Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
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;Ch. Joshua 10:1-6. Confederacy of the Five Kings against Gibeon
1. Now it came to pass] The surrender of such a place as Gibeon would naturally fill the kings of southern Canaan with alarm. “It was, so to speak, treason within their own camp.” The invaders had obtained a strong position in the very heart of the country, while the possession of the passes from Gibeon would expose the whole south of Canaan to their incursions. The retaking and punishment of Gibeon was the first object of the chieftains of the south.
Adoni-zedek] i.e. “Lord of righteousness” It is no longer Melchizedek, “My king righteousness.” The alteration of the name marks a change of dynasties.
king of Jerusalem] “the habitation of peace,” or “the possession of peace.”
(i) This world-famous city was (a) sometimes called after its original inhabitants “Jebus” (Jdg 19:10-11; 1 Chronicles 11:4); (b) sometimes “the city of the Jebusites” (Jdg 19:11), or “Jebusi” (Joshua 18:16; Joshua 18:28; 1 Samuel 5:8); (c) sometimes “Salem” = “peace” (Genesis 14:18; Psalm 76:2); (d) once “the city of Judah” (2 Chronicles 25:28); (e) finally “Jerusalem” (Joshua 10:1; Joshua 12:10; Jdg 1:7, &c.).
(ii) It stands in latitude 31° 46′ 39″ North, and longitude 35° 14′ 42″ East of Greenwich, and Isaiah 32 miles distant from the sea, and 18 from the Jordan; 20 from Hebron, and 36 from Samaria.
(iii) Its situation is in several respects singular. Its elevation is remarkable, but is occasioned not from its being on the summit of one of the numerous hills of Judæa, but on the edge of one of the highest table-lands of the country. From every side, except the south, the ascent to it is perpetual, and it must always have presented the appearance, beyond any important city that has ever existed on the earth, of a “mountain city, enthroned on a mountain fortress.”
(iv) But besides being thus elevated more than 2500 feet above the level of the sea, it was separated by deep and precipitous ravines from the rocky plateau of which it formed a part. These slopes surround it on the southern, south-eastern, and western sides, and out of them the city rose “like the walls of a fortress out of its ditches.” Hence its early strength and subsequent greatness. See Stanley’s Sinai and Palestine, p. 172; Ritter’s Geography of Palestine, iii. 1–33, iv. 3; Robinson’s Bibl. Res. 1:258–260.
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.2. as one of the royal cities] See above, Joshua 9:3.
2. When Sennacherib invaded Judah, he attacked and took “the fenced cities,” but Lachish appears to have foiled him, and he was constrained to raise the siege (2 Kings 19:8; 2 Chronicles 32:9).
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,3. king of Hebron] Situated amongst the mountains, 20 Roman miles, about 7 hours, south of Jerusalem; one of the most ancient cities in the world, rivalling even Damascus, being a well-known town even when Abraham first entered Canaan (Genesis 13:18). Its original name was Kirjath-Arba (Jdg 1:10), “the city of Arba,” the father of Anak, and progenitor of the giant Anakims (Joshua 21:11; Joshua 15:13-14). Hoham denotes “Jehovah of the multitude.”
Piram king of Jarmuth] the present Yarmûk, about 1½ miles from Beit-Netif, on the left of the road to Jerusalem. Near it is an eminence called Tell-Ermûd. It was visited by Robinson.
Japhia king of Lachish] Lachish has been identified with (1) Um-Lâkis, (2) Zukkarijeh, 2½ hours south-west of Beit-Jibîrn. It was afterwards fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:9). Here Amaziah died (2 Kings 14:19). It was besieged by Sennacherib, who moved thence to Libnah (Isaiah 36:2; Isaiah 37:8).
Debir king of Eglon] Lachish and Eglon are mentioned in several other passages (Joshua 12:11-12; Joshua 15:39), in such a way as shews they were not far apart. Eglon has been identified with ’Ajlan.
3. When Nebuchadnezzar came up against Jerusalem, he fought against all “the cities of Judah that were left, against Lachish, and against Azekah: for these defenced cities remained of the cities of Judah,” i.e. they had strength to stand out, when the others had fallen (Jeremiah 34:7).
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.4. for it hath made peace] The enterprise was directed primarily not against Joshua, but against Gibeon which had made peace with him. Comp. Joshua 9:15.
4. When in describing the assault on Lachish the writer of the Book of Joshua tells us it was the second day before it succeeded, he undesignedly leads us to suspect that Lachish was a stronghold; and on consulting other portions of the history of the Jews we discover that suspicion to be confirmed; and on the whole a coincidence results very characteristic of truth and accuracy, and this in a narrative full of the miraculous. Blunt’s Undesigned Coincidences, pp. 107, 108.
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.5. the five kings] The names of the kings are not given here a second time, but of the cities over which they held sway, and they are mentioned in the same order.
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.6. Slack not thy hand] The climax in the message is very noticeable; (1) slack not thy hand; (2) come up to us quickly; (3) save us; (4) help us. Compare the prayer of the persecuted Christians (Acts 4:24-30).
Slack = “slacken,” “relax;” A. S. slæcan from the adjective slæc. It occurs in an intransitive sense in Deuteronomy 23:21, “When thou shalt vow a vow unto the Lord thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it.” Comp. Latimer, Serm. p. 231, “What a remorse of conscience shall ye have, when ye remember how ye have slacked your duty.”
all the kings of the Amorites] This is a common designation of the five chiefs. Their march had evidently been very rapid, and the danger was urgent.
So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valour.7. So Joshua ascended] “Not a moment was to be lost. As in the battle of Marathon, everything depended on the suddenness of the blow which should break in pieces the hostile confederation.” Stanley’s Sinai and Palestine, p. 209.
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.8. Fear them not] Comp. Joshua 11:6; Jdg 4:14.
Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night.9. came unto them suddenly] He marched the whole night, and in the morning, “when the sun rose behind him, he was already in the open ground at the foot of the heights of Gibeon, where the kings were encamped.”
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.10. And the Lord discomfited them] “As often before and after,” so now, “not a man could stand before the awe and the panic of the sudden sound of the terrible shout, the sudden appearance of that undaunted host who came with the assurance not to fear, nor to be dismayed, but to be strong and of a good courage, for the Lord had delivered their enemies into their hands.” Comp. Jdg 4:15; 1 Samuel 7:10; 2 Samuel 22:15.
discomfited] Comp. Exodus 17:13, “And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword;” 1 Samuel 7:10, “but the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them;” 2 Samuel 22:15, “he sent out arrows, and scattered them; lightning, and discomfited them.” Discomfit comes from Fr. déconfire, It. sconfiggere, to rout, whence the substantive sconfitia, the original of all being the Latin configere, to fasten together; whence discomfit primarily signifies to unfasten; then to disintegrate, or break up a mass into the parts of which it is composed. Hence to break up an army, to disperse it.
before Israel] In Exodus 23:27, the promise is given that God will always do so before the foes of Israel.
up to Beth-horon] or “the House of caves” Notice the expression “along the way that goeth up to Beth-horon.” It was the first stage of the flight—in the long ascent from Gibeon towards Beth-horon the upper.
to Azekah] which lay in the Shephelah or rich agricultural plain. It was near Shochoh, and between the two places the Philistines encamped before the battle in which Goliath was killed (1 Samuel 17:1). It was afterwards fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:9), was still standing at the time of the Babylonish invasion (Jeremiah 34:7), and was reoccupied by the Jews after their return from the Captivity (Nehemiah 11:30).
unto Makkedah] Porter would identify it with a ruin on the northern slope of the Wady es Sunt, bearing the somewhat similar name of el-Klediah. Van de Velde would place it at Sumeil, a village standing on a low hill 6 or 7 miles N. W. of Beth-Jebrin.
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.11. were in the going down to Beth-horon] This was the second stage in the flight. The Amorite host had gained the height before their pursuers, and were hurrying down the pass of nether Beth-horon, “a rough, rocky road, sometimes over the upturned edges of the limestone strata, sometimes over sheets of smooth rock, sometimes over loose rectangular stones, sometimes over steps cut in the rock” (Stanley’s Lectures, 1:242), when
the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them] As afterwards in the great fight of Barak against Sisera (Jdg 5:20), one of the fearful tempests, which from time to time sweep over the hills of Palestine, burst upon the disordered army, and hailstones of enormous size fell upon their shattered ranks.
they were moe which died with hailstones] Some have explained these as meteoric stones, but it was rather a fearful storm, “thunder, lightning, and a deluge of hail,” Jos. Ant. 5:1. 17. “By a very similar mischance the Austrians were overtaken in 1859 at the battle of Solferino.” Even ordinary hailstones in Syria are often of enormous size. “I have seen some that measured two inches in diameter; but sometimes irregularly shaped pieces are found among them weighing alone twenty drams.” Russell’s Natural History of Aleppo, 1:76. “During a storm at Constantinople in 1831, many of the hailstones, or rather masses of ice, weighed from half a pound to above a pound. Under this tremendous fall, the roofs of houses were beaten in, trees were stripped of their leaves and branches, many persons who could not soon enough find shelter were killed, animals were slain, and limbs were broken. In fact, none who know the tremendous power which the hailstones of the East sometimes exhibit, will question, as some have questioned, the possibility that any hail could produce the effect described.” Kitto’s Bible Illustrations, II. p. 293.
they were moe] “and ben deed man ye mo with stonus of haiul, than whom with swerd had smyten the sons of Yrael,” Wyclif. In the edition of 1611, “moe” is the comparative of “many,” and is altered to “more” in the later editions. Compare
“For elles hadde I dweld with Theseus
I-fetered in his prisoun for ever moo.”
Chaucer, Knight’s Tale, 1231.
Bru. “Is he alone?
Lu. No, sir, there are moe with him.”
Shakespeare, Jul. Cœs. 2:1. 71.
Then spake Joshua 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 thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.12. Then spake Joshua to the Lord] The quotation probably commences with the 12th verse and extends to the end of the 15th. It begins as follows:—
“Then spake Joshua unto Jehovah,
In the day Jehovah delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel.”
Then] The crisis of the battle had now arrived. The day had far advanced since Joshua had emerged after his night-march through the passes of Ai. It was noon, and the sun stood high in the midst of heaven above the hills which hid Gibeon from his sight. “In front, over the western vale of Ajalon, was the faint figure of the crescent moon visible above the hailstorm (Jos. Ant. 5:1. 17), which was fast driving up from the sea in the valleys below.” Beneath him was the Amorite host rushing in wild confusion down the western passes. The furious storm was obscuring the light of day, and the work was but half accomplished. Was the foe to make good his escape? Was the speed, with which he had “come up quickly, and saved, and helped” the defenceless Gibeonites, to be robbed of half its reward? Oh that the sun would burst forth once more from amidst the gloom that had obscured it! Oh that the day, all too short for his great undertaking, could be prolonged “until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies”! See Stanley’s Sin. and Pal. p. 210; Edersheim’s Israel in Canaan, pp. 81, 82.
spake Joshua] Then it was, standing on the lofty eminence above Gibeon, “doubtless with outstretched hand and spear,” that Joshua burst forth into that ecstatic prayer of faith, which has been here incorporated into the text from the “Book of Jasher.”
and he said in the sight of Israel] literally, before the eyes of Israel, in the sight or presence of Israel, who were witnesses of his words,
Sun, stand thou still] Literally, as in the margin, “be silent,” comp. Leviticus 10:3, “And Aaron held his peace.” The word denotes (i) to be dumb with astonishment; (ii) to be silent; (iii) to rest, or, be quiet. Comp. 1 Samuel 14:9, “If they say thus unto us, Tarry (or be still as in marg.) until we come to you;” Job 31:34, “Did I fear a great multitude, or did the contempt of families terrify me, that I kept silence?” Keil would translate it “wait.” The Vulgate renders it, “Sol contra Gabaon ne movearis et luna contra vallem Ajalon;” Wyclif thus, “Sunne, Aзens Gabaon be thow not meued, and mone, aзens the valey of Haylon.”
Gibeon … Ajalon] These spots are named as stations of the sun and moon “because Joshua, when he engaged in the battle, was probably west of Gibeon, in a place where he saw the sun shining in the east over that city, and the moon in the far west over Ajalon.” The hour of utterance contemplated was probably still in the forenoon.
in the valley of Ajalon] i.e. “the valley of the gazelles.” It is represented by the modern Merj Ibn Omeir, “a broad and beautiful valley” running in a westerly direction from the mountains towards the great western plain. The town of Ajalon was afterwards, the conquest being concluded, in the territory of Dan (Joshua 19:42), and was assigned to the Levites (Joshua 21:24; 1 Chronicles 6:69). Here the Philistines were routed by Saul and Jonathan (1 Samuel 14:31), and the place is often mentioned in the wars with that people (1 Chronicles 8:13; 2 Chronicles 28:18).
And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.13. And the sun stood still] God hearkened to the voice of Joshua. Once more the sunlight burst forth, and the day was miraculously protracted till the end was gained. For expressions similar to those here used compare what is said in Jdg 5:20, of the stars “fighting (not in but out of) their courses against Sisera;” in Isaiah 34:3; Amos 9:13; Micah 1:4, of the melting down of the mountains; in Isaiah 64:1, of the rending of the heavens; in Psalm 29:6, of the skipping of Lebanon; in Isaiah 55:12, of the clapping of hands by the trees in the field; in Psalm 18:9, of the bowing of the heavens. How or in what way this protraction of the light was brought about we are not told.
Is not this written in the book of Jasher?] The Book here quoted is also alluded to in 2 Samuel 1:18, “Also he—David—bade them teach the children of Israel the Bow (i.e. ‘the Song of the Bow’); behold, it is written in the Book of Jasher,” or, as it is rendered in the margin, “the Book of the Upright,” or “Righteous.” It was in all probability a collection, rhythmical in form and poetical in diction, of various pieces celebrating the heroes of the Hebrew nation and their achievements. The word itself Jasher, or Jashar, is considered to be an appellation of the Elect Nation, nearly equivalent to “Jeshurun” in Deuteronomy 32:15. The Book was naturally compiled only by degrees, and gradually any ode or song deemed worthy of preservation was added to it, “so that the quotation of it here is no proof at all that the Book of Joshua was composed after the date of the reference to the ‘Book of Jasher’ in 2 Samuel 1:18, and as little is the quotation there a proof that the ‘Book of Jasher’ was not extant until, at any rate, the time of David.”
And hasted not to go] Edersheim would translate this, “And hasted not to go—like (as on) a complete day.”
And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.14. And there was no day] This is still a quotation from the Book of Jashar, or “of riзtwise men,” as Wyclif translates it.
“And so stood the sunne in the mydil of heuene,
And hyede not to goo doun the space of o day;
There was not before ne afterward so loong a day;
For the Lord obeide to the vois of man,
And fauiзt for Israel.”
Compare the returning of the shadow on the dial of Ahaz in the time of Hezekiah, 2 Kings 20:11; Isaiah 38:8.
for the Lord fought for Israel] Compare the account of Josephus, “He then heard that God was helping him, by the signs of thunder, lightning, and unusual hailstones; and that the day was increased lest the night should check the zeal of the Hebrews.… That the length of the day did then increase, and was longer than usual, is told in the books laid up in the temple.” Ant. 5. Joshua 1:17.
And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.15. And Joshua returned] This is still apparently part of the quotation from the “Book of Jasher,” for it is evident that Joshua did not return to Gilgal immediately after the battle of Gibeon. In the historical narrative this finds place in Joshua 10:43.
But these five kings fled, and hid themselves in a cave at Makkedah.16–27. Flight and Execution of the Five Kings
16. But these five kings] Here the regular historical narrative is resumed. The second stage in the flight was over. “In the lengthened day granted to Joshua’s prayer” now commences the third stage. The tide of fugitives rolled on, hotly pursued by the Israelites through the pass of Lower Beth-horon to Azekah, and thence to Makkedah.
And it was told Joshua, saying, The five kings are found hid in a cave at Makkedah.17. in a cave] “lurkinge in the spelunk,” Wyclif; in one of the numerous limestone caves, with which the district abounds, though the article here, both in the Hebrew and the LXX., seems to intimate that it was a well-known cave, overshadowed probably by a grove of trees (comp. Joshua 10:26). Many such caves, large and dry, and often branching out into chambers, are found in the lime and chalk rocks of Palestine. Comp. (i) the cave in which Lot dwelt after the destruction of Sodom (Genesis 19:30); (ii) the cave at Rimmon (Jdg 20:47), which could contain six hundred men in its spacious recess; (iii) David’s cave of Adullam, where he concealed “his brethren, and all his father’s house” (1 Samuel 22:1); (iv) the cave of Engedi, which Saul entered, and in the sides of which “David and his men remained” (1 Samuel 24:3); (v) Obadiah’s cave, in which he concealed “an hundred prophets” (1 Kings 18:4). “The caves of Syria and Palestine are still used, either occasionally or permanently, as habitations.… The shepherds near Hebron leave their villages in the summer to dwell in caves and ruins, in order to be nearer to their flocks and fields. Almost all the habitations at Om-keis, Gadara, are caves.” See Smith’s Bible Dict. Art. Caves.
And Joshua said, Roll great stones upon the mouth of the cave, and set men by it for to keep them:18. And Joshua said] The victory was not yet won. The conqueror would not be diverted from his object. The mouth of the cave was blocked with huge stones, and armed men were stationed to guard it, while the pursuit was still continued.
And stay ye not, but pursue after your enemies, and smite the hindmost of them; suffer them not to enter into their cities: for the LORD your God hath delivered them into your hand.
And it came to pass, when Joshua and the children of Israel had made an end of slaying them with a very great slaughter, till they were consumed, that the rest which remained of them entered into fenced cities.20. the rest] i.e. broken remnants of the fugitives.
fenced cities] “the strengthid citees,” Wyclif, = the fortified towns of great strength and impregnable position. Comp. Numbers 32:17; Deuteronomy 3:5; Deuteronomy 9:1; Joshua 14:12; 1 Samuel 6:18, &c. The fortifications of the cities of Palestine regularly fenced, consisted of one or more walls crowned with battlemented parapets, having towers at regular intervals (2 Chronicles 32:5; Jeremiah 31:38), on which in later times engines of war were placed, and in time of war watch was kept night and day (Jdg 9:46-47; 2 Kings 9:17; 2 Chronicles 26:9; 2 Chronicles 26:15). The earlier Egyptian fortifications consisted of a quadrangular and sometimes double wall of sun-dried brick, fifteen feet thick, and often fifty feet in height, with square towers at intervals of the same height as the walls, both crowned with a parapet, and a round-headed battlement in shape like a shield. See Smith’s Bib. Dict. 1:616.
And all the people returned to the camp to Joshua at Makkedah in peace: none moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel.21. to the camp] Which had been already formed round the royal hiding-place.
none moved his tongue] “And no man aзens the sones of Yrael was hardy to grucche, ether to make priuy noise,” Wyclif. Comp. Exodus 11:7, “But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast.”
Then said Joshua, Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings unto me out of the cave.22. Then said Joshua] Probably this was on the morning after the victory.
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.23. the king of Jerusalem] Observe the rhythmic roll of the enumeration of the kings and the cities over which they ruled.
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.24. put your feet upon the necks] According to the usage portrayed on the monuments of Assyria and Egypt, which seems also to have been practised by the Byzantine emperors long after the Christian era. For this symbol of complete subjection comp. Psalm 110:1; 1 Corinthians 15:25.
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.25. Fear not] “Take зe coumfort (con and fortis), and be зe stronge,” Wyclif. The proud foes they had so lately seen in all the pomp and circumstance of war lay prostrate at their feet.
for thus] Even as, after the defeat of Sihon and Og, Moses had assured Joshua would be the case, saying, “Thine eyes have seen all that the Lord your God hath done unto these two kings; so shall the Lord do unto all the kingdoms whither thou passest. Ye shall not fear them: for the Lord your God he shall fight for you,” Deuteronomy 3:21-22; Exodus 14:14.
And afterward Joshua smote them, and slew them, and hanged them on five trees: and they were hanging upon the trees until the evening.26. Joshua smote them] The actual execution of the kings he reserved for his own hands.
hanged them] “Hongide upon fiue stokkis,” Wyclif; or suspended their bodies after death. Comp. Deuteronomy 21:23; Joshua 8:29. In like manner Joshua had done to the king of Ai; Joshua 8:29.
on five trees] Each body on its own tree.
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.27. at the time of the going down of the sun] According to the strict command in Deuteronomy 21:23.
into the cave wherein they had been hid] “Into the spelonk, in the which thei lorkiden,” Wyclif, which then became a royal sepulchre, while the stones “which on the self-same day had cut them off from escape, closed the mouth of the tomb.” See Keil on Joshua 10:27.
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.28–39. The Conquest of Southern Palestine
28. And that day] The victory of Beth-horon did not stand alone. It involved other consequences in its train. It inaugurated a campaign, which may have lasted some weeks or even months, during which the whole of southern Canaan was swept into the hands of Israel.
took Makkedah] The cities distinctly specified as now subdued are Makkedah, Libnah, Lachish, Eglon, Hebron, Debir.
and smote it with the edge of the sword] As before at Ai (Joshua 8:24). Four times does this expression occur in the present section.
he let none remain] This expression also occurs four times in the section.
as he did] See chap. Joshua 6:21.
Then Joshua passed from Makkedah, and all Israel with him, unto Libnah, and fought against Libnah:29. unto Libnah] In a westerly direction. Libnah belonged to the district of the Shephelah, the maritime lowland of Judah, and we find it enumerated among the cities of this district (Joshua 15:42). With its suburbs it was appropriated to the priests (Joshua 21:13; 1 Chronicles 6:57), but revolted from Judah in the reign of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat (2 Kings 8:22; 2 Chronicles 21:10). On account of the accordance of the name Libnah (“white”) with the “Blanche-garde” of the Crusaders, Dean Stanley would place it at Tell es-Safieh, about 5 miles north-west of Beit-Jibrín. Others would place it 4 miles west of the same spot, at Arak el Menshîyeh.
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.
And Joshua passed from Libnah, and all Israel with him, unto Lachish, and encamped against it, and fought against it:31. unto Lachish] See above, Joshua 10:3. The Israelitish leader moved in a south-westerly direction.
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.32. which took it on the second day] Observe: 1. All the other cities seem to have fallen before Joshua at once except Lachish. Of Lachish, and Lachish alone, is it said that he took it on the second day.
Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua smote him and his people, until he had left him none remaining.33. Then Horam] His city lay at no great distance from Lachish.
Gezer] or, as it is called later, Gazara (2Ma 10:32), Gadara (Jos. Ant. 5:1:22), was an ancient city of Canaan. It was afterwards allotted with its suburbs to the Kohathite Levites (Joshua 21:21; 1 Chronicles 6:67); but the original inhabitants were not dispossessed (Jdg 1:29), and even down to the reign of Solomon the Canaanites were still dwelling there, and paying tribute to Israel (1 Kings 9:16). Its site has lately been identified with Tel el Jezar, about four miles from Amwâs, on the road to Ramlah and Lydd. “The position of the Levitical city of Gezer (Joshua 12:12; 1 Chronicles 6:67; Jdg 1:29), which Pharaoh gave to his daughter—Solomon’s queen—as a dowry, has been a subject of prolonged controversy. M. Clermont Ganneau discovered the ancient site, with the very name itself still lingering on the spot. Not only that, but he found the Levitical boundaries. In no other case have these been found. They were cut in the rock itself—not on movable stones—in two separate places, in Greek and square Hebrew characters, signifying the ‘boundary of Gezer.’ The date seems to be Maccabean.” (Quarterly Statement of the “Palestine Exploration Fund,” 1874.)
and Joshua smote him] Joshua seems to have been content with repulsing his attack, slaying the king, and inflicting a severe defeat upon his people. Gezer itself lay too far northward of his present line of operations to justify its capture.
And from Lachish Joshua passed unto Eglon, and all Israel with him; and they encamped against it, and fought against it:34. Eglon] See on Joshua 10:3. He now marches eastward from Lachish to Eglon on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza; invests, takes, and destroys it with all its inhabitants.
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.
And Joshua went up from Eglon, and all Israel with him, unto Hebron; and they fought against it:36. unto Hebron] which lay next in a tolerably direct line. He is said to have “gone up” to it, for, in order to invest it, he had to march from the plain to the hill country.
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.37. and the king thereof] The successor doubtless of the chief who fell at Makkedah. See above, Joshua 10:23.
all the cities thereof] i.e. all the smaller towns dependent upon it; “alle the burgh touns of that region,” Wyclif.
And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir; and fought against it:38. returned] or turned. “Turnyde in,” Wyclif. The words indicate a change in the direction of the march. Comp. Exodus 5:22, “and Moses returned unto the Lord,” From Hebron he turned in to the south-west, and attacked Debir.
Debir] The early name of this city was Kirjath-sepher = “the town of the book” (Joshua 15:15; Jdg 1:11), or Kirjath-sannah = “the town of palm” (“of the law”?) (Joshua 15:49). We find it afterwards given with its “suburbs” to the priests (Joshua 21:15; 1 Chronicles 6:58). “About three miles to the west of Hebron is a deep and secluded valley called the Wady Nunkûr, enclosed on the north by hills, of which one bears a name certainly suggestive of Debir, Dewîr-ban. The name supplies some evidence that the Canaanites were acquainted with writing and books. The town probably contained a noted school, or was the site of an oracle, and the residence of some learned priests.” This accounts for the Hebrew name, Debir, which Jerome renders “oraculum.” The same term was used to denote the adytum of Solomon’s temple.
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.
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.40–43. Survey of the Results of the Campaign in Southern Canaan
40. all the country] Rather, all the land, the hill country, &c. The entire region is comprehensively surveyed, and then treated with special detail: (a) The Hills; (b) The South; (c) The Vale; (d) The Springs.
(a) The Hills, i.e. the mountain district of Judah extending southward from Jerusalem. It consists of calcareous limestone, and forms the water-parting between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea, rising to the height of 3000 feet. It is generally, especially in the southern portion, an uneven and rocky district.
(b) The South = the Negeb, the “land of the south,” the dry, parched land, where the mountain-brooks fail in the summer (Psalm 126:4). It is a limestone district, a land intermediate between wilderness and cultivated land, like the steppes of southern Russia. Because it lay in the south of Palestine, “Negeb” comes to mean generally “south” (comp. Numbers 35:5; Exodus 40:24; Joshua 17:9-10). It must, however, have once been fertile, for Palmer and Drake found grape-mounds all round the western border. “Almost sudden was the transition to the upland wilderness, the ‘Negeb,’ or south country—a series of rolling hills, clad with scanty herbage here and there, especially on their northern faces; and steadily rising, till the barometer, falling three and a half inches, told us that we had mounted 3,200 feet above our camp of the morning.”—Tristram’s Land of Israel, pp. 365, 366.
(c) The Vale, i.e. the Lowlands, or Shephêlah, a strip of land in southern Palestine stretching alone from Joppa to Gaza, “the plain of the Philistines.” “Viewed from the sea this maritime region appears as a long low coast of white or cream-coloured sand, its slight undulations rising occasionally into mounds or cliffs, which in one or two places almost aspire to the dignity of headlands.”
(d) The Springs, rather the Slopes or Declivities. The verb from which the original word is formed, denotes to pour, to rush down. Hence it means (i) an outpouring; (ii) a place, upon which something pours out. Comp. Deuteronomy 3:17, “from Chinnereth even unto the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, under Ashdoth-pisgah” = the springs or slopes of Pisgah (see margin), where the LXX. and English Version treat the word as a proper name. The word here denotes the district of undulating ground between the Shephêlah or “lowlands,” just mentioned, and the hill or “mountain” of the centre.
as the Lord] See Deuteronomy 20:16-17.
And Joshua smote them from Kadeshbarnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon.41. from Kadesh-barnea] i.e. from the wilderness in which Kadesh-barnea lay. This place, the scene of Miriam’s death, was the furthest point which the Israelites reached in their direct road to Canaan. From it also the spies were sent forth (Numbers 13:17; Numbers 13:26), and there also, on their return, the people broke out into murmuring, and upon this their penal term of wandering began (Numbers 14:20-33; Deuteronomy 2:14).
even unto Gaza] In the Shephelah, and only about one hour from the Mediterranean Sea. This defines the limits of Joshua’s conquests on the west, Gaza being the last town in the S. W. of Palestine on the frontier towards Egypt. This town, properly Azzah, the name of which means “the strong,” appears even before the call of Abraham (Genesis 10:19), as a “border” city of the Canaanites. We shall find the territory of Gaza mentioned afterwards, as one which Joshua was not able to subdue (Joshua 11:22; Joshua 13:3), and though assigned to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:47), they did not obtain possession of it (Jdg 1:18-19).
all the country of Goshen] “Alle the lond of Josson,” Wyclif. This is not to be confounded with the province of Goshen (frontier) in Egypt. It was a district in the south of Judah, and probably derived its appellation from a town of that name, mentioned in company with Debir, Socoh, and others in the mountains of Judah (Joshua 15:48-51).
even unto Gibeon] This marks the extent of the Conquest on the east.
And all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel.42. at one time] i.e. in one campaign, or in one expedition, which doubtless lasted some days or even weeks.
And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.43. unto the camp to Gilgal] See note above on Joshua 10:15.