- In this chapter we have an account of the confederacy against Gibeon, and the request of the Gibeonites to Joshua, verse 1-6.
- Of Joshua's marching and defeating the confederate kings, verse 7-11.
- Of the sun's standing still, verse 12-14.
- Of the execution of the kings, verse 15-27.
- Of the taking their cities, and conquering all that country, verse 28-42.
- Of the return of the army to Gilgal, verse 43.
Among them - That is, were conversant with them, had submitted to their laws, and mingled interests with them.
Thy - That is, he and his people, the king being spoken of verse 1, as a publick person representing all his people. Royal cities - Either really a royal city, or equal to one of the royal cities, though it had no king, but seems to have been governed by elders, chap. 9:11.
Adoni-zedek sent - Either because he was superior to them, or because he was nearest the danger, and most forward in the work.
Of the Amorites - This name being here taken largely for any of the Canaanites, as is frequent; for, to speak strictly, the citizens of Hebron here mentioned, verse 3, were Hittites. It is reasonably supposed, that the Amorites being numerous and victorious beyond Jordan poured forth colonies into the land of Canaan, subdued divers places, and so communicated their name to all the rest.
Slack not thy hand - Do not neglect or delay to help us. Whom thou art obliged to protect both in duty as thou art our master; and by thy owns interest, we being part of thy possessions; and in ingenuity, because we have given ourselves to thee, and put ourselves under thy protection. In the mountains - ln the mountainous country.
Joshua ascended - Having no doubt asked advice of God first, which is implied by the answer God gives him, verse 8. All the mighty men - That is, an army of the most valiant men picked out from the rest; for it is not probable, either that he would take so many hundred thousands with him, which would have hindered one another, or that he would leave the camp without an army to defend it.
Came suddenly - Though assured by God of the victory, yet he uses all prudent means. All night - It is not said, that he went from Gilgal to Gibeon in a night's space; but only that he travelled all night; unto which you may add part either of the foregoing or of the following day. It is true, God had promised, that he would without fail deliver the enemies into his hand. But God's promises are intended, not to slacken, but to quicken our endeavours. He that believeth doth not make haste, to anticipate providence; but doth make haste to attend it, with a diligent, not a distrustful speed.
At Gibeon - Heb. in Gibeon, not in the city, but in the territory belonging to it.
Great stones - That is, hailstones of extraordinary greatness, cast down with that certainty, as to hit the Canaanites and not their pursuers the Israelites. Josephus affirms, that thunder and lightning were mixed with the hail, which may seem probable from Habakkuk 3:11. They had robbed the true God of his honour, by worshipping the host of heaven, and now the hosts of heaven fights against them, and triumphs in their ruin. Beth-horon lay north of Gibeon, Azekah and Makkedah, south, so that they fled each way. But which way soever they fled, the hailstones pursued them. There is no fleeing out of the hands of God!
Spoke Joshua - Being moved to beg it out of zeal to destroy God's enemies, and directed to it by the motion of God's spirit, and being filled with holy confidence of the success, he speaks the following words before the people, that that they might be witnesses. In the sight - That is, in the presence and audience of Israel. Over Gibeon - That is, in that place and posture in which now it stands towards, and looks upon Gibeon. Let it not go down lower, and by degrees, out of the sight of Gibeon. It may seem, that the sun, was declining, and Joshua perceiving that his work was great and long, and his time but short, begs of God the lengthening out of the day, and that the sun and moon might stop their course, He mentions two places, Gibeon and Ajalon, not as if the sun stood over the one and the moon over the other, which is absurd especially these places being so near the one to the other; but partly to vary the phrase, as is common in poetical passages; partly because he was in his march in the pursuit of his enemies, to pass from Gibeon to Ajalon; and he begs that he may have the help of longer light to pursue them, and to that end that the sun might stand still, and the moon also; not that he needed the moon's light, but because it was fit, either that both sun and moon should go, or that both should stand still to prevent disorder in the heavenly bodies. The prayer is thus exprest with authority, because it was not an ordinary prayer, but the prayer of a prophet, divinely inspired at this very time for this purpose. And yet it intimates to us the prevalency of prayer in general, and may mind us of that honour put upon prayer, concerning the work of my hands command you me.
Avenged them on their enemies - That is, till they bad utterly destroyed them. Book of Jasher - This book was written and published before Joshua wrote his, and so is fitly alluded here. But this, as well as some other historical books, is lost, not being a canonical book, and therefore not preserved by the Jews with the same care as they were. The sun stood - Here is no mention of the moon, because the sun's standing was the only thing which Joshua desired and needed; and the moon's standing he desired only by accident to prevent irregularity in the motions of those celestial lights. And if it seem strange to any one, that so wonderful a work should not be mentioned in any Heathen writers; he must consider, that it is confessed by the generality of writers, Heathens and others, that there is no certain history or monument in Heathen authors of any thing done before the Trojan war, which was a thousand years after Joshua's time; and that all time before that, is called by the most learned Heathens, the uncertain, unknown, or obscure time. A whole day - That is, for the space of a whole day. Understand an artificial day between sun-rising and sun-setting; for that was the day which Joshua needed and desired, a day to give him light for his work.
No day like that - Namely, in those parts of the world in which he here speaks, vain therefore is that objection, that the days are longer near the northern and southern poles, where they are constantly longer at certain seasons, and that by the order of nature; whereas the length of this day was purely contingent, and granted by God in answer to Joshua's prayer. The Lord hearkened to a man - Namely, in such a manner to alter the course of nature, and of the heavenly bodies, that a man might have more time to pursue and destroy his enemies. The Lord fought - This is added as the reason why God was so ready to answer Joshua's petition, because he was resolved to fight for Israel, and that in a more than ordinary manner. But this stupendous miracle was designed for something more, than to give Israel light to destroy the Canaanites. It was designed to convince and confound those idolaters, who worshipped the sun and moon, by demonstrating, that these also were subject to the command of the God of Israel: as also to signify, that in the latter days, when the world was covered with darkness, the sun of righteousness, even our Joshua, should arise, and be the true light of the world. To which we may add, that when Christ conquered our enemies upon the cross, the miracle wrought on the sun was the reverse of this. It was then darkened, as if going down at noon. For Christ needed not the light of the sun, to compleat his victory: so he made darkness his pavilion.
Joshua returned - Not upon the same day, but after he had dispatched the matter which here follows; as appears by verse 43, where the very same words are repeated. And they are put here to close the general discourse of the fight which begun verse 10, and ends here; which being done he particularly describes some remarkable passages, and closeth them with the same words.
A cave - A place of the greatest secrecy; but there is no escaping the eye or hand of God. At Makkedah - Heb. in Makkedah, not in the city, for that was not yet taken; but in the territory of it.
Enter their cities - Whereby they will recover their strength, and renew the war. God hath delivered them - Your work will be easy, God hath already done the work to your hands.
The children of Israel - That is, a party of them by the command of Joshua; for Joshua himself went not with them, but abode in the siege before Makkedah, verse 21.
To the camp - To the body, of the army which were engaged there with Joshua to besiege that place. None moved his tongue - Not only their men of war could not find their hands, but they were so confounded, that they could not move their tongues in way of insult, as doubtless they did when the Israelites were smitten at Ai; but now they were silenced as well as conquered: they durst no more provoke the Israelites.
Put your feet on the necks - This he did not from pride and contempt; but as a punishment of their impious rebellion against their Sovereign Lord; in pursuance of that curse of servitude due to all this people, and as a token to assure his captains, that God would subdue the proudest of them under their feet.
Took them down - That neither wild beasts could come to devour them, nor any of their people to give them honourable burial. Thus that which they thought would have been their shelter, was made their prison first, and then their grave. So shall we surely be disappointed, in whatever we flee to from God.
And that day - On which the sun stood still. Nor is it strange that so much work was done, and places so far distant taken in one day, when the day was so long, and the Canaanites struck with such a terror.
All Israel - Namely, who were with him in this expedition.
On that day - On which they first attempted it.
Unto Hebron - The conquest of Hebron is here generally related, afterwards repeated, and more particularly described, chap. 15:13,14.
All the cities - Which were subject to its jurisdiction; this being, it seems, a royal city as Gibeon was, verse 2, and having cities under it as that had.
Joshua returned - He is said to return thither, not as if he had been there before, but because having gone as far westward and southward as he thought fit, even as far as Gaza, verse 41, he now returned towards Gilgal, which lay north-ward and eastward from him, and in his return fell upon Debir.
All that breathed - That is, all mankind, they reserved the cattle for their own uses. As God had commanded - This is added for the vindication of the Israelites, whom God would not have to suffer in their reputation for executing his commands; and therefore he acquits them of that cruelty, which they might be thought guilty of, and ascribes it to his own just indignation. And hereby was typified the final destruction of all the impenitent enemies of the Lord Jesus, who having slighted the riches of his grace, must for ever feel the weight of his wrath.
Kadesh-barnea - Which lay in the south of Canaan, Numbers 34:4; Deuteronomy 1:19; Joshua 15:3. Gaza - Which was in the south-west of Canaan. So he here signifies, that Joshua did in this expedition subdue all those parts which lay south and west from Gilgal. Goshen - Not that Goshen in Egypt, but another in Judah.