Joshua 10:40
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.
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(40) Of the hills—i.e., the mountains of Judah and Ephraim.

The south—i.e., the Nêgeb.

The vale—i.e., Shephêlah, the plain of the coast, but not apparently including the Philistine territory, which was not conquered by Joshua.

The springs—or Áshdoth. Some render it the slopes or declivities, the country between the high hills and the low plain of the coast.

Joshua 10:40. All that breathed — That is, all mankind; they reserved the cattle for their own uses. As God had commanded — This is added for the vindication of the Israelites, whom God would not have to suffer in their reputation for executing his commands; and therefore, he acquits them of that cruelty which they might be thought guilty of, and ascribes it to his own just indignation. And hereby was typified the final destruction of all the impenitent enemies of the Lord Jesus, who, having slighted the riches of his grace, must for ever feel the weight of his wrath.

10:28-43 Joshua made speed in taking these cities. See what a great deal of work may be done in a little time, if we will be diligent, and improve our opportunities. God here showed his hatred of the idolatries and other abominations of which the Canaanites had been guilty, and shows us how great the provocation was, by the greatness of the destruction brought upon them. Here also was typified the destruction of all the enemies of the Lord Jesus, who, having slighted the riches of his grace, must for ever feel the weight of his wrath. The Lord fought for Israel. They could not have gotten the victory, if God had not undertaken the battle. We conquer when God fights for us; if he be for us, who can be against us?See Joshua 9:1. "The south" was the Negeb Numbers 13:17. Render "the springs" "slopes." The word here means the district of undulating ground between "the vale" (or שׁפלה shephêlâh) last named and "the hills." Jos 10:28-42. Seven More Kings Conquered.

28-42. that day Joshua took Makkedah—In this and the following verses is described the rapid succession of victory and extermination which swept the whole of southern Palestine into the hands of Israel. "All these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time, because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel. And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal."

All that breathed, i.e. all mankind, by a synecdoche; for they reserved the cattle for their own uses.

As the Lord God of Israel commanded: this is added for the vindication of the Israelites, whom God would not have to suffer in their reputation for executing his commands; and therefore he acquits them of that implacable hatred and heinous cruelty which they might be thought guilty of, and ascribes it to himself and his own just indignation against this most wicked people.

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,.... That part of the land of Canaan which lay southward, and consisted of hills and vales; which abounded with springs, and was a well watered country, and agrees with the description Moses gives of it, though he never saw it, Deuteronomy 8:7,

he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed; that is, all human creatures; for as for the cattle, they were spared as a prey:

as the Lord God of Israel commanded; this law is extant, Deuteronomy 20:16; and which is here observed to clear the Israelites from the charge of cruelty and inhumanity; since what they did was not of themselves, nor from a private spirit of revenge, nor a greedy desire after the substance of the inhabitants; but in obedience to the command of God, and who ordered this as a righteous punishment of those people for their gross abominations of idolatry, incest, &c. see Leviticus 18:1.

So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the {i} 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.

(i) Some read, Ashedoth, which signifies the descents of the hills.

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.

Verse 40. - So Joshua smote. We have now before us the defined locale of Joshua's operations. He smote "the hills," or rather the "hill country," a tract of country extending from Jerusalem southward. This limestone range formed the watershed between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. The south, now often spoken of by travellers by its Hebrew name of Negeb, was, as the name signifies, an almost waste district of limestone hills (cf. the Mount Halak, or smooth mountain, of Joshua 11:19). It was once more fertile than it is at present, but could never have been a very fruitful region. As Knobel says, it is midway between waste and fertile land. It possesses grass and herbs and flowers, especially in the rainy season, and is thus suitable for pasture. But there are many tracts of sand and heath, and it is not watered by brooks, characteristics it has in common with the wilderness. It was also hilly, though not so precipitous as the mountain district. Tristram ('Land of Israel,' pp. 365, 366) describes some of the mountains as rising gradually to a height of 3,200 feet. Bartlett, however, who devoted more time to the south country, describes it as treeless, but fertile as a corn producing country, and as very distinct in its physical features from the desert, or what is known as the "Wilderness of Judaea" ('From Egypt to Palestine,' ch. 17, 18.). The best description of this region is found, however, in 'Scripture Lands,' by the late Rev. G. S. Drew. He says (p. 6), "For a few weeks late in spring time a smiling aspect is thrown over the broad downs, when the ground is reddened by the anemone in contrast with the soft white of the daisy and the deep yellow of the tulip and marigold. But this flush of beauty soon passes, and the permanent aspect of the country is not wild indeed, or hideous, or frightfully desolate, but, as we may say, austerely plain; a tame, unpleasing aspect, not causing absolute discomfort while one is in it, but left without one lingering reminiscence of anything lovely, awful, or sublime." The rocks are occasionally rendered fertile by the system of terrace cultivation, more common, as almost every traveller since Maundrell has remarked, in former times than now. That keen observer remarks, that if any one were to object that Palestine could not have maintained the vast population stated in Scripture to have inhabited it, he would be confuted by the fact that the most cursory observation shows that "the very rocks were made fruitful," perhaps even to a greater extent than plains could be, "by this method." The "vale," or Shephelah (see note on Joshua 9:1), was a low strip of coast extending from the foot of Carmel to near Gaza. The אֲשֵׁדות, or "springs, as it is translated in our version (better, "watercourses," or "slopes," as Knobel),was a fertile country, intersected by ravines and brooks, situated between the mountains and the sea. The word only occurs in the Pentateuch and Joshua (a fact to be noted in forming an opinion on the genuineness of these books). See Numbers 21:15 (where it is translated stream in our version; Deuteronomy 3:17; Deuteronomy 4:49. The root, signifying pouring forth, is found in Chaldee and Syriac. The LXX. renders this, as well as "the south," strange to say, as a proper name. See note on Joshua 15:19. The Vulgate follows its example in the former case, but not in the latter. The Syriac also renders as a proper name. Utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded. See for the word translated "utterly destroyed," Joshua 6:17. These words are a quotation from Deuteronomy 20:16, 17. It seems impossible to evade one of the alternatives, either that Deuteronomy was written before the events recorded in the book of Joshua, or that we have no historical evidence that Joshua did "utterly destroy all that breathed." The hypothesis that the Divine sanction for such a war of extermination was invented centuries after the Israelites had come to terms with the inhabitants and were daily utterly violating its spirit, and that they then readily allowed themselves to believe it to be of Divine origin, will scarcely bear examination. The attitude of the people toward Gentiles after their captivity is only to be explained by the hypothesis that it was the result of a belief that their misfortunes were due to a law which they had previously received and neglected to obey. Calvin observes how thoroughly these passages bear witness to the fact that the Israelites felt themselves to be the ministers of a Divine purpose in this slaughter. Origen (Hom. 15 on Joshua) says that the Apostles gave order that the Scriptures of the Old Testament were to be read in church, which, he adds, "they would not have done had not these carnal wars prefigured the spiritual warfare which we have to carry on against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.'" Gaza. Hebrew Azzah (or strong), as in 1 Kings 4:24. Joshua's conquests extended to, but did not comprise, Gaza (Joshua 11:22; Joshua 13:2, 3). It was to have been the uttermost limit of the Israelitish territory (see Genesis 10:19). It actually was so in the days of Solomon (1 Kings 4:24). But until then the Israelites had not been able to subdue it, though (Joshua 15:45-47) the whole land of the Philistines was assigned to Judah. What results this failure produced upon the after history of Israel we read in the Books of Judges and Samuel. Not till the reign of David was the Philistine power entirely broken. And Gaza played a very important part in the Philistine confederation. See Judges 16:1-4, 21 -23; 1 Samuel 6:16, 17. Gaza has retained its importance even to the present day. Its situation near the sea, and, still more, its position upon the high road from Palestine to Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to Arabia Petraea, have secured it this permanence. When Robinson visited it its population was between fifteen and sixteen thousand - larger even than that of Jerusalem. And it seems to have largely increased in population since the beginning of the century. Goshen. Γοσομ LXX. Not, of course, identical with the land of Goshen in Egypt, but inasmuch as it lay to the southeast of Palestine, in the direction of their former habitation, it may possibly have been so named in memory of that sojourn. A city of that name is mentioned in the mountains of Judah, together with Debir (Joshua 15:51). It clearly (Joshua 11:16) refers to a large district in the southeast, but its precise locality is not known. Even unto Gibeon. The conquests of Israel did not extend further in the northwest than Gibeon, from whence Joshua had set out on his triumphant campaign. Joshua 10:40Summary of the Conquest of the Whole of Southern Canaan. - In the further prosecution of his victory over the five allied kings, Joshua smote the whole land, i.e., the whole of the south of Canaan from Gibeon onwards, in all its districts, namely the mountains (Joshua 15:48), the Negeb (the south land, Joshua 15:21), the lowlands (Joshua 15:33), and the slopes, i.e., the hill region (Joshua 12:8, and comm. on Numbers 21:15), and all the kings of these different districts, banning every living thing (כּל־נשׁמה equals כּל־נפשׁ, Joshua 10:28, Joshua 10:30, i.e., all the men; vid., Deuteronomy 7:1-2; Deuteronomy 20:16. He smote them from Kadesh-barnea, on the southern boundary of Canaan (Joshua 15:3; see at Numbers 12:16), to Gaza (see at Genesis 10:9), and all the country of Goshen, a different place from the Goshen of Egypt, deriving its name in all probability from the town of Goshen on the southern portion of the mountains (Joshua 15:51). As the line "from Kadesh-barnea to Gaza" defines the extent of the conquered country from south to north on the western side, so the parallel clause, "all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon," defines the extent from south to north on the eastern side. There is no tenable ground for the view expressed by Knobel, which rests upon very uncertain etymological combinations, that the land of Goshen signifies the hill country between the mountains and the plain, and is equivalent to אשׁדות.
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