And Joshua said, Roll great stones on the mouth of the cave, and set men by it for to keep them:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Joshua 10:12-15, is now resumed from Joshua 10:11.
16-27. these five kings … hid themselves in a cave—Hebrew, "the cave."
at Makkedah—The pursuit was continued, without interruption, to Makkedah at the foot of the western mountains, where Joshua seems to have halted with the main body of his troops while a detachment was sent forward to scour the country in pursuit of the remaining stragglers, a few of whom succeeded in reaching the neighboring cities. The last act, probably the next day, was the disposal of the prisoners, among whom the five kings were consigned to the infamous doom of being slain (De 20:16, 17); and then their corpses were suspended on five trees till the evening.And Joshua said, Roll great stones upon the mouth of the cave, and set men by it for to keep them:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)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.Joshua 10:8), Joshua offered a prayer to the Lord during the battle, that He would not let the sun go down till Israel had taken vengeance upon their foes; and the Lord hearkened to the prayer of His servant, and the sun hastened not to go down till the defeat of the Amorites was accomplished. This miraculous victory was celebrated by the Israelites in a war-song, which was preserved in the "book of the Righteous." The author of the book of Joshua has introduced the passage out of this book which celebrates the mighty act of the Lord for the glorification of His name upon Israel, and their foes the Amorites. It is generally admitted, that Joshua 10:12-15 contain a quotation from the "book of Jasher," mentioned in Joshua 10:13. This quotation, and the reference to the work itself, are analogous to the notice of "the book of the wars of the Lord," in Numbers 21:14, and to the strophes of a song which are there interwoven with the historical narrative; the object being, not to confirm the historical account by referring to an earlier source, but simply to set forth before other generations the powerful impression which was made upon the congregation by these mighty acts of the Lord. The "book of Jasher," i.e., book of the upright, or righteous man, that is to say, of the true members of the theocracy, or godly men. ישׁר (Jasher, the righteous) is used to denote the genuine Israelite, in the same sense as in Numbers 23:10, where Balaam calls the Israelites "the righteous," inasmuch as Jehovah, the righteous and upright one (Deuteronomy 32:4), had called them to be His people, and to walk in His righteousness. In addition to this passage, the "book of the righteous (Jasher)" is also mentioned in 2 Samuel 1:18, as a work in which was to be found David's elegy upon Saul and Jonathan. From this fact it has been justly inferred, that the book was a collection of odes in praise of certain heroes of the theocracy, with historical notices of their achievements interwoven, and that the collection was formed by degrees; so that the reference to this work is neither a proof that the passage has been interpolated by a later hand, nor that the work was composed at a very late period. That the passage quoted from this work is extracted from a song is evident enough, both from the poetical form of the composition, and also from the parallelism of the sentences. The quotation, however, does not begin with ויּאמר (and he said) in Joshua 10:12, but with תּת בּיום (in the day when the Lord delivered) in Joshua 10:12, and Joshua 10:13 and Joshua 10:14 also form part of it; so that the title of the book from which the quotation is taken is inserted in the middle of the quotation itself. In other cases, unquestionably, such formulas of quotation are placed either at the beginning (as in Numbers 21:14, Numbers 21:27; 2 Samuel 1:18), or else at the close of the account, which is frequently the case in the books of Kings and Chronicles; but it by no means follows that there were no exceptions to this rule, especially as the reason for mentioning the original sources is a totally different one in the books of Kings, where the works cited are not the simple vouchers for the facts related, but works containing fuller and more elaborate accounts of events which have only been cursorily described. The poetical form of the passage in Joshua 10:13 also leaves no doubt whatever that Joshua 10:13 and Joshua 10:14 contain the words of the old poet, and are not a prose comment made by the historian upon the poetical passage quoted. The only purely historical statement in Joshua 10:15; and this is repeated in Joshua 10:43, at the close of the account of the wars and the victory. But this literal repetition of Joshua 10:15 in Joshua 10:43, and the fact that the statement, that Joshua returned with all the people to the camp at Gilgal, anticipates the historical course of the events in a very remarkable manner, render it highly probable, it not absolutely certain, that Joshua 10:15 was also taken from the book of the righteous.
In the day when Jehovah delivered up the Amorites to the children of Israel ("before," as in Deuteronomy 2:31, Deuteronomy 2:33, etc.), Joshua said before the eyes (i.e., in the presence) of Israel, so that the Israelites were witnesses of his words (vid., Deuteronomy 31:7): "Sun, stand still (wait) at Gibeon; and, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon." דּמם, to be silent, to keep one's self quiet or still, to wait (1 Samuel 14:9). The address to the sun and moon implies that they both of them stood, or were visible in the heavens at the time; and inasmuch as it was spoken to the Lord, involves a prayer that the Lord and Creator of the world would not suffer the sun and moon to set till Israel had taken vengeance upon its foes. This explanation of the prayer is only to be found, it is true, in the statement that the sun and moon stood still at Joshua's word; but we must imagine it as included in the prayer itself. גּוי without an article, when used to denote the people of Israel, is to be regarded as a poetical expression. In the sequel (Joshua 10:13) the sun only is spoken of: "and the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day." The poetical word אוּץ, to press or hurry, is founded upon the idea that the sun runs its course like a strong man, with vigour, and without weariness or cessation (Psalm 19:6-7). It follows from this, that Joshua merely prayed for the day to be lengthened, i.e., for the setting of the sun to be delayed; and that he included the moon (Joshua 10:12), simply because it was visible at the time. But even if this is the case, we are not therefore to conclude, as C. v. Lapide, Clericus, and others have done, that Joshua spoke these words in the afternoon, when the sun was beginning to set, and the moon had already risen. The expression השּׁמים בּחצי, "in the half," i.e., the midst, "of the sky," is opposed to this view, and still more the relative position of the two in the sky, the sun at Gibeon and the moon in the valley of Ajalon, i.e., in the fine broad basin on the north side of Yalo (see at Joshua 19:42), the present Merj Ibn Omeir (Rob. iii. p. 63, 64), which is four hours' journey to the west of Gibeon. As Joshua smote the enemy at Gibeon, and they fled to the south-west, he was not doubt on the west of Gibeon when he commanded the sun and moon to stand still; and therefore from his point of view the sun would be in the east when it stood over Gibeon, and the moon in the far west when it stood over the valley of Ajalon. But that could only be the case before noon, a few hours after sunrise, when the moon had not yet set in the western sky. In all probability the battle took place quite early in the morning, as Joshua had marched from Gilgal the night before, and fell quite suddenly upon the enemy (Joshua 10:9). But after the conflict had lasted for some hours, and Joshua began to be anxious lest he should be unable to overcome the enemy before night came on, he addressed the prayer to the Lord to lengthen out the day, and in a short time saw his prayer so far fulfilled, that the sun still stood high up in the sky when the enemy was put to flight. We take for granted that these words were spoken by Joshua before the terrible hail-storm which fell upon the enemy in their flight, when they were near Bethhoron, which is about two hours from Gibeon, and smote them to Azekah. There is nothing to prevent our assuming this. The fact, that in the historical account the hail is mentioned before the desire expressed by Joshua and the fulfilment of that desire, may be explained on the simple ground, that the historian, following the order of importance, relates the principal incident in connection with the battle first, before proceeding to the special point to be cited from the book of the righteous. תמים כּיום, "towards (about, or as it were) a whole day," neither signifies "when the day was ended" (Clericus), nor "as it usually does when the day is perfected or absolutely finished" (Rosenmller); but the sun did not hasten or press to go down, delayed its setting, almost a whole day ("day" being the time between sunrise and sunset).
What conception are we to form of this miraculous event? It is not stated that the sun actually stood still in one spot in the heavens-say, for instance, in the zenith. And if the expression, "the sun stood still in the midst of heaven," which is added as an explanation of ויּדּום, is so pressed as to mean that the sun as miraculously stopped in its course, this is hardly reconcilable with לבוא אץ לא, "it hasted not to go down," as these words, if taken literally, merely denote a slower motion on the part of the sun, as many of the Rabbins have observed. All that is clearly affirmed in Joshua 10:12 and Joshua 10:13 is, that at Joshua's word the sun remained standing in the sky for almost a whole day longer. To this there is added, in Joshua 10:14, "There was no day like that before it, or after it, that Jehovah hearkened to the voice of a man; for Jehovah fought for Israel." This expression must not be pressed too far, as the analogous passages ("there was none like him," etc.) in 2 Kings 18:5 and 2 Kings 23:25 clearly show. They merely express this thought: no other day like this, which God so miraculously lengthened, ever occurred either before or afterwards. So much, therefore, is obvious enough from the words, that the writer of the old song, and also the author of the book of Joshua, who inserted the passage in his narrative, were convinced that the day was miraculously prolonged. At the same time, it must be borne in mind that it is not stated that God lengthened that day at the request of Joshua almost an entire day, or that He made the sun stand still almost a whole day, but simply that God hearkened to the voice of Joshua, i.e., did not permit the sun to go down till Israel had avenged itself upon its enemies. This distinction is not without importance: for a miraculous prolongation of the day would take place not only if the sun's course or sun's setting was delayed for several hours by the omnipotent power of God, and the day extended from twelve to eighteen or twenty hours, but also if the day seemed to Joshua and all Israel to be miraculously prolonged; because the work accomplished on that day was so great, that it would have required almost two days to accomplish it without supernatural aid. It is not easy to decide between these two opposite views; in fact, it is quite impossible if we go to the root of the matter. When we are not in circumstances to measure the length of the day by the clock, it is very easy to mistake its actual length, especially in the midst of the pressure of business or work. The Israelites at that time had neither sun-clocks nor any other kind of clock; and during the confusion of the battle it is hardly likely that Joshua, or any one else who was engaged in the conflict, would watch the shadow of the sun and its changes, either by a tree or any other object, so as to discover that the sun had actually stood still, from the fact that for hours the shadow had neither moved nor altered in length. Under such circumstances, therefore, it was quite impossible for the Israelites to decide whether it was in reality, or only in their own imagination, that the day was longer than others. To this there must be added the poetical character of the verses before us. When David celebrates the miraculous deliverance which he had received from the Lord, in these words, "In my distress I called upon the Lord ... . He heard my voice out of His temple ... . He bowed the heavens also, and came down ... . He sent from above, He took me, He grew me out of many waters" (Psalm 18:7-17), who would ever think of interpreting the words literally, and supposing them to mean that God actually came down from the sky, and stretched out His hand to draw David out of the water? Or who would understand the words of Deborah, "They fought from heaven, the stars in their courses fought against Sisera" (Judges 5:20), in their literal sense? The truthfulness of such utterances is to be sought for in the subjective sphere of religious intuition, and not in a literal interpretation of the words. And it may be just the same with these verses, without their actual contents being affected, if the day was merely subjectively lengthened, - that is to say, in the religious conviction of the Israelites. But even if the words really affirmed that a miraculous and objective lengthening of the day did actually take place, we should have no reason whatever for questioning the credibility of the statement.
All the objections that have been raised with reference to the reality or possibility of such a miracle, prove to have no force when we examine the subject more closely. Thus, for example, the objection that the annals of the other nations of the earth contain no account of any such miracle, which must have extended over the whole world, loses all its significance from the simple fact that there are no annals in existence belonging to other nations and reaching back to that time, and that it is altogether doubtful whether the miracle would extend far beyond the limits of Palestine. Again, an appeal to the unchangeableness of the motions of the stars according to eternal and unchangeable laws, is not adapted to prove the impossibility of such a miracle. The eternal laws of nature are nothing more than phenomena, or forms of manifestation, of those divine creative powers, the true character of which no mortal has ever fathomed. And does not the almighty Creator and Upholder of nature and all its forces possess the power so to direct and govern the working of these forces, as to make them subservient to the realization of His purposes of salvation? And lastly, the objection that a sudden stoppage of the revolution of the earth upon its axis would have dashed to pieces all the works of human hands that were to be found upon its surface, and hurled the earth itself, with its satellite the moon, out of their orbits, cannot prove anything, because it leaves out of sight the fact that the omnipotent hand of God, which not only created the stars, but gave them the power to revolve with such regularity in their orbits as long as this universe endures, and which upholds and governs all things in heaven and on earth, is not too short to guard against any such disastrous consequences as these. But to this we may add, that even the strictest and most literal interpretation of the words does not require us to assume, as the fathers and earlier theologians did, that the sun itself was miraculously made to stand still, but simply supposes an optical stopping of the sun in its course, - that is to say, a miraculous suspension of the revolution of the earth upon its axis, which would make it appear to the eye of an observer as if the sun itself were standing still. Knobel is by no means warranted in pronouncing this view of the matter an assumption at variance with the text. For the Scriptures speak of the things of the visible world as they appear; just as we speak of the sun as rising and setting, although we have no doubt whatever about the revolution of the earth. Moreover, the omnipotence of God might produce such an optical stoppage of the sun, or rather a continuance of the visibility of the sun above the horizon, by celestial phenomena which are altogether unknown to us or to naturalists in general, without interfering with the general laws affecting the revolution of the heavenly bodies. Only we must not attempt, as some have done, to reduce the whole miracle of divine omnipotence to an unusual refraction of the light, or to the continuance of lightning throughout the whole night.
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