GOD GIVES THE VICTORY WHEN HIS PEOPLE UNITE TO ENGAGE THE ENEMY BEHIND THE LEADERSHIP OF HIS ANOINTED COMMANDER
Jeff Oliver: Joshua 10 tells the story of Israel’s southern campaign in Canaan, the dominant theme of which is “the LORD fought for Israel”; vv. 1-15 give a summary of the day’s events with a focus on the miracle of the sun and moon standing still, whilst vv. 16-43 give an expanded version of the story that fills in more of the details.
Richard Hess: There is a geographical sequence to the towns, beginning with Makkedah, located in the midst of the others. The armies sweep in an arc from Libnah (Tell Bornât = Tel Burna) at the north-west corner, south through Lachish and Eglon, and then north to Hebron which lies in the north-east corner of the arc. From this point, the army turned south along the watershed of the hill country and reached Debir, identiﬁed with Khirbet Rabûd, the most important Late Bronze Age site in the hill country south of Hebron.
Thomas Constable: According to Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831), a philosopher of war, there are three principle military objectives in any war:
– First, the aggressor must destroy the military power of the enemy, so that he cannot continue or resume war.
– Second, he must conquer the land of the enemy so thoroughly that a new military force cannot arise from it.
– Third, he must subdue the will of the enemy.
Joshua accomplished all three of these basic objectives.
David Howard: In this section, the kings and people of seven cities are mentioned in a series of formulaic accounts as having engaged Israel in battle and having been completely destroyed. The cities are Makkedah, Libnah, Lachish, Gezer, Eglon, Hebron, and Debir. They were all in the southern portion of the land; the Israelites had entered Canaan in the middle (on a north-south axis), and their campaigns went through the middle first, then turned south (chap. 10), and then north (chap. 11). The fact that there are exactly seven cities here—no more and no less—suggests that this may be a summarizing account, showing the destructions of representative cities and not intended to be comprehensive, detailing every city captured. Furthermore, we read later of four additional cities in the south that Joshua and the Israelites took, which argues in the same direction. The cities were Geder, Hormah, Arad, and Adullam (12:13–15).
Robert Hubbard: The narrator adopts a style with repeated formulae (but not slavishly or in lock-step order) and occasional hyperbole (e.g., “everyone in it”). The following comprise its core items (in general order of occurrence):
1. The city’s capture (vv. 28, 32, 35, 37, 39)
2. The siege and attack (vv. 29, 31, 34, 36, 38)
3. The city, everyone put to the sword (vv. 28, 30, 32, 35, 37, 39)
4. No survivors remain (vv. 28, 30, 33, 35, 37, 39)
5. Israel implements the “ban” (vv. 28, 35, 37, 39)
6. The king suffers the same fate as the king of city-X (vv. 28, 30, 32, 35, 37, 39)
Obviously, the stress falls on the capture of each of the six cities and the annihilation of its inhabitants.
Peter Wallace: We saw at the beginning of the book of Joshua that God promised that Joshua would cause Israel to inherit. Israel does not inherit the land based on their own faithfulness. No, Israel inherits the land because of Joshua’s faithfulness! The lesson is plain: God will destroy his enemies through the hand of his anointed conqueror! If you want to live in the promised land – the eternal inheritance – then you must line up behind the anointed conqueror and follow him. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”
Gordon Matties: This episode is a long flashback report and fits into the chronological sequence that ends before the sunset of verse 27. This makes the overall battle report proper into a series of three episodes, a main episode (vv. 7-15) followed by two flashbacks: verses 16-27 take the reader back to verses 10b-11, and verses 28-39 to some time before v. 27 (Winther-Nielsen: 247).
I. (:29-30) CONQUEST OF LIBNAH
“Then Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Makkedah to Libnah,
and fought against Libnah. 30 And the 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.”
II. (:31-33) CONQUEST OF LACHISH AND GEZER
A. (:31-32) Conquest of Lachish
“And Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Libnah to Lachish,
and they camped by it and fought against it.
32 And the 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.”
B. (:33) Defeat of Horam King of Gezer
“Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish,
and Joshua defeated him and his people until he had left him no survivor.”
Center of chiastic structure so this is the point of emphasis
David Thompson: When we are truly waging war for God, enemies may come from other places to join in the war against us.
Richard Hess: The mention of the leader of Gezer in the centre of the conquests emphasizes his importance. Although the town was not
conquered by Israel (Josh. 16:10), the defeat of its leader and his army was considered a major event. Gezer is Tell Jezer, a site that guards the western entrance to the Aijalon Valley that leads to Jerusalem. Perhaps Israel bypassed the site in its chase. It is mentioned in the Amarna letters and in the Merneptah stele. The stele records the conquest by Pharaoh Merneptah of Ashkelon, Gezer and Yenoam (c. 1207 BC). Thus it was considered a strategic site and was one with its own Late Bronze Age fortiﬁcation wall. The name of its king, Horam, is West Semitic, just as is the name of the king of Gezer in the Amarna letters. Perhaps, under Egyptian control, a town such as Gezer would not have had any responsibility to defend Jerusalem. However, it was not in the interest of the Egyptian garrison to allow an army such as that of Israel to wander through the region at will. For Joshua, this army’s defeat constituted a high point in the southern military successes.
III. (:34-35) CONQUEST OF EGLON
“And Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Lachish to Eglon,
and they camped by it and fought against it.
35 And they 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.”
IV. (:36-37) CONQUEST OF HEBRON
“Then Joshua and all Israel with him went up from Eglon to Hebron,
and they fought against it. 37 And they 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.”
V. (:38-39) CONQUEST OF DEBIR
“Then Joshua and all Israel with him returned to Debir, and they fought against it. 39 And he 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.”
VI. (:40-43) SUMMARY OF CONQUESTS IN SOUTHERN CANAAN
A. (:40) Summary by Region
“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.”
Jerome Creach: The section echoes the common themes of the chapter: “battle success, elimination of survivors, defeated kings, and Yahweh’s combat for Israel.” The compiler has a different geographical span in view—that of the Davidic empire. Here is the land that belongs to Israel. Israel’s persistent pursuit has reaped rewards. Nelson makes an important differentiation at this point: “Both Joshua and these [ancient Near Eastern] campaign reports seek to increase the wonder of the accomplishments they report and to promote a certain religious and political ideology. For Israel the ideology being advanced was not the power of the king as in the texts from Assyria or Egypt, but their own national identity as the people of a powerful God and as the legitimate masters of Canaan.”
B. (:41) Summary by Boundaries
“And Joshua struck them from Kadesh-barnea even as far as Gaza,
and all the country of Goshen even as far as Gibeon.”
C. (:42) Key to the Rapid Conquest of the Region = Role of the Lord
“And Joshua captured all these kings and their lands at one time,
because the LORD, the God of Israel, fought for Israel.”
Richard Hess: The syntax of the ﬁrst half of the verse and its structure resembles the description of Joshua’s capture of Makkedah (v. 28). There, the conquest takes place that day; here it occurs in one campaign. This emphasizes how quickly it was completed because God fought on behalf of Israel. The same phrase in verse 14 comments on the miracle of the sun and moon. Thus verse 42 ties in the defeat of all the towns in the south with the miraculous work of God, demonstrated by the overt wonders in the heavens as well as by the aid given in capturing each town.
David Howard: The picture painted in this section is unequivocally one of complete and swift annihilation of people throughout the entire region. This is the implication of the statements that Joshua and the Israelites left no survivors in the various cities in vv. 28, 30, 33, 37, 39 (cf. also vv. 32, 35). This is also the explicit testimony of vv. 40 and 42a, as well (see also the similar summaries in 11:16–23; 21:43–45). The southern campaign is seen as having been accomplished in one fell swoop (v. 42) because God fought for Israel. . .
The author was being hyperbolic here in order to reiterate the theological point made many times in the book that God was indeed giving Israel the entire land. However, the details of the conquest of every last city were not included (see above, on vv. 28–39), and the author acknowledged elsewhere that the conquest was indeed not complete. Thus, from another, more detailed perspective, there was still much work to be done.
Gordon Matties: Verse 42 presents the most significant statement in the entire chapter, where all these kings and their land are said to have been taken at one time because the Lord the God of Israel fought for Israel. In chapter 11, after a report about the northern campaign, the narrator summarizes the sequence of encounters that begin in 9:1-2 by framing the last subunit with the notice that Joshua took all the land (11:16, 23), the exact phrase as in 10:40. Yet amid that final episode of chapter 11, the narrator also adds, Joshua made war a long time with all those kings (11:18). These statements are not so much contradictory as they are indicators of a narrative strategy that combines a hint of realism with an ideological or theological emphasis that everything the Lord has commanded has now been accomplished (10:40; 11:9, 15, 23). After all, it is the Lord God of Israel who has fought for Israel (10:42).
D. (:43) Completion of the Campaign
“So Joshua and all Israel with him returned to the camp at Gilgal.”
Richard Hess: As Israel set out from Gilgal (
v. 6), so it now returns to the sanctuary site. This completes the tour of the south and seals the victory with the appearance of the nation and its leader before God at the sanctuary.
Helene Dallaire: The repetition of the identical statement in verses 15 and 43 is highly dubious. Joshua and his men could not have accomplished all the events of that day twice. There was not sufficient time for Joshua and his men to return to Gilgal between the killing of the Amorite kings and the subduing of Makkedah, Libnah, Lachish, Eglon, Hebron, and the region from Kadesh Barnea to Gaza. The LXX omits verse 15, leaving only one return to the camp at Gilgal after the conquest of the southern region (v.43).