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Nothing aggravates me more in movies than when the good guys fail to finish off the bad guys … who end up rearing their evil heads and renewing the conflict. We want to make sure that we completely defeat our enemies so they don’t pop back up and continue to cause us problems in the future.

Trent Butler: God has given the enemy into their hands, but Israel must take the enemies. Israel cannot celebrate victory when total victory and total obedience are not yet realities.

Kenneth Gangel: Engage – Even When You Are Afraid

Joshua and his troops had learned an important lesson that appears again in these verses: press the battle according to God’s plan and leave the miracles to him.

David Guzik: We have another striking similarity with the Book of Revelation. Not only does a false “Lord of Righteousness” (Adoni-Zedek) lead a group of nations against Joshua, who has come to possess the land; but also, in the midst of their defeat, the kings hide in caves in fear of the conquering Joshua (Revelation 6:15–16).



A. (:16) Crawling into a Hole

“Now these five kings had fled and hidden themselves in the cave at Makkedah.”

Remember the sorry hole that Saddam Hussein crawled into and was hauled out of.

Richard Hess: The rock-sealed cave becomes the prison and then the tomb of the leaders.

J. Parker: The names of the places may help us to consider the nature of their respective kings.

1. “The king of Jerusalem.” That such a king should have been slain works violently in our memory and whole thought, for “Jerusalem” means peace–the city of peace, the restful city, the sabbatic metropolis, the home of rest. But is there not a false peace? The king of false peace must be slain. He has ruled over some of us too long.

2. “Hebron” means conjunction, joining, alliance. Is not the king of false fellowship to be killed? What concord hath Christ with Belial? God has always been against unholy alliances. Many a man He has, so to say, arrested with the words, Why this conjunction? What right have you to be here, pledging your character to sustain a known dishonesty?

3. And the king of Jarmuth. The word means high, that which is lifted up. And is not the king of false ambition to be slain and then hanged–to have contempt added to murder? Contempt is never so well expended as upon false ambition.

4. Then the king of Lachish. The word means hard to be captured, almost out of reach, or so defended that it will be almost impossible to get at the king. Is not the king of fancied security to be slain and hanged?

5. King of Eglon. The Word “Eglon” means pertaining to a calf, and may be taken as representing the whole system of false worship.

B. (:17-19) Capturing them for Future Execution

“And it was told Joshua, saying, ‘The five kings have been found hidden in the

cave at Makkedah.’ And it was told Joshua, saying, ‘The five kings have been

found hidden in the cave at Makkedah.’ And Joshua said, ‘Roll large stones

against the mouth of the cave, and assign men by it to guard them, but 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.’”

Don’t be distracted from the task at hand.

David Guzik: Joshua would not allow anything – even the personal capture of the kings – to keep him from completing Israel’s victory. The kings could be imprisoned and dealt with later.

David Howard: Joshua’s instructions in v. 18 were to seal them up, so that the battle could be pursued to its conclusion, which was to destroy all of the people (vv. 19–20). After this, he would deal with the kings (vv. 22 –27).

C. (:20-21) Calming any Voice of Opposition

“And it 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, that 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.”

David Howard: “no one sharpened his tongue” — That is, so safe would the Israelites be that not even a dog would bark against them. Dogs were despised, accursed animals in the ancient Near East (in the Bible, see 1 Sam 17:43; 2 Sam 9:8; 2 Kgs 8:13), and the use of almost the exact expression here in Joshua may be the author’s way of reminding the Israelites how God miraculously delivered them at an earlier time in Egypt, and subtly equating the accursed Canaanites with dogs (i.e., no Canaanite spoke against the Israelites now, just as no dog had “spoken” against them in Egypt).

Bruce Hurt: “Then the whole army safely returned to Joshua at the camp in Makkedah.” All the soldiers returned safe. This is truly miraculous! Don’t miss this statement – obedience to the commands of the LORD brings peace!



A. (:22-23) Cowering in Defeat –

The Frightened Five Amorite Kings who had Oppo
sed Israel

“Then Joshua said, ‘Open the mouth of the cave and bring these five kings out to

me from the cave.’ And they 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.”

B. (:24-25) Conquest Symbolized by Stepping on Their Necks –

The Reinforced Courage of the Leaders of Israel –

Not a Neck Massage – a Neck Message! [Bruce Hurt]

“And it came about when they brought these kings out to Joshua, that 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. Joshua 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.’”

How bold is our confidence in the Lord?

David Howard: When the commanders put their feet on their enemies’ necks (v. 24), this was clearly a gesture of victory. In the Bible, we see similar imagery in several texts, including Ps 18:39 (Hb. 40) // 2 Sam 22:40, which says, “You made my adversaries bow under me,” and Ps 110:1, where the Lord says to the Messiah, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” In the New Testament, this imagery is again applied to Jesus, the Messiah, in 1 Cor 15:25–27, where God places Jesus’ enemies “under his feet” (quoting from Ps 8:6).

Robert Hubbard: In the Old Testament, the foot symbolizes the sovereignty of the imposer and the subjection of the one under it (1 Kings 5:3[17]; Ps. 8:6[7]; 47:4[3]). In connection with battles, it marks a key metaphor for resounding victory (foot imposed) or crushing defeat (underfoot; 2 Sam. 22:39 = Ps. 18:38[39]), and that is the symbolism here. . .

Joshua again sounds the key theme of Yahweh’s fighting Israel’s enemies, the key factor that assures victory and inspires Israel to show strength and courage (vv. 14, 42; cf. Ex. 14:25).

Dale Ralph Davis: Now this act was not simple barbarism nor a mere macho move. It was, if one might speak loosely, a sacrament. Joshua’s words in verse 25 explain the action: ‘Don’t be afraid and don’t lose your nerve; be strong and bold, for this is what Yahweh will do to all your enemies with whom you are fighting.’ The leaders’ feet upon the necks of these prostrate kings was an acted parable, an assuring sign, of how Yahweh would certainly place all their enemies beneath them. The symbolic action is intended as a visible encouragement to the people of God.

C. (:26-27) Completing the Public Execution and Burial Humiliation

“So afterward Joshua struck them and put them to death, and he hanged them

on five trees; and they hung on the trees until evening. And it came about at

sunset that Joshua commanded, 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.”

The rest of the chapter recounts the defeat of each of the five cities in turn … now that their king had been executed.

David Howard: The sun’s setting in v. 27 brings to a close the sun’s involvement on this momentous day. Regardless of the precise nature of its involvement in vv. 12– 14, it now marked the completion of this historic day. . .

In whatever circumstances—whether facing an enemy in an insignificant town that had defeated them once or a coalition of determined enemies who would initiate the attack—the result was the same: God gave the victory, and the enemies’ fate was the same, now that Israel was taking pains to obey its God.

Richard Hess: The obedience of Joshua towards God is demonstrated by his execution of the leaders of the Canaanites, which is witnessed by the Israelite leaders and by the army. It is performed by Joshua although the leaders place their feet upon the necks of each of the captives. The ceremony does not end with the execution. It also entails the hanging of the corpses on wooden poles. Hanging upon a wooden pole or tree was also the treatment given to the corpse of the ruler of Ai. In both accounts, the corpses are buried later. This public spectacle of Israelite victory also served to frighten Canaanite onlookers, perhaps in the nearby town of Makkedah.

Gordon Matties: The episode draws to a close, ironically, with Joshua’s command, at sunset, to bury the kings in their own hiding place (v. 27). The cave is marked by large stones, which remain to this very day. As in previous stories, a physical memorial has been transformed into a narrative (4:9; 7:26; 8:28, 29; cf. 5:9; 9:27). The site’s location has been forgotten, but the memory and the tragedy linger.

Trent Butler: The place of refuge is important for Israel as a reminder of what God has done for them and of the significance of that act for the present day. The people who experience divine victory are all too prone to forget even though Israel has constant reminders to remember and to obey.


“Now 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.”

Helene Dallaire: The city of Makkedah is conquered as a ḥērem—a city devoted to Yahweh where everything is to be completely destroyed. The treatment administered to the king of Makkedah reflects that previously inflicted on the king of Jericho (6:20–21, 24; 8:2). We presume that the king of Jericho was hung on a tree based on information given in chapter 8. In 8:2, Yahweh instructed Joshua to do to the king of A
i what he did to the king of Jericho, and in 8:29 we are told that the king of Ai was hung on a tree. We can, therefore, conclude that the king of Makkedah was also hung on trees or poles outside of the city.