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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Joshua 10

Verses 1-7

Joshua - Chapter 10

Gibson Threatened, vs. 1-7

The league of the Canaanite cities against Israel must have begun to take form immediately after the fall of Jericho. To the alarm of that incident, among the pagan inhabitants, came the news of the utter extermination of Ai, by which these people knew they could expect no mercy from Israel.

Now Gibeon, one of the royal cities and one of the strongest of the land, has made peace with Israel.

Their help against the common enemy, Israel, they no longer had, and as punishment the king of Jerusalem, leader of league, proposes to destroy Gibeon. All of these cities were in southern Canaan, Hebron being south of Jerusalem and Lachish and Eglon west.

Gibeon was farthest north of the six royal cities. The other five now gathered a very formidable army and came up and encamped against Gibeon to destroy it.

In great alarm the elder of Gibeon sent to Joshua to come quickly to save them, and because of his league with them Joshua was constrained to come to their relief.

Verses 8-14

A Unique Day, vs. 8-14

It appears that Joshua has learned at least one lesson from his mistakes, for he sought the will of the Lord before going to the relief of besieged Gibeon.

The Lord sent him with the admonition that he is to have no fear of failure this time and with the assurance that they will surely be delivered into his hands, not a man of them being able to withstand him. So Joshua made an all-night march to the aid of Gibeon.

The onset of the battle is not revealed, but the result soon became apparent, and the alliance of pagan kings fled in defeat from Joshua and the Israelites. There was a great slaughter of them at Gibeon, and the battle continued along the path of their flight. It proceeded along the road to Beth-horon, west of Gibeon, then turned southwestward to Azekah and Makkedah.

The Lord’s hand in the victory was very apparent, to both the fleeing Canaanites and the pursuing Israelites, for He rained great stones out of the heavens upon Israel’s enemies. Many more were slain by the great stones than by the swords of the warriors.

The five kings appear to have placed their hope in escaping to a walled city, which they may have done had it not been for the prayer of Joshua. He prayed the Lord to postpone the night that they might not escape undercover of darkness.

Joshua foresaw the need of this about mid-day and prayed the Lord to keep the sun at its zenith and to stay the moon where it hung in the western sky over the valley Ajalon. The scripture account emphasizes that this is not just a claim of Joshua, or whoever was the writer, for the request was heard and the event observed by the men of Israel.

So the day light hours were almost doubled, so that Israel could vanquish her enemies. the account was written in the book of Jasher, an uninspired volume referred to in the Bible several times, of which there is no present knowledge. This event was possible through the mighty power and restraint of God who created the universe and set its universal order in the first place, (Psalms 90:1).

It is preposterous to the modern skeptic, but easily acceptable by those who believe in the all-powerful God of heaven, (Revelation 19:6). Never again did the Lord so hearken to the voice of a man. The reason He did so on this occasion is stated, "for the Lord fought for Israel."

Verses 15-27

Complete Victory, vs. 15-27

The opening words of this section appear to be a summary statement, meaning that when this particular campaign was completed all the host of Israel returned with Joshua to the main camp at Gilgal Note the reference to a camp at Makkedah, indicating that the, events relative to the pursuit of the enemy related here occurred before the ultimate return to Gilgal.

When the five kings saw that they could not escape into their cities they hid themselves in a cave at Makkedah. this was a town containing several caves in the western part of what was later the tribe of Judah. When Joshua was told of the kings’ hiding place he commanded that they fill up the mouth of the cave with rocks so that the kings could not escape and to set a guard to see that they did not get out.

When the remnant of the pagan armies straggled into their cities and momentary security the Israelites returned to Makkedah. Now Joshua had the cave opened and brought out the five captive kings. He called the men of Israel and had their captains to come and put their feet on the necks of the kings, thus signifying their utter subjection to Israel. Joshua charged the people not to fear or be dismayed, and to trust the Lord to do thus to all their enemies.

After this the kings were slain, their bodies hanged on trees and left till evening, when they were taken down in keeping with provisions of the law of Moses. The bodies were cast into the cave mouth and covered with a great heap of stones, and they were still there when the account was written.

The lesson of this heap of stones is that the Lord will utterly vanquish the enemies of His people, (Romans 16:20). Future generations of the Israelites should look on this and be reminded of the Lord’s power of victory.

Verses 28-39

Mopping Up, vs. 28-39

After the battle of the very long day all the pagan soldiers who had not been killed had found refuge in their towns. Therefore it was necessary for Joshua and Israel to assault the towns. When Joshua had dealt with the kings at Makkedah he and the army began a campaign to conquer the walled towns. In this passage are named six notable cities of Canaan, the remnants of whose inhabitants are now seeking to protect themselves from Israel inside their walls.

But Joshua attacked each one in turn with the same result, that it was taken and destroyed. Here again, is seen the portrayal of justice to befall all in the end-time, (Revelation 11:15). These cities are all in the bounds of the tribes of Judah and Simeon, in southern Canaan.

A city would be taken and destroyed, and its king would be executed. God gave them swift victory everywhere. Lachish fell on the second day, Eglon on the first.

Verses 40-43

Victory Complete, vs. 40-43

The extinction of the Canaanites was by the orders of the Lord Himself, that the land might be cleansed and its idolatry eradicated and it become a fit place for the abode of His people.

In this southern phase of the conquest it appears that Joshua carried out the commands of the Lord very well. The area thus subdued stretched from Gibeon on the north to the far south, along a line from Kadesh-barnea (where the Israelites had sent out spies to Canaan soon after they left Egypt) to Gaza, near the Mediterranean coast.

It reached from the Jordan on the east to the great sea (Mediterranean) on the west. Joshua and Israel subdued all the kings of this area in this one campaign because "the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel."

Let us learn that 1) bad decisions will soon bring us serious problems; 2) God will permit, within His will, whatever is necessary to win the victory over our enemies; 3) when the victory is sure we are not to rest on our laurels, but continue to make it complete; 4) if we would not have to do our work over we must do a good job in the beginning, (Galatians 6:9).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Joshua 10". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/joshua-10.html. 1985.