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David Guzik :: Study Guide for Joshua 10

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The Southern Kings Conquered

A. A miraculous victory for Israel.

1. (Jos 10:1-5) The southern kings of Canaan assemble for an attack on Gibeon.

Now it came to pass when Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard how Joshua had taken Ai and had utterly destroyed it; as he had done to Jericho and its king, so he had done to Ai and its king; and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them, that they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were mighty. Therefore Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem sent to Hoham king of Hebron, Piram king of Jarmuth, Japhia king of Lachish, and Debir king of Eglon, saying, "Come up to me and help me, that we may attack Gibeon, for it has made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel." Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered together and went up, they and all their armies, and camped before Gibeon and made war against it.

a. When Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard how Joshua had taken Ai and had utterly destroyed it: The leader of this group, the king of Jerusalem, is an interesting figure.  His name, Adoni-Zedek means Lord of Righteousness, though we see him as really the opposite of the Lord of Righteousness.  If anything, he represents the Anti-Christ, set against Joshua's representation of Jesus Christ.

i. If Adoni-Zedek (the false Lord of Righteousness) represents the Antichrist, we are even more interested to find that he leads many nations against Joshua and the children of Israel.

b. They feared greatly: The enemies of Israel feared greatly, but like our spiritual enemies, they do not retreat when they are afraid, but launch attacks that are even more bold, as a wild animal might fight when it feels attacked.

i. Though they are afraid, they are still clever.  Afraid to attack Israel directly, they attack their vassals the Gibeonites.

c. Because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were mighty: We are reminded that the Gibeonites did not submit to Israel out of a position of weakness; indeed all its men were mighty.  Yet it was because of their love and honor of the God of Israel that they submitted to perpetual service in His tabernacle.

2. (Jos 10:6) The plea for help from Gibeon.

And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal, saying, "Do not forsake your servants; come up to us quickly, save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the mountains have gathered together against us."

a. Do not forsake your servants; come up to us quickly, save us and help us: The Gibeonites rightly looked to the people of Israel as their helpers and protectors.  They were not too proud to call for help.

B. The defeat of the Southern kings of Canaan.

1. (Jos 10:7) Joshua and the people of Israel are faithful to their vow to the Gibeonites.

So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor.

a. We saw that in Joshua 9, Joshua, the leaders of Israel, and all the people of Israel knew they made a bad vow to the Gibeonites, yet they did not turn their backs on that vow.

b. But here, we see Joshua and the leaders of Israel going a step further.  Allowing these Canaanite kings to wipe out the Gibeonites would have been a convenient way to get out of a vow that should not have been made, but they will have none of it.

c. We should have the same sense of honor.  Though Joshua was only bound to not kill the Gibeonites himself (Joshua 9:15), he goes on to fulfill what the spirit of the vow he made to the Gibeonites.

2. (Jos 10:8) God's command and promise to Joshua.

And the LORD said to Joshua, "Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you."

a. Do not fear them: This is a command.  Though Joshua has reason to fear because Israel faces a confederation of five kings, God commands Joshua to not fear his enemies.

i. We can cripple our ability to fight God's battles through our fear.  Though we might face strong enemies, we are commanded to not fear.

b. I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you: The command is coupled with a promise.  We can obey God's command to not fear because we have His promise of victory.

i. We must therefore see fear for what it is - unbelief.  It is an unwillingness to believe what God has promised.

3. (Jos 10:9) Joshua's response of faith.

Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly, having marched all night from Gilgal.

a. Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly: Having the assurance of God's promise (Joshua 10:8), Joshua did not sit back to passively watch God work without his participation.  He went to great effort to participate with the work and will of God.

b. Having marched all night from Gilgal: This took hard work and initiative on Joshua's part.  The march from Gilgal to Gibeon involved a climb of 3,300 feet, and the distance was about twenty miles, taking eight to ten hours of hard marching, all through the night.

i. God does His work, but He draws us into working with Him.  Often God waits to see our initiative, our willingness to be a partner with Him, before He does what only He can do.

ii. This is not the idea that "God helps those who help themselves."  The idea is "God wants to draw His people into partnership with Him in seeing His work done."

4. (Jos 10:10-15) God miraculously fights on behalf of Israel.

So the LORD routed them before Israel, killed them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, chased them along the road that goes to Beth Horon, and struck them down as far as Azekah and Makkedah. And it happened, as they fled before Israel and were on the descent of Beth Horon, that the LORD cast down large hailstones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword. Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: "Sun, stand still over Gibeon; and Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon." So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the people had revenge upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the LORD heeded the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel. Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.

a. So the LORD routed them before Israel: God's work, and the partnership of Joshua's work with the LORD, accomplished something great. The enemies of God were routed.

b. The LORD cast down large hailstones from heaven: The hailstones which killed the retreating armies of the Canaanites were obviously miraculous.  The hail itself could have been a phenomenon of nature, but their aim and timing obviously displayed the hand of God.

i. "The Canaanites, who worshipped nature deities, must have thought that their own gods were aiding the Israelites." (Madvig)

c. We notice that Joshua didn't wait around for the hail to come.  He was busy doing what he could do in partnership with God, and God did what only God could do.

d. "Sun, stand still over Gibeon; and Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon." So the sun stood still: Seeing God's miraculous hand in action gave Joshua the boldness to ask for an even more stupendous miracle - to keep the day going, to keep the sun from setting, so that Israel had time to accomplish a complete victory before darkness fell.

i. The sun and the moon had long stood as silent witnesses to the sin, wickedness, and demonic religion of these Canaanites.  Why shouldn't they now allow Joshua to complete this victory over the Canaanites?

e. So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.  And there has been no day like that, before it or after it: How was the length of this day extended?  It could have been a slowing of the earth's rotation; it could have been a tilting of the earth's axis; it could have been a miracle of reflection of light; it could have been simply the presence of God manifested in light.

i. Whatever it means, the result was clear.  The sun seemed to stay still in the sky, and Israel was able to complete the victory.

ii. Some criticize this account, saying that obviously, since the sun is still, and the earth rotates around the sun, that Joshua is wrong when he says the sun stood still.  This kind of criticism doesn't account for our normal way of speaking.  We use the terms sunrise and sunset without a second thought.  In addition, more modern astronomy tells us that the sun is in motion; perhaps the sun did literally stand still!

f. Till the people had revenge upon their enemies: Joshua did not ask God to do the fighting for him, even though God did do some of that.  Joshua simply asked that God would miraculously give him the opportunity to fight for Him.

i. When we work in partnership with God, always in touch with our place like Gilgal - the place where Israel was conquered by God - then we will see God do amazing things; we will be able to say "there has been no day like that."

5. (Jos 10:16-27) The completion of the battle and the execution of the Canaanite kings.

But these five kings had fled and hidden themselves in a cave at Makkedah. And it was told Joshua, saying, "The five kings have been found hidden in the cave at Makkedah." So Joshua said, "Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave, and set men by it to guard them. And do not stay there yourselves, but pursue your enemies, and attack their rear guard. Do not allow them to enter their cities, for the LORD your God has delivered them into your hand." Then it happened, while Joshua and the children of Israel made an end of slaying them with a very great slaughter, till they had finished, that those who escaped entered fortified cities. And all the people returned to the camp, to Joshua at Makkedah, in peace. No one moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel. Then Joshua said, "Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings to me from the cave." And they did so, and brought out those five kings 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. So it was, when they brought out those kings to Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the captains of the men of war who went with him, "Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings." And they drew near and put their feet on their necks. Then Joshua said to them, "Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies against whom you fight." And afterward Joshua struck them and killed them, and hanged them on five trees; and they were hanging on the trees until evening. So it was at the time of the going down of the sun that Joshua commanded, and they took them down from the trees, cast them into the cave where they had been hidden, and laid large stones against the cave's mouth, which remain until this very day.

a. Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave, and set men by it to guard them. And do not stay there yourselves, but pursue your enemies, and attack their rear guard: Joshua will not allow anything - even the personal capture of the kings - to keep him from completing Israel's victory.  The kings can be imprisoned and dealt with later.

i. 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).

b. The people of Canaan know, beyond any doubt, that God is with Joshua and the nation of Israel.  Their respect is so great that no one moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel.

i. Just like Israel, the church should be feared in the sense that it should be a place where people know God will conquer them.  They should have the idea "Well, if I keep coming here, God is going to conquer me.  I'll have to submit my life to Him."  Too many churches present a "harmless" God who demands no surrender from His people.

c. And afterward Joshua struck them and killed them, and hanged them on five trees: The Canaanite kings were executed. Joshua wants to make it clear that there can be absolutely no accommodation with these Canaanite kings.  After this pattern, we can allow no place in our lives to our spiritual enemies.  All the ground belongs to Jesus, and must be taken for Him.

i. The idea of partnership with God in the pursuit of victory is again repeated in Joshua 10:25.  God promises victory over all your enemies against whom you fight.

D. Conquest of the South completed.

1. (Jos 10:28) The fall of the Canaanite city of Makkedah.

On that day Joshua took Makkedah, and struck it and its king with the edge of the sword. He utterly destroyed them; all the people who were in it. He let none remain. He also did to the king of Makkedah as he had done to the king of Jericho.

2. (Jos 10:29-30) The fall of the Canaanite city of Libnah.

Then Joshua passed from Makkedah, and all Israel with him, to Libnah; and they fought against Libnah. And the LORD also delivered it and its king into the hand of Israel; he struck it and all the people who were in it with the edge of the sword. He let none remain in it, but did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho.

3. (Jos 10:31-33) The fall of the Canaanite city of Lachish.

Then Joshua passed from Libnah, and all Israel with him, to Lachish; and they encamped against it and fought against it. And the LORD delivered Lachish into the hand of Israel, who took it on the second day, and struck it and all the people who were in it with the edge of the sword, according to all that he had done to Libnah. Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua struck him and his people, until he left him none remaining.

4. (Jos 10:34-35) The fall of the Canaanite city of Eglon.

From Lachish Joshua passed to Eglon, and all Israel with him; and they encamped against it and fought against it. They took it on that day and struck it with the edge of the sword; all the people who were in it he utterly destroyed that day, according to all that he had done to Lachish.

5. (Jos 10:36-37) The fall of the Canaanite city of Hebron.

So Joshua went up from Eglon, and all Israel with him, to Hebron; and they fought against it. And they took it and struck it with the edge of the sword; its king, all its cities, and all the people who were in it; he left none remaining, according to all that he had done to Eglon, but utterly destroyed it and all the people who were in it.

6. (Jos 10:38-39) The fall of the Canaanite city of Debir.

Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir; and they fought against it. And he took it and its king and all its cities; they struck them with the edge of the sword and utterly destroyed all the people who were in it. He left none remaining; as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir and its king, as he had done also to Libnah and its king.

7. (Jos 10:40-43) Summary of the conquest of the Southern Canaanite Kingdoms.

So Joshua conquered all the land: the mountain country and the South and the lowland and the wilderness slopes, and all their kings; he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel had commanded. And Joshua conquered them from Kadesh Barnea as far as Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even as far as Gibeon. All these kings and their land Joshua took at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel. Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.

a. So Joshua conquered all the land: In a period of weeks (perhaps months) these six cities are defeated, without a single loss for Israel.  Each battle was a test.  None of them were easy, but under the leadership of Joshua, they all were victorious.

i. God's desire is that we should enjoy the same life of victory.  But we all … are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

b. All these kings and their land Joshua took at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel: The victory was won one at a time.  We often want to do everything and win every battle for God all at once.  This can be Satan's strategy to set us up for a strong attack of discouragement.

i. As well, God knew which battles to fight and when to fight them.  These were not the only Canaanite cities in the region, but they were the military strongholds.  God knew what He was doing in selecting which particular battles to fight, and when they needed to be fought.

c. Most importantly, the key to victory was that the Lord GOD of Israel fought for Israel.  This is also true as we battle against our own spiritual enemies.  We can only win as we see the LORD fighting on our behalf. He provides the victory and we walk in it.

i. We come to realize that the victory was won at the cross, and now we need to live in light of that victory.  Colossians 2:15 speaks to this idea: Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it [the cross].  It is in this sense that we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)

ii. To be disappointed in yourself is to have trusted in yourself.  It shows that we tried to fight the battle in our own resources, not the LORD's victory.

d. Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal: Israel's victories always came from Gilgal.  This was the place of total faith, commitment and fellowship with God, and the place where Israel had been conquered by God.

© 2001 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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