WE CAN ROUT OUR ENEMIES BY RELYING ON THE LORD’S UNLIMITED WEAPONS AND RESOURCES
- – DEADLY TARGETED HAIL
- – MIRACULOUS EXTENDED DAYLIGHT
Richard Hess: The attack of the Amorite leaders (vv. 1–5) stimulates the Gibeonite request for assistance (v. 6). The Israelite victory is ﬁrst summarized (vv. 7–10) and then developed in three ‘panels’: God’s assistance (vv. 11–15), Joshua and Israel’s defeat of the enemy (vv. 16–27), and the systematic destruction of southern towns (vv. 28–39). A summary of the activities of the campaign concludes the account as Israel returns to where it began, at the worship centre of Gilgal (vv. 40–43).
David Howard: This section (vv. 1–27) tells of the Israelites’ victory over a southern coalition of Canaanite kings who attacked Gibeon as a result of that city’s treaty with Israel. Thus, the account here is a test of the validity of the treaty and Israel’s commitment to its oath. The question was, Would Israel be true to its word and defend this people with whom it had made a binding treaty? The battle took place near Gibeon (vv. 1–15), but its aftermath unfolded elsewhere, at a cave near Makkedah (vv. 16–27).
Trent Butler: If the book of Joshua is, in its final form, addressed to the exilic community, it does not encourage the people to retrace the steps of Joshua by totally destroying all their enemies, but by trusting Yahweh to fulfill his promises to his people and to do the necessary fighting for them, even against overwhelming odds. The people of Israel are not to waste their time planning battle strategy and gathering armies. They are to spend their energy finding and doing the will of God.
Hamby: How big is your God?
Mel Svendsen: We serve and awesome God that calls us to trust Him and His power to accomplish great things in us and through us.
I. (:1-5) DESPERATE ALLIANCE FOR THE SAKE OF SURVIVAL
A. (:1-2) Greatness of Desperation
- (:1a) Due to the Impressive Report — Devastation of Ai and Jericho
“Now 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)”
Robert Robb: The opening verses of chapter 9, 10 and 11 make interesting reading. In each case the writer puts on record the fact that with each success Israel enjoyed there was a corresponding intensification of enemy opposition against her.
- (:1b) Due to the Inhabitants of Gibeon Now Aligned with Israel –
Buffer Zone Eliminated
“and that the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and
were within their land”
Richard Hess: Either Adoni-Zedek opposes Israel’s divinely appointed advance and thereby faces the same judgment as Jericho and Ai, or he makes peace with Israel, joining Israel and Israel’s God, and thereby ﬁnds a means of living in the midst of Israel, even if in a position of servitude. . .
Gibeon, apparently a former ally, had deserted to the enemy. Four clauses describe Gibeon’s strength.
(1) Gibeon was an important city. . . It was a great city like Nineveh (Jon. 3:3).
(2) It was like one of the royal cities . . . The term royal city describes Gath as the residence of the Philistine leader, Achish (1 Sam. 27:5). Thus it deﬁnes a centre secure against royal enemies.
(3) It was larger than Ai . . . The security of Gibeon was greater than Ai, whose walls Israel did not breach.
(4) All its men were good ﬁghters. The term for males of age for military service appears here with the same meaning as in Joshua 7:14–18.
The phrases magnify the value of this town for Israel even as they increase the extent of the threat present for Adoni-Zedek. Adoni-Zedek must regain control of the area of Gibeon for his own security.
- (:2) Due to the Intimidation Factor — Reaction of Desperate Fear
“that 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.”
David Guzik: The enemies of Israel feared greatly, but like our spiritual enemies, they do not retreat when they are afraid, but launch attacks that are even more bold, as a wild animal might fight when it feels attacked. Though they are afraid, they are still clever. Afraid to attack Israel directly, they attack their vassals the Gibeonites.
B. (:3-4) Gibeon Targeted by Alliance Formed by the King of Jerusalem
“Therefore Adoni-zedek 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
Eglon, saying, ‘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.’”
C. (:5) Goal = Trying to Gain a Foothold for Defense
“So 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.”
Richard Hess: These four sites formed a strategic choice for the king of Jerusalem. Cut off from possible allies to the north, Adoni-Zedek chose Jarmuth, a site that straddled the Sorek and Elah valleys and thus provided a key defence for incursions to Jerusalem from the west. That is to say, Jarmuth was a western neighbour of Jerusalem. Lachish, Eglon, and Hebron formed a line of sites across the southern Shephelah and hill country. The road from Lachish to Hebron has been described as ‘the most important ascent into the highlands in the entire region’. Eglon linked Hebron with Gaza and Egypt. It also connected Lachish and the Mediterranean seaports with Arad and the Arabian trade routes. All these centres beneﬁted by trade with Jerusalem and its roads to the north. If Egypt still dominated the coastal plain, the Benjaminite plateau may have provided these towns with their primary access to all northern markets. With these cut off and with the survival of Jerusalem threatened, the rumours of Israel’s successes would have brought the leaders of the southern towns to the aid of their ally. As the story goes on to relate, the ‘domino theory’ operated. If they could not stop Israel at Jerusalem, the leaders knew that their own towns faced destruction.
David Howard: The term “Amorite” is likely used here in its narrow sense of inhabitants of the central mountain region of Palestine, not its broader sense of any Canaanite. Only Jerusalem and Hebron were actually in the hill country, but the designation of the entire coalition as an Amorite one may signify the importance of Jerusalem—an “Amorite” city—and its king at the head of the coalition. The four kings joined Adoni-Zedek and attacked Gibeon (v. 5). The four kings were from Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon, all cities southwest of Jerusalem.
II. (:6-8) DIVINE ASSURANCE OF VICTORY OVER THE AMORITES
A. (:6-7) Appeal to the Integrity of Treaty Commitment –
Joshua Answering the Cry for Help from Gibeon
“Then 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.’ So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him and
all the valiant warriors.”
Keathley: Humanly speaking, this was the perfect opportunity for Joshua to get rid of the Gibeonites. Why shouldn’t Joshua just ignore the very people who had deceived them? Why not let the coalition destroy them and rid him of the embarrassment? There were at least two reasons he could not do that: First, as a man of integrity who honored his word, Joshua did not consider that an option. They had given their word and were duty bound to honor it. Second, this now provided a unique military opportunity. Rather than a long, drawn out campaign against one city at a time, this gave them the opportunity to defeat and destroy several armies at once.
B. (:8) Affirmation of Certain and Complete Victory
“And the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not fear them, for I have given them into your
hands; not one of them shall stand before you.’”
Kenneth Gangel: If most of us had been in Joshua’s shoes, we would have been tempted to let the Canaanites fight it out among themselves; that would save a lot of trouble. Furthermore, the Gibeonites had deceived us and deserved it. But Joshua had made a commitment and given a promise. Keeping that promise was part of his walking correctly before God.
Alan Carr – He Gave His Promise
The Lord didn’t stop with just a word of encouragement, He also gave them the promise of absolute victory! I would like to say that I still believe the Lord never saved you for you to be defeated! When He saved you, He did so with the promise that you could walk in His victory—1 Cor. 15:57; Rom. 8:37. That doesn’t mean that every situation in life will work out the way you want it to, but it does mean that God will enable you to live above your circumstances and share in His victory over the world, the flesh and the devil!
III. (:9-11) DEVASTATION ACCOMPLISHED BY STEPPING OUT IN FAITH WHILE THE LORD FOUGHT THE BATTLE
A. (:9) Action Required by Joshua and His Army – Stepping Out in Faith
“So Joshua came upon them suddenly by marching all night from Gilgal.”
Richard Hess: The strategy of an all-night march responded to the Gibeonite request for haste and facilitated the divinely ordained confusion of the enemy when they saw Israel appear out of the morning mists.
Trent Butler: Divine assurance does not exclude human wit and action. Joshua stages a surprise dawn attack after an all-night march. Hall states: “Divine and human agency are inseparable.” From Gilgal to Gibeon would entail a march of about eighteen miles (thirty kilometers). Soggin claims it could be carried out in eight to ten hours. The Hebrew text of Josh 9:17 claims that it took three days for Joshua to reach Gibeon the first time. The notice there may intentionally point to the present verse to underline the remarkable achievement of Joshua and his men here.
B. (:10) Action Performed Relentlessly by the Lord to Secure Victory
“And 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.”
David Howard: While Joshua and his force marched all night and took the Amorites by surprise (v. 9), it was Yahweh—and Yahweh alone—who took the decisive actions against the enemies (v. 10). Every verb in this verse is singular, indicating that he alone confused, struck, pursued, and struck them. It may have been that the fighting force with Joshua (v. 7) was actually involved in this—indeed, this probably was the case, in light of the reference in v. 11 to the Israelites’ swords killing people. But, here, the author has chosen to ignore this fact and to focus instead on Yahweh’s direct involvement as Israel’s warrior. The land and its people were Yahweh’s to give, and he did so here.
C. (:11) Accuracy of Divine Stoning — Nothing Wrong with the Lord’s Aim
“And it came about as they fled from before Israel, while they were at the
descent of Beth-horon, that 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.”
David Howard: Whereas v. 10 summarizes the victory over the Amorites in general terms, with Yahweh receiving the credit, v. 11 gives more details, and Yahweh is again credited with the victory. The verse wraps up the first section describing the battle, and it is set off from its surroundings syntactically.
Henry Morris: That this unique event was of the Lord, inexplicable by either human might or natural phenomena, is evident from the entire account. The justification for God’s miraculous intervention here was both the importance of this key battle in the entire plan of God for Israel and the world, as well as the testimonial value implicit in demonstrating to the sun-worshipping, moon-worshipping, nature-worshipping Canaanites–as well as the Israelites themselves–that the God of Israel controlled the sun and moon and forces of nature.
IV. (:12-15) DAYTIME ARRESTED TO FINISH THE CONQUEST –
LORD’S POWER NOT LIMITED BY DIMENSIONS OF TIME AND SPACE
A. (:12) Asking for the Impossible
“Then 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.’”
B. (:13) Accomplishing the Impossible
“So 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.”
Richard Hess: For the Christian, the repeated mention of God’s miraculous intervention in Israel’s wars recalls the spiritual warfare with sin that forms a daily struggle. This too involves spiritual forces. Although they may not always manifest themselves in the overtly miraculous, they are no less real (Eph. 6:12).
Kenneth Gangel: Ironically, the Canaanites worshiped sun and moon deities, so once again God proved his supreme power and authority and answered Joshua’s bold prayer with an awesome miracle.
Andrew Webb: The whole time they were fleeing, the defeated army though, is probably thinking if we can just stay alive till dark, we can slip away in the night. The night will cover us from the eyes of Joshua and his army and we can hole up in the valleys and the caves, or take different routes back to our own fortified cities. Joshua knew what nightfall meant as well, and that darkness would indeed mean the end of his pursuit. So he prays before all Israel for the sun to stand still that they might complete the destruction of the enemy army. And that is what happened.
“The exact mechanics of how an omnipotent God could accomplish this deed are best left to God’s miraculous power. God is capable of physically lengthening the time between sunrise and sunset, and 3 of doing it in such a way that other potential cataclysmic consequences of such a drastic change could be negated. Or God could have merely manipulated the path of the sun’s light so that daylight was extended and nighttime shortened during an otherwise ordinary day.”
C. (:14) Answering with Unimaginable Intervention
“And there 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.”
David Howard: The author’s emphasis in the section comes in v. 14. He marvels, not so much at the miracle or sign of v. 13, but rather at the fact that God heard and responded to the voice of a man (v. 14), interceding dramatically for Israel because of Joshua’s petition (v. 12)! There had never been such a day, nor would there be ever again. The two previous miracles on Israel’s behalf—the stopping of the waters of the Jordan and the victory over Jericho—had been at God’s initiative; this time, it was in response to one man’s petition. This fact again highlights Joshua’s importance in the book, and it also underscores God’s faithfulness to his people.
Jerome Creach: [The author’s] main concern was that God could and did intervene within history for Israel. Herein lies the main issue for modern Christians. This author, like all biblical writers, thought of history and nature as parts of the created order that God controlled. He conceived humans as part of nature and therefore subject to the movements of history over which God was master. The modern view of things has radically changed these relationships so that humans are separate from nature, and humans shape history. This worldview encourages an understanding of God as one who allows the world to run by natural law and of humans as those who move and shape history. Joshua 10:1–14 calls the church to wrestle with this arrogant understanding of humanity. For indeed the church claims that there was a day like no other, namely the day of the resurrection of the Lord (Acts 2:29–36). That day was not brought about by human will or plan but by the act of God on behalf of broken humanity.
D. (:15) Arriving back at Camp
“Then Joshua and all Israel with him returned to the camp to Gilgal.”
Van Parunak: Much more happened before the return to Gilgal, but from the perspective of the power behind the victory, the point has been made. The Lord fought for Israel, and so they were able to finish the job and return home.