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THE BATTLE OF BETH-HORON, AND THE SUBJUGATION OF SOUTHERN PALESTINE.—
Adoni-zedec (cf. Melchizedek in Genesis 14:18). The name given to the king of Jerusalem was good enough, and no doubt was a survival of earlier and purer times. In the days of Melchizedek the name corresponded to the character. Jerusalem. Hebrew, Jerushalaim, with the usual dual termination. It has been generally supposed to be the same with Salem, or rather Shalem, the city of which Melehizedek was king, and this is supported by the fact that the name of Salem is given to Jerusalem in Psalms 76:2. But it is by no means certain that this is the case. The first to dispute the identity of the two places was St. Jerome, who declares that the Salem of Melchizedek was eight miles from Scythopolis, and that the ruins of the palace of Melchizedek could still be seen there (see also Genesis 33:18). The term Salem, as indicative of the security and strength of Jerusalem, might not unnaturally be applied to it by the Psalmist; while; on the other hand, the dual form of Jerusalem seems difficult to account for on the theory of the identity of Jerusalem and Salem. This dual form has been a difficulty to critics; and Mr. Grove, in the 'Dictionary of the Bible,' conjectures that it may have arisen from an attempt to twist the archaic Phoenician form into agreement with the more modern Hebrew idiom, just as the Greeks afterwards twisted the name into Hierosolyma, or the holy Solyma. But a simpler explanation may be found in the fact that Jerusalem, like many other cities, consisted of two parts, the upper and the lower town (cf. Judges 1:8 with Judges 1:1, Judges 1:7 and Judges 1:21, and 2 Samuel 5:6-8), while in earlier times the upper or lower town alone existed. Plural names of cities were not uncommon in later ages, as Athenae and Thebae. The name has been variously derived. Some have thought that as it is also called Jebus (Joshua 18:28; Judges 19:10), from its being the chief city of the Jebusites, it was originally Jebus-salem, and hence by a corruption Jerusalem. But this derivation has now been abandoned, and opinions differ as to whether it is derived from יְרוּשׁ and שָׁלֵם signifying "peaceful inheritance" (Ewald, Keil), or from יָרָה and שָׁלֵם "peaceful settlement" (Gesenius, Lee). Gesenius objects to the former derivation that it would require dagesh in the שׁ. The fathers and mediaeval divines, misled by Origen, translate it "vision of peace." This translation is alluded to in the well-known hymns Urbs beata Sion and O quanta qualia. Origen supposed it to come from ראה. Another difficult question is when the name was given, for there can be little doubt that the Book of Joshua was written before the time of David. It is possible that the name may have been given by the Jebusites themselves in consequence of their secure possession of it, notwithstanding the subjugation of the surrounding country by the Israelites. And when David had seized upon it and made it his capital, he would not be likely to change so suitable a name. For the Jebusites, evidently by their invariable position last among the nations of Canaan, the most insignificant among them, were enabled to defy the Israelite power long after their more powerful neighbours had succumbed. and David no doubt chose the situation of Jerusalem for his capital not only because, unlike Hebron, it enabled him to dwell among his own people without cutting himself off from intercourse with the other tribes of Israel; but because, as a mountain fastness remote from the plains of Esdraelon and the Orontes, which were the great highways of the Egyptian and Assyrian kings on their military expeditions, it would enable him to consolidate his power, and to secure that empire which became his from the force of his genius and the favour of God. We may remark upon the antecedent probability of the fact that the king of a place situated as Jerusalem is should stand at the head of this league.
That they feared greatly. Joshua had certainly obtained an excellent strategic position in the heart of the country; but it was not this which apparently most alarmed the kings who constituted the confederacy, though they did not fail to observe that, as the words "and were among them" show. It was the weight and importance of Gibeon itself, and the fact that its inhabitants were now enlisted, not on the side of the Canaanites, but against them. As one of the royal cities. Observe the minute accuracy of the historian. No king is mentioned in the narrative in Joshua 9:1-27. We now earn indirectly that they had none. The Vulgate misses the point of the historian by leaving out "as" altogether.
Hoham king of Hebron. It was a powerful confederacy which the Phoenician tribes in their desperation formed against Joshua. At its head stood the king of Jerusalem, which, from its central situation and its almost impregnable position (see notes on Joshua 15:63), might naturally stand at the head of such a league. Next came Hebron, which, from its importance from an early period (Genesis 23:2; Genesis 35:27), and the gigantic stature of its inhabitants (Numbers 13:33; Deuteronomy 1:28; Deuteronomy 2:10, Deuteronomy 2:11; Deuteronomy 9:2), as well as its daughter cities (verse 37), would prove a formidable addition to the strength of the confederates. Colossal blocks of stone, testifying to the presence there of the primeval races of Palestine, are still to be found in the neighbourhood. Hebron stands in "the hill country of Judaea." Its situation has been much admired, standing as it does nearly 3,000 feet above the level of the Mediterranean, and commanding the most extensive views of the Holy Land. This is one of the most interesting in its reminiscences of all the cities in Palestine. Here Abraham pitched his tent, near the "oak of Mature." Here was the burying place of Abraham and Sarah, which has been kept in memory by an unwavering tradition even to this very day; and, sacred ground though it be to the Mohammedans, was opened to the Prince of Wales and his companions in 1862. This was the inheritance of Caleb, and here, where the affections of every Israelite would most closely centre, David fixed his capital until compelled to change it by reasons to which we have already referred. Hebron seems to have been successively occupied by various members of the Phoenician confederation. It was first founded, we learn, seven years before Zoan in Egypt (Numbers 13:22). When we first hear of it, it is in the possession of Mature the Amorite (Genesis 13:18; Genesis 14:13). In Genesis 28:1-22, it has clearly passed into the possession of the Hittites, and the mention of the children of Heth is too express for us to suppose that the term Hittite is used generally for the inhabitants of the land. At a much later period the Canaanites, or lowlanders, had, strangely enough, obtained possession (Judges 1:10), and here again the accurate acquaintance of the historian with the names of the tribes (see Judges 1:4, Judges 1:21, Judges 1:26, Judges 1:35) forbids us to suppose that he is speaking loosely. Piram king of Jarmuth. Jarmuth is mentioned in Joshua 15:35, and in Nehemiah 11:29. It has been identified with Yarmuk (see Robinson, II. sec. 11, with whom Vandevelde and Conder agree), where there are the remains of very ancient walls and cisterns. Of its size and importance in the time of Joshua we know nothing. Japhia king of Lachish. Like Jarmuth, Lachish was in the Shephe-lah, or lowlands, of Judah, and we frequently hear of it in the later history of the Jews, as in 2 Kings 14:19; 2Ki 18:14, 2 Kings 18:17; 2 Kings 19:8; also 2 Chronicles 11:9. It has been identified by Von Raumer and Vandevelde, whom Keil follows, with Um Lakis, though Robinson denies this on the authority of Eusebius and Jerome; "but not on any reasonable grounds" (Vandevelde). This is the more clear in that Robinson rejects the authority of the Onomasticon in the case of Eglon. Um Lakis is only an hour and a quarter's journey from Ajlann or Eglon, and this narrative (verses 31-36) shows that Eglon was on the way from Lachish to Hebron. Conder, in his 'Handbook' and in 'Pal. Exploration Fund Quart. Paper,' Jan; 1878, p. 20, suggests Tell el Hesy, a name which he thinks may "be a corruption of Lachlsh." This is a great mound on the main road from Eleutheropolis to Gaza. It is a strong argument for Um Lakis that there are an immense number of instances where the places retain their ancient names. The strongest argument for Tell el Hesy is that Laehish was evidently a place of some strength. Joshua, we read (verse 32), "encamped against it" (this is said only of La-chish and Eglon), and "took it on the second day," and it successfully resisted the king of Assyria. Now Tell el Hesy was a "great mound" (Conder); but Um Lakis is described by Vandevelde as situated on "a low mound." Debir king of Eglon. This, the modern Ajlan, according to the best authorities, was on the road from Eleutheropolis to Gaza, not far from Lachish. Ruins are to be found there; but we have no means of ascertaining the size and importance of the town in the time of Joshua. The LXX; here and elsewhere in this chapter, render by Ὀδολλάμ. In Joshua 12:11 they read Ἐγκών. There is considerable similarity between Gimel and Daleth, Mem and Nun in the ancient Hebrew character. From this a various reading no doubt resulted.
Come up unto me. Most of these kings were in the lowlands. Hence the expression "Come up" is accurate in the mouth of the king of Jerusalem, and strengthens the claim of the narrative to be regarded as authentic. That we may smite Gibeon. Or, and we will smite Gibeon. The conjunction וְ. often, but not always, signifies the purpose with which a thing is done. Here there is nothing to guide us in the decision whether the passage indicates the purpose or the result. It is in keeping with the whole history, and is one of the life-like touches with which it abounds, that the king of Jerusalem does not dare to suggest an attack upon Joshua. He can only venture upon assailing Gibeon, standing in less fear of it than of the divinely protected invaders, and hoping at least by this measure to deprive Joshua of formidable allies. "Cure anima humana Verbo Dei se sociaverit, dubitare non debet, statim se inimicos habituram, et eos, quos ante habuerit amicos, in adversa-rios vertendos" (Orig; Hom. 2 on Joshua. See also Ecclesiastes 2:1; 2 Timothy 3:12). "As Satan, so wicked men, cannot abide to lose any of their communitie. If a convert come home, the angels welcome him with songs, the Devils follow him with uprore and furie, his old Partners with seorne and obloquie" (Bp. Hall).
To Gilgal. See note on Joshua 9:6. That dwell in the mountains. Another life like touch. The details of the confederacy were not fully known to the Gibeonites. There had not been time for that. It was only known that the storm was to break on them from the mountain region, Jerusalem (Joshua 9:4) being the head quarters of the expedition. As a matter of fact, the kings who formed the confederacy principally inhabited the lowlands, as we have seen. No one could have hit upon this apparent contradiction yet real agreement but one whose narrative was compiled from authentic sources.
Joshua ascended. Keil insists upon the military sense here, as against the literal one, "went up." He believes in the second Gilgal, which was on higher ground than the first (see Joshua 9:6), where, however, we learn that the second Gilgal was not so elevated as Gibeon. And all the mighty men of valour. A selection of the bravest troops seems to be implied here, by the copulative particle. Cf. Genesis 3:16, "Thy pain and (especially in the time of) thy pregnancy."
Fear not. The key-note of Joshua's career, as of the career of every soldier of God (see Joshua 1:9; Joshua 11:6).
Suddenly. By a night march, so that he might surprise the confederates at the dawn of day. One of Joshua's chief characteristics as a general was celerity (see Joshua 11:7). Masius praises Joshua for his prudence and diligence, and adds, "Qua arte Julium Caesarem tot victoriis clarum fuisse ne ipse quidem dissimulavit." And went up. There is no "and" in the original. It runs thus: "All the night he went (or had gone) up from Gilgal."
Discomfited. The original meaning of the word is to disturb, put in motion. Hence, as here, to throw into confusion, put to rout. Going up to Beth-horon. Beth-horon, or the house of the hollow, consisted of two towns. The one is now called Belt Ur el Foka, or Upper Belt Ur, the other Belt Ur el Tachta, or Lower Beit Ur. To the former led a difficult pass from Gibeon, called the ascent מַעֲלֵה) to Beth-horon. From the former to the latter ran a path so rocky and rugged that steps have been made in the rock to facilitate the descent. This is the "going down" (מוֹרַד) to Beth-horon, mentioned in the next verse. So 1 Maccabees 3:16-24. (Cf. Robinson, vol. 3. see. 9). Speaking of the view from Beth-horon, he says, The prospect included the hill country and the plain as far as the eye could reach … Upon the side of the long hill that skirts the valley on the south, we could perceive a small village on the W.S.W. called Yalo." To Azekah. See Joshua 15:35; cf. 1 Samuel 17:1. This place is known to after Jewish history, having been fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:9), besieged by Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 34:7), which shows it to have been a place of some importance. It continued to be inhabited after the captivity (Nehemiah 11:30), and has been identified by Vandevelde with Ahbek, a place standing upon a mountain. He supposes it to have been identical with the Aphek in Judah (1 Samuel 4:1). But this would be better identified with Aphekah (Joshua 15:53). Lieut. Conder identifies it with a place called Deir el Aashek, eight miles north of Shochoh. But apparently in the 'Handbook' he has abandoned this idea, though he makes no reference to this passage. And unto Makkedah. One of the lowland cities of Judah (see Joshua 15:41). Vandevelde identifies it with Summeil, a place where there are the ruins of a very ancient city (see 1 Samuel 17:28), built of large uncemented stones, a sign of great antiquity, and a large cave, such as that described in 1 Samuel 17:16. See Robinson, vol. 2. p. 368, who gives not a hint, however, that it is to be identified with Makkedah, nor does he mention a cave. Lieut. Conder identifies it with the present E1 Moghar (The Caves), twenty-five miles from Gibeon along the valley of Ajalon, where several caves are found, the only ones, apparently, in the district. Summeil is a very long distance from Gibeon, and if we are to identify this with Makkedah, which there appears no ground for doing, supernatural assistance would have been required in more than one way for so protracted a pursuit during the same day.
Great stones from heaven. Calmet has taken great trouble to collect evidence for showers of actual stones from heaven upon the enemies of Israel. But the next sentence of the verse states that they were hailstones, אַבְנֵי בָרָד. And even if there were not sufficient evidence of the fall of hailstones large enough to do great destruction to man and beast, we might fall back upon the theory that this was a miraculous hailstorm, since the whole history teems with miraculous intervention. But in point of fact this is unnecessary. We need not go further back than the famous storm of August 2nd, 1879, for an account of hailstones of enormous size falling within fifty miles of London. And in tropical climates still more destructive storms are of no infrequent occurrence. Every treatise on physical geography teems with instances. Masius refers to the well known story of the relief afforded by a sudden shower to Marcus Aurelius and his army, which he follows Eusebius in thinking attributable to Christian prayers, but which the emperor, in a medal struck on the occasion, attributed to Jupiter Pluvius (see Neander, 'Hist. of Christian Church,' vol. 1). He also fcites the verses of Claudian on a similar victory of Theodosius:
"O nimium dilecte Deo, tibi militat aether
Et conjurati veniunt ad praelia venti."
They were more which died with hailstones. A conclusive proof, both to the Israelites and their antagonists, that the victory was owing rather to the favour of God than to the power of man, and suggesting the exclamation of the Psalmist, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Thy Name give glory" (Psalms 115:1). See also Deuteronomy 9:4, Deuteronomy 9:5. It is, perhaps, worth while to remark that the printers have modernized this passage. For more the original edition has moe; cf. Shakspeare's ' Lover's Complaint,' line 47—"Found yet mo letters sadly penned in blood." "Faith and troth they would no mo" (Greene, 'Shepherd's Ode ').
Then, אָז. See Joshua 8:30. The period is here more strictly defined by the addition of the words, "on the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel." Spake Joshua to the Lord. The preposition לְ (literally, "to ") used here, has a variety of meanings in Hebrew. It is employed in such a phrase as "a Psalm of David" (literally, "to David "), but the sense requires "by." So in Ps 3:9 (8 in our version); Isaiah 22:5, etc. It has the sense "on account of" in Genesis 4:23 (where it is rendered "to" in our version); but the sense requires "in return for," "on account of." So also in Joshua 9:9, where our version renders "because of." In the latter part of this verse it signifies "before" (sec note there). In a passage so much disputed as this it is necessary to remember the indefiniteness of the original. Though the rendering, "to the Lord," is the natural and obvious one, the other meanings cannot be excluded. The more probable rendering is that in the text. Yet, as no address to God is afterwards recorded, the meaning may be "by," i.e; by the inspiration of, or "because of," i.e; on account of the great success God had vouchsafed to him, and which he earnestly desired to complete; or "before," as though Joshua spoke with a consciousness of God's immediate presence and help. For a full discussion of this remarkable passage the reader is referred to the Introduction. In the sight of Israel. לְעֵינֵי, "before the eyes of." This brings the scene vividly before our eyes: the storm rolling away over the mountains, the enemy in full retreat and wild confusion, the sun bursting forth from behind the clouds, and the leader of the Israelites, in the sight of all his troops, perhaps on the crest of the eminence on which Gibeon stands, or perhaps at Upper Beth-heron (see note on verse 10), uttering his sublime apostrophe to the "two great lights" which God had given to mankind, not to withdraw their presence until the Lord had "avenged him of his adversaries." The battle had been short, but decisive. The Israelites had no doubt (verse 9) fallen upon the enemy unawares at the dawn of day as they were preparing for the attack on Gibeon. A few hours had sufficed to put them to the rout, but the utmost expedition would be necessary to complete their destruction before the darkness set in. Hence the ejaculation of the Jewish commander as the difficulty of the task he had imposed upon himself, namely, of utterly annihilating that vast host before light failed, flashed upon him. Sun, stand thou still. The poetic form of this passage is clear to every one who has the smallest acquaintance with the laws of Hebrew poetry. For the Book of Jasher, from which it is apparently a quotation (see Introduction, Sec. 2). Stand thou still. This is not the literal rendering of the original. In no other passage has the verb דָמַם this sense. The sense "stand still" here would seem to be an inference from verse 14. The literal rendering is, "be dumb." Hence in Exodus 15:16, and in Lamentations 2:10, it signifies to be dumb with amazement or terror. In 1 Samuel 14:9 it seems to mean, "stay your advance" ("tarry," Authorised Version), and the word rendered "stand still" in the last part of the verse is עמד. See also Psalms 4:5 (Heb.), where it is rendered "be still," i.e; "be silent;" and Job 30:27, and Lamentations 2:18. The word must not therefore be pressed to mean that the sun's course was completely arrested in the heavens. All that can be assumed is that it did not set until the people were avenged of their enemies. The passage is evidently part of a triumphal song, like that recorded in Judges 5:1-31; where in Judges 5:20 there is a very similar thought, which no one ever thinks of interpreting literally. Upon Gibeon. Beth-heron was northwest of Gibeon. The meaning of the phrase would perhaps be, "Sun, rest thou (i.e; cease not to shine) in (or upon) Gibeon." In the valley of Ajalon. The valley of the deer, according to the Hebrew. The word for valley is Emek here (LXX. φάραγξ). See note on Joshua 8:13. alert became afterwards a Levitical city (see Joshua 21:24), and was in the inheritance of Dan (Joshua 19:42). See also 1 Samuel 14:31. It has been identified with the modern Yale (so Robinson, Vandevelde, and Conder), and was therefore four hours' journey westward from Gibeon. It was possibly near the time of full moon, and Joshua called for the light of the moon to help him when the sun had set. The very fact of his having called upon the moon to come to his assistance is an argument against the literal interpretation of the passage. The moon could have been no help to him as long as the sun was in the heavens. It is thought by some that the moon must have been already in the heavens, or why should Joshua have addressed her? This may have been the ease, and he might thus have adjured the moon to give him her help after the sun had gone down, by which time he would have arrived at Ajalon, a supposition which is quite consistent with probability.
The moon stayed. The word עמד, which does mean to stand still, is used here. See also Habakkuk 3:11. But if we are to apply it to the moon and not to the light of the moon, where would be the use of the moon's standing still in the valley of Ajalon, when she would be low down in the sky westward, and incapable of rendering Joshua any help? If we regard the light of the moon as meant, there is no phrase more common in poetry and poetic prose than to speak of moonbeams "resting" upon an object. The people. The word here is גוִי. See note on Joshua 5:6. The Book of Jasher. See Introduction, Note 6. And the sun stood still. Here the word עָמַד is used of the sun. But, as before, it refers naturally enough to the sun's light. The declining sun continued to shine upon Gibeon, and in the neighbourhood, upon the descent from Beth-heron the Upper, and on the whole region throughout which the fugitive Canaanites were scattered. We need not suppose that all the discomfited host fled in one direction, and possibly in the neighbourhood of Gibeon itself there remained quite enough of the scattered portions of the host to need urgently the sun's light to complete their destruction. The midst. The Hebrew here is not the usual word for midst. It signifies literally, the half. About a whole day. Literally, as a perfect day. The LXX. renders οὐ προσεπορεύετο εἰς ἱυσμάς εἰς τέλος ἡμέρας μιᾶς, and the Vulgate, "Non festinavit occumbere spatio unius dict." What is the precise meaning of this passage it is difficult to say. The language is very obscure. It has been usually interpreted to mean that the sun remained in the heavens twelve hours longer than usual. But this, though the most natural, is by no means the only interpretation of the passage. The words, "did not hasten to go down as a perfect day," cannot be proved to have this meaning. In fact, it is difficult to fix a precise meaning on them. They belong rather to the domain of poetry than history, and their language is that of hyperbole rather than of exact narration of facts. Consequently, we are not entitled to build conclusions upon them, or draw arguments from them. It seems tolerably clear that twelve additional hours could hardly have been required by the Israelites for the complete extermination of their enemies.
There was no day like that before it or after it. Cf. for this expression 2 Kings 18:5; 2Ki 23:22, 2 Kings 23:25.
And Joshua returned. The historian had at first intended to complete his narrative of these transactions here. But he seems to have altered his intention, and added the execution of the five kings and the subjugation of the remaining cities of southern Palestine which had adhered to the league, as well as their immediate neighbours. He then (verse 43) repeats what he had subjoined here. It is not contended (see Introduction) that the Book of Joshua could not have been compiled from accounts previously existing, though a different view has been taken in this commentary. But what is denied is
(1) that this was an unintelligent or perfunctory compilation, and
(2) that we can at this distance of time, by the simple evidence of style, disintegrate and separate into contradictory fragments the various portions of earlier histories, which we find here digested into a whole. Some copies of the LXX. leave the verse out altogether.
In a cave. "In the cave" according to the Masoretic pointing. So the LXX; τὸ σπήλαιον. Dr. Maclear remarks on the number of caves in Palestine (see Genesis 19:30; Judges 20:47), as well as the well-known caves of Adullam and Engedi (1 Samuel 22:1, 1 Samuel 24:3), and the cave in which a hundred prophets were concealed by Obadiah (1 Kings 18:4). Also see note on Joshua 2:22. But Lieut. Conder believes that in this particular neighbourhood there were few caves. See note on Makkedah above, Joshua 2:10. For "these five kings" the original has simply "five kings." The order of the narrative is somewhat interrupted by the introduction of Joshua's adjuration, and the account of the flight of the five kings. Compare verse 11 with verse 20.
And stay ye not. The original is stronger, and as for you, stand not still. The active general was not to be diverted from his purpose of annihilating the enemy by the important news that the heads of the confederacy were in his hands. He takes immediate measures to secure their persons, but for the present throws his whole strength, as well as that of his army, into the task of following up the advantage he has gained. And smite the hindmost of them. Literally, "and tail them," a verb denominative from זנב tail. The LXX. renders καταλαβετε τὴν οὐραγίαν. The word is of rare occurrence in the Hebrew, but its obvious meaning is as the text. Comp. also the Vulgate, extremos quosque fugientium coedite.
Until they were consumed. An expression not necessarily involving the destruction of every individual, but the entire annihilation of them as an army. A few scattered fugitives only remained, who sought the protection of the fortified towns. "Si ca quae per Moysen de tabernaculo vel sacrificiis, et omni illo cultu adumbrabantur, typus ct umbra dicuntur esse ccelestium, sine dubio et bella quae per Jesum geruntur, et regmn et hostium strages, ecelestium rerum umbra et typus esse dicenda aunt, eorum auntaxat bellorum quae Dominus noster Jesus cure suo exercitu et magistratibus id est credentium populis atquo eorum ducibus contra diabolum et ejus angelos praeliatur". Fenced cities. These were
(2) crowned with battlements (פִנּוֹת), and
(3) defended by towers. See for further information the article in Smith's 'Dictionary of the Bible.'
Makkedah. Because Joshua, in his resolute pursuit of the enemy, had not forgotten the important intelligence reported to him concerning the kings. Most likely the pursuit lasted one or two days. After the return to Makkedah the execution of the kings was carried out with much ceremony (verse 24), and their bodies hung up before all Israel, not so much as a memorial of the victory, as to impress upon the Israelites the duty of exterminating their enemies, a duty which the after history of the twelve tribes shows them to have been very prone to forget. None moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel. Literally, He did not sharpen against the children of Israel, against a man, his tongue. The Hebrew construction here is somewhat unusual. Houbigant and Maurer suppose that לֵis a mistake of the copyist and that אִישׁ is the subject of the sentence. They would translate as the LXX; "no man muttered with his tongue against the children of Israel." But Keil and Rosenmuller prefer a rendering agreeing with that of the Authorised Version, node moved (or sharpened) his tongue against the children of Israel, not against a single man of them. And this is a far more forcible way of expressing the awe in which they were held. A still stronger expression is to be found in Exodus 11:7; cf. Judith 11:19.
The king of Jerusalem. The names of the kings are mentioned to emphasise the significance of the action recorded in the next Terse. The LXX. has Ὀδολλάμ again here,
Which went with him. There is a very unusual Hebrew phrase here. Not only is the article used instead of the relative pronoun אֲשֶׁר which occasionally occurs, as in 1 Chronicles 29:17, but the form of the verb is Arabic. None of the commentators give a satisfactory explanation of this fact, and perhaps the suggestion of Houbigant is to be adopted, that the אwhich follows הָלְכוּ has been accidentally doubled by the transcriber. Kennicott thinks that some Arabic transcriber has inadvertently given the verb an Arabic form, which is very improbable. Keil thinks that it is a sort of intermediate step between the more ancient termination וּן n and the more modern one in וּ. But if so, it is strange that we should only meet with it twice in Holy Scripture. Haverniek regards it as an archaic form. Put your feet on the necks of these kings. This was a most common Oriental practice, as the Assyrian and Egyptian monuments prove. Calvin explains the otherwise "boundless arrogance" of the act by the Divine command. But, as Keil remarks, it was a "symbolical act, intended to inspirit the people." See also Psalms 110:1; 1 Corinthians 15:25. The fact that this was done, not by Joshua, but by the captains (קצִין; from קָצָה to cut off), i.e; the inferior officers of the Israelitish army, makes a wide distinction between this and the usual arrogance of Oriental conquerors, and marks the very great moral superiority of Joshua over any other leader known to history either in his own time or in subsequent ages. For whereas the act was usually an act of arrogant triumph on the part of the leader himself, here the leader modestly disclaims any such superiority, and calls upon his subordinates to assume it, as a sign that the Israelitish people, whose representatives they were, should triumph over all their enemies. The next verse explains the reason of the injunction. To the kings themselves no insolence was displayed, for it was but the well known and perfectly understood symbol of their undeniable condition of subjection at that moment. But, of course, we are not to look for that gentleness and humanity in so far distant an age, which would at the present day be shown by a Christian general, or even for the moderation and clemency displayed in the hour of victory by an Alexander, a Scipio, a Caesar, trained under the maxims of Latin and Greek philosophy. See a fuller discussion of the subject in the Introduction. Origen remarks here, "Atque utinam Dominus meus Jesus filius Dei mihi istud concedat, et jubeat me pedibus meis conculcare spiritum fornicationis, et caleare super cervices spiritus iracundise et furoris, calcare avaritise daemonem, caicare jactantiam, conterere pedibus superbiae spiritum."
Fear not, nor be dismayed. As Keil remarks, these arc the very words which God used to Joshua when He bade him enter upon his great task. See Joshua 1:9. So now may the experience of one Christian in the warfare against the powers of evil be imparted as encouragement to another. Ye fight. The word "ye" is emphatic. Perhaps Joshua would convey the idea that the Israelites were not to attribute their success to their leader, or to any Divine favor resting upon him as an individual, but to believe that, as long as they served God faithfully, His presence would be as much with them as it was at that particular time and under that particular leader.
And hanged them. This was also a symbolical act, intended to encourage Israel in their warfare. All that day, until its close, were the bodies of the five kings visible to the whole host, to remind them of the signal victory God had vouchsafed them. The same thing had been done at Ai. See Joshua 8:29.
At the time of the going down of the sun. See Deuteronomy 21:23. Joshua set the example to the Israelites of a strict observance of the law. And we may observe that this law is only to be found in Deuteronomy. On the "Deuteronomist" theory we have to suppose that the Deuteronomist, with a lynx eye to the chance of recommending the provisions which he had invented, and to the importance of representing Joshua as a strict observer of them, inserted this piece of detail with an obvious purpose. It is a wonder that this should be almost the only "Deuteronomist" precept thus emphasised. We find it noticed above (Joshua 8:29), and in both cases the obvious explanation is that this sign of triumph made a great impression on those who witnessed it, and that it was carried out in strict fulfilment of enactments already existing. On the other hand, as we have seen, there is no attempt in Joshua 8:30-35 to emphasise thus the obedience to the command in Deuteronomy 27:2-8. It is from minute details of this kind, which escape the superficial observer, that the authenticity of the Book of Deuteronomy is established. Until this very day. The form of the expression here is singularly different from the expression found elsewhere when the meaning suggested by the Authorized Version is to be conveyed. But for the word עַד we should translate "on the self-same day," as in Genesis 7:13, etc. עַד may be a slip of the pen for עַל which is seldom, if ever, used of time (only, if at all, in Ps 48:15, and Proverbs 25:11), though the idiom is found in Arabic, in Greek (as in ἐπ ἤματι), in German (as in auf den Tag) and in English, "on that day;" or we may, with Keil, refer back to Genesis 7:18, and trans. late "they cast them into the cave where they had been hid, and where they had placed great stones unto that very day." For there may have been an interval of several days between the confinement of the kings in the cave and their death at the hands of Joshua. See note on verse 21.
And that day, i.e; the day of the battle of Beth-horon. Not only did Joshua smite his enemies "unto Makkedah," but the incarceration of the kings in a cave at Makkedah showed that in the headlong flight of the enemy, Makkedah, which though not mentioned by name among the cities of the confederation, was no doubt, to a certain extent, implicated in it. It is worthy of remark that while Libnah, Debir, and Makkedah are mentioned among the cities destroyed in this campaign, though they are not named among the cities of the league, Jarmuth, on the contrary, though it is one of the cities named, does not appear to have been taken with the rest. With the edge of the sword. Literally, "to the mouth of the sword," from its devouring character. All the souls. All the human beings. The ban under which everything in Jericho was laid did not apply to the other cities, though (see note on Joshua 8:26) all the inhabitants, without distinction, were to be exterminated.
All Israel. The expression is not to be pressed in a literal sense. "All Israel" is simply equivalent to "all his disposable troops." Libnah. This belonged to the lowlands of Palestine. See note on Joshua 9:1; also Joshua 15:42. It became a Levitical city. It revolted from Judah in the reign of Joram (2 Kings 8:22). It seems to have returned to its allegiance, since we find it not included in the conquest of Israel by Shalmaneser, while, on the other hand, it undergoes a siege among the fenced cities of Judah (2 Kings 18:13; 2 Kings 19:8). The cause (see Blunt 'Undesigned Coincidences,' part 2:27) of this return is not far to seek. The Levites cast off the authority of Joram "because he had forsaken the Lord God of his fathers" (2 Chronicles 21:10, 2 Chronicles 21:11). It probably remained independent—for it was not likely to have joined itself to Israel, either from geographical position or religious principles—until the accession of Joash terminated the connection between the royal house of Judah and the descendants of the wicked Ahab. Libnah, or the white city, has been identified with Tell es Safieh, the Blanche Garde of the Crusaders. See Stanley, 'Sinai and Palestine,' pp. 207, 258. Lieut. Conder, however, supposes it to have been Eleutheropolis, now Beit Jibrin, and Capt. Warren believes he has found it at Ibna. Vanclevelde suggests yet another site. But Lieut. Conder's description of the hill on which Tell es Safieh stands as "a white precipice of many hundred feet", would account for the name Libnah.
And Joshua passed. No indication of time is given in the rest of this chapter. The campaign was probably an affair of some weeks, though none of the cities could have made a prolonged resistance.
Then Horam king of Gezer. It is remarkable that, as Gezer lay somewhat out of the line of march, Joshua did not capture it. Accordingly, in spite of the alleged carelessness of our compiler, who is credited with having put together shreds of the various narratives in the most perfunctory manner, he takes care to add (Joshua 16:10) that the inhabitants of Gezer were not driven out. In like manner, with the single exception of Hebron, the people of which must have at once chosen another king, he carefully omits the mention of the king in the cities which had lost their kings in the battle before Gibeon. See also note on verse 32. Thus a careful examination of the narrative puts the care and accuracy of the history very carefully before us. With regard to the situation of Gezer, it has been accurately determined by the Palestine Exploration Society. The Levitical boundaries, with Greek and Hebrew inscriptions, signifying the boundary of Gezer, have been discovered by M. Ganneau. Tell el Jezer was first identified by M. Ganneau with Gezer. Continuing his researches, he found on a slab of rock nearly horizontal and very nearly two inches in length a bilingual inscription, in Greek and Hebrew, signifying the limit of Gezer (תהם גזר). Since the inscription is Greek and Talmudical in its character (the word תהום has not the signification of "limit" in the Hebrew Scriptures) it must, in spite of the early form of the letters, belong to a period long subsequent to the Babylonish captivity. M. Ganneau suggests the Maccabean period. (See below) But it is, no doubt, the result of a remeasurement in accordance with the rules laid down in Numbers 35:5. Some have supposed the above to have been designed to fix the limit of the sabbath day's journey. But it is more probable that it served as a boundary between the Levitical and the tribal territory, the more especially as the words are so placed as to be read by one entering the town. It was a Levitical city (Joshua 21:21; 1 Chronicles 6:67), or at least assigned to the Levites; but Judges 1:29 shows that the Canaanitish population lived on with the Levites. It may have been the nondescript character of the population that caused it to fall an easy prey to Pharaoh (1 Kings 9:16, where note that the Canaanites had never been driven out); but when Solomon espoused his daughter he restored Gezer to Israel. Under the same name Gazara it plays a conspicuous part in the wars of the Maccabees (1Mal Judges 9:52; 2Mal 10:32). From the latter passage we learn that it was "a very strong hold." It retains its old name, being now known as Tell el Jezer.
Went up. The accuracy of the geographical details must here be noticed. Joshua "passes" from one city to another in the plain. He "goes up" to Hebron, which is situated among the hills. See note on verse 3; cf. also Joshua 11:21; Joshua 14:12. Hebron. Commentators of the school of Maurer and De Wette regard the taking of Hebron and Debir as irreconcilable with Joshua 11:21, Joshua 14:12, Joshua 15:13-17. But this is by no means certain. The operations of Joshua were sudden, and, so far as they went, decisive, But it is never pretended that his conquest of southern Palestine was complete. It is impossible to assert this in the face of such passages as Joshua 16:10, Joshua 17:12, Joshua 17:13, and especially in the face of such a fact as the continued existence of the Philistine power. Joshua extirpated the inhabitants of the cities he took, but there were many others—some of at least equal importance—which he did not take. We may instance Gaza, Garb, and Ashdod. See Joshua 11:22. Their inhabitants came and occupied again the cities which Joshua had destroyed, first when he was engaged in operations in the north and west, and again when the Israelites had begun to repose upon their laurels, and to neglect the task God had set them, namely, the complete extermination of the Canaanite race from Palestine. Thus Joshua returned from the north and found a large part of the country he had subdued reoccupied by the giant tribes of the south. He "cut them off from Hebron and Debir," i.e; he compelled them to evacuate those cities, but there was no necessity for a second of either. Yet at a later period they still lurked in the neighborhood (Joshua 14:12), perhaps in the mountain fastnessess (a very common thing in the history of nations, as the history of our own country, of the Basques in the Pyrenees, and of Swiss freedom shows), and were strong enough to regain Debir (Joshua 15:17). Jerusalem itself (see note on verse 1) had a similar fate. After the capture of Jerusalem the Israelites were unable to hold it permanently (Joshua 15:63; cf. Judges 1:8, Judges 1:21). And such expressions as "all the cities thereof" show that the south of Palestine was thickly populated. Each city was, like Gibeon, the head of a small confederacy. And as the chief cities smitten by Joshua would have been but a tithe of the confederations existing in the south, the task of reoccupying must have been an easy one. It seems to be implied in Judges 1:1-36. that Caleb took Hebron and Debir after Joshua's death.
And Joshua returned. Rather, Joshua turned. Debir was not on the way back from Hebron to Eglon, but in a different direction. His march was now southward instead of eastward. Debir. A city of importance, since only Hebron and it are mentioned in the history of the campaign as having cities dependent on them. It is also called Kirjath-Sepher (Joshua 15:15; Judges 1:11), and Kirjath-Sannah (Joshua 15:49). The first name signifies "the city of the hook," from whence it has been argued that it was the seat of what we should now call an university. Recent discoveries have rendered this supposition by no means improbable. The Hittite remains have proved that people to have been a more influential and intellectual people in early times than had ever been supposed until lately. Others have suggested that it was the abode of an oracle, which is rendered probable if Debir be connected with דָבָר word. The meaning of Kirjath-Sannah is by no means clear. Some have derived it from the Arabic "sunna," law, or doctrine (whence the Sunnite sect among the Mohammedans), and some from סַנָּה or סֶנֶה, a palm branch, or more probably a thornbush. Ritter thinks that both Kirjath-Sepher and Kirjath-Sannah imply the place where the public records were kept. Perhaps what is meant is that, like Mona or Anglesea to the Druids, Debir was the home of the Canaanitish religious traditions. Debir appears as Dapur in the list of fortified cities in Canaan captured by Seti I. and Rameses II. of Egypt. They are depicted on the monumental records. See Tomkins, 'Studies of the Time of Abraham,' p. 84. Debir has lately been identified by the Palestine Survey. Lieut. Conder fixes it at El Dho-heriyeh or Dhaheriyeh. The identification depends upon the passages Joshua 15:19, and Judges 1:15. See note on the former. The grounds of the identification are as follows:
1. Debir (see last note) was southward of Hebron.
2. The circumstances require an arid locality, but within a moderate distance two sets of springs, or pools of water.
3. There must be signs of ancient dwellings, and, as Debir was a royal city, it must be the converging point of the various roads.
All these conditions are fulfilled by El Dhaheriyeh. The rock excavations, the sign of the most ancient dwellings, are plentiful there; ancient roads are found converging in all directions. And six miles and a half north of the village fourteen springs, or pools, are found, some at the head of the valley, some lower down, and some at a lower level still. The distance of these from Debit is in exact accordance with the narrative. They are too far off to be included as a matter of course within the boundaries of Debit, and would naturally enough become the object of such a petition as Achsah is said to have preferred in the passage above cited. Wilson's 'Lands of the Bible,' 1.351, speaks of the excavations here, but does not appear to have been aware of their antiquity. He describes the inhabitants as living in them. But he remarks—and it is a singular confirmation of Lieut. Conder's subsequent discovery—that the sites of five out of the ten cities mentioned in conjunction with Debir in Joshua 15:48-51, are to be found in the immediate neighbourhood of Dhaheriyeh. From this passage and some others, however, Knobel has anticipated Lieut. Conder's suggestion. He describes Thaharijeh, as he calls it, as on the high road from Gaza, with ruins of great antiquity, situated in the midst of a country which, though barren in appearance and destitute of trees and arable land, is yet rich in pasture. But he says nothing of the springs, the only thing wanting to make the evidence complete. Ritter's description of the place as the "first place of importance" on arriving in Palestine from the south, and as the meeting place of the roads from Beersheba, from Gaza and Egypt, and from Petra and Sinai, confirm Lieut. Conder's view, but Bitter does not seem to have identified it with Debir, though he regards it as "one of a series of fortresses designed to protect the southern frontier of Judaea". It became a Levitical city (Joshua 21:15; 1 Chronicles 6:58).
So Joshua smote. We have now before us the defined locale of Joshua's operations. He smote "the hills," or rather the "hill country," a tract of country extending from Jerusalem southward. This limestone range formed the watershed between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. The south, now often spoken of by travellers by its Hebrew name of Negeb, was, as the name signifies, an almost waste district of limestone hills (cf. the Mount Halak, or smooth mountain, of Joshua 11:19). It was once more fertile than it is at present, but could never have been a very fruitful region. As Knobel says, it is midway between waste and fertile land. It possesses grass and herbs and flowers, especially in the rainy season, and is thus suitable for pasture. But there are many tracts of sand and heath, and it is not watered by brooks, characteristics it has in common with the wilderness. It was also hilly, though not so precipitous as the mountain district. Tristram describes some of the mountains as rising gradually to a height of 3,200 feet. Bartlett, however, who devoted more time to the south country, describes it as treeless, but fertile as a corn producing country, and as very distinct in its physical features from the desert, or what is known as the "Wilderness of Judaea" ('From Egypt to Palestine,' ch. 17; 18). The best description of this region is found, however, in 'Scripture Lands,' by the late Rev. G. S. Drew. He says, "For a few weeks late in spring time a smiling aspect is thrown over the broad downs, when the ground is reddened by the anemone in contrast with the soft white of the daisy and the deep yellow of the tulip and marigold. But this flush of beauty soon passes, and the permanent aspect of the country is not wild indeed, or hideous, or frightfully desolate, but, as we may say, austerely plain; a tame, unpleasing aspect, not causing absolute discomfort while one is in it, but left without one lingering reminiscence of anything lovely, awful, or sublime." The rocks are occasionally rendered fertile by the system of terrace cultivation, more common, as almost every traveller since Maundrell has remarked, in former times than now. That keen observer remarks, that if any one were to object that Palestine could not have maintained the vast population stated in Scripture to have inhabited it, he would be confuted by the fact that the most cursory observation shows that "the very rocks were made fruitful," perhaps even to a greater extent than plains could be, "by this method." The "vale," or Shephelah (see note on Joshua 9:1), was a low strip of coast extending from the foot of Carmel to near Gaza. The אֲשֵׁדות, or "springs, as it is translated in our version (better, "watercourses," or "slopes," as Knobel),was a fertile country, intersected by ravines and brooks, situated between the mountains and the sea. The word only occurs in the Pentateuch and Joshua (a fact to be noted in forming an opinion on the genuineness of these books). See Numbers 21:15 says that the Apostles gave order that the Scriptures of the Old Testament were to be read in church, which, he adds, "they would not have done had not these carnal wars prefigured the spiritual warfare which we have to carry on against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.'" Gaza. Hebrew Azzah (or strong), as in 1 Kings 4:24. Joshua's conquests extended to, but did not comprise, Gaza (Joshua 11:22; Joshua 13:2, Joshua 13:3). It was to have been the uttermost limit of the Israelitish territory (see Genesis 10:19). It actually was so in the days of Solomon (1 Kings 4:24). But until then the Israelites had not been able to subdue it, though (Joshua 15:45-47) the whole land of the Philistines was assigned to Judah. What results this failure produced upon the after history of Israel we read in the Books of Judges and Samuel. Not till the reign of David was the Philistine power entirely broken. And Gaza played a very important part in the Philistine confederation. See Judges 16:1-4, Jdg 16:21 -23; 1 Samuel 6:16, 1 Samuel 6:17. Gaza has retained its importance even to the present day. Its situation near the sea, and, still more, its position upon the high road from Palestine to Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to Arabia Petraea, have secured it this permanence. When Robinson visited it its population was between fifteen and sixteen thousand—larger even than that of Jerusalem. And it seems to have largely increased in population since the beginning of the century. Goshen. Γοσομ LXX. Not, of course, identical with the land of Goshen in Egypt, but inasmuch as it lay to the southeast of Palestine, in the direction of their former habitation, it may possibly have been so named in memory of that sojourn. A city of that name is mentioned in the mountains of Judah, together with Debir (Joshua 15:51). It clearly (Joshua 11:16) refers to a large district in the southeast, but its precise locality is not known. Even unto Gibeon. The conquests of Israel did not extend further in the northwest than Gibeon, from whence Joshua had set out on his triumphant campaign.
At one time, i.e; in one campaign, carried on without a respite. Because the Lord God fought for Israel. It is the peculiar feature of Old Testament history that it draws the veil from the unseen. Other historians are content to note the secondary causes. The Scriptures trace all to their original source—the will of God. And it is His will, as the page of history shows, with exceptions that do but prove the rule, that a just cause, assisted by bravery; purity, and devotion combined, will not fail, in the long run, to overcome force and fraud. Wars of independence, wars undertaken to chastise wickedness and oppression, seldom fail in their object. And when they do fail, it is generally from the presence of similar crimes among those who undertake the righteous cause, and sully it by their own vices and crimes. History furnishes us with abundant instances of this. The leaders of the struggle for the Protestant Reformation in Europe were often almost as crafty, as ambitious, as self seeking, as immoral, as those against whom they contended. Struggles patriotic in their origin have been marred by the selfish aims of those who carried them on. Selfishness inspires distrust, and distrust produces disunion. But where "the Lord God fights for Israel," where noble objects are pursued by worthy means, there is a moral strength which triumphs over the greatest obstacles. Such an instance we have in modern history in the career of a man like William the Silent. Nearly ruined by the cowardice, obstinacy, and selfishness of his associates, his faith, courage, and perseverance carried a struggle hopeless at the outset to a triumphant conclusion. Men may cry that "Providence is on the side of the big battalions," but "the Lord's hand is not waxen short."
Unto the camp at Gilgal. See note, Joshua 9:6; Joshua 10:15 confirms the view taken in Joshua 9:6.
The great victory and its results.
Many of the considerations which this passage suggests have been already anticipated. Thus the celerity of Joshua's march (verse 9) suggests the same set of ideas as Joshua 4:10. The destruction of the cities teaches the same lessons as the destruction of Jericho; while the miraculous interposition in the battle of Beth-horon is hardly to be distinguished, as a source of spiritual instruction, from the destruction of Jericho. Again, the confederacy of the kings (Joshua 4:1-5) has been already treated under Joshua 9:1, Joshua 9:2. Yet some few points remain to be noticed.
I. DIVINE HELP DOES NOT EXCLUDE HUMAN EXERTION, Joshua went forth to battle relying upon a special promise of God. Yet he went up "suddenly," we are told. Thus, so far from the certainty of success diminishing energy, it should rather increase it. The apostles went forth relying on a Divine promise that God's truth should permeate the world. But though this promise relieved them. from the restless anxiety which too often oppresses their successors in the work, it did not relieve them from the necessity of exertion. And accordingly we find them untiring in their exertions to spread the gospel, and also to lay firmly the foundations of the Christian Church. The same untiring spirit of exertion should animate us now. Success is assured in the end, and for that very reason we should not slacken, but rather the contrary, in our efforts to propagate truth. The two opposite rotors which retard the success of God's cause are
(1) a needless anxiety for immediate results, which cause us to take measures which betray a want of faith, and which therefore, relying on the arm of flesh, are predestined to fail; and
(2) a blind fatalism which leaves all to God, forgetting that the forces of His kingdom require to be set in motion by man before they can take effect.
What is wanted is
(1) a sublime carelessness about results, when the means God has directed to be employed have been employed; and
(2) a continual effort to put those means in operation. Untiring in preaching the gospel, in using the means of grace, and in "good works and alms deeds," we are yet to be content with doing what is ordained, and leaving God to prosper, as He pleases, what we have done.
II. THE ANSWER TO PRAYER IS MORE EFFECTIVE THAN OUR WORK. Had Joshua not done his best, the hailstones would not have fallen. But inasmuch as he was doing his work, God helped him, and more execution was done by God from heaven than by Joshua's troops on earth. So he who works and prays not will be rewarded with less success than he who works and prays. If we are not as successful as we could wish, we may ask whether we have asked God to work with us. It is a touching story which has been told of Sir D. Brewster's father, that he was so well known as a man of prayer that when any unexpected and almost marvellous conversion occurred in his parish, it was attributed by his people to his prayers. Perhaps one of the reasons why the Roman Catholic Church still maintains so strong a hold upon the world is because of the fervent belief still retained among her people of the power of prayer. Such prayer is often sadly misdirected, and yet, as a recognition of a power above that hears and answers prayer, it must be more acceptable in God's sight than the philosophical Protestantism which denies the existence of a Father in heaven, ridicules prayer to God, especially for temporal blessings, on the ground of the invariability of law, and thus practically abolishes the God of the Old Testament and of the New, and makes void the gospel of Jesus Christ. Surely superstition itself is better than this denial of the loving Fatherhood of God. The lesson here concerns spiritual rather than temporal blessings, but it none the less contains a protest against the sceptical spirit which would lead us to think it unnecessary to maintain by prayer an attitude of continual dependence on God.
III. HEAVENLY LIGHT SHALL NEVER FAIL HIM WHO IS FIGHTING IN GOD'S CAUSE. Joshua asked for light, that he might destroy God's enemies. So must the Christian ask for light, that he may distinguish friends from foes—truth from falsehood. He has the light of God's Word, which, coming direct from God, is symbolised by the sun; and the light of man's preaching of that Word, which, inasmuch as it only reflects the Word itself, is not inaptly typified by the moon. We need not fear that that light will ever fail us; and yet we do well to pray that it may continue to be afforded us. We may, in the strength of faith, pray that the sun may for us stand still upon Gibeon and the moon in the valley of Ajalon, until God be avenged on His enemies, sin and falsehood and their allies, through our means.
IV. WE SHALL "SPEAK OF HIS TESTIMONIES EVEN BEFORE KINGS, AND SHALL NOT BE ASHAMED." Joshua makes a great point of the subjugation of the kings to the people of Israel. He makes his captains set their feet upon their necks to show that none can resist the armies of the Lord.
(1) So our Joshua tells us that we shall stand "before governors and kings for his sake." And so it has been in the history of His Church. "The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers took counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed." First, in the case of those who first preached the gospel. It was preached for three centuries in direct defiance of the highest human authority, among Jews and Gentiles alike. Next, the defenders of true against false doctrine, of justice and mercy as against violence and cruelty, had to stand before kings and rebuke them in the name of the Lord. When the great revival of zeal and reverence for God's Word took place in the fifteenth century, the influence of the mighty was frequently exerted to crush it. And so it will ever be. "Not many mighty, not many noble," are to be found in revivals of faith and zeal. Authority frowns on them, prescription is against them, force is invoked to put them down, yet they thrive. The hand of man is powerless against the truth. The battle is long and fierce, but it is won at last. And the principles but lately despised are triumphant. Their holders put "their feet on the necks of kings," for the rulers who resisted to the utmost are forced to own the power of the truth against which they contended as long as they were able. Thus we learn the lesson of confidence taught by Joshua, "Fear not, neither be dismayed, be strong and of a good courage, for thus shall the Lord do to all your enemies against whom ye fight." Again
(2) we learn the same confidence against tyrant lusts, "which war against the soul." Long and obstinate is the conflict; but if it be waged in faith and prayer, the Lord fights for us out of heaven; light is shed upon our onward path, the light of a right judgment and a Christian prudence, until at last we put our feet upon the necks of those "kings" that would have enslaved us, and then our Joshua slays them, that they trouble us no more.
HOMILIES BY R. GLOVER
Adoni-zedek, a lesson for nations and individuals.
These Jebusltes had two or three ideas at least which are worth remarking. They had a true idea of the essential condition of a nation's prosperity—for the people of Jebus had called their city "Salem"—that is, "peace." And the title of their king was Melchizedek, or Adoni-zedek—King or Lord of Righteousness. These names are amongst the earliest contributions to the science of political economy. The one name, "Salem," contains as much valuable suggestion as is found in many books on "the wealth of nations." The second condenses all principles of sovereignty into a single word. No one is a good rafter unless the title Adoni-zedek would suit him. King or Parliament, the Father in his family, the Prime Minister in his Cabinet, all should remember that the ruler of men is really an usurper unless the title, Lord of Righteousness, suit him. Let us look at this name, and observe—
I. We have here A GRAND TITLE FOR A RULER. Perhaps the people had degenerated since the days of Abraham. Then this ruler was that Melchi-zedek, who was a "Priest of the Most High God." However degenerate, they cling to this title, and as the kings of Egypt were Pharaohs; and those of Gath, Abimelechs; and those of Damascus, Benhadads; so those of Jerusalem were Adoni-zedeks. There is an instinct in all people that desires the throne to be filled with righteousness. Just as in our days, the Khan of Merv has carried the same titles—King of Righteousness and King of Peace—so in the absence of constitutional checks on regal power, they gave their kings the title which was meant to be at once impulse and restraint. The lesson of this title should be learned by all of us. In a ruler of men there are many qualities requisite. Wisdom to perceive the true necessities of those under his care; strength and energy enough to carry out the dictates of wisdom; courage to face and provide calmly against every, danger. But when the utmost value has been allowed to these supreme qualities, an accurate judgment will still allow a higher value to one other—that of EQUITY. In outside relations, equity will enable a king to maintain peace with neighboring peoples better than any diplomacy or strength could do. In ancient days, the king was the judge of all causes, from those of our County Courts to those of the Court of Chancery. What a boon to a people when the judge was an embodiment of justice inaccessible to bribes, ready patiently to unravel the entangled case, never misled by partiality or by antipathy, but to those liked or disliked meting out even-handed justice. This old people saw all these things, anti when a Magna Charts was an impossibilty, they tried to compass its ends by giving their king this stimulative and restraining title. Righteousness is still the most essential quality of a statesman. Fairness of mind that holds the balance evenly between all conflicting claims—this has been the distinguishing quality of all the English statesmen of this century who have earned the nation's gratitude. It is the quality needed in our Legislature today. It is the quality needed by every employer of labour. The serving classes want no favour, nor mere amiability in a master. Fairness will ever secure their deepest attachment. A father in a family should be a "Lord of Righteousness." In short, this equity is the supreme want everywhere. People would be more charitable if they were more just. And peace in homes, in churches, in nations would be much less frequently imperilled, if only fairness of mind moderated the claims we make, and permitted us to see whatever element of right lay in the claims made upon us. If we have here a good title, observe secondly—
II. We have A GREAT TITLE BORNE BY ONE OF A POOR NATURE. Name and nature do not always correspond. And here "The Lord of Righteousness "is found acting unrighteously. Gibeon with its sister cities was probably disliked for its republican institutions by all those neighbouring states that maintained a monarchy. Now to the fault of liberty it adds the sin of wisdom. A maxim, unfortunately not obsolete today, was accepted then—that the making of any alliance containing a possibility of danger to us is a sufficient casus belli against the state that makes it. His title had not sufficiently instructed this ruler to make him see the wrong of this position. He is perhaps the more easily led to make war against Gibeon because, guarding as it did one of the great passes into the heart of the kingdom, to seize it seemed the best way of securing the safety of the country from Israelitish attack. And so unrighteously the "King of Righteousness" attacks his neighbours; and, like so many, shows that the grandeur of a title is not always matched by greatness in him who bears it. A long way from us in time, locality, and circumstances, how near us in nature does this characteristic bring him. Sometimes we inherit great names, and forget the lesson of the poet—
"They who on the deeds of ancestors enlarge,
Do but produce the debt, not the discharge."
Sometimes God gives us names, which it is our duty to illustrate and justify. "Children of Light, "Sons of God, "Heirs of God, "Chosen Generation," "Royal Priesthood." Is there never any discrepancy between the titles we bear and the lives we lead? We cannot help having these great names applied to us. They belong to all who have been born again by the birth which is from above. And God gives us them that they may "marshal us the way that we are going." Let us try and act up to our name, and not have the melancholy fate of being condemned by the very title that we bear. Lastly observe—
III. PROFESSION CANNOT SAVE FROM PERDITION. This man with the grand name perishes miserably—dishonoured, hanged, involving in his own ruin that of his people and that of all those confederated with him. The providence and the judgment of God are no respecters of persons. As we sow we reap. The obedience of faith is salvation. The unrighteousness of self will is destruction. Let us see that we have more than the "name to live," lest the greater name only condemn us to the greater destruction.—G.
HOMILIES BY W.F. ADENEY
Connection with the Church a source of worldly trouble.
The trouble which came upon Gibeon through her connection with Israel affords an illustration of the experience of all who associate themselves with the career and destinies of the Church.
I. THE EXISTENCE OF THIS TROUBLE. Though the true Church is an ark of safety, she is an ark upon stormy waters. He who joins the Church on earth joins the Church militant, and shares her dangers (John 15:18).
(1) So long as the world is at enmity with God, they who stand on the side of the people of God will be subject to the assaults of the world in
(b) social ostracism,
(d) ridicule, etc.
(2) While the Church is fulfilling her mission to conquer the world for Christ, she will bring the hatred of the world upon all who are identified with her (2 Corinthians 11:23-27).
(3) It is vain to expect to receive the advantages of religion and to escape from the cost of them (Luke 14:28). He who would win heaven must lose something on earth (Matthew 6:24).
II. THE ADVANTAGES OF THIS TROUBLE. All trouble permitted by Providence is blessing in disguise. So is this:
(1) It serves as a test of genuineness. We may join the Church
(a) from motives of selfish pride and profit,
(b) under the influence of superficial sentiment.
Worldly trouble directly arising out of our Church relations proves the genuineness of our attachment to Christ by showing whether we are willing to risk danger and suffer loss for Him (Matthew 3:12; Matthew 13:21).
(2) It promotes union among Christians. The Gibeonites were drawn closer to the Israelites by the threatened danger. Selfish isolation, mutual jealousy, divisions, and ecclesiastical quarrels spring up in times of peace. Sympathy and charity are developed in seasons of adversity.
(3) It cultivates unworldliness. The friendship of the world is a dangerous snare. The favour of the world brings with it the spirit of the world. In worldly prosperity the Church tends to worldly habits. The enmity of the world drives us to the sympathy of God and refuges of unworldly living.
III. THE REMEDIES FOR THIS TROUBLE. Gibeon was threatened with destruction, but on her appeal to Israel her allies fought for her, and God secured them the victory.
(1) The remedy for worldly trouble arising from our religious associations will be found in mutual help. The Christian Church is a brotherhood. We are called to bear one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2). The rich should help the poor, the strong the weak, the prosperous at home the persecuted abroad.
(2) The remedy will also be found in the Divine aid. God fought with Israel in the defence of Gibeon (Joshua 10:13). They who are brought into danger for the cause of God will find that God is on their side and will secure their deliverance. The real danger is to those who are fighting against God. It is safer to be in trouble with the people of God than in prosperity with their enemies, for God must and will triumph in the end, and then His people will share His victory (John 16:33).—W.F.A.
HOMILIES BY R. GLOVER
The battle of Beth-horon and its lessons.
It may seem as if there was too much carnage about this account for Scripture purposes. Yet it is well to dwell on it. Dean Stanley treats this battle as the Marathon of the religious history of the world. It was the crisis in which the hosts who were, unconsciously to some extent, fighting for truth, righteousness, progress, and liberty, met with those fighting, to some extent unconsciously, for a depraved religion, licentious morals, for retrogression and decay. Like the siege of Leyden, or the defeat of the Armada, such a battle means far more than is obvious on the surface. The sacred cause of man is involved in it. And it is worth our while, to linger over some of its lessons. Mark at least these.
I. GOD USES OUR EFFORT TO FULFIL HIS PROMISES, Israel was apt, perhaps, to expect the possession of the land to come too easily. Jericho was got by a miracle, Ai by stratagem, Gibeon by submission; and perhaps the ease of these successes led them to dream dreams of gaining the whole land without an effort. But all the steps of progress are not to be so easy. Miracles come only where weakness needs them. In the degree in which they develop vigour and self reliance, the miraculous element in their experience will grow less. Always sufficient—there will never be more help of God than is needed. And so with the confidence and vigour developed by their successes, comes greater strain upon their powers. The nations of southern Canaan gather together to oppose their progress: to gain possession of that Gibeon which commands the entrance by the pass of Beth-horon to the land. And at once "foemen worthy of their steel" confront them. God will fulfil His promise to give them the land of Canaan; but He will employ their effort and their prowess to realise the fulfilment of His promise. And to some extent by their efforts is His promise fulfilled. Such is all life. It is the heir of promises which, however, require our effort for their fulfilment.
(a) For instance: Truth is a land of promise. Only when God gives can we get it. "The Spirit of truth" alone can impart it. It is a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of God's elect. But though thus a land of God's promises, and in a special sense His gift, it comes not to the inert or the supine—to the critics that are at ease in Zion. It comes to the fighters only. When we face bravely all lies, strive fearlessly to see and grasp and own the truth, get lodgment for it in the heart by obeying it, strive against doubts that rise within us, and fears disabling us, then do we gain "the promised possession."
(b) Salvation is God's promise, and a Divine gift in all its elements. Obviously it is beyond our power to compass it. Only the God that made us can mend us. And atonement, grace, repentance, faith, perseverance to the end, are all God's gift. But there is the battle of Beth-horon at the outset of every Christian life, and many a conflict afterwards, a strait gate to begin with, and a narrow way to follow. And if we do not make the effort and fight for the attainment of what we desire, we shall not find it.
(c) Character is another Canaan. A thing of promise, but only reached by effort. Daily deeds of self denial lead to it; and daffy conflicts with doubts and disinclinations.
(d) Usefulness is, perhaps, the grandest of all God's promises. It is that in which we most resemble God. Its joys are the likest of any to those of the everlasting home. It comes not to the dreamer, but to the fighter. The abolition of slavery was a fight. Mary Carpenter's triumph in getting a place for Ragged Schools, Industrial Schools, and Reformatories in English legislation, required thirty years of effort. When the Church faces the abounding drunkenness of the land, she will find God will help her to destroy it, but that His help will be conditioned on a tremendous effort. Do not believe in salvation made easy. It is always simple, it is never easy. The possession of every Canaan is a Divine promise, and needs Divine power; but one of the conditions of its fulfilment is the forth putting of human effort. Take a second lesson.
II. THE HEARTIER THE EFFORT IS, THE MORE SURELY AND EASILY SUCCESS WILL COME. Joshua saw the need for action, had God's guidance in it, and then with an energy which had something Napoleonic in it, threw himself into his task. Was Gibeon threatened? within a few hours of his knowing it, Israel is on the march. Doubtless there were counsellors advising caution, consideration, and delay. Joshua had gathered the wisdom, but not the weakness, of old age, and knew the value of energy. That night the host is marshalled for its uphill, moonlit march over the fifteen or eighteen miles of valley intervening between them and Gilgal. And before the five kings have any thought of his approach, he rushes "like a torrent" on the foe. And such is the energy, the surprise of that charge, that, martial as are the habits of the enemy, they are obliged to yield. Apparently a long fight takes place, the enemy disputing every inch of ground so long as the gradual rising to the Upper Beth-horon gives them the advantage. But the sun stands still over Gibeon to let them finish the fight; and then a headlong flight down to Lower Beth-boron, and then to the valley of Ajalon and the plains that skirt the Mediterranean, subjects them to terrible destruction. A great hailstorm breaks on the fugitive masses, not extending far enough eastward to affect Israel. And the moon stands over the valley of Ajalon after the sun has set, to let them finish their pursuit and complete their victory. It is as fine an instance of the value of decision, of energy, of heartiness in our work as the whole Bible gives. "What thy hand finds to do, do it with thy might." The impact of any projectile is in the ratio of its mass, multiplied by its velocity. And a thing of slight mass, but of high velocity, will be more effective than one of much greater mass, whose velocity is sluggish. So is it in the world of morals. Weight multiplied by momentum measures the power. Most of us are inefficient, because, while weighty enough, we have little or no momentum. We languidly pursue the good, and half-heartedly oppose the evil. Unlike St. Paul, it is not one thing, but twenty-one, that we do. In everything decision and heartiness is needed, but in religion it is indispensable. Be cold or hot, not lukewarm. If the gospel be true, it is tremendously true; if a dream, ignore it altogether. Half-hearted fighting prolongs the contest, invites defeat, loses the benefits of victory. In march, attack, pursuit, we have an example of the supreme advantage of doing heartily whatever has to be done by us. Take a third lesson.
III. THE GOOD FIGHT, WHEN WELL FOUGHT, ALWAYS ENDS IN VICTORY. It might have seemed a very dubious affair, this war with the nations of Canaan. The Canaanites were the English of that period: the nation leading the world in maritime enterprise and daring, and wealthy and strong in their successful commerce. Israel had been for generations in slavery, debased and weakened by servitude. But against these odds on the side of Canaan there were some things to be set.
1. Immorality is destructive of courage. Paganism, with its debasements, destroyed self respect and that interest in life, home, and liberty which is the soul of patriotism. For heroism religion is an essential element. Cromwell's Ironsides, Nelson's Methodists, Havelock's regiment of Teetotallers, the rower of resistance to oppression developed by religion in Holland and in Scotland, show how immediate and direct is the influence of godliness in vitalising all the manlier virtues. Corruption of character followed corruption of creed, and was followed by deterioration of courage.
2. The enemy of the good has never Divine guidance. These nations were badly advised. Their true policy was a defensive one. Within their ramparts the labour of conquering them would have been terrific and inevitably slow. All uniting, in the open they lose the advantage of their cities "walled up to heaven," and a single disaster is a fatal one. "A good understanding have they that love God's law;" and all others unwatchful in presumption, or feverish in solicitude, lack wisdom which they Deed.
3. And God fights on behalf of those who fight for Him. The long day, the moonlight night, the destructive hail, are all Divine, however we may abate the miraculous significance of the poetic history. And they who aim at any form of good find a secret providence furthering their enterprise: many influences cooperating with them, strange providential openings, a Divine backing which, all uniting, make it that, however weak they may be, they are more than conquerors through Christ that loved them. "Wherefore take to yourselves the whole armour of God," and FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH.—G.
HOMILIES BY E. DE PRESSENSE
The victory over the five kings.
The battle against the five kings is the most remarkable episode in the conquest of the Canaanites. Israel might well have had cause to tremble in presence of such allied enemies. But Divine aid gives it a signal victory. That aid comes under two forms:
1. It consists, first, in a miraculous intervention of the Divine power, which sends down a fierce storm of hailstones upon the Canaanitish armies, and so lengthens out the day as to make the conflict decisive. No one believes now that the sun stood still. Holy Scripture speaks the popular language of the day, and makes no pretension to being scientific in its records. God reveals only that which man has no power to discover, and it was not the calling of Joshua to be a Galileo or Copernicus. Do we not still speak in common parlance of the rising and setting of the sun? All that is essential is, that we hold fast our faith in the miracle itself. Let us not marvel that such a prodigy was wrought for so small a nation; for that nation was the depository of the promise that in it should all nations of the earth be blessed. The God of nature may surely show Himself the King and Master of nature, and it is most fitting that the heavens which declare His glory should do His commandments. The supreme law of the universe is not the physical law, but the dependence of that law upon the sovereign will of the Almighty.
2. This Divine aid was manifested, in the second place, by the heroic confidence and courage infused into the hearts of his people. "Fear them not," was the message to Joshua, who might well nave been dismayed at so powerful a league of enemies, "for I have delivered them into thine hands." "Therefore," as we read in the following verse, "Joshua came unto them suddenly." The Divine word alone gave him courage to go forward, and courage is in itself an irresistible power, even more formidable than the storm of hailstones from heaven. With more than redoubled force, Israel rushes on to certain victory. Thus the noble words of the Psalms 21:1-13. are anticipated and fulfilled: "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will trust in the name of the Lord our God" (Psalms 21:8). Did not Elisha describe Elijah as the chariot and the horsemen of Israel? Let us place unwavering trust in all our conflicts in this Divine aid, and that confidence will be the first condition of victory.—E. DE P.
HOMILIES BY W.F. ADENEY
The sun and moon stayed.
Whatever opinions we may entertain relative to the exact nature of the incident celebrated in the poem of the Book of Jasher, there are certain general principles and religious truths which that poem brings distinctly before us.
I. GOD IS ACTIVELY CONCERNED WITH THE EVENTS OF HUMAN HISTORY. Divine powers aided Joshua in resisting the onslaught of the Canaanites. God is present, when He is not clearly so recognised, in all crises of life.
(1) His overruling power so disposes of the order of creation that even without miracle the outward world works His will.
(2) His providential control of the minds of men and the course of their lives determines ultimate events. Therefore note: God has not left the world to go its own course only to be judged and rectified at a future judgment day. lie judges now, and intervenes now, and works on the side of right, for the protection of those who submit to His rule, and to the loss of such as fight against His will (Psalms 68:1, Psalms 68:7, Psalms 68:24).
II. NATURE IS SUBSERVIENT TO THE WILL OF GOD. Miracles are not rare and occasional instances of the way in which God makes His will felt in nature. They are rather abnormal manifestations of the Divine power which is equally present in the regular course of nature. God is as much working in the natural as in the miraculous event, though the miraculous serves to impress us with the consciousness of His power. If we believe in God at all, it is unreasonable to suppose that He would create the universe in some age of dim antiquity, and then leave it to itself like a self-acting machine, which being once wound up only needs adjusting by miracle now and again to suit special emergencies. It is much more reasonable to regard the universe as an organism of which God is at once the creating, the inspiring, the energising, and the controlling spirit. Thus the sun and moon and stars and the earth always move by His power, and at every moment express His will (Psalms 104:2-4, Psalms 104:16, Psalms 104:21, etc.; Romans 1:20).
III. NATURAL EVENTS ARE LINKED WITH HUMAN DESTINIES. Like all great delusions which have exercised wide influence over men, astrology was the perversion of a deep truth. Our lives are connected with the stars. All nature is one, and we—in our earthly life—are part of nature. The processes of nature affect us; e.g; possibly sun spots acting through atmospheric phenomena have some influence over human calamities, and even over moral relations. Therefore note:
(1) God touches us through nature, and we must regard nature as an instrument in His hands for our discipline.
(2) Nature should be studied in its bearings upon human life for our practical instruction.
IV. NATURE FIGHTS AGAINST THOSE WHO RESIST THE WILL OF GOD. The Canaanites were resisting God's will concerning the settlement of the land, and thus they made themselves enemies to God's servant, nature. So the stars out of their courses fought against Sisera (Judges 5:20). It is objected that it is unworthy of the character of God to suppose that He would intervene by means of natural agencies to assist in a work of destruction. But it should be remembered that God is always employing destructive agencies in nature, as earthquakes, storms, etc; and that physical destruction is a less evil than moral corruption.—W.F.A.
HOMILIES BY J. WAITE
A day of wonders.
The Canaanite kings were slow in gathering their forces together to repel the advance of Joshua, but they were ready enough to come down in vengeance upon the Gibeonites for having made peace with him. The men of Gibeon found the advantage of having a strong and generous protector, one who would be true to his pledges, even though they had been extorted from him by fraud. Joshua responds at once to the cry that comes to him from the beleaguered city, and God makes its deliverance the occasion for a signal display of His power and the furtherance of His purpose in the overthrow of the kings. The blending of the natural and supernatural in the events of this day is very remarkable. The two elements are so interlaced and interwoven that it is not for us to say where the one ends and the other begins. We only feel, in following the course of the narrative, that we are in the presence of a marvellous Divine power that carries all resistance before it. Such records as this, however, have their true effect upon us when they lead us the more clearly to recognise the supernatural force in the natural, to discern behind the common, familiar order of things the mystery and majesty of the Divine. With the vexed question as to the historic truth of the declaration that "the sun stood still in the midst of heaven," we have not now to do (see Exposition). We simply note that, if the use the historian makes of the poetic quotation from the Book of Jasher compels us to regard it as having some basis of fact, there is no need on that account to believe in any actual arrest of the order of the universe. May not natural agents and natural laws be used miraculously by Him who is the Author of them? Just as He who created the hailstones could, without injury to the Israelites, turn them as engines of destruction against their foes, so surely He who at the beginning "commanded the light to shine out of darkness" could, in ways to us unknown, prolong the day in answer to Joshua's prayer. Two broad lessons grow out of this:
I. THAT GOD'S SOVEREIGNTY OVER NATURE IS SUBSERVIENT TO THE HIGHER PURPOSES OF HIS SPIRITUAL KINGDOM. We look through these outward incidents to the Divine end which they were all helping to work out. God was "forming a people for his praise." Giving them a local habitation, that they might the better conserve His truth and show forth His glory. He drove out the heathen before them, and planted them there that they might bear rich fruits of blessing to the world, that in them and in their seed all the earth might be blessed. Everything is to be looked at in the light of that moral purpose.
(1) The whole visible universe exists for spiritual ends the revelation of the invisible Divine beauty and order; the magnifying of the law of eternal righteousness. Its activity and its rest, its discords and its harmonies, its terror and its loveliness, all have a moral meaning and intent.
(2) The forces and laws of the universe are against those who are against God. You must be morally one with Him if you would have them befriend you. "The stars in their courses fight against Sisera." How terrible to think of some of the forms in which the Creator might, if He pleased, array the powers of nature against sinful men! His long-suffering beneficence is their only safeguard. "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed" (Lamentations 3:22).
(3) The created universe attains its consummation only in the final spiritual triumph of the Redeemer. The groaning creation waits for the "manifestation of the sons of God." The glorious presence of the Lord will be "the restitution of all things." There will be "nothing to hurt or to destroy" in the "new heavens and the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness."
II. THAT MAN IS AN EFFICIENT INSTRUMENT IN SERVING THE CAUSE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS JUST SO FAR AS HE HAS FAITH TO LAY HOLD ON THE SOVEREIGN POWER OF GOD. "There was no day like that before it or after it," not because there was anything singular, unparalleled, in God's "hearkening to the voice of a man." This was simply a conspicuous and noteworthy example of a universal law. "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man "has always" availed much." The resources of heaven wait upon it. Such prayer is
"A breath that fleets beyond this iron world,
And touches Him that made it."
(1) Let the Church "stir itself up to lay hold on God." Its strength lies in faith and prayer. The Lord will never fail to "fight for Israel" when she is true to her high calling. The weapons of her warfare are mighty through Him. "God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early" (Psalms 46:5). This pledge of Divine protection and deliverance is given, not to ecclesiastical systems, which may have much that is of man rather than of God in their constitution, but to that Church which Christ has redeemed and chosen out of every land and nation to represent His own cause of truth and righteousness. When the Church goes forth in the energy of faith and prayer, its enemies flee before it.
(2) Let the individual Christian recognise the true source of moral power. No emergency of life need be overwhelming to one who casts himself unreservedly on God. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" Move on steadily in the path of duty and fear not. In all conceivable times of difficulty and danger, of temptation and sorrow, Christ's answer to the cry of His faithful ones is the same—"My grace is sufficient for thee. My strength is made perfect in weakness."—W.
Joshua 10:24, Joshua 10:25
The conquered kings.
The fate of those kings has its moral analogies. We may regard them as typical of the principles and powers of spiritual evil, and their end as suggestive of the certain issue of God's conflict with those evil powers. Observe—
I. THE DECEITFULNESS OF SIN. It deludes the transgressor, and leads him blindfold to ruin. It moves men to seek false refuges, inspires them with a vain hope. They think to hide themselves, but God's laws and retributions always find them out. Jonah would fain "flee from the presence of the Lord," but God's "strong wind" was swifter than his flight, and the sea, by which he thought to escape, only brought him face to face with his Judge. The subterfuges to which men resort in any guilty way often become the very means of their detection and punishment. The kings dream of safety in their cave; it turns out to be the very thing that shuts them up hopelessly to Joshua's vengeance. As Matthew Henry puts it: "That which they thought would have been their shelter, was made their prison first, and then their grave." So do sinful purposes often defeat themselves. "The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands" (Psalms 9:16).
II. THE HUMILIATION THAT, SOONER OR LATER, BEFALLS A PROUD DEFIANCE OF DIVINE AUTHORITY. See here an illustration of high handed rebellion against God. Its overthrow in the end is sure. "The wheel of fortune turns and lowers the proud." Kings are as helplessly subject to the Divine power by which that wheel revolves as other men (Psalms 76:12; Isaiah 41:25). Into what abject misery have they sometimes fallen, under the mighty hand of God, who once, in the career of their ambition, set all Divine and human law at defiance, and made the earth to tremble! Let not the wicked exalt themselves; there is a power that can easily lay them low.
III. THE VICTORY THAT REWARDS FAITHFUL AND PATIENT MORAL CONFLICT. The captains are called, in the presence of all the men of Israel, to "put their feet upon the necks" of these doomed kings. So shall it be the honour and joy of all earnest warrior souls to see their enemies at last subdued under them. "The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly" (Romans 16:20). 'Tis hard work to be continually fighting against some form of evil in the world without or the world within; to have continually to confront some new foe, or "old foes with new faces;" to be compelled often to drag forth some lurking iniquity from its hiding place in our own hearts that it may be slain. But let us be resolute and patient and we shall "come off more than conquerors through him who hath loved us," and at last plant our feet proudly on the necks of all our adversaries.
IV. THE FINAL GLORIOUS VICTORY OF CHRIST. It is the eternal purpose of God that every stronghold of evil should fall before Him and all His enemies be put beneath His feet, and the events of time are all helping in some way or other to bring about that issue (Psa 110:1; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Philippians 2:9-11).—W.
HOMILIES BY W.F. ADENEY
Courage and strength.
I. THE DUTY TO BE BRAVE AND STRONG. This is often insisted on in the Book of Joshua (e.g; Joshua 1:6). Christianity gives prominence to gentler graces of humility, mildness, and the forgiving spirit. But it does not therefore exonerate us from the more masculine duties (1 Corinthians 16:13; Ephesians 6:10).
(1) It is our duty to be brave. Cowardice is a sin in a Christian even more than in a pagan, because the Christian has higher motives for courage. The exhortation, "Fear not," is not only an encouragement to comfort; it is an incitement to duty, because cowardice leads us to shrink from
(c) pain and loss,
(d) ridicule; and yet all of these may come in the way of our life's work.
(2) It is our duty to be strong. We should not simply bewail weakness as a calamity; we should repent of it as a failing. Moral weakness comes from moral corruption. It makes us fail in our work of resisting sin and doing good. It is therefore needful that we should overcome it if we are to fulfil our mission.
II. THE CALL FOR THE EXERCISE OF THIS DUTY.
(1) We are surrounded by alarming dangers;
(a) in our own sinful hearts;
(b) in the evil of the world, and the troubles and temptations which arise from this;
(c) in the mystery of life.
He who is not brave with God's courage will sink before these terrors when once he realises their full proportions.
(2) We are called to difficult tasks;
(a) like the Israelites, we are invited to take possession of an inheritance. The kingdom of heaven is not won without fighting (1 Corinthians 9:26);
(b) like the Israelites, we have foes to resist in sin within and temptation without (1 Peter 5:8, 1 Peter 5:9);
(c) like the Israelites, we have territory to conquer for God. We have not to fight for our own inheritance and safety only or chiefly, but that we may win the world for Christ (1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 2:3).
III. THE SECRET OF COURAGE AND STRENGTH.
(1) They are derived from God. We are not to fear, because God is with us (Isaiah 43:1, Isaiah 43:2). We are to be strong in His strength (Psalms 29:11; Philippians 4:13). Therefore those naturally most timid and weak can be strong and brave in God (Isaiah 40:31; 2 Corinthians 12:10).
(2) They are encouraged by experience. To us it appears a brutal source of courage—those Hebrew captains planting their feet on the necks of the conquered kings in triumph. But rejoicing in the victory, it was well that they should see God's hand in it, and gain strength from it. We may seek strength and courage in the contemplation of the way in which God has helped us in the past (Psalms 34:6).
(3) They are increased by practice. The text is an exhortation. Though strength and courage come from God, they come through our own efforts to be brave and energetic. We must exercise Divine grace in order to realise its efficiency (Philippians 2:12).
(4) They are mutually helpful. Courage and strength are associated. Courage without strength is rash. Strength without courage is futile. We must be strong to justify our courage and brave to use our strength. Thus the various Christian graces are linked together in arming a soul with the whole armour of God (Ephesians 6:11).—W.F.A.
The extermination of the Canaanites.
The apparent cruelty of the Israelites in the conquest of Canaan arouses moral and religious questions of great interest, especially those which are suggested by the conduct of Joshua, the relation of God to the slaughter of the Canaanites, and the contrast between the earlier and the later religious dispensations.
I. THE CONDUCT OF JOSHUA. This appears cruel and murderous. But note:
(1) It was in accordance with the customs of the times. Christian lenity was unknown. A man must be judged in the light of his age. It is wrong to "follow a multitude to do evil" (Exodus 23:2), when we know it is doing evil, because the number of guilty persons does not mitigate the guilt of each individual. But our own judgment of what is right and wrong is largely determined by the prevalent ideas and unblamed conduct of our contemporaries; and if, when we have used the best light at our command, "our hearts condemn us not" (1 John 3:21), we cannot be accounted guilty.
(2) It was in obedience to the understood command of God. A supposed command from heaven is no justification for an act which a man sincerely believes to be wrong, because in no case is he justified in violating conscience, and because he has more reason for doubting the Divine origin of the voice without than that of the voice within. But when the certainty of the Divine command is so strong that it carries conviction to the conscience, it becomes right for a man to obey.
(2) It was in execution of what was believed to be a Divine decree of judgment. Joshua did not consider that he was destroying the Canaanites simply to make way for the Israelites. He believed that he was a "scourge of God," sent to bring doom to the guilty, to rid the land of men who lived only to dishonour it, and to introduce a better race in their stead.
II. THE RELATION OF GOD TO THE SLAUGHTER OF THE CANAANITES. Did God really command it? and if so, how can we reconcile this with His character of goodness?
(1) If God commanded this slaughter, He was ordering no more than He does directly in natural events—in tempests, earthquakes, famines, plagues, and visitations of death generally.
(2) If men deserve destruction for their sins, it is really no more harsh for this to be sent by human agency than for it to come from physical causes, as with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
(3) If the punishment of sin generally is reconcilable with the goodness of God, this particular instance may be so.
(4) The extermination of the Canaanites was a blessing to the world.
(5) It was no real evil to the Canaanites. If men are living in sin and will not repent, the judgment which shortens their lives and prevents further evil is rather a blessing than a curse; for any loss or suffering is better for us than that we should be permitted to live on in sin (Luke 17:1, Luke 17:2). It is better for us that we should be punished for sin than that we should continue in sin unpunished.
III. THE CONTRAST BETWEEN THE EARLIER AND THE LATER DISPENSATIONS.
(1) Joshua brought punishment and destruction to sinners. Christ brings forgiveness and life.
(2) Joshua could only find room for his people after exterminating their predecessors. Christ has room for all who will come to His kingdom (Luke 14:22).
(3) Joshua proved himself fit for the inheritance of his nation by the exercise of destructive warfare. Christians arc made meet for their inheritance by the practice of Christlike deeds of charity (Matthew 25:34-36).—W.F.A.
HOMILIES BY S.R. ALDRIDGE
The extermination of the Canaanites.
"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." The attributes of God are the foundation of religion. From the relation in which we stand to Him as His creatures some regards are due to Him; but this relationship of inferiority could not of itself suffice to demand that entire devotedness to His services, that complete surrender of our affection which we denominate religion. God's requirement (as stated in Deuteronomy 10:12) can only be justified by reference to the perfections of His character. If there be the least flaw, implicit trust cannot be expected of us. Herein all heathen systems of religion are defective, presenting to us a deity whom we cannot worship, a creature maimed, liable to the same passions as ourselves. The Christian religion bears traces of its Divine origin in the grandeur of its conceptions concerning the character of God. There is a height that dwarfs into littleness the puny gods invented by man; there is a many sidedness of view which could not have been the product of imagination. Just and holy, merciful and gracious, all knowing and Almighty, the Creator and Sustainer, a Friend and Judge, our Father and King, such He is declared to be. Hence it is that those objections are felt to be most serious which are urged, with any show of reason, against the reality of God's perfections. Especially when His benevolence is challenged do we fear lest the dark shadow becloud the skies and chill our hearts. Now, in the text there is an account of a sweeping destruction executed on the south of Canaan by command of God. No quarter was given. So dreadful the desolation that some have called it cruelty. And though it is not incumbent on us to justify all the ways of God, yet as some are led from passages like the present to entertain hard thoughts of God, it may be well for once to look the implied objection calmly in the face.
A command from God may render that action lawful and right, which done with.. out His authority would be deserving of reprobation. He is the Lord and owner of life. He gave, and it is His to take away. He commits no more injustice than when a parent redemands from his children the goods of which they are making an improper use. The text is therefore no excuse for the unauthorized seizure of the land of one nation by another, or for those violent acts for which no direct behest of God can be alleged.
These were single detached commands against particular foes. There was no injunction "to cultivate the principles of treachery or cruelty;" "none of these precepts are contrary to immutable morality "(Bp. Butler). When an army was led blindly into Samaria the king said, "Shall I smite them?" "No," answered the prophet Elisha in effect (2 Kings 6:21, 2 Kings 6:22). On another occasion the prophet Elijah had rebuked King Ahab because he had allowed a king to escape, whom "the Lord had appointed to utter destruction." The reason of the case alters the nature of the action.
The extermination of the Canaanites was a punishment for wickedness. See Leviticus 18:1-30. "The land is defiled … vomiteth out her inhabitants." The very earth stank with their practices, and yearned to be rid of its unhallowed burden. "Ye shall not walk in the manners … for they committed all these things, therefore I abhorred him." Again, in Deuteronomy 18:1-22; "Because of their abominations the Lord doth drive them out from before thee." So also Deuteronomy 9:5. It is to be remembered that the things censured were not merely occasional acts, but abominable customs. Indeed, the odious practices were a part of their religion, incorporated into their most solemn services. So degraded had they become.
A considerable period of respite had been granted, but without avail. God had said to Abraham, "The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full." When the cup of iniquity was filled to overflowing, then did the righteous fiat issue. During that period warnings of the severest character were given. Sodom and Gomorrah perished in a terrible manner, and later the kings of Og and Sihon had fallen. Still no repentance. It is useless to say that the warnings were not sufficiently distinct. We see the same indifference today. Men destroy their health by sinful habits, grow worse and worse. Do they need a Divine hand on their shoulder or an actual voice in their ear to warn them? The warning is plain, if only they will attend to it. But no I and the fearful end arrives.
The method of punishment adopted was one of which the nations of Palestine would not complain, since it was in keeping with their own conduct. They would find no injustice done them. They would defeat other nations and dispossess them of life and territory if they could. They believed in the tenure or lease of the strong arm. Granted, therefore, that God was executing righteous judgment, the prevailing code removes all charge of cruelty. The judgments as well as the favours of God must be conditioned as to form by men's surroundings. In legislating for the Israelites, whilst we expect and find such purity and such an anticipation of the opinions of modern times as justly entitles the "the law of Moses" to be considered a revelation from God, yet would it have been Quixotic to take no account of prevalent opinions and tendencies, to demand of the Israelites exactly what Christianity now demands after so many centuries of civilisation. There is no change, therefore, in the character of God, no advance in wisdom or love supposed, only such a difference of reputation as is necessitated by a due regard for the condition of those to whom Divine commands are given. We must not, therefore, talk of a contradiction between the spirit of the gospel maxim, "love your enemies," and the precept followed in the text as seeming to say, "act with barbarity." As a rule, God's judgments here do not distinguish degrees of guilt. Famines and pestilences of old times scourged a whole neighbourhood. So in the present instance the sword visited all with punishment. Let us not forget, however, that these judgments are not final. Nothing is determined respecting the ultimate state of those involved in the general destruction. Minute discrimination is for the other world.
Is not God's love exemplified even in the stern precept of the text?
1. Love to surrounding nations. This terrible example might prove beneficial The only proof to them of superior power was prowess in war. This alone could bring them to acknowledge that the God of Israel, "he was Lord."
2. To His own people. The danger was lest the Israelites should be contaminated, and after events showed the wisdom of God's command. The people were so easily seduced from their allegiance to Jehovah, And God was impartial. He threatened that if the Israelites did evil, their fate should be similar.
3. To the whole world. Since if the chosen people had utterly lost the truth, the light would have been universally extinguished. Through Israel the promised Messiah was to Come. Woe to the world if the way were blocked up, and no Saviour appeared dawning as the Sun of Righteousness on this benighted earth.
Many lessons may be drawn. We learn the authority of God, and His hatred of sin. Ours is no emasculated religion. If God were a being of kindness only, then kindness with sin would mean total misery. "Except we repent, we shall all likewise perish." When we look at His anxiety for the welfare of His people, and the preparation made for the gift of His Son, we are taught "the goodness and severity of God" (Romans 11:22),—A.
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Joshua 10". The Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent