishment 2 Kings 18:14-17; 2 Kings 19:8. Lachish is by most authorities identified with Um Lakis, lying some twenty miles west of Eleutheropolis, on the road to Gaza (and by Conder with El Hesy).
Eglon is the modern Ajlan.
4Come up unto me, and help me, that we may smite Gibeon: for it hath made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel.
5Therefore 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 before Gibeon, and made war against it.
6And the men of Gibeon sent unto Joshua to the camp to Gilgal, saying, 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 mountains are gathered together against us.
The language reflects the urgency of the crisis. Accordingly Joshua made a forced march, accompanied only by his soldiers Joshua 10:7, and accomplished in a single night the distance from Gilgal to Gibeon (about 15 miles in a direct line), which on a former occasion had been a three days' journey Joshua 9:17.
7So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valour.
8And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee.
9Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night.
10And the LORD discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Bethhoron, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah.
Beth-horon - The two places of this name, the upper and the lower Beth-horon (marginal reference), are identified with the villages Beit-ur el Foka (the upper) and Beit-ur et Tahta (the lower): Beit-ur being probably a corruption of Beth-horon. The name itself ("house of caves") points to the exceedingly rocky character of the district. Upper Beth-horon was between six and seven miles west of Gibeon; and "the way that goeth up to Beth-horon" must accordingly be the hilly road which leads from Gibeon to it. Between the two Beth-horons is a steep pass, "the going down to Beth-horon" Joshua 10:11; and here the Amorites were crushed by the hailstones. The main road from Jerusalem and the Jordan valley to the seacoast lay through the pass of Beth-horon; and, accordingly, both the Beth-horons were secured by Solomon with strong fortifications 2 Chronicles 8:5. It was in this pass that Judas Maccabaeus routed the Syrians under Seron (1 Macc. 3:13ff). and here also, according to Jewish traditions, the destruction of the host of Sennacherib took place 2 Kings 19:35.
Azekah, which has not been as yet certainly identified, was in the hill country, between the mountains around Gibeon and the plain (see the marginal reference). It was fortified by Rehoboam 2 Chronicles 11:9 and besieged by the Babylonians Jeremiah 34:7 shortly before the captivity. It was an inhabited city after the return from the exile Nehemiah 11:30.
Makkedah - The exact site of this town is uncertain. It was situated in the plain between the mountains and the line of seacoast which the Philistines held Joshua 15:41, and no great way northeast of Libnab Joshua 12:15-16. (Warren (Conder) identifies it with the modern el Mughhar, a village on the south side of the valley of Torek.)
11And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Bethhoron, that the LORD cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.
Compare Ecclesiasticus 46:6. Frightful storms occasionally sweep over the hills of Judaea; but this was evidently a miraculous occurrence, like the hail which smote Egypt Exodus 9:24 and the tempest which fell on the Philistines at Ebenezer 1 Samuel 7:10.
12Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD 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 Ajalon.
These four verses seem to be a fragment or extract taken from some other and independent source and inserted into the thread of the narrative after it had been completed, and inserted most probably by another hand than that of the author of the Book of Joshua.
It is probable that Joshua 10:12 and the first half of Joshua 10:13 alone belong to the Book of Jasher and are poetical, and that the rest of this passage is prose.
The writer of this fragment seems to have understood the words of the ancient song literally, and believed that an astronomical miracle really took place, by which the motion of the heavenly bodies was for some hours suspended. (Compare also Ecclesiasticus 46:4.) So likewise believed the older Jewish authorities generally, the Christian fathers, and many commentators ancient and modern.
It must be allowed, indeed, that some of the objections which have been urged against this view on scientific grounds are easily answered. The interference, if such there were, with the earth's motion was not an act of blind power ab extra and nothing more. The Agent here concerned is omnipotent and omniscient, and could, of course, as well arrest the regular consequences of such a suspension of nature's ordinary working as He could suspend that working itself. It is, however, obvious, that any such stupendous phenomenon would affect the chronological calculations of all races of men over the whole earth and do so in a similarly striking and very intelligible manner. Yet no record of any such perturbation is anywhere to be found, and no marked and unquestionable reference is made to such a miracle by any of the subsequent writers in the Old or New Testament. For reasons like these, many commentators have explained the miracle as merely optical.
The various explanations show how strongly the difficulties which arise out of the passage have been felt. Accordingly, stress has been laid by recent commentators on the admitted fact that the words out of which the difficulty springs are an extract from a poetical book. They must consequently, it is argued, be taken in a popular and poetical, and not in a literal sense. Joshua feared lest the sun should set before the people had fully "avenged themselves of their enemies." In his anxiety he prayed to God, and God hearkened to him. This is boldly and strikingly expressed in the words of the ancient book, which describes Joshua as praying that the day might be prolonged, or, in poetical diction, that the sun might be stayed until the work was done. Similarly, Judges 5:20 and Psalm 18:9-15 are passages which no one construes as describing actual occurrences: they set forth only internal, although most sincere and, in a spiritual sense, real and true convictions. This explanation is now adopted by theologians whose orthodoxy upon the plenary inspiration and authority of holy Scripture is well known and undoubted.
In the sight of Israel - literally, "before the eyes of Israel," i. e. in the sight or presence of Israel, so that the people were witnesses of his words. (Compare Deuteronomy 31:7.)
Sun, stand thou still - literally, as margin, "be silent" (compare Leviticus 10:3); or rather, perhaps, "tarry," as in 1 Samuel 14:9.
Thou, moon - The words addressed to the moon as well as to the sun, indicate that both were visible as Joshua spoke. Below and before him, westward, was the valley of Ajalon; behind him, eastward, were the hills around Gibeon. Some hours had passed, since in the early dawn he had fallen upon the host of the enemy, and the expression "in the midst of heaven" Joshua 10:13 seems to import that it was now drawing toward mid-day, though the moon was still faintly visible in the west. If the time had been near sunset, Joshua would have seen the sun, not, as he did, eastward of him, but westward, sinking in the sea.
The valley of Ajalon - i. e. "the valley of the gazelles." This is the modern Merj Ibn Omeir, described by Robinson, a broad and beautiful valley running in a westerly direction from the mountains toward the great western plain. The ancient name is still preserved in Yalo, a village situated on the hill which skirts the south side of the valley.
13And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.
Book of Jasher - i. e. as margin, "of the upright" or "righteous," a poetical appellation of the covenant-people (compare "Jeshurun" in Deuteronomy 32:15, and note; and compare Numbers 23:10, Numbers 23:21; Psalm 111:1). This book was probably a collection of national odes celebrating the heroes of the theocracy and their achievements, and is referred to again (marginal reference) as containing the dirge composed by David over Saul and Jonathan.
About a whole day - i. e. about twelve hours; the average space between sunrise and sunset.
14And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.
15And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.
Joshua's return (compare Joshua 10:43) to Gilgal was not until after he had, by the storm and capture of the principal cities of south Canaan, completed the conquest of which the victory at Gibeon was only the beginning.
This verse is evidently the close of the extract from an older work, which connected the rescue of Gibeon immediately with the return to Gilgal, and omitted the encampment at Makkedah Joshua 10:21, and also the details given in Joshua 10:28-42.
16But these five kings fled, and hid themselves in a cave at Makkedah.
The thread of the narrative, broken by the four intermediate verses, Joshua 10:12-15, is now resumed from Joshua 10:11.
17And it was told Joshua, saying, The five kings are found hid in a cave at Makkedah.
18And Joshua said, Roll great stones upon the mouth of the cave, and set men by it for to keep them:
19And stay ye not, but pursue after your enemies, and smite the hindmost of them; suffer them not to enter into their cities: for the LORD your God hath delivered them into your hand.
20And 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, that the rest which remained of them entered into fenced cities.
21And all the people returned to the camp to Joshua at Makkedah in peace: none moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel.
Joshua himself remained at Makkedah with the guards set before the cave. The other warriors would not return from the pursuit until the evening of the overthrow of the Amorites; and the execution of the kings and the capture of Makkedah itself belong, no doubt, to the day following Joshua 10:27-28.
None moved his tongue - See the marginal reference and note.
22Then said Joshua, Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings unto me out of the cave.
23And 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, and the king of Eglon.
24And it came to pass, when they brought out those kings unto Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said unto the captains of the men of war which 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.
Put your feet upon the necks of these kings - A symbol of complete subjugation (compare the marginal references and 1 Corinthians 15:25).
25And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom ye fight.
26And afterward Joshua smote them, and slew them, and hanged them on five trees: and they were hanging upon the trees until the evening.
27And 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 been hid, and laid great stones in the cave's mouth, which remain until this very day.
28And that day Joshua took Makkedah, 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 let none remain: and he did to the king of Makkedah as he did unto the king of Jericho.
29Then Joshua passed from Makkedah, and all Israel with him, unto Libnah, and fought against Libnah:
Libnah - The word means "white" or "distinct," and undoubtedly points to some natural feature of the spot, perhaps the "Garde Blanche" of the Crusaders, a castle which stood on or near the white cliffs which bound the plain of Philistia to the east opposite to Ascalon. It was in the southern part of the hill-country of Judah Joshua 15:42, and was one of the cities afterward assigned to the priests Joshua 21:13.
30And the LORD 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 let none remain in it; but did unto the king thereof as he did unto the king of Jericho.
31And Joshua passed from Libnah, and all Israel with him, unto Lachish, and encamped against it, and fought against it:
32And the LORD delivered Lachish into the hand of Israel, which 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.
33Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua smote him and his people, until he had left him none remaining.
Gezer lies on the southern border of the tribe of Ephraim Joshua 16:3. It was considerably to the northward of Joshua's present line of operations, and does not appear to have been captured at this time. He contented himself for the present with repulsing the attack made upon him, killed Horam (compare Joshua 12:12), inflicting a severe defeat upon his people, and then continued to pursue his conquests over the confederated kings and their allies in south Canaan.
34And from Lachish Joshua passed unto Eglon, and all Israel with him; and they encamped against it, and fought against it:
35And 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.
36And Joshua went up from Eglon, and all Israel with him, unto Hebron; and they fought against it:
37And 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 destroyed it utterly, and all the souls that were therein.
The king thereof - No doubt the successor of the king slain at Makkedah Joshua 10:23.
All the cities thereof - i. e. the smaller towns dependent upon Hebron. The expression marks Hebron as the metropolis of other subject towns.
38And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir; and fought against it:
Joshua returned - The words mark a change in the direction of the march. Joshua from Hebron turned to the southwest, and attacked Debir or Kirjath-sepher and its dependencies Joshua 15:15.
39And 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 remaining: as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir, and to the king thereof; as he had done also to Libnah, and to her king.
40So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded.
See Joshua 9:1. "The south" was the Negeb Numbers 13:17. Render "the springs" "slopes." The word here means the district of undulating ground between "the vale" (or שׁפלה shephêlâh) last named and "the hills."
41And Joshua smote them from Kadeshbarnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon.
From Kadesh-barnea unto Gaza - Numbers 13:26 This limits Joshua's conquests on the west, as the other line, "all the country of Goshen unto Gibeon," does on the east. Goshen Joshua 15:51 has not been identified. It was in the southern part of the territory of Judah, and is, of course, quite distinct from the Goshen of Genesis 46:28.
42And all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel.
At one time - i. e. in one campaign or expedition, which no doubt lasted some days, or perhaps weeks (compare Joshua 11:18).
43And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.