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Bible Commentaries

Utley's You Can Understand the Bible

Joshua 10

Joshua 10:0

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASBNKJVNRSVTEVNJB
Five Kings Attack GibeonThe Sun Stands StillCampaigns South of GibeonThe Amorites are DefeatedFive Kings Make War on Gibeon
Joshua 10:1-5Joshua 10:1-5Joshua 10:1-5Joshua 10:1-5Joshua 10:1-5
Joshua Comes to Rescue Gibeon
Joshua 10:6-11Joshua 10:6-11Joshua 10:6-11Joshua 10:6Joshua 10:6-9
Joshua 10:7-11Aid From On High
The Sun Stood StillJoshua 10:10-13a
Joshua 10:12-15Joshua 10:12-15Joshua 10:12-14Joshua 10:12-14
Joshua 10:13-15
Joshua 10:15Joshua 10:15
Five Kings Captured and SlainThe Amorite Kings ExecutedJoshua Captures the Five Amorite KingsThe Five Kings in the Cave at Makkedah
Joshua 10:16-21Joshua 10:16-21Joshua 10:16-21Joshua 10:16-21aJoshua 10:16-19
Joshua 10:21b
Joshua 10:20-21
Joshua 10:22-27Joshua 10:22-27Joshua 10:22-27Joshua 10:22-27Joshua 10:22-26
Joshua 10:27
Joshua's ConquestConquest of the SouthlandJoshua Captures More Amorite TerritoryThe Conquest of the Southern Towns of Canaan
Joshua 10:28Joshua 10:28Joshua 10:28Joshua 10:28Joshua 10:28
Joshua 10:29-30Joshua 10:29-30Joshua 10:29-30Joshua 10:29-30Joshua 10:29-30
Joshua 10:31-32Joshua 10:31-33Joshua 10:31-32Joshua 10:31-33Joshua 10:31-33
Joshua 10:33Joshua 10:33
Joshua 10:34-35Joshua 10:34-35Joshua 10:34-35Joshua 10:34-35Joshua 10:34-35
Joshua 10:36-37Joshua 10:36-37Joshua 10:36-37Joshua 10:36-37Joshua 10:36-37
Joshua 10:38-39Joshua 10:38-39Joshua 10:38-39Joshua 10:38-39Joshua 10:38-39
The Southern Conquest Recapitulated
Joshua 10:40-43Joshua 10:40-43Joshua 10:40-43Joshua 10:40-43Joshua 10:40-43

READING CYCLE THREE (from “A Guide to Good Bible Reading”)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired but it is the key to following the original author's intent which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

Verses 1-5

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 10:1-5 1Now it came about when Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem heard that Joshua had captured Ai, and had utterly destroyed it (just as he had done to Jericho and its king, so he had done to Ai and its king), and that the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were within their land, 2that he feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were mighty. 3Therefore Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem sent word to Hoham king of Hebron and to Piram king of Jarmuth and to Japhia king of Lachish and to Debir king of Eglan, saying, 4”Come up to me and help me, and let us attack Gibeon, for it has made peace with Joshua and with the sons of Israel.” 5So the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered together and went up, they with all their armies, and camped by Gibeon and fought against it.

Joshua 10:1, Joshua 10:3 “Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem” This name means “my Lord is just” or “righteous” (BDB 11) and is related etymologically to the title “Melchizedek” (king is/of righteous, BDB 575) who was the priest/king of the city of Salem.

This is the first use of the term “Jerusalem” in the Bible. The Septuagint has “Adoni-bezek” (a place name). The city was originally called “Salem” (cf. Genesis 14:18). Later, it is called Jebus (cf. Judges 19:10, Judges 19:11; 1 Chronicles 11:4). It was given to Benjamin but it is right on the border with Judah. The lower city was captured in Joshua's day but the upper city (fortress) was not captured until David's day (cf. 2 Samuel 5:6ff). We learn from the archaeological discovery of the Amarna tablets, around 1400 B.C., that they called the city “Urusalem.”

“utterly destroy” This refers to the Hebrew concept of “holy war” called the herem (BDB 355, KB 353, Hiphil IMPERFECT). This meant that a city (i.e., Ai) was dedicated to God; it became so holy that everything that breathed, including men and animals, must be killed. We see this same kind of situation at the battle of Jericho (Joshua 6:0).

“had made peace” This VERB (BDB 1023, KB 1532, Hiphil PERFECT) means “to finish” or “to bring to completion” (e.g., 2 Samuel 10:19; Joshua 10:2 Kgs. 22:44), therefore, it denotes the results of their covenant with Joshua (cf. Joshua 10:4; Joshua 9:15).

Joshua 10:2 “feared” This VERB (BDB 431, KB 432, Qal IMPERFECT) is used several times in Joshua

1. revere - Joshua 4:14, Moses

2. revere - Joshua 4:24; Joshua 22:25; Joshua 24:14, YHWH

3. fear - Joshua 8:1; Joshua 10:8; Joshua 11:6, YHWH tells Joshua to not fear

4. fear - Joshua 9:24; Joshua 10:2, the Gibeonites and Jerusalemites fear Israel

5. fear - Joshua 10:25, Joshua tells Israel to not fear

“Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities” Although it was large and well fortified like one of the royal cities, it was not one because it apparently had no king and was in a league with several other cities (cf. Joshua 9:17).

“all its men were mighty” This is a word play between (1) Gibeon (BDB 149); (2) “great” (BDB 152); and (3) “mighty” (gibborim, BDB 150).

Joshua 10:3 “Hebron. . .Jarmuth. . .Lachish. . .Eglon” These sites are all located in the southern hill country of Judah and Benjamin. They were all of Amorite descent. We also learn from the Amarna tablets that all of them appear in this ancient document except for the city of Hebron which was also called “Kiriath-arba” (cf. Joshua 20:7). This, again, shows the historicity of this account.

Joshua 10:4 Notice the verbal commands.

1. “Come up with me,” BDB 748, KB 828, Qal IMPERATIVE

2. “Help me,” BDB 740, KB 810, Qal IMPERATIVE

3. “Let us attack,” BDB 645, KB 679, Hiphil IMPERFECT used in a COHORTATIVE sense

Joshua 10:5 “camped by” This refers to a siege.

Verses 6-11

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 10:6-11 6Then the men of Gibeon sent word to Joshua to the camp at Gilgal, saying, “Do not abandon your servants; come up to us quickly and save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites that live in the hill country have assembled against us.” 7So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him and all the valiant warriors. 8The LORD said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands; not one of them shall stand before you.” 9So Joshua came upon them suddenly by marching all night from Gilgal. 10And the LORD confounded them before Israel, and He slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and pursued them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah. 11As they fled from before Israel, while they were at the descent of Beth-horon, the LORD threw large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died; there were more who died from the hailstones than those whom the sons of Israel killed with the sword.

Joshua 10:6 Israel's covenant with Gibeon promised military protection.

Verse Joshua 10:6 contains several IMPERATIVES in the message the Gibeonites sent to Joshua.

1. “do not abandon your servants” (lit. “slacken your hands”), BDB 951, KB 1276, Hiphil JUSSIVE, cf. Joshua 1:5; Deuteronomy 4:31; Psalms 138:8

2. “come up to us quickly,” BDB 748, KB 828, Qal IMPERATIVE, cf. Joshua 10:4

3. “save us,” BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil IMPERATIVE

4. “help us,” BDB 740, KB 810, Qal IMPERATIVE, cf. Joshua 10:4

Numbers 3:0 and 4 are used synonymously.

“Amorites” See Special Topic: Pre-Israelite Inhabitants of Palestine.

Joshua 10:7

NASB“he and all the people of war with him and all the valiant warriors” NKJV“he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor” NRSV“he and all the fighting force with him, all the mighty warriors” TEV“Joshua and his whole army, including the best troops” NJB“he, all the fighting men and all the bravest of his army”

Are there two groups of fighting men or two designations of one large group? The second phrase is used several times in Joshua (cf. Joshua 1:14; Joshua 8:3; Joshua 10:7 and also Judges 6:12; Judges 11:1). From the usage in Joshua 8:3 it seems to refer to two groups (regular soldiers and an elite group of special soldiers).

Joshua 10:8 “Do not fear them” The VERB (BDB 431, KB 432) is a Qal IMPERFECT, used in a JUSSIVE sense. It is a recurrent message of God to His people.

1. Abraham - Genesis 15:1

2. Hagar - Genesis 21:17

3. Isaac - Genesis 26:24

4. Israel (by Moses) - Exodus 14:13; Exodus 20:20; Deuteronomy 1:21; Deuteronomy 20:3; Deuteronomy 31:6

5. Israel (by Joshua) - Joshua 8:1; Joshua 10:25

“for I have given them into your hands” This is a recurrent Hebrew idiom of military defeat (cf. Deuteronomy 7:24; Joshua 6:2; Joshua 8:1, Joshua 8:18) See Special Topic: Hand.

“not one of them shall stand before you” This is another Hebrew idiom of military defeat (cf. Deuteronomy 7:24; Deuteronomy 11:25; Joshua 1:5; Joshua 23:9)

It is interesting to me to see the relationship between the sovereign word of God recorded in Joshua 10:8 and the required human effort recorded in Joshua 10:9 and 11. Although God assured them of the victory, they still had to prepare for the battle and form a strategy to defeat the Canaanites. It is this tension between God's sovereignty and man's free will that is found so often in the Bible.

This chapter expresses well the concept of holy war as YHWH's judgment against the Canaanites (cf. Genesis 15:16; Leviticus 18:24-28).

1. YHWH's own statements, Joshua 10:8

2. the narrator, Joshua 10:10-11, Joshua 10:14, Joshua 10:30, Joshua 10:42

3. Joshua's words, Joshua 10:19, Joshua 10:25

Joshua 10:9 “by marching all night” This was no small effort to save a Canaanite population. Israel felt bound to Gibeon by covenant oath.

“from Gilgal” In Hebrew “Gilgal” means “circle” (BDB 166). It was the first campsite of the Jews as they crossed the Jordan River. See fuller note at Joshua 9:6. Apparently the five kings of these large city states in southern Canaan had attacked Gibeon because they had made peace with the Israelites.

Joshua 10:10

NASB“the LORD confounded them” NKJV“the LORD routed them” NRSV“the LORD threw them into a panic” TEV“the LORD made the Amorites panic” NJB“Yahweh threw them into disorder”

This VERB (BDB 243, KB 251) is often used with YHWH as the SUBJECT (cf. Exodus 14:24; Exodus 23:27; Deuteronomy 7:23; Joshua 10:10; Judges 4:15; 1 Samuel 7:10; 2 Chronicles 15:6) and is part of the technical terminology of “holy war” (herem).

All of the VERBS in Joshua 10:10 are SINGULAR, implying that they refer to YHWH (notice Joshua 10:11 and Joshua 10:12), but the suffixes are PLURAL, implying Israel. In reality YHWH is the power and Israel the instrument of His power.

1. “confounded/confused,” BDB 243, KB 251, Qal IMPERFECT

2. “slew,” BDB 645, KB 697, Hiphil IMPERFECT

3. “pursued,” BDB 922, KB 1191, Qal IMPERFECT

4. “struck,” BDB 645, KB 697, Hiphil IMPERFECT

“the ascent of Beth-horon. . .Azekah and Makkedah” These geographical sites are uncertain. We are not sure whether the first is to the east or to the west of Gibeon. The last two are to the south.

Joshua 10:11 “that the LORD threw large stones from heaven on them” Here is God using natural means with supernatural timing and intensity (exactly like the plagues of Egypt). In reality more of the enemy died from the hailstones (cf. Isaiah 30:30) than from the Israelites' sword. This shows the tension between Joshua 10:8 and 9 in a different way.

Verses 12-14

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 10:12-14 12Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, “O sun, stand still at Gibeon, And O moon in the valley of Aijalon.” 13So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. 14There was no day like that before it or after it, when the LORD listened to the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel.

Joshua 10:12 “O sun, stand still at Gibeon” Verses Joshua 10:12-13 are a poem (from the book of Jashar) which shows God's control of nature. As He controlled the hailstones, He can (1) slow down or stop the rotation of the earth (cf. Isaiah 38:7-8); (2) stop the morning light (this is the meaning of the Hebrew “stand still,” literally, “be silent,” BDB 198, KB 226, Qal IMPERATIVE in Joshua 10:12 and Qal IMPERFECT in Joshua 10:13, e.g., 1 Samuel 18:9; Jeremiah 47:6); and thereby keep the sun from shining on the Israelis who were traveling by night to reach Gibeon or allowing them to move up undetected (cf. Joshua 10:10); or (3) send a storm that darkened the day (i.e., made it cooler for the tired Israeli troops). It is uncertain whether this is merely a poetic account (cf. Judges 5:20) or if it is to be taken literally (cf. Isaiah 38:7-8) as the sun actually stood still (i.e., [1] longer night; [2] longer day; or [3] darkness of a storm), or shined less brightly (i.e., cooler). For those who believe in a supernatural God exactly what happened is not as important as knowing that God is sovereign over time, history, and nature. Theologically this shows YHWH's control over the heavenly bodies (Babylonian deities). These astral gods must now help the Israelites conquer the Canaanites.

Joshua 10:13 “book of Jashar” Jashar means “upright” (BDB 449). This book was an ancient Israeli collection of war poems. It is also mentioned in 2 Samuel 1:17ff. This book has been lost except for the biblical quotes.

Joshua 10:14 “there was no day like that before it or after it, when the LORD listened to the voice of a man” This is a strange phrase. It may be part of the poem from the book of Jashar. YHWH responded to Joshua's prayer request. All of the other military strategies were given by YHWH; this miracle was possibly Joshua's idea.

“for the LORD fought for Israel” This VERB (BDB 535, KB 526, Niphal PARTICIPLE) is used several times for YHWH's acting on Israel's behalf (cf. Joshua 10:42; Joshua 23:3, Joshua 23:10; Exodus 14:14; Deuteronomy 1:30; Deuteronomy 3:22; Deuteronomy 20:4).

Verse 15

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 10:15 15Then Joshua and all Israel with him returned to the camp to Gilgal.

Joshua 10:15 “all Israel” This refers to the military troops who traveled all night to reach Gibeon, not all of those who came out of Egypt.

This verse seems out of place. Surely Joshua did not return to Gilgal until after the military events described in Joshua 10:16-21. The NASB, 1970 edition, makes it part of the paragraph which includes poetry from the book of Jashar (i.e., part of Joshua 10:12-13), possibly the quote extends through Joshua 10:15.

It is also possible that Gilgal refers to a city close to Shechem.

Verses 16-21

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 10:16-21 16 Now these five kings had fled and hidden themselves in the cave at Makkedah. 17It was told Joshua, saying, “The five kings have been found hidden in the cave at Makkedah.” 18Joshua said, “Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave, and assign men by it to guard them, 19but do not stay there yourselves; pursue your enemies and attack them in the rear. Do not allow them to enter their cities, for the LORD your God has delivered them into your hand.” 20It came about when Joshua and the sons of Israel had finished slaying them with a very great slaughter, until they were destroyed, and the survivors who remained of them had entered the fortified cities, 21that all the people returned to the camp to Joshua at Makkedah in peace. No one uttered a word against any of the sons of Israel.

Joshua 10:18-19 These verses contain several commands from Joshua.

1. “Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave,” BDB 164, KB 193, Qal IMPERATIVE

2. “Assign men to guard them,” BDB 823, KB 955, Hiphil IMPERATIVE plus BDB 1036, KB 1581, Qal INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT

3. “Do not stay there yourselves,” BDB 763, KB 840, Qal IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense

4. “Pursue your enemies,” BDB 922, KB 1191, Qal IMPERATIVE

A Translator's Handbook on the Book of Joshua, from United Bible Societies, suggests that #2 may refer to local Gibeonites who showed Joshua the cave (p. 146).

Joshua 10:19

NASB“attack them in the rear” NKJV“attack their rear ranks” NRSV, TEV“attack them from the rear” NJB“cut off their line of retreat”

This refers to the rear guard (cf. Deuteronomy 25:18). Israel was to aggressively attack and continue to attack until all were deadno mercy, holy war!

Joshua 10:21 “they returned to the camp to Joshua at Makkedah” Verses Joshua 10:21 and 43 state that the camp was at Gilgal. In the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, Joshua 10:21 and 43 are omitted. Possibly, the campsite mentioned in Joshua 10:21 was a temporary one and the main camp was still at the original site, Gilgal.

NASB“no one uttered a word against any of the sons of Israel” NKJV“no one moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel” NRSV“no one dared to speak against any of the Israelites” TEV“no one dared even to speak against the Israelites” NJB“no one dared to attempt anything against the Israelites”

This was a Hebrew idiom of contempt (literally, “to cut” or “to sharpen,” BDB 358, KB 356, Qal PERFECT, cf. Exodus 11:7), which refers to other Canaanite tribes. As YHWH did in His victory over Egypt, so now He does a similar thing (silence the Canaanites, i.e. Exodus 11:7).

Verses 22-27

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 10:22-27 22Then Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave and bring these five kings out to me from the cave.” 23They did so, and brought these five kings out to him from the cave: the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon. 24When they brought these kings out to Joshua, Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the chiefs of the men of war who had gone with him, “Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings.” So they came near and put their feet on their necks. 25Joshua then said to them, “Do not fear or be dismayed! Be strong and courageous, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies with whom you fight.” 26So afterward Joshua struck them and put them to death, and he hanged them on five trees; and they hung on the trees until evening. 27It came about at sunset that Joshua gave a command, and they took them down from the trees and threw them into the cave where they had hidden themselves, and put large stones over the mouth of the cave, to this very day.

Joshua 10:22 Here are two more commands from Joshua.

1. “open,” BDB 834, KB 986, Qal IMPERATIVE

2. “bring out,” BDB 422, KB 425, Hiphil IMPERATIVE

Joshua 10:24 Here again are two more commands from Joshua.

1. “come near,” BDB 897, KB 1132, Qal imperative

2. “put,” BDB 962, KB 1321, Qal imperative

Notice the repetitive form of Hebrew narrative (two Qal IMPERATIVES; two Qal IMPERFECTS).

“put your feet on the necks of these kings” The term “neck” (BDB 848) was a symbol of strength. This is an idiom of the complete defeat and subservience (cf. Deuteronomy 33:29; 1 Kings 5:3; Psalms 110:1) of these Canaanite kings.

Joshua 10:24 The surviving warriors and leaders were subjected to humiliating treatment in the ancient Near East. There are several verbal metaphors used which may be derived from actual events.

1. putting your foot on the neck of the defeated foe

a. Genesis 49:8

b. Joshua 10:24

2. treading on the enemy

a. 2 Samuel 22:39

b. Psalms 44:5

c. Psalms 60:12

d. Psalms 108:13

e. Isaiah 63:3 (of YHWH)

(this may relate to Genesis 3:15)

3. vanquished as footstool

a. 1 Kings 5:3

b. Psalms 18:38

c. Psalms 47:3

d. Psalms 110:1

(a-c may relate to metaphor #2)

Joshua 10:25 “Do not fear or be dismayed! Be strong and courageous” Again this verse contains several commands from Joshua. YHWH is symbolically speaking through him.

1. “do not fear,” BDB 431, KB 432, Qal IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense

2. “do not be dismayed,” BDB 369, KB 365, Qal IMPERFECT used in a JUSSIVE sense

3. “be strong,” BDB 304, KB 307, Qal IMPERATIVE

4. “be courageous,” BDB 54, KB 65, Qal IMPERATIVE

This is the exact same message that God gave to Joshua. Faith is crucial (cf. Deuteronomy 20:8; Judges 7:3).

Joshua 10:26-27 “he hung them on five trees; and they hung on the trees until evening” The five kings were first killed with swords (i.e., struck) and then impaled on a stake. From Deuteronomy 21:22, Deuteronomy 21:23 we learn what a humiliating act this was in the eyes of the Jews. To be unburied was worse than being dead. We can see how Joshua used this as a sign to ridicule this united Canaanite opposition to the Israeli advance.

Joshua 10:27 “to this very day” This is the textual mark of a later editor.

Verse 28

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 10:28 28Now Joshua captured Makkedah on that day, and struck it and its king with the edge of the sword; he utterly destroyed it and every person who was in it. He left no survivor. Thus he did to the king of Makkedah just as he had done to the king of Jericho.

Joshua 10:28 Makkedah was also under the herem (BDB 355, KB 353, Hiphil PERFECT) as Jericho and Ai (good article in NIDOTTE, vol. 4, pp. 368-369) had been. Libnah would be also (cf. Joshua 10:29-39), as well as Lachish (good article in NIDOTTE, vol. 4, pp. 862-864), Gezer, Eglon, Hebron (good article in NIDOTTE, vol. 4, pp. 698-700), and Debir.

“he utterly destroyed it and every person who was in it. He left no survivor” The holy war (herem, cf. Joshua 8:8) judgment is repeated several times (Hiphil, cf. Joshua 8:22; Joshua 10:28, Joshua 10:30, Joshua 10:33, Joshua 10:39, Joshua 10:40; Joshua 11:8, Joshua 11:14; Numbers 21:35; Deuteronomy 2:34; Deuteronomy 3:3).

Verses 29-30

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 10:29-30 29Then Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Makkedah to Libnah, and fought against Libnah. 30The LORD gave it also with its king into the hands of Israel, and he struck it and every person who was in it with the edge of the sword. He left no survivor in it. Thus he did to its king just as he had done to the king of Jericho.

Joshua 10:30 Just as in Joshua 10:10, the VERBS are SINGULAR:

1. YHWH gave - BDB 678, KB 733, Qal IMPERFECT

2. he struck it - BDB 645, KB 697, Hiphil IMPERFECT

3. he left no survivor - BDB 983, KB 1375, Hiphil PERFECT

4. he did to its king just as he had done to the king of Jericho - BDB 793, KB 889, Qal IMPERFECT and Qal PERFECT

This could refer to Joshua as YHWH's instrument of judgment through conquest or theologically, like Joshua 10:10, of the power and victory belonging to YHWH.

Verses 31-37

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 10:31-32 31And Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Libnah to Lachish, and they camped by it and fought against it. 32The LORD gave Lachish into the hands of Israel; and he captured it on the second day, and struck it and every person who was in it with the edge of the sword, according to all that he had done to Libnah.

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 10:34-35 34And Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Lachish to Eglon, and they camped by it and fought against it. 35They captured it on that day and struck it with the edge of the sword; and he utterly destroyed that day every person who was in it, according to all that he had done to Lachish.

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 10:36-37 36Then Joshua and all Israel with him went up from Eglon to Hebron, and they fought against it. 37They captured it and struck it and its king and all its cities and all the persons who were in it with the edge of the sword. He left no survivor, according to all that he had done to Eglon. And he utterly destroyed it and every person who was in it.

Joshua 10:36-37 The capture of Hebron is a good example of conflicting data or partial data recorded in the OT. There are several different traditions about its capture.

Joshua 10:1. Joshua 10:36-37 - Joshua completely destroyed it, its leadership and its surrounding villages

Joshua 10:2. Joshua 14:6-14; Judges 1:20 - Caleb captured the city, hills and the Anakim (giants)

Joshua 10:3. Judges 1:10 - Judah captured the city, hills and the descendants of Anak (the giants)

This is one of many examples of the confusion which modern interpreters face in trying to sort out the historical aspects of this period. It is helpful to remember that the OT is a combination of history and theology. It is not modern, western, chronological, cause and effect, recording of events! We may not know the exact details of the military encounters but the covenant theology is consistent!

Verses 38-43

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 10:38-39 38Then Joshua and all Israel with him returned to Debir, and they fought against it. 39He captured it and its king and all its cities, and they struck them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed every person who was in it. He left no survivor. Just as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir and its king, as he had also done to Libnah and its king.

NASB (UPDATED TEXT): Joshua 10:40-43 40 Thus Joshua struck all the land, the hill country and the Negev and the lowland and the slopes and all their kings. He left no survivor, but he utterly destroyed all who breathed, just as the LORD, the God of Israel, had commanded. 41Joshua struck them from Kadesh-barnea even as far as Gaza, and all the country of Goshen even as far as Gibeon. 42Joshua captured all these kings and their lands at one time, because the LORD, the God of Israel, fought for Israel.

Joshua 10:40-43 These verses are a geographical summary of the military campaign up to this point (i.e., southern Canaan). Notice the continued use of the term “utterly destroy all who breathe.” Again, this refers to humans and animals because they became dedicated to God (i.e., herem, BDB 355).

Joshua 10:40 In Joshua 10:40 several topological and geographical areas are mentioned.

1. “the hill country,” BDB 249, refers to the highlands of Judah, cf. Joshua 11:3, Joshua 11:21; Joshua 15:48; Joshua 18:12; Joshua 20:7; Joshua 21:11 (not Joshua 11:2)

2. “the Negev,” BDB 616, means the semi-arid pasture lands of southern Judah, cf. Joshua 15:19, Joshua 15:21-23

3. “the lowlands,” BDB 1050, strip of land west of the Judean hill country, cf. Joshua 15:33 (not Joshua 11:2)

4. “the slopes,” BDB 78, the hillsides to the east of the Judean hills, sloping toward the Dead Sea, cf. Joshua 12:8 (on eastern side of Jordan, cf. Joshua 12:3; Joshua 13:20; Deuteronomy 3:17; Deuteronomy 4:49)

Joshua 10:41 “Gaza” See a good article in NIDOTTE, vol. 4, pp. 652-653.

“Goshen” The land of Goshen mentioned here is not the one in Egypt, but the one in Canaan (cf. Joshua 15:51).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Why did these Canaanite kings attack one of their own cities?

2. How is Joshua 10:12-13 related to the concept of natural law?

3. Why did Joshua hang the dead kings on trees until dark?

4. What does the term “holy war” imply and why?

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Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Joshua 10". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/joshua-10.html. 2021.