Bible Commentary

Joshua 10

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

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(Read all of Joshua 10)

Verse 1

[1] Now 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;

Among them — That is, were conversant with them, had submitted to their laws, and mingled interests with them.

Verse 2

[2] That 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.

Thy — That is, he and his people, the king being spoken of verse 1, as a publick person representing all his people.

Royal cities — Either really a royal city, or equal to one of the royal cities, though it had no king, but seems to have been governed by elders, chap. 9:11.

Verse 3

[3] Wherefore 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,

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

[5] Therefore 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.

Of the Amorites — This name being here taken largely for any of the Canaanites, as is frequent; for, to speak strictly, the citizens of Hebron here mentioned, verse 3, were Hittites. It is reasonably supposed, that the Amorites being numerous and victorious beyond Jordan poured forth colonies into the land of Canaan, subdued divers places, and so communicated their name to all the rest.

Verse 6

[6] And 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.

Slack not thy hand — Do not neglect or delay to help us. Whom thou art obliged to protect both in duty as thou art our master; and by thy owns interest, we being part of thy possessions; and in ingenuity, because we have given ourselves to thee, and put ourselves under thy protection.

In the mountains — ln the mountainous country.

Verse 7

[7] So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valour.

Joshua ascended — Having no doubt asked advice of God first, which is implied by the answer God gives him, verse 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 so many hundred thousands with him, which would have hindered one another, or that he would leave the camp without an army to defend it.

Verse 9

[9] Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night.

Came suddenly — Though assured by God of the victory, yet he uses all prudent means.

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

[10] And 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.

At Gibeon — Heb. in Gibeon, not in the city, but in the territory belonging to it.

Verse 11

[11] And 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.

Great stones — That is, hailstones of 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 hosts 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

[12] Then 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.

Spoke Joshua — Being moved to beg it out of zeal to destroy God's enemies, and directed to it by the motion of God's spirit, and being filled with holy confidence of the success, he speaks the following words before the people, that that they might be witnesses.

In the sight — That is, in the presence and audience of Israel.

Over Gibeon — That is, in that place and posture in which now it stands towards, and looks upon Gibeon. Let it not go down lower, and by degrees, out of the sight of Gibeon. It may seem, that the sun, was declining, and Joshua perceiving that his work was great and long, and his time but short, begs of God the lengthening out of the day, and that the sun and moon might stop their course, He mentions two places, Gibeon and Ajalon, not as if the sun stood over the one and the moon over the other, which is absurd especially these places being so near the one to the other; but partly to vary the phrase, as is common in poetical passages; partly because he was in his march in the pursuit of his enemies, to pass from Gibeon to Ajalon; and he begs that he may have the help of longer light to pursue them, and to that end that the sun might stand still, and the moon also; not that he needed the moon's light, but because it was fit, either that both sun and moon should go, or that both should stand still to prevent disorder in the heavenly bodies. The prayer is thus exprest with authority, because it was not an ordinary prayer, but the prayer of a prophet, divinely inspired at this very time for this purpose. And yet it intimates to us the prevalency of prayer in general, and may mind us of that honour put upon prayer, concerning the work of my hands command you me.

Verse 13

[13] And 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.

Avenged them on their enemies — That is, till they bad utterly destroyed them.

Book of Jasher — This book was written and published before Joshua wrote his, and so is fitly alluded here. But this, as well as some other historical books, is lost, not being a canonical book, and therefore not preserved by the Jews with the same care as they were.

The sun stood — Here is no mention of the moon, because the sun's standing was the only thing which Joshua desired and needed; and the moon's standing he desired only by accident to prevent irregularity in the motions of those celestial lights. And if it seem strange to any one, that so wonderful a work should not be mentioned in any Heathen writers; he must consider, that it is confessed by the generality of writers, Heathens and others, that there is no certain history or monument in Heathen authors of any thing done before the Trojan war, which was a thousand years after Joshua's time; and that all time before that, is called by the most learned Heathens, the uncertain, unknown, or obscure time.

A whole day — That is, for the space of a whole day. Understand an artificial day between sun-rising and sun-setting; for that was the day which Joshua needed and desired, a day to give him light for his work.

Verse 14

[14] And 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.

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 purely contingent, and granted by God in answer to Joshua's prayer.

The Lord hearkened to a man — Namely, in such a manner to alter the course of nature, and of the heavenly bodies, 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. But this stupendous miracle was designed for something more, than to give Israel light to destroy the Canaanites. It was designed to convince and confound those idolaters, who worshipped the sun and moon, by demonstrating, that these also were subject to the command of the God of Israel: as also to signify, that in the latter days, when the world was covered with darkness, the sun of righteousness, even our Joshua, should arise, and be the true light of the world. To which we may add, that when Christ conquered our enemies upon the cross, the miracle wrought on the sun was the reverse of this. It was then darkened, as if going down at noon. For Christ needed not the light of the sun, to compleat his victory: so he made darkness his pavilion.

Verse 15

[15] And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.

Joshua returned — Not upon the same day, but after he had dispatched the matter which here follows; as appears by verse 43, where the very same words are repeated. And they are put here to close the general discourse of the fight which begun verse 10, and ends here; which being done he particularly describes some remarkable passages, and closeth them with the same words.

Verse 16

[16] But these five kings fled, and hid themselves in a cave at Makkedah.

A cave — A place of the greatest secrecy; but there is no escaping the eye or hand of God.

At Makkedah — Heb. in Makkedah, not in the city, for that was not yet taken; but in the territory of it.

Verse 19

[19] And 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.

Enter their cities — Whereby they will recover their strength, and renew the war.

God hath delivered them — Your work will be easy, God hath already done the work to your hands.

Verse 20

[20] And 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.

The children of Israel — That is, a party of them by the command of Joshua; for Joshua himself went not with them, but abode in the siege before Makkedah, verse 21.

Verse 21

[21] And all the people returned to the camp to Joshua at Makkedah in peace: none moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel.

To the camp — To the body, of the army which were engaged there with Joshua to besiege that place.

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 in way of insult, as doubtless they did when the Israelites were smitten at Ai; but now they were silenced as well as conquered: they durst no more provoke the Israelites.

Verse 24

[24] And 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 on the necks — This he did not from pride and contempt; but as a punishment of their impious rebellion against their Sovereign Lord; in pursuance of that curse of servitude due to all this people, and as a token to assure his captains, that God would subdue the proudest of them under their feet.

Verse 27

[27] And 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.

Took them down — That neither wild beasts could 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.

Verse 28

[28] And 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.

And that day — On which the sun stood still. Nor is it strange that so much work was done, and places so far distant taken in one day, when the day was so long, and the Canaanites struck with such a terror.

Verse 29

[29] Then Joshua passed from Makkedah, and all Israel with him, unto Libnah, and fought against Libnah:

All Israel — Namely, who were with him in this expedition.

Verse 35

[35] And 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.

On that day — On which they first attempted it.

Verse 36

[36] And Joshua went up from Eglon, and all Israel with him, unto Hebron; and they fought against it:

Unto Hebron — The conquest of Hebron is here generally related, afterwards repeated, and more particularly described, chap. 15:13,14.

Verse 37

[37] And 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.

All the cities — Which were subject to its jurisdiction; this being, it seems, a royal city as Gibeon was, verse 2, and having cities under it as that had.

Verse 38

[38] And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir; and fought against it:

Joshua returned — He is said to return thither, not as if he had been there before, but because having gone as far westward and southward as he thought fit, even as far as Gaza, verse 41, he now returned towards Gilgal, which lay north-ward and eastward from him, and in his return fell upon Debir.

Verse 40

[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: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded.

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

[41] And Joshua smote them from Kadeshbarnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon.

Kadesh-barnea — Which lay in the south of Canaan, Numbers 34:4; Deuteronomy 1:19; Joshua 15:3.

Gaza — Which was in the south-west of Canaan. So he here signifies, that Joshua did in this expedition subdue all those parts which lay south and west from Gilgal.

Goshen — Not that Goshen in Egypt, but another in Judah.

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