Notes on Joshua 10 verses 1-11
by Jonathan Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)
Jos 10:1-2, KJV 1 Now it came to pass, when Adonizedek king of Jerusalem had heard how Joshua had taken Ai, and had utterly destroyed it; as he had done to Jericho and her king, so he had done to Ai and her king; and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel, and were among them; 2 That they feared greatly, because Gibeon (was) a great city, as one of the royal cities, and because it (was) greater than Ai, and all the men thereof (were) mighty.
They “feared greatly” once they heard of Israel’s successes. Even so, we do not read that any of them desired to become a believer in the God of Israel. Jericho’s citizens, said Rahab, had hearts that had melted; Ai was proud, then fearful. Everyone of Jericho and Ai, except Rahab and her family, died in the respective battles.
Note also the change in the name of Jerusalem’s king Abraham had worshiped with Melchizedek many years before, because Melchizedek (King of Righteousness) was also priest of God Most High (Genesis 14:18). Now, in Joshua’s day, the king’s name was Adonizedek or “lord of righteousness”. Was this a deliberate change?
3 Wherefore Adonizedek king of Jerusalem sent unto Hoham king of Hebron, and unto Piram king of Jarmuth, and unto Japhia king of Lachish, and unto Debir king of Eglon, saying,
These are all cities in the southern part of Israel, south of Jerusalem. Hebron was a good ways south; Lachish was somewhat closer to Jerusalem; Eglon and Jarmuth were both apparently located in this area as well. Neither of these last two cities are mentioned very often outside the Book of Joshua.
4 Come up unto me, and help me, that we may smite Gibeon: for it hath made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel.
This is a combined declaration of war and call for a coalition against Gibeon. According to verse 2, Gibeon was a “great” city but the other peoples listed knew that the Gibeonites and others had basically surrendered to Israel without a fight. One could question why these other peoples wanted to attack Gibeon—what was the motive?—and if they would attack the other cities (Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-Jearim) if the campaign against Gibeon was successful.
5 Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, the king of Eglon, gathered themselves together, and went up, they and all their hosts, and encamped before Gibeon, and made war against it.
We are not told here just how the group of 5 declared war against Gibeon, nor the type of strategy they may have employed. The two basic strategies were to either attack the city (much like the battles of Jericho and Ai, and countless other cities over the years) and punish it, perhaps to ultimately destruction; or to besiege the city.
To besiege a city, the enemy army would simply surround the city they were attacking and wait. For as long as it took. Famine would either destroy the people inside through starvation, maybe disease, or so discourage them to the point of surrender or capture. This happened to Samaria, many years later (2 Kings 17:3-6), as well as Jerusalem itself (Jeremiah 39:1-2).
6 And the men of Gibeon sent unto Joshua to the camp to Gilgal, saying, Slack not thy hand from thy servants; come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us: for all the kings of the Amorites that dwell in the mountains are gathered together against us.
We don’t know how many soldiers were in the army of the five enemies but it appears to be a large enough number for the Gibeonites to ask Israel, promptly, for military assistance. It must be remembered that when Israel followed God’s instructions, no enemy could stand against them.
Could it be that the Gibeonites had more faith than the Israelites?
7 So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valour.
Again note that Joshua didn’t send spies or take any estimates as to how many soldiers might win against the five enemies. We do not read, in this verse, that Joshua had enquired of the Lord.
8 And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee.
Even though verse 8 has no record of Joshua making inquiry of the Lord, we have the Lord’s promise to Joshua. His promise was spoken just as though the victory had already taken place.
9 Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, (and) went up from Gilgal all night.
This was another night march by the Israelite soldiers, from Gilgal to Gibeon. They had employed a similar strategy in the second battle of Ai.
10 And the LORD discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Bethhoron, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah.
Israel was in position for the battle but the Lord did the actual fighting. The cities of Beth-horon, Azekah, and Makkedah were all located between Gibeon and the Mediterranean Sea, or southwest of Gibeon. The five enemies apparently were not able, nor willing, to attempt to go east, towards the Jordan River—perhaps they were attempting to reach their own territory.
Azekah was mentioned later (1 Samuel 17:1) as one of the cities where the Philistines camped on their way to the Valley of Elah. We are not told whether the Philistines conquered or occupied the city or if they simply set up their camp in the area.
11 And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, (and) were in the going down to Bethhoron, that the LORD cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: (they were) more which died with hailstones than (they) whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.
The weight or other dimensions of these stones is not given. This is the only instance in the Old Testament where God used literal stones to destroy an enemy of Israel. There is another time in the future (Revelation 16:21) when God will cast stones from Heaven as part of the seven “vial” or “bowl” judgments. We are told there that these future stones will weigh “a talent” which is apparently a significant amount of weight.