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This chapter treats of the combination of five kings against the Gibeonites, ( Joshua 10:1-5); and of the application of the Gibeonites to Joshua, for assistance, in virtue of the league between them, which was granted, ( Joshua 10:6-9); of the slaughter of the army by the kings of Israel, and chiefly by hailstones from heaven, ( Joshua 10:10,11); and of the standing still of the sun, and of the moon, while vengeance was taken on them, ( Joshua 10:12-14); and of the five kings being hid in a cave, and of the usage of them when taken, ( Joshua 10:15-27); and of the taking of Makkedah, Libnah, Lachish, Eglon, Hebron, and Debir, ( Joshua 10:28-39); which finished the conquest of the southern part of the land, ( Joshua 10:40-43).
Ver. 1 . Now it came to pass, when Adonizedek king of Jerusalem , etc.] So called, perhaps by anticipation, Jerusalem, since it seems to have had this name given it by the Israelites, when they had got possession of it: and Jerusalem signifies “the possession of Salem” f155 , and in memory of this its ancient name, the Jews say f156 , they do not put “jod” in Jerusalem between “lamed” and “mem”; though some make the signification of it, “they shall see peace” f157 ; and others, nearer to its old name, and with respect to it, “fear Salem”, O ye enemies. Now the king of this place had heard how Joshua had taken Ai, and had utterly destroyed it ; which, being nearer to him than Jericho, the more alarmed him: as he had done to Jericho and her king, so he had done to Ai and her king ; burnt the one, and slew the other; and this terrified him, lest he and his city should undergo the same fate: and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel, and were among them ; which as it weakened the interest of the kings of Canaan, might set an example to other places to do the like. Abarbinel suggests, that the Gibeonites making peace with Israel secretly, without the knowledge of their king, as he supposes, made Adonizedek fearful, lest his subjects should do the like; the Jewish chronologers say f158 , that these three acts respecting Jericho, Ai, and Gibeon, were all finished within three months.
Ver. 2 . That they feared greatly , etc.] The king of Jerusalem and his people, lest they should fall into the hands of the Israelites, and be used as Jericho and Ai, and the kings and inhabitants of them were, and that they would be the next that should fall a sacrifice to them; for Gibeon was fifty furlongs from Jerusalem, as Josephus says f159 ; and in another place he says but forty, which were but five miles; and if fifty, but little more than six miles; according to Bunting f161 , it was but four miles: and what added to their terror was, because Gibeon [was] a great city ; being a metropolitan city, and having others subject to it; therefore the surrender of that to the Israelites might intimidate other cities, and lead them by example to do the like, and so of bad consequence: as one of the royal cities ; the Vulgate Latin version omits the note of similitude, and reads, “and one of the royal cities”; and sometimes “caph” or “as” is not a note of likeness, but of reality; yet as we nowhere read of a king of Gibeon, the sense may be, that though it was not a royal seat, it was equal to those that were, and like one, being a metropolitan city: and because it [was] greater than Ai : had more inhabitants in it, and perhaps better fortified: and all the men thereof [were] mighty ; men of strength, courage, and valour, warlike men, and therefore for such a city to yield so easily, and in such a base, mean, and cowardly way, was setting a very bad example.
Ver. 3 . Wherefore Adonizedek king of Jerusalem sent to Hoham king of Hebron , etc.] Which, according to Jerom was twenty two miles from Jerusalem; it was an ancient city built seven years before Zoan in Egypt; (see Gill on “ Genesis 13:18”) and (see Gill on “ Numbers 13:22”): and unto Piram king of Jarmuth ; a city which fell to the lot of Judah, as did Hebron, ( Joshua 15:35,54); according to Jerom f163 , it was four miles distant from Eleutheropolis; according to Procopius fourteen, about the village Eshtaol, near to which Samson was buried, ( Judges 16:31); but Jerom speaks of a city called Jermus, in the tribe of Judah, which seems to be the same with this; and which he says in his day was a village, that went by the name of Jermucha, ten miles from Eleutheropolis, as you go to Aelia or Jerusalem; and as Eleutheropolis lay twenty miles from Jerusalem, this place must be ten miles from it, lying between them both: and unto Japhia king of Lachish ; which the above writer says was a city in the tribe of Judah, and in his time a village, seven miles from Eleutheropolis, as you go to Daroma, or the south; and, according to Bunting f167 , it lay between Eleutheropolis and Hebron, and was twenty miles from Jerusalem towards the southwest: and unto Debir king of Eglon ; which the Septuagint version calls Odollam or Adullam; and Jerom, following this version, makes Eglon the same with Adullam, when it is certain they were different places, and had distinct kings over them, ( Joshua 12:12,15); and which he says in his time was a very large village, twelve miles from Eleutheropolis to the east; and, according to Bunting it was twelve miles from Jerusalem southward. To these four kings the king of Jerusalem sent: saying ; as follows.
Ver. 4 . Come up unto me, and help me, that we may smite Gibeon , etc.] For which he thought himself not a match, not only because it was a great city, and full of mighty men, and had other cities subject to it, but because he might reasonably judge that Joshua would come to their assistance if possible, being in league with him; he sends to these kings in an authoritative manner, as if they were in some respects subject to him; and he proposes Jerusalem as the place of their rendezvous, and which it seems lay higher than their cities, though they were in the mountainous part of the country: for it hath made peace with Joshua, and with the children of Israel ; their avowed enemies, and so had separated themselves from their countrymen, and from their common interest; and therefore it was thought proper to make an example of them, that others might fear to do the same.
Ver. 5 . Therefore the five kings of the Amorites , etc.] For though they were chiefly Hittites that dwelt in Hebron, and Jebusites who inhabited Jerusalem; yet as the Amorites were the most powerful people in the land, and had dispersed themselves in the several parts of it, and seem to have the greatest authority in it, they were all called Amorites, and perhaps the kings of those cities were of them, and set over them by them; so we find that the Gibeonites, who were Hivites, are said to be of the remnant of the Amorite, ( 2 Samuel 21:2); 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 ; that is, to Jerusalem, the place of their rendezvous, and from thence they marched: and encamped before Gibeon, and made war against it : by besieging it, and attacking it in some of its forts.
Ver. 6 . And the men of Gibeon sent unto Joshua to the camp to Gilgal , etc.] Which some think they did when besieged, and not before, which showed their faith in the power of God, whom they now professed; but it is not likely that they should defer sending for help so long, since it is reasonable to suppose they might have heard of the design of the five kings against them; or that they should be able to send out messengers when surrounded on all sides; it may be better therefore to render the words, “had sent” f170 , which they did as soon as they heard of the preparations made by the five kings to war with them, and of their rendezvous at Jerusalem, and especially as soon as they had information of their march towards them: saying, slack not thine hands from thy servants ; they entreat that he would not neglect them, be indifferent to them, and delay to assist them, since they were his subjects; and were entitled to his protection: come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us ; they did not doubt, if he made haste and helped them, but they should be saved by him: for all the kings of the Amorites that dwell in the mountains are gathered together against us . Jerusalem lay among mountains, and Hebron was in the hill country in Judea, (see <19C502> Psalm 125:2 Joshua 21:11 Luke 1:39); and the other cities were doubtless in a like situation.
Ver. 7 . So Joshua ascended from Gilgal , etc.] Which lay low in the plains of Jericho: he and all the men of war with him ; which must not be understood of the whole camp of Israel, which consisted of five hundred thousand fighting men at least; since such a number was unnecessary for this expedition, and could not have proceeded with that haste the case required; nor would it have been prudent and advisable to have left the unarmed people, old men, women, and children, defenceless; but these were a select company of able men, fit for travel as well as war: and all the mighty men of valour ; or “even all”, as many as were picked out for the purpose, being men of strength, activity, and courage.
Ver. 8 . And the Lord said unto Joshua , etc.] Either when upon the march, and while he was proceeding on in his journey to the assistance of the Gibeonites, or rather before he set out; and it is highly probable he consulted the Lord on this occasion, having, it may be, some doubt on his mind, whether he should go to their assistance, since the league between them was obtained by fraud; and the words may be rendered, “and the Lord hath said” f171 : before he set forward with his men of war: fear them not ; the five kings, and their combined army: for I have delivered them into thine hand ; had determined to do it, and which was as certain as if it had been actually done: there shall not a man of them stand before thee ; but be either cut off, or obliged to flee.
Ver. 9 . Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly , etc.] Which no doubt threw them into consternation and confusion: [and] went up from Gilgal all night ; he chose the night for secrecy and surprise, and that he might be the sooner with the enemy, and to the assistance and relief of Gibeon; and as it was about nine or ten miles from Gilgal to Gibeon, it was easily performed in a night’s march; (see Gill on “ Joshua 9:6”).
Ver. 10 . And the Lord discomfited them before Israel , etc.] Disturbed, troubled, and frightened them, at the appearance and presence of the people of Israel; they were thrown into terror and confusion upon their approach, being so sudden and unexpected: and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon ; by the Israelites, who came upon them suddenly: and chased them along the way that goeth up to Bethhoron ; there were two places of this name, the upper and the nether, both built by Sherah, the daughter or granddaughter of Ephraim, ( 1 Chronicles 7:24); therefore here so called by anticipation. It was about an hundred furlongs, or twelve miles and a half, according to Josephus f172 , from Jerusalem, which agrees with Eusebius and Jerom; and from Gibeon thither, it was fifty furlongs, or six miles and a quarter; so far the kings were pursued by Joshua and his army, at least unto the ascent of it; for being built on a hill, it had an ascent on one side, and a descent on the other, after mentioned, and both were very narrow passages; of the former it is said in the Talmud f173 , that if two camels go up the ascent to Bethhoron, they both fall; upon which the gloss says, it is a narrow place, and there is no way to turn to the right hand, or the left: and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah ; the former of which is placed by Jerom between Eleutheropolis and Jerusalem, and was a village in his days, and the other eight miles from Eleutheropolis, and both in the tribe of Judah, (see Joshua 15:35,41); according to Bunting f175 , they were both eight miles from Jerusalem towards the west.
Ver. 11 . And it came to pass, as they fled before Israel, [and] were in the going down to Bethhoron , etc.] The descent of it on that side towards Azekah, and which was also a very narrow passage, of which Josephus f176 makes mention. The Jews say f177 , that the going down of Bethhoron was the place where the army of Sennacherib fell: that the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died ; the Septuagint version calls them hailstones; and so they are called in the next clause; and that such sometimes have fallen as to kill men and cattle, is certain from the plague of hail in Egypt, ( Exodus 9:19,25); and some in very late times have been known to fall, which were from eight, nine, and twelve inches about, some bigger than the eggs of turkeys, and some half a pound weight, (see Gill on “ Revelation 16:21”); but these seem to be proper stones, such as did not melt away as hailstones do; though so called, because they fell from heaven, as they do, but remained, and still remain, according to the notion the Jews have of them; for they say whoever sees these great stones, in the going down to Bethhoron, is bound to bless; and frequent mention is made by historians of showers of stones being rained. Livy speaks of such a shower when King Tullus conquered the Sabines; and of another f181 , when Scipio succeeded at Carthage; and Pomponius Mela relates, that when Hercules fought with the sons of Neptune, and darts failed him, he obtained of Jupiter to rains shower of stones, which lay spread in great abundance; and some think it refers to this fact in Joshua’s time, who is supposed to be the same with the Tyrian Hercules f184 , from hence also called Saxanus f185 ; and in memory of this there are stony camps in various places, called by his name f186 : [they were] more which died with hailstones than [they] whom the children of Israel slew with the sword ; but what was the number of each of them is not said; it was doubtless very great, since there was an utter destruction and consumption of them, ( Joshua 10:20).
Ver. 12 . Then spake Joshua to the Lord , etc.] In prayer, and entreated as follows, that the sun and moon might stand still, until the victory was complete; though the Jewish writers interpret it of a song; so the Targum, then Joshua praised, or sung praise, as in the Targum on ( Song of Solomon 1:1); and which is approved of by Jarchi and Kimchi: in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel ; the five kings of the Amorites, and their armies, ( Joshua 10:5); and he said, in the sight of Israel ; in their presence, and in the hearing of great numbers, being under a divine impulse, and having strong faith in the working of the miracle, after related, and that it would be according to his word; he was bold to say what he did, being fully persuaded he should not be disappointed, and made ashamed: sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon, and thou, moon, in the valley of Ajalon ; where they now appeared, and were seen by all Israel, the one as if over Gibeon, and the other as in the valley of which Masius thinks is the same with the valley of Gibeon, ( Isaiah 28:21); and so must be near Gibeon, and the sun and the moon not far from one another, as they might be if it was now new moon, as Kimchi and R. Isaiah; or on the decrease; some say seven days before her change: but Abarbinel is of opinion that it was near the full of the moon, which was just rising in the valley of Ajalon, and the sun near setting as it seemed over Gibeon, and were just opposite one to another; and Joshua fearing he should not have time to pursue his enemies, and make the victory entire, should the sun set, prays that both sun and moon might continue in the position they were; the sun that he might have the benefit of daylight, which was the chief thing desired; the moon being only mentioned, that the heavenly motions might not be confounded, and the order of the orbs disturbed; and he observes, with Jarchi and Kimchi, that Gibeon was in the tribe of Benjamin, ( Joshua 18:25); and Ajalon in the tribe of Dan, ( Joshua 19:42); and it may be observed, that there was also another in the tribe of Zebulun, ( Judges 12:12); but that seems to be at too great a distance; and still less probable is what some late travellers have observed f187 , that the plain of Sharon near Joppa, is thought by many to be the place where Joshua defeated the five kings, when the sun stood still, etc. the opinion of Masius, first mentioned, seems most likely.
Ver. 13 . And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed , etc.] The sun that came out of his chamber like a bridegroom, and rejoiced as a strong man to run his course, stopped his course at once; and the moon that walks in her brightness proceeded not on, but both stood still, motionless, and continued in this position: until the people had avenged themselves on their enemies : until the nation and people of Israel had taken vengeance on and destroyed the live kings and their forces: how this is to be reconciled to the Copernican system, or that with this, I shall not inquire. It was a most wonderful and surprising phenomenon, to see both luminaries standing still in the midst of heaven; it is pretended by some historians f188 , that a like miracle was wrought at the battle of Mulberg, won by the Emperor Charles the Fifth, on April 24, 1547. In the Chinese history it is reported, that in the time of their seventh, emperor, Yao, the sun did not set for ten days, and that men were afraid the world would be burnt, and there were great fires at that time; and though the time of the sun’s standing still is enlarged beyond the bounds of truth, yet it seems to refer to this fact, and was manifestly about the same time; for this miracle was wrought in the year of the world 2554, which fell in the seventy fifth, or, as some say, the sixty seventh year of that emperor’s reign, who reigned ninety years: [is] not this written in the book of Jasher ? about which the Jews are divided; some say it is the book of Genesis, others the book of Deuteronomy, others the book of Judges f190 ; the Targum interprets it of the book of the law, and so Jarchi and Kimchi; and Ben Melech interprets it of the book of the law of Moses, where they suppose this miracle was predicted. The former thinks, in the words of Jacob to Joseph, “his seed shall fill the nations”, ( Genesis 48:19); which he supposes was fulfilled in Joshua of the tribe of Ephraim, when the whole world was filled with the fame of him on account of this miracle; and the latter in the words, “before all thy people I will do miracles”, ( Exodus 34:10); one was in making the face of Moses to shine, the other the standing still of the sun for Joshua, as he interprets it. Bolducius, a commentator on the book of Job f191 , fancies that that book is designed, and that this miracle is foretold in it, particularly in ( Job 9:7); “which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not”; it is most likely that this book of Jasher, in which this miracle was recorded, was a public register, or annals, in which memorable events were written, as they happened in different ages by different persons; and Masius thinks Josephus means this by the archives laid up in the temple, to which he appeals for the truth of this miracle: so the sun stood still in the midst of heaven ; somewhere above the horizon, very probably this was about noon, when the sun was in its meridian.
Gussetius thinks about ten or eleven o’clock; it may be supposed that early in the morning Joshua came up with his troops, and engaged the kings, and it might be noon before the battle was over, and the victory obtained, at least before Joshua had proceeded in his pursuit of them, so far as he had done, when the miracle was wrought; and the rather, as it would be the more conspicuous in the several parts of the world; for had it been near sun setting, it could not have been seen in some places, and particularly by the Chinese, as it seems to have been by what has been observed: and hasted not to go down about a whole day ; which was either artificial or natural; if an artificial day, then it stood still but twelve hours; if a natural day, twenty four hours; and accordingly the length of the day must be judged of; if it was at noon when it stood still, and continued so a natural day, or twenty four hours, then as it had gone six hours to noon, and, after it returned to its motion, had six more to go to its setting, this day must be thirty six hours long; and so the Jews commonly say f194 ; but if an artificial day, or twelve hours, then it was but a day of twenty four hours; but if this was, as the Jews say f195 , on the third of Tammuz, which answers to part of June, and was in the summer solstice, on the longest day in the year, when their days consisted of fourteen hours, this will make this long day four hours longer. According to the author of Ecclesiasticus, in the Apocrypha: “Did not the sun go back by his means? and was not one day as long as two?” (Sirach 46:4) it was a double day, or, as he expresses it, one day became two, or was as long as two. (In the late 1960’s, someone circulated a story that NASA had discovered there was a missing day in the solar system. Using this passage they accounted for about twenty one missing hours and the account in ( Isaiah 38:8) to account for the rest of the missing time. This story is a complete fable and has absolutely no basis in fact. Editor.)
Ver. 14 . And there was no day like that, before it, or after it , etc.] Which must be understood as referring not to natural days, or such as are according to the natural course of things, as those in the northern and southern poles, which are much longer, but to miraculous and extraordinary ones: never was there such a day as this, occasioned by the sun standing still; and as for Hezekiah’s day, which is objected, when the sun went ten degrees backward on the dial of Ahaz, it is not certain whether those degrees were hours, or half hours, or quarters of an hour; and if they were hours, as the going backwards was at once, in a moment, it could only make an addition of ten hours in the return of them, and so it must make but a day of twenty two hours: besides, the writer of this book only speaks of days that had been in his time, and not of what might be hereafter; add to which, that this respects not so much the length of the day, as the manner in which it became so long; and especially it regards the following circumstance, being at the entreaty of a man, and that delivered in a very authoritative manner: that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man ; expressed in prayer, and which prayer was a prayer of faith: for the Lord fought for Israel : by casting hailstones upon their enemies, and preserving them from them by the stopping the course of the sun, until they had taken full vengeance on them. The day on which this miracle was wrought, is conjectured to be Wednesday the eleventh of April, in the year before Christ 1454 f196 .
Ver. 15 . And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal .] That is, he thought to have returned, had determined upon it, and prepared for it, but was prevented by hearing that the five kings had hid themselves in a cave at Makkedah; which he ordered to be stopped up till the people had finished the pursuit of their enemies, when he destroyed Makkedah, and which led him on to the conquest of other places before he returned; or else this verse stands not in its proper place, or is superfluous, since the same is expressed ( Joshua 10:43); after all the above mentioned was done; the Septuagint version leaves it out.
Ver. 16 . But these five kings fled , etc.] They were not killed by hailstones, nor slain by the sword of the Israelites, but made their escape, being reserved by the providence of God for a more shameful end: and hid themselves in a cave at Makkedah ; not in the city of Makkedah, which as yet was not in the hands of Israel, whereas this cave was, as appears by what follows; but it was in some hill, or mountain, near it; in the border of it, as Kimchi expresses it, and where a hill is shown to this day in which it was, as Drusius says.
Ver. 17 . And it was told Joshua , etc.] Either by some of his own people, or by some of the inhabitants of the land in his interest, who had observed it: saying, the five kings are found hid in a cave at Makkedah : this seems to make it appear that they were others, and not Joshua’s soldiers, that found them; for had they, no doubt they would have seized them, and brought them before him, or slain them, unless they chose first to know his will concerning them, next expressed.
Ver. 18 . And Joshua said, roll great stones upon the mouth of the cave , etc.] To keep the kings in, that they might not make their escape, until he had convenient time to have them brought before him, and be treated by him as they deserved; and no doubt there were plenty of stones about the hill or mountain, in which this cave was, fit for this purpose: and set men by it for to keep them ; as a guard upon them, to prevent their escape.
Ver. 19 . And stay you not, [but] pursue after your enemies , etc.] That is, do not stay at this cave, but having placed a sufficient guard there, go in pursuit of the enemy, with as much celerity as possible: and smite the hindmost of them ; their rear; or “tail” them f197 , as the word is, cut off the tail of them: suffer them not to enter their cities ; where they would not only be safe themselves for a while, but would be able to hold out against a siege for some time, and give much trouble to conquer them: for the Lord your God hath delivered them into your hands ; this he said to encourage them, and quicken them to the pursuit of them with all eagerness and vehemence. According to the Samaritan Chronicle f198 , the signal or watchword was, “God is strong in battle, God is his name.”
Ver. 20 . And it came to pass, when Joshua and the children of Israel , etc.] Joshua seems to have pitched his camp at Makkedah, while the rest of his army pursued the fleeing Canaanites, and when he and they were at different places: had made an end of slaying them with a very great slaughter, till they were consumed : and not to be seen in any large bodies, but scattered here and there: that the rest [which] remained of them entered into fenced cities ; to which they belonged, and which were afterwards taken, as related in the latter part of this chapter, ( Joshua 10:28-42).
Ver. 21 . And all the people returned to the camp to Joshua at Makkedah in peace , etc.] Sound and well, as not one killed or missing, so not one wounded, as the Vulgate Latin version, “sound and in full number:” none moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel ; as to curse them, reproach them, and speak ill of them, for invading them, and using them in the manner they did, such was the terror that was upon them. It may be supplied, “not a dog moved” his tongue, as in ( Exodus 11:7); as it was with them when they came out of Egypt, so it was when they entered the land of Canaan. It seems to be a proverbial expression, as Ben Gersom observes, signifying that no harm was done to them by word or deed.
Ver. 22 . Then said Joshua, open the mouth of the cave , etc.] That is, roll away the great stones that were laid at the mouth of it: and bring out those five kings unto me out of the cave ; to receive their sentence in a public manner, for the encouragement of his troops and the terror of the Canaanites, particularly Makkedah, now besieged by him.
Ver. 23 . And they did so , etc.] Opened the mouth “of” the cave, by rolling away the stones: and brought forth those five kings unto him out of the cave ; who are next mentioned by name, one by one, according to their dignity, and in the order they were brought unto him: the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, [and] the king of Eglon ; who are particularly named for the greater glory of the conquest, and the triumph over them.
Ver. 24 . And it came to pass, when they brought out these kings unto Joshua , etc.] And set them before him, and he had passed sentence on them: that he called for all the men of Israel ; that is, for the chief men, the principal officers of the army: and said unto the captains of the men of war which went with him ; the chiliarchs and centurions, the captains of thousands and hundreds, of the several regiments in the army who went out to battle with him, and under him: come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings ; not in a contemptuous and insulting manner, not through vanity and haughtiness, but for the mortification of the kings; and as a token of their extreme subjection, and as a proper punishment for their crimes of idolatry, tyranny, and cruelty; and by way of terror to others of the kings of Canaan that should fight against them, and as a pledge and confirmation of the subjection of the rest, as well as to fulfil the promises and predictions of God, ( Deuteronomy 33:29); and which was done not of himself, but by the order, and according to the will of God: and they came near, and put their feet upon the necks of them ; as Joshua ordered them, and in obedience to him their general.
Ver. 25 . And Joshua said, rest not, nor be dismayed , etc.] Not meaning at the kings, who perhaps lay bound upon the ground, or however were not in a condition to make any resistance, so that they had nothing to fear from them; but this respects future time, and what other enemies they should meet with; who would be brought into subjection to them as these were, and therefore from hence should take heart: be strong, and of good courage ; and go on valiantly in subduing the rest of their enemies, and not be afraid of them: for thus shall the Lord do to all your enemies against whom ye fight ; put them into their hands, and give them power to tread on their necks: this shows that what Joshua did, or ordered to be done, was of the Lord.
Ver. 26 . And afterwards Joshua smote them and slew them , etc.] With the sword; either by his own hands, or by others whom he ordered to slay them: and hanged them on five trees ; to their shame and disgrace, and the terror of others: and they were hanging upon the trees until the evening ; by way of contempt of them, and as a spectacle of terror to others, especially to the inhabitants of Makkedah, and their king they were now besieging.
Ver. 27 . And it came to pass, at the time of the going down of the sun , etc.] Which was the time fixed by the law of God for taking down bodies that were hanged, ( Deuteronomy 21:23); [that] Joshua commanded, and they took them down off the trees ; not from, any respect to them, but that they might not defile the land, as dead bodies in a ceremonial sense did, ( Deuteronomy 21:23); and this Joshua was the more careful of, as they were just entered into it, and were taking possession of it: and they cast them into the cave wherein they had been hid ; so that what had been their hiding place now became their grave; and according to the Samaritan Chronicle f199 , the trees also on which they were hanged were cast in with them; and laid great stones in the cave’s mouth : not as a monumental pile, as in the instances of Achan and the king of Ai, ( Joshua 7:26 8:29); but to prevent their carcasses being dragged out, and eaten by wild beasts, as some think; or that they might not be taken out, and buried in a more honourable manner: [which remain] until this very day ; when Joshua was grown old, the writer of this book.
Ver. 28 . And that day Joshua took Makkedah , etc.] Some say it was the day on which the sun stood still; but it seems to mean the day in which the five kings were hanged: and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof ; slew the inhabitants of it and their king, after having entered and taken it: he utterly destroyed them and all the souls that [were] therein, he let none remain ; that is, all human souls or persons; for the cattle were taken for a prey: and he did to the king of Makkedah as he did unto the king of Jericho ; slew him with the sword, along with the inhabitants, but did not hang him up, as he did the king of Ai and the five kings.
Ver. 29 . And Joshua passed from Makkedah , etc.] After he had taken it, and destroyed its inhabitants, and its king: and all Israel with him ; that is, all the men of war he took with him from the camp at Gilgal, from whence he went to the relief of Gibeon: unto Libnah, and fought against Libnah ; a city that fell to the tribe of Judah, ( Joshua 15:42). Jerom says, in his time it was a village, in the region of Eleutheropolis, and was called Libnah; according to Bunting it was but two miles from Makkedah.
Ver. 30 . And the Lord delivered it also, and the king thereof, into the hand of Israel , etc.] At once, no opposition being made that we read of: and he smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that [were] therein, he let none remain in it ; that is, Israel smote it, or Joshua, and indeed both; and this was according to the orders given them to be observed with respect to all the cities and nations of Canaan; and that because of their abominable sins and wickedness, and to make way and room for the people of Israel, ( Deuteronomy 7:1,2); but did unto the king thereof as he did unto the king of Jericho : slew him with the inhabitants.
Ver. 31 . And Joshua passed from Libnah, and all Israel with him, unto Lachish , etc.] Which, according to Bunting f202 , was eight miles from Libnah, and twenty miles from Jerusalem to the southwest of this city; (see Joshua 10:5); and encamped against it, and fought against it ; for it seems this city stood out, and would not surrender at once, which obliged Joshua to encamp about it, and besiege it.
Ver. 32 . And the Lord delivered Lachish into the hand of Israel, which he took on the second day , etc.] Either the second day from the slaughter of the kings, or rather the second day of the encampment or siege; so Kimchi: 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 ; no mention is made of its king, because he was one of the five kings that had been hanged up; so that at the taking of this city there was no king.
Ver. 33 . Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish , etc.] Perhaps the rather induced to it, because it had no king to defend it. In Jerom’s time it was a village called Gazera, four miles from Nicopolis, or Emmaus, to the north: if this king came before the city was taken, he was not able to raise the siege; and if he came after, and so too late, he fell into the hands of Joshua: and Joshua smote him, and his people, until he had left him none remaining ; destroyed him and all his army, so that there were none left to return and relate their unhappy case.
Ver. 34 . And from Lachish Joshua passed unto Eglon , etc.] Which, according to Bunting f204 , was eight miles from Lachish, and twelve from Jerusalem southward, of which (see Joshua 10:5); and all Israel with him, and they encamped against it, and fought against it ; it not surrendering at once, but attempted to hold out a siege.
Ver. 35 . And they took it on that day , etc.] The same day they encamped about it and besieged it; the besieged finding they were not able to keep it: and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that [were] therein he utterly destroyed that day ; made an utter devastation of all its inhabitants: according to all that he had done to Lachish ; the last city he took; this having no king as that had not, its king being one of the five that had been hanged, ( Joshua 10:26).
Ver. 36 . And Joshua went up from Eglon, and all Israel with him, unto Hebron , etc.] Which lay in the hill country, and therefore they are said to go up to it from Eglon, which lay lower; and, according to Bunting f205 , it was sixteen miles from it: and they fought against it ; it making some resistance at first, and did not surrender at once, as demanded.
Ver. 37 . And they took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword , and the king thereof , etc.] For though the king of Hebron was one of the kings that were taken in the cave of Makkedah, and hanged; yet before Joshua came up to it, they had set up another king over them: and all the cities thereof ; for Hebron was a metropolitan city, and had other cities dependent on it, and subject to it: and all the souls that [were] therein ; both in Hebron, and in the cities subject to it: he left none remaining ; in any of them: according to all that he had done to Eglon ; the last place he came from: but destroyed it utterly, and all the souls that [were] therein ; but it seems that afterwards some that made their escape before the taking of the city, and other Canaanites driven out of their habitations, repeopled it; so that after Joshua’s death it was recovered again by the tribe of Judah, ( Judges 1:10); unless there is given in that place a more particular account of the taking of this city, with others at this time; but the former seems most likely.
Ver. 38 . And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir , etc.] A city, according to Kimchi, which he passed by when he went to Hebron, and did not fight against it; but, when he had taken Hebron, returned and took it; and which Bunting says was but a mile from it, and twenty two miles from Jerusalem, towards the south; it is the same with Kirjathsepher and Kirjathsannah, ( Joshua 15:15,49); the city of a book or books; and the Rabbins say f207 , that with the Persians Debir signifies the same, and had its name from a library which was here kept, or from the archives in which the most memorable things since the flood were recorded; or from the making of paper or parchment, or whatsoever was made use of for writing, and of which volumes of books were made: and fought against it ; it refusing to submit to him upon his summons.
Ver. 39 . And he took it, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof , etc.] For this also was a royal city, and had others dependent on it; and therefore must lie further from Hebron than before suggested; and indeed Burchard says it was five or six miles from it, and another writer f209 says ten miles: and they smote them with the edge of the sword ; the inhabitants of Debir, and the other cities adjacent to it; and utterly destroyed all the souls that [were] therein, he left none remaining ; and yet it seems this city recovered again, and was reinhabited, and after the death of Joshua was taken by Othniel, ( Judges 1:11-13); unless, as before observed, with respect to Hebron, there is there a more particular account of the taking of it at this time: as he had done to Hebron, so did he to Debir, and to the king thereof , as he had done also to Libnah and her king ; that is, slew them.
Ver. 40 . So Joshua smote all the country of the hills and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings , etc.] That part of the land of Canaan which lay southward, and consisted of hills and vales; which abounded with springs, and was a well watered country, and agrees with the description Moses gives of it, though he never saw it, ( Deuteronomy 8:7); he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed ; that is, all human creatures; for as for the cattle, they were spared as a prey: as the Lord God of Israel commanded ; this law is extant, ( Deuteronomy 20:16); and which is here observed to clear the Israelites from the charge of cruelty and inhumanity; since what they did was not of themselves, nor from a private spirit of revenge, nor a greedy desire after the substance of the inhabitants; but in obedience to the command of God, and who ordered this as a righteous punishment of those people for their gross abominations of idolatry, incest, etc. (see Leviticus 18:1-30).
Ver. 41 . And Joshua smote them, from Kadeshbarnea , etc.] Which lay to the south of the land of Canaan, ( Numbers 13:17,26 32:8 34:4); even unto Gaza , which lay to the southwest, and was one of the five principalities of the Philistines; of which city (see Gill on “Amos 1:7”); and (see Gill on “ Acts 8:26”); and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon ; to which he returned back in his way to his camp at Gilgal, having conquered all the southern part of the country. This country of Goshen is not that in the land of Egypt, as Kimchi rightly remarks. Bishop Cumberland is of opinion, that the Phoenician or Canaanitish pastors, who were driven out of Egypt before their expulsion, inhabited that part of Egypt called Goshen, which the Israelites some years after dwelt in; and when those shepherds were driven out, they came into this part of the land of Canaan, and called it after the name of the country they left in Egypt; and might perhaps the rather choose to give it this name, because of the goodness and fruitfulness of it, in which it resembled the country they had formerly dwelt in.
Ver. 42 . And all these kings, and their land, did Joshua take at one time , etc.] Not in one day, but in a very short time, in a few days, as the history clearly shows: because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel ; which is the true reason of such quick dispatch being made, otherwise in all probability much longer time must have been consumed in subduing them. The Targum is, “because the Lord God of Israel fought by his Word for Israel.”
Ver. 43 . And Joshua returned , etc.] After all these kings and their cities had been taken by him, and not before; though the same is said, ( Joshua 10:15), before the history of those facts; (see Gill on “ Joshua 10:15”): and all Israel with him to the camp in Gilgal ; where the body of the people were left, and where was the tabernacle of the Lord; and no doubt he and Israel with him gave public praise and thanksgiving there for the signal victories they had obtained over the Canaanites.