Notes on Joshua 10, vs. 22-43
by Jonathan Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)
22 Then said Joshua, Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings unto me out of the cave.
This meant to roll away the “great” stones at the cave’s opening (v. 18), then bring all five of the enemy kings to Joshua.
23 And they did so, and brought forth those five kings unto him out of the cave, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, (and) the king of Eglon.
Imagine the contrast after one day. The five enemy kings had gathered together to fight against Gibeon (and, possibly, the other cities which had surrendered to Israel) but now, most of the army was gone and these five kings were facing a very uncertain future.
24 And it came to pass, when they brought out those kings unto Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said unto the captains of the men of war which went with him, Come near, put your feet upon the necks of these kings. And they came near, and put their feet upon the necks of them.
Signs of conquest varied by nation and era. This is the only mention of this method or deed in the Bible. Joshua may have been showing at least some mercy by not mutilating their bodies (as did, for example, Adoni-bezek, Judges 1:6-7) or forcing them to endure actual torture. These kings were humiliated greatly and were reminded of their status: captives.
25 And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom ye fight.
A reminder of God’s promises. The methods may differ, but victory always came from the Lord.
26 And afterward Joshua smote them, and slew them, and hanged them on five trees: and they were hanging upon the trees until the evening.
Each king was put to death; then, afterwards, the body of each king was hanged on a separate tree. We are not told where the trees were located or any other details.
27 And it came to pass at the time of the going down of the sun, (that) Joshua commanded, and they took them down off the trees, and cast them into the cave wherein they had been hid, and laid great stones in the cave's mouth, (which remain) until this very day.
This is in obedience to Deut. 21:22-23. Joshua was careful to follow God’s Law even in a situation like this. He had done the same thing to the king of Ai’s body (Joshua 8:29).
[28 And that day Joshua took Makkedah, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof he utterly destroyed, them, and all the souls that were therein; he let none remain: and he did to the king of Makkedah as he did unto the king of Jericho.]
Makkedah was not one of the five enemy cites which attacked Gibeon but they had allowed the kings (and, perhaps, some of those who had escaped) to remain there. The city was apparently under Canaanite control until this day of battle. Makkedah is only mentioned twice (both in the Book of Joshua) in the entire Bible, except for this chapter.
29 Then Joshua passed from Makkedah, and all Israel with him, unto Libnah, and fought against Libnah: 30 And the LORD delivered it also, and the king thereof, into the hand of Israel; and he smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that (were) therein; he let none remain in it; but did unto the king thereof as he did unto the king of Jericho.
Libnah was southwest of Jerusalem. Later it was given to the priests (the “sons of Aaron”, Josh. 21:13). One of Libnah’s residents was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah, who was the mother of two kings of Judah (Jehoahaz, 2 Kings 23:31, and Mattaniah/Zedekiah,2 Kings 24:18) Before this, Libnah endured a siege by the Assyrians (2 Kings 19). God promised victory, and provided it!
31 And Joshua passed from Libnah, and all Israel with him, unto Lachish, and encamped against it, and fought against it: 32 And the LORD delivered Lachish into the hand of Israel, which took it on the second day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that (were) therein, according to all that he had done to Libnah.
Lachish was one of the five enemy cities which attacked Gibeon. Israel conquered the city but it faced at least two sieges by Assyria later on (2 Kings 18 and 19). Later, Lachish was one of the last cities of Judah, besides Jerusalem and Azekah, to hold out against the Babylonians (Jeremiah 34:7).
33 Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua smote him and his people, until he had left him none remaining.
Gezer was not one of the five enemy cities but did help Lachish. Joshua conquered the city here but Gezer was apparently repopulated. Canaanites were living in Gezer just after Joshua’s time—the Ephraimites didn’t drive them out (Judges 1:29)—and many years later, Pharaoh, king of Egypt, destroyed Gezer and gave it to his daughter as a wedding gift when she married Solomon (1 Kings 9:16).
[34 And from Lachish Joshua passed unto Eglon, and all Israel with him; and they encamped against it, and fought against it: 35 And they took it on that day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein he utterly destroyed that day, according to all that he had done to Lachish.]
Eglon’s location is also uncertain. It was one of the five enemies attacking Gibeon. Israel attacked Eglon after they had conquered Lachish. The name of this city is probably not to be confused with the king of Moab with the same name (Judges 3:14-17). Again God provided the promised victory.
36 And Joshua went up from Eglon, and all Israel with him, unto Hebron; and they fought against it:
Hebron was a very old city (Numbers 13:22) and had been the home of Abraham (Genesis 13:18), Later he bought the cave of Machpelah (Gen. 23) as a burial site for Sarah. He was buried there as well (Gen 25:19). Isaac had also lived in Hebron (Gen 35:27) as did Jacob (Gen 37:14). Jacob sent Joseph to check on the condition of his brothers and the flocks—but Joseph never returned, because Joseph was sold to traders heading to Egypt.
Hebron had had a number of godly people in its past but there did not seem to be any worshipers of the True God at this time.
37 And they took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof, and all the souls that (were) therein; he left none remaining, according to all that he had done to Eglon; but destroyed it utterly, and all the souls that (were) therein.
Hebron is mentioned as having “cities thereof” which may mean the surrounding villages or communities. Regardless, Joshua and Israel “utterly destroyed” the city and people in it.
38 And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir; and fought against it: 39 And he took it, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof; and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed all the souls that (were) therein; he left none remaining: as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir, and to the king thereof; as he had done also to Libnah, and to her king.
Debir is also mentioned as having “cities thereof”” like Hebron. Debir, in this verse, refers to a city in south-west Israel and not to the king of that name, who was king of Eglon.
40 So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel commanded.
Joshua led Israel to victory over all of southern Canaan. The reference to “springs” is interesting: later, Caleb’s daughter Achsah would ask for springs of water in the area around Hebron after she married Othniel (Judges 1:13-15).
The “country of the hills” probably refers to the area south and west of Jerusalem. The “south” is sometimes translated “Negev”, perhaps more or less the same area as around Hebron to perhaps as far as Beersheba. The word could designate the “south” generally, or a specific location. Both are applicable.
41 And Joshua smote them from Kadeshbarnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon.
This was a large amount of territory. Kadesh-Barnea was close to the border of Egypt and was the site of the original rebellion, causing Israel to wander in the wilderness for forty years (Numbers 13-14), whereas Gibeon was not far from Jerusalem.
Gaza was later under Philistine control. It was near the Mediterranean Sea and the border of Egypt, one of the most southern of the Canaanite cities.
“Goshen” here did not refer to the area by that name in Egypt where the Israelites had dwelt while Joseph was still alive. Its location here is uncertain.
42 And all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel.
This is a summary of the extended campaigns. We are not sure how long each battle lasted, nor the time to send the army to the next city or area. This probably means that Israel stayed in south Canaan until these particular cities were conquered, without returning to any of the previous camps (Gilgal, Makkedah, or any other “base” of operations).
43 And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.
He and the army later returned after these campaigns. God had promised and provided, again, one victory after another for Israel.
Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV)