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;
Verse 1. - Adoni-zedec (cf. Melchizedek in Genesis 14:18). The name given to the king of Jerusalem was good enough, and no doubt was a survival of earlier and purer times. In the days of Melchizedek the name corresponded to the character. Jerusalem. Hebrew, Jerushalaim, with the usual dual termination. It has been generally supposed to be the same with Salem, or rather Shalem, the city of which Melehizedek was king, and this is supported by the fact that the name of Salem is given to Jerusalem in Psalm 76:2. But it is by no means certain that this is the case. The first to dispute the identity of the two places was St. Jerome, who declares that the Salem of Melchizedek was eight miles from Scythopolis, and that the ruins of the palace of Melchizedek could still be seen there (see also Genesis 33:18). The term Salem, as indicative of the security and strength of Jerusalem, might not unnaturally be applied to it by the Psalmist; while; on the other hand, the dual form of Jerusalem seems difficult to account for on the theory of the identity of Jerusalem and Salem. This dual form has been a difficulty to critics; and Mr. Grove, in the 'Dictionary of the Bible,' conjectures that it may have arisen from an attempt to twist the archaic Phoenician form into agreement with the more modern Hebrew idiom, just as the Greeks afterwards twisted the name into Hierosolyma, or the holy Solyma. But a simpler explanation may be found in the fact that Jerusalem, like many other cities, consisted of two parts, the upper and the lower town (cf. Judges 1:8 with ver. 1, 7 and 21, and 2 Samuel 5:6-8), while in earlier times the upper or lower town alone existed. Plural names of cities were not uncommon in later ages, as Athenae and Thebae. The name has been variously derived. Some have thought that as it is also called Jebus (Joshua 18:28; Judges 19:10), from its being the chief city of the Jebusites, it was originally Jebus-salem, and hence by a corruption Jerusalem. But this derivation has now been abandoned, and opinions differ as to whether it is derived from יְרוּשׁ and שָׁלֵם signifying "peaceful inheritance" (Ewald, Keil), or from יָרָה and שָׁלֵם "peaceful settlement" (Gesenius, Lee). Gesenius objects to the former derivation that it would require dagesh in the שׁ. The fathers and mediaeval divines, misled by Origen, translate it "vision of peace." This translation is alluded to in the well-known hymns Urbs beata Sion and O quanta qualia. Origen supposed it to come from ראה. Another difficult question is when the name was given, for there can be little doubt that the Book of Joshua was written before the time of David. It is possible that the name may have been given by the Jebusites themselves in consequence of their secure possession of it, notwithstanding the subjugation of the surrounding country by the Israelites. And when David had seized upon it and made it his capital, he would not be likely to change so suitable a name. For the Jebusites, evidently by their invariable position last among the nations of Canaan, the most insignificant among them, were enabled to defy the Israelite power long after their more powerful neighbours had succumbed. and David no doubt chose the situation of Jerusalem for his capital not only because, unlike Hebron, it enabled him to dwell among his own people without cutting himself off from intercourse with the other tribes of Israel; but because, as a mountain fastness remote from the plains of Esdraelon and the Orontes, which were the great highways of the Egyptian and Assyrian kings on their military expeditions, it would enable him to consolidate his power, and to secure that empire which became his from the force of his genius and the favour of God. We may remark upon the antecedent probability of the fact that the king of a place situated as Jerusalem is should stand at the head of this league.
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.
Verse 2. - That they feared greatly. Joshua had certainly obtained an excellent strategic position in the heart of the country; but it was not this which apparently most alarmed the kings who constituted the confederacy, though they did not fail to observe that, as the words "and were among them" show. It was the weight and importance of Gibeon itself, and the fact that its inhabitants were now enlisted, not on the side of the Canaanites, but against them. As one of the royal cities. Observe the minute accuracy of the historian. No king is mentioned in the narrative in ch. 9. We now earn indirectly that they had none. The Vulgate misses the point of the historian by leaving out "as" altogether.
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,
Verse 3. - Hoham king of Hebron. It was a powerful confederacy which the Phoenician tribes in their desperation formed against Joshua. At its head stood the king of Jerusalem, which, from its central situation and its almost impregnable position (see notes on Joshua 15:63), might naturally stand at the head of such a league. Next came Hebron, which, from its importance from an early period (Genesis 23:2; Genesis 35:27), and the gigantic stature of its inhabitants (Numbers 13:33; Deuteronomy 1:28; Deuteronomy 2:10, 11; Deuteronomy 9:2), as well as its daughter cities (ver. 37), would prove a formidable addition to the strength of the confederates. Colossal blocks of stone, testifying to the presence there of the primeval races of Palestine, are still to be found in the neighbourhood. Hebron stands in "the hill country of Judaea." Its situation has been much admired, standing as it does nearly 3,000 feet above the level of the Mediterranean, and commanding the most extensive views of the Holy Land. This is one of the most interesting in its reminiscences of all the cities in Palestine. Here Abraham pitched his tent, near the "oak of Mature." Here was the burying place of Abraham and Sarah, which has been kept in memory by an unwavering tradition even to this very day; and, sacred ground though it be to the Mohammedans, was opened to the Prince of Wales and his companions in 1862. This was the inheritance of Caleb, and here, where the affections of every Israelite would most closely centre, David fixed his capital until compelled to change it by reasons to which we have already referred. Hebron seems to have been successively occupied by various members of the Phoenician confederation. It was first founded, we learn, seven years before Zoan in Egypt (Numbers 13:22). When we first hear of it, it is in the possession of Mature the Amorite (Genesis 13:18; Genesis 14:13). In Genesis 28, it has clearly passed into the possession of the Hittites, and the mention of the children of Heth is too express for us to suppose that the term Hittite is used generally for the inhabitants of the land. At a much later period the Canaanites, or lowlanders, had, strangely enough, obtained possession (Judges 1:10), and here again the accurate acquaintance of the historian with the names of the tribes (see Judges 1:4, 21, 26, 35) forbids us to suppose that he is speaking loosely. Piram king of Jarmuth. Jarmuth is mentioned in Joshua 15:35, and in Nehemiah 11:29. It has been identified with Yarmuk (see Robinson, II. sec. 11, with whom Vandevelde and Conder agree), where there are the remains of very ancient walls and cisterns. Of its size and importance in the time of Joshua we know nothing. Japhia king of Lachish. Like Jarmuth, Lachish was in the Shephe-lah, or lowlands, of Judah, and we frequently hear of it in the later history of the Jews, as in 2 Kings 14:19; 2 Kings 18:14, 17; 2 Kings 19:8; also 2 Chronicles 11:9. It has been identified by Von Raumer and Vandevelde, whom Keil follows, with Um Lakis, though Robinson ('Biblical Researches' II. 388) denies this on the authority of Eusebius and Jerome; "but not on any reasonable grounds" (Vandevelde). This is the more clear in that Robinson rejects the authority of the Onomasticon in the case of Eglon. Um Lakis is only an hour and a quarter's journey from Ajlann or Eglon, and this narrative (vers. 31-36) shows that Eglon was on the way from Lachish to Hebron. Conder, in his 'Handbook' and in 'Pal. Exploration Fund Quart. Paper,' Jan., 1878, p. 20, suggests Tell el Hesy, a name which he thinks may "be a corruption of Lachlsh." This is a great mound on the main road from Eleutheropolis to Gaza. It is a strong argument for Um Lakis that there are an immense number of instances where the places retain their ancient names. The strongest argument for Tell el Hesy is that Laehish was evidently a place of some strength. Joshua, we read (ver. 32), "encamped against it" (this is said only of La-chish and Eglon), and "took it on the second day," and it successfully resisted the king of Assyria. Now Tell el Hesy was a "great mound" (Conder); but Um Lakis is described by Vandevelde as situated on "a low mound." Debir king of Eglon. This, the modern Ajlan, according to the best authorities, was on the road from Eleutheropolis to Gaza, not far from Lachish. Ruins are to be found there; but we have no means of ascertaining the size and importance of the town in the time of Joshua. The LXX., here and elsewhere in this chapter, render by Ὀδολλάμ. In Joshua 12:11 they read Ἐγκών. There is considerable similarity between Gimel and Daleth, Mem and Nun in the ancient Hebrew character. From this a various reading no doubt resulted.
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.
Verse 4. - Come up unto me. Most of these kings were in the lowlands. Hence the expression "Come up" is accurate in the mouth of the king of Jerusalem, and strengthens the claim of the narrative to be regarded as authentic. That we may smite Gibeon. Or, and we will smite Gibeon. The conjunction וְ. often, but not always, signifies the purpose with which a thing is done. Here there is nothing to guide us in the decision whether the passage indicates the purpose or the result. It is in keeping with the whole history, and is one of the life-like touches with which it abounds, that the king of Jerusalem does not dare to suggest an attack upon Joshua. He can only venture upon assailing Gibeon, standing in less fear of it than of the divinely protected invaders, and hoping at least by this measure to deprive Joshua of formidable allies. "Cure anima humana Verbo Dei se sociaverit, dubitare non debet, statim se inimicos habituram, et eos, quos ante habuerit amicos, in adversa-rios vertendos" (Orig., Hom. 2 on Joshua. See also Ecclus. 2:1; 2 Timothy 3:12). "As Satan, so wicked men, cannot abide to lose any of their communitie. If a convert come home, the angels welcome him with songs, the Devils follow him with uprore and furie, his old Partners with seorne and obloquie" (Bp. Hall).
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.
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.
Verse 6. - To Gilgal. See note on Joshua 9:6. That dwell in the mountains. Another life like touch. The details of the confederacy were not fully known to the Gibeonites. There had not been time for that. It was only known that the storm was to break on them from the mountain region, Jerusalem (ver. 4) being the head quarters of the expedition. As a matter of fact, the kings who formed the confederacy principally inhabited the lowlands, as we have seen. No one could have hit upon this apparent contradiction yet real agreement but one whose narrative was compiled from authentic sources.
So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valour.
Verse 7. - Joshua ascended. Keil insists upon the military sense here, as against the literal one, "went up." He believes in the second Gilgal, which was on higher ground than the first (see Joshua 9:6), where, however, we learn that the second Gilgal was not so elevated as Gibeon. And all the mighty men of valour. A selection of the bravest troops seems to be implied here, by the copulative particle. Cf. Genesis 3:16, "Thy pain and (especially in the time of) thy pregnancy."
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.
Verse 8. - Fear not. The key-note of Joshua's career, as of the career of every soldier of God (see Joshua 1:9; Joshua 11:6).
Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night.
Verse 9. - Suddenly. By a night march, so that he might surprise the confederates at the dawn of day. One of Joshua's chief characteristics as a general was celerity (see Joshua 11:7). Masius praises Joshua for his prudence and diligence, and adds, "Qua arte Julium Caesarem tot victoriis clarum fuisse ne ipse quidem dissimulavit." And went up. There is no "and" in the original. It runs thus: "All the night he went (or had gone) up from Gilgal."
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.
Verse 10. - Discomfited. The original meaning of the word is to disturb, put in motion. Hence, as here, to throw into con. fusion, put to rout. Going up to Beth-horon. Beth-horon, or the house of the hollow, consisted of two towns. The one is now called Belt Ur el Foka, or Upper Belt Ur, the other Belt Ur el Tachta, or Lower Beit Ur. To the former led a difficult pass from Gibeon, called the ascent מַעֲלֵה) to Beth-horon. From the former to the latter ran a path so rocky and rugged that steps have been made in the rock to facilitate the descent. This is the "going down" (מורַד) to Beth-horon, mentioned in the next verse. So Maccabees 3:16-24. (Cf. Robinson, vol. 3. see. 9). Speaking of the view from Beth-horon, he says, The prospect included the hill country and the plain as far as the eye could reach .... Upon the side of the long hill that skirts the valley on the south, we could perceive a small village on the W.S.W. called Yalo." To Azekah. See Joshua 15:35; cf. 1 Samuel 17:1. This place is known to after Jewish history, having been fortified by Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 11:9), besieged by Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 34:7), which shows it to have been a place of some importance. It continued to be inhabited after the captivity (Nehemiah 11:30), and has been identified by Vandevelde with Ahbek, a place standing upon a mountain. He supposes it to have been identical with the Aphek in Judah (1 Samuel 4:1). But this would be better identified with Aphekah (Joshua 15:53). Lieut. Conder ('Palest. Expl. Quart. Paper,' Oct., 1875) identifies it with a place called Deir el Aashek, eight miles north of Shochoh. But apparently in the 'Handbook' he has abandoned this idea, though he makes no reference to this passage. And unto Makkedah. One of the lowland cities of Judah (see Joshua 15:41). Vandevelde identifies it with Summeil, a place where there are the ruins of a very ancient city (see ver. 28), built of large uncemented stones, a sign of great antiquity, and a large cave, such as that described in ver. 16. See Robinson, vol. 2. p. 368, who gives not a hint, however, that it is to be identified with Makkedah, nor does he mention a cave. Lieut. Conder ('Palest. Expl. Quart. Paper,' July, 1875) identifies it with the present E1 Moghar (The Caves), twenty-five miles from Gibeon along the valley of Ajalon, where several caves are found, the only ones, apparently, in the district. Summeil is a very long distance from Gibeon, and if we are to identify this with Makkedah, which there appears no ground for doing, supernatural assistance would have been required in more than one way for so protracted a pursuit during the same day.
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.
Verse 11. - Great stones from heaven. Calmet has taken great trouble to collect evidence for showers of actual stones from heaven upon the enemies of Israel. But the next sentence of the verse states that they were hailstones, אַבְנֵי בָרָד. And even if there were not sufficient evidence of the fall of hailstones large enough to do great destruction to man and beast, we might fall back upon the theory that this was a miraculous hailstorm, since the whole history teems with miraculous intervention. But in point of fact this is unnecessary. We need not go further back than the famous storm of August 2nd, 1879, for an account of hailstones of enormous size falling within fifty miles of London. And in tropical climates still more destructive storms are of no infrequent occurrence. Every treatise on physical geography teems with instances. Masius refers to the well known story of the relief afforded by a sudden shower to Marcus Aurelius and his army, which he follows Eusebius in thinking attributable to Christian prayers, but which the emperor, in a medal struck on the occasion, attributed to Jupiter Pluvius (see Neander, 'Hist. of Christian Church,' vol. 1.). He also fcites the verses of Claudian on a similar victory of Theodosius:
"O nimium dilecte Deo, tibi militat aether
Et conjurati veniunt ad praelia venti." They were more which died with hailstones. A conclusive proof, both to the Israelites and their antagonists, that the victory was owing rather to the favour of God than to the power of man, and suggesting the exclamation of the Psalmist, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Thy Name give glory" (Psalm 115:1). See also Deuteronomy 9:4, 5. It is, perhaps, worth while to remark that the printers have modernized this passage. For more the original edition has moe; cf. Shakspeare's ' Lover's Complaint,' line 47 - "Found yet mo letters sadly penned in blood." "Faith and troth they would no mo" (Greene, 'Shepherd's Ode ').
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.
Verse 12. - Then, אָז. See Joshua 8:30. The period is here more strictly defined by the addition of the words, "on the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel." Spake Joshua to the Lord. The preposition לְ (literally, "to ") used here, has a variety of meanings in Hebrew. It is employed in such a phrase as "a Psalm of David" (literally, "to David "), but the sense requires "by." So in Psalm 3:9 (Psalms 3:8 in our version); Isaiah 22:5, etc. It has the sense "on account of" in Genesis 4:23 (where it is rendered "to" in our version); but the sense requires "in return for," "on account of." So also in Joshua 9:9, where our version renders "because of." In the latter part of this verse it signifies "before" (sec note there). In a passage so much disputed as this it is necessary to remember the indefiniteness of the original. Though the rendering, "to the Lord," is the natural and obvious one, the other meanings cannot be excluded. The more probable rendering is that in the text. Yet, as no address to God is afterwards recorded, the meaning may be "by," i.e., by the inspiration of, or "because of," i.e., on account of the great success God had vouchsafed to him, and which he earnestly desired to complete; or "before," as though Joshua spoke with a consciousness of God's immediate presence and help. For a full discussion of this remarkable passage the reader is referred to the Introduction. In the sight of Israel. לְעֵינֵי, "before the eyes of." This brings the scene vividly before our eyes: the storm rolling away over the mountains, the enemy in full retreat and wild confusion, the sun bursting forth from behind the clouds, and the leader of the Israelites, in the sight of all his troops, perhaps on the crest of the eminence on which Gibeon stands, or perhaps at Upper Beth-heron (see note on ver. 10), uttering his sublime apostrophe to the "two great lights" which God had given to mankind, not to withdraw their presence until the Lord had "avenged him of his adversaries." The battle had been short, but decisive. The Israelites had no doubt (ver. 9) fallen upon the enemy unawares at the dawn of day as they were preparing for the attack on Gibeon. A few hours had sufficed to put them to the rout, but the utmost expedition would be necessary to complete their destruction before the darkness set in. Hence the ejaculation of the Jewish commander as the difficulty of the task he had imposed upon himself, namely, of utterly annihilating that vast host before light failed, flashed upon him. Sun, stand thou still. The poetic form of this passage is clear to every one who has the smallest acquaintance with the laws of Hebrew poetry. For the Book of Jasher, from which it is apparently a quotation (see Introduction, Sec. 2). Stand thou still. This is not the literal rendering of the original. In no other passage has the verb דָמַם this sense. The sense "stand still" here would seem to be an inference from ver. 14. The literal rendering is, "be dumb." Hence in Exodus 15:16, and in Lamentations 2:10, it signifies to be dumb with amazement or terror. In 1 Samuel 14:9 it seems to mean, "stay your advance" ("tarry," Authorised Version), and the word rendered "stand still" in the last part of the verse is עמד. See also Psalm 4:5 (Itch.), where it is rendered "be still," i.e., "be silent;" and Job 30:27, and Lamentations 2:18. The word must not therefore be pressed to mean that the sun's course was completely arrested in the heavens. All that can be assumed is that it did not set until the people were avenged of their enemies. The passage is evidently part of a triumphal song, like that recorded in Judges 5, where in ver. 20 there is a very similar thought, which no one ever thinks of interpreting literally. Upon Gibeon. Beth-heron was northwest of Gibeon. The meaning of the phrase would perhaps be, "Sun, rest thou (i.e., cease not to shine) in (or upon) Gibeon." In the valley of Ajalon. The valley of the deer, according to the Hebrew. The word for valley is Emek here (LXX. φάραγξ). See note on Joshua 8:13. alert became afterwards a Levitical city (see Joshua 21:24), and was in the inheritance of Dan (Joshua 19:42). See also 1 Samuel 14:31. It has been identified with the modern Yale (so Robinson, Vandevelde, and Conder), and was therefore four hours' journey westward from Gibeon. It was possibly near the time of full moon, and Joshua called for the light of the moon to help him when the sun had set. The very fact of his having called upon the moon to come to his assistance is an argument against the literal interpretation of the passage. The moon could have been no help to him as long as the sun was in the heavens. It is thought by some that the moon must have been already in the heavens, or why should Joshua have addressed her? This may have been the case, and he might thus have adjured the moon to give him her help after the sun had gone down, by which time he would have arrived at Ajalon, a supposition which is quite consistent with probability.
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.
Verse 13. - The moon stayed. The word עמד, which does mean to stand still, is used here. See also Habakkuk 3:11. But if we are to apply it to the moon and not to the light of the moon, where would be the use of the moon's standing still in the valley of Ajalon, when she would be low down in the sky westward, and incapable of rendering Joshua any help? If we regard the light of the moon as meant, there is no phrase more common in poetry and poetic prose than to speak of moonbeams "resting" upon an object. The people. The word here is גוִי. See note on Joshua 5:6. The Book of Jasher. See Introduction, Note 6. And the sun stood still. Here the word עָמַד is used of the sun. But, as before, it refers naturally enough to the sun's light. The declining sun continued to shine upon Gibeon, and in the neighbourhood, upon the descent from Beth-heron the Upper, and on the whole region throughout which the fugitive Canaanites were scattered. We need not suppose that all the discomfited host fled in one direction, and possibly in the neighbourhood of Gibeon itself there remained quite enough of the scattered portions of the host to need urgently the sun's light to complete their destruction. The midst. The Hebrew here is not the usual word for midst. It signifies literally, the half. About a whole day. Literally, as a perfect day. The LXX. renders οὐ προσεπορεύετο εἰς ἱυσμάς εἰς τέλος ἡμέρας μιᾶς, and the Vulgate, "Non festinavit occumbere spatio unius dict." What is the precise meaning of this passage it is difficult to say. The language is very obscure. It has been usually interpreted to mean that the sun remained in the heavens twelve hours longer than usual. But this, though the most natural, is by no means the only interpretation of the passage. The words, "did not hasten to go down as a perfect day," cannot be proved to have this meaning. In fact, it is difficult to fix a precise meaning on them. They belong rather to the domain of poetry than history, and their language is that of hyperbole rather than of exact narration of facts. Consequently, we are not entitled to build conclusions upon them, or draw arguments from them. It seems tolerably clear that twelve additional hours could hardly have been required by the Israelites for the complete extermination of their enemies.
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.
Verse 14. - There was no day like that before it or after it. Cf. for this expression 2 Kings 18:5; 2 Kings 23:22, 25.
And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.
Verse 15. - And Joshua returned. The historian had at first intended to complete his narrative of these transactions here. But he seems to have altered his intention, and added the execution of the five kings and the subjugation of the remaining cities of southern Palestine which had adhered to the league, as well as their immediate neighbours. He then (ver. 43) repeats what he had subjoined here. It is not contended (see Introduction) that the Book of Joshua could not have been compiled from accounts previously existing, though a different view has been taken in this commentary. But what is denied is
(1) that this was an unintelligent or perfunctory compilation, and
(2) that we can at this distance of time, by the simple evidence of style, disintegrate and separate into contradictory fragments the various portions of earlier histories, which we find here digested into a whole. Some copies of the LXX. leave the verse out altogether.
But these five kings fled, and hid themselves in a cave at Makkedah.
Verse 16. - In a cave. "In the cave" according to the Masoretic pointing. So the LXX., τὸ σπήλαιον. Dr. Maclear remarks on the number of caves in Palestine (see Genesis 19:30; Judges 20:47), as well as the well-known caves of Adullam and Engedi (1 Samuel 22:1, 24:3), and the cave in which a hundred prophets were concealed by Obadiah (1 Kings 18:4). Also see note on Joshua 2:22. But Lieut. Conder believes that in this particular neighbourhood there were few caves. See note on Makkedah above, ver. 10. For "these five kings" the original has simply "five kings." The order of the narrative is somewhat interrupted by the introduction of Joshua's adjuration, and the account of the flight of the five kings. Compare ver. 11 with ver. 20.
And it was told Joshua, saying, The five kings are found hid in a cave at Makkedah.
And Joshua said, Roll great stones upon the mouth of the cave, and set men by it for to keep them:
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.
Verse 19. - And stay ye not. The original is stronger, and as for you, stand not still. The active general was not to be diverted from his purpose of annihilating the enemy by the important news that the heads of the confederacy were in his hands. He takes immediate measures to secure their persons, but for the present throws his whole strength, as well as that of his army, into the task of following up the advantage he has gained. And smite the hindmost of them. Literally, "and tail them," a verb denominative from זנב tail. The LXX. renders καταλαβετε τὴν οὐραγίαν. The word is of rare occurrence in the Hebrew, but its obvious meaning is as the text. Comp. also the Vulgate, extremos quosque fugientium coedite.
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.
Verse 20. - Until they were consumed. An expression not necessarily involving the destruction of every individual, but the entire annihilation of them as an army. A few scattered fugitives only remained, who sought the protection of the fortified towns. "Si ca quae per Moysen de tabernaculo vel sacrificiis, et omni illo cultu adumbrabantur, typus ct umbra dicuntur esse ccelestium, sine dubio et bella quae per Jesum geruntur, et regmn et hostium strages, ecelestium rerum umbra et typus esse dicenda aunt, eorum auntaxat bellorum quae Dominus noster Jesus cure suo exercitu et magistratibus id est credentium populis atquo eorum ducibus contra diabolum et ejus angelos praeliatur" (Orig., Hom. 12 on Joshua). Fenced cities. These were
(2) crowned with battlements (פִנּות), and
(3) defended by towers. See for further information the article in Smith's 'Dictionary of the Bible.'
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.
Verse 21. - Makkedah. Because Joshua, in his resolute pursuit of the enemy, had not forgotten the important intelligence reported to him concerning the kings. Most likely the pursuit lasted one or two days. After the return to Makkedah the execution of the kings was carried out with much ceremony (ver. 24), and their bodies hung up before all Israel, not so much as a memorial of the victory, as to impress upon the Israelites the duty of exterminating their enemies, a duty which the after history of the twelve tribes shows them to have been very prone to forget. None moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel. Literally, He did not sharpen against the children of Israel, against a man, his tongue. The Hebrew construction here is somewhat unusual. Houbigant and Maurer suppose that לֵis a mistake of the copyist and that אִישׁ is the subject of the sentence. They would translate as the LXX., "no man muttered with his tongue against the children of Israel." But Keil and Rosenmuller prefer a rendering agreeing with that of the Authorised Version, node moved (or sharpened) his tongue against the children of Israel, not against a single man of them. And this is a far more forcible way of expressing the awe in which they were held. A still stronger expression is to be found in Exodus 11:7; cf. Judith 11:19.
Then said Joshua, Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings unto me out of the cave.
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.
Verse 23. - The king of Jerusalem. The names of the kings are mentioned to emphasise the significance of the action recorded in the next Terse. The LXX. has Ὀδολλάμ again here,
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.
Verse 24. - Which went with him. There is a very unusual Hebrew phrase here. Not only is the article used instead of the relative pronoun אֲשֶׁרָ which occasionally occurs, as in 1 Chronicles 29:17, but the form of the verb is Arabic. None of the commentators give a satisfactory explanation of this fact, and perhaps the suggestion of Houbigant is to be adopted, that the א which follows הָלְכוּ has been accidentally doubled by the transcriber. Kennicott thinks that some Arabic transcriber has inadvertently given the verb an Arabic form, which is very improbable. Keil thinks that it is a sort of intermediate step between the more ancient termination וּן and the more modern one in וּ. But if so, it is strange that we should only meet with it twice in Holy Scripture. Haverniek (Introduction, § 22 B) regards it as an archaic form. Put your feet on the necks of these kings. This was a most common Oriental practice, as the Assyrian and Egyptian monuments prove. Calvin explains the otherwise "boundless arrogance" of the act by the Divine command. But, as Keil remarks, it was a "symbolical act, intended to inspirit the people." See also Psalm 110:1; 1 Corinthians 15:25. The fact that this was done, not by Joshua, but by the captains (קצִין; from קָצָה to cut off), i.e., the inferior officers of the Israelitish army, makes a wide distinction between this and the usual arrogance of Oriental conquerors, and marks the very great moral superiority of Joshua over any other leader known to history either in his own time or in subsequent ages. For whereas the act was usually an act of arrogant triumph on the part of the leader himself, here the leader modestly disclaims any such superiority, and calls upon his subordinates to assume it, as a sign that the Israelitish people, whose representatives they were, should triumph over all their enemies. The next verse explains the reason of the injunction. To the kings themselves no insolence was displayed, for it was but the well known and perfectly understood symbol of their undeniable condition of subjection at that moment. But, of course, we are not to look for that gentleness and humanity in so far distant an age, which would at the present day be shown by a Christian general, or even for the moderation and clemency displayed in the hour of victory by an Alexander, a Scipio, a Caesar, trained under the maxims of Latin and Greek philosophy. See a fuller discussion of the subject in the Introduction. Origen remarks here, "Atque utinam Dominus meus Jesus filius Dei mihi istud concedat, et jubeat me pedibus meis conculcare spiritum fornicationis, et caleare super cervices spiritus iracundise et furoris, calcare avaritise daemonem, caicare jactantiam, conterere pedibus superbiae spiritum."
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.
Verse 25. ? Fear not, nor be dismayed. As Keil remarks, these arc the very words which God used to Joshua when He bade him enter upon his great task. See Joshua 1:9. So now may the experience of one Christian in the warfare against the powers of evil be imparted as encouragement to another. Ye fight. The word "ye" is emphatic. Perhaps Joshua would convey the idea that the Israelites were not to attribute their success to their leader, or to any Divine favor resting upon him as an individual, but to believe that, as long as they served God faithfully, His presence would be as much with them as it was at that particular time and under that particular leader.
And afterward Joshua smote them, and slew them, and hanged them on five trees: and they were hanging upon the trees until the evening.
Verse 26. - And hanged them. This was also a symbolical act, intended to encourage Israel in their warfare. All that day, until its close, were the bodies of the five kings visible to the whole host, to remind them of the signal victory God had vouchsafed them. The same thing had been done at Ai. See Joshua 8:29.
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.
Verse 27. - At the time of the going down of the sun. See Deuteronomy 21:23. Joshua set the example to the Israelites of a strict observance of the law. And we may observe that this law is only to be found in Deuteronomy. On the "Deuteronomist" theory we have to suppose that the Deuteronomist, with a lynx eye to the chance of recommending the provisions which he had invented, and to the importance of representing Joshua as a strict observer of them, inserted this piece of detail with an obvious purpose. It is a wonder that this should be almost the only "Deuteronomist" precept thus emphasised. We find it noticed above (Joshua 8:29), and in both cases the obvious explanation is that this sign of triumph made a great impression on those who witnessed it, and that it was carried out in strict fulfilment of enactments already existing. On the other hand, as we have seen, there is no attempt in Joshua 8:30-35 to emphasise thus the obedience to the command in Deuteronomy 27:2-8. It is from minute details of this kind, which escape the superficial observer, that the authenticity of the Book of Deuteronomy is established. Until this very day. The form of the expression here is singularly different from the expression found elsewhere when the meaning suggested by the Authorized Version is to be conveyed. But for the word עַד we should translate "on the self-same day," as in Genesis 7:13, etc. עַד may be a slip of the pen for עַל which is seldom, if ever, used of time (only, if at all, in Psalm 48:15, and Proverbs 25:11), though the idiom is found in Arabic, in Greek (as in ἐπ ἤματι), in German (as in auf den Tag.) and in English, "on that day;" or we may, with Keil, refer back to ver. 18, and trans. late "they cast them into the cave where they had been hid, and where they had placed great stones unto that very day." For there may have been an interval of several days between the confinement of the kings in the cave and their death at the hands of Joshua. See note on ver. 21.
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.
Verse 28. - And that day, i.e., the day of the battle of Beth-horon. Not only did Joshua smite his enemies "unto Makkedah," but the incarceration of the kings in a cave at Makkedah showed that in the headlong flight of the enemy, Makkedah, which though not mentioned by name among the cities of the confederation, was no doubt, to a certain extent, implicated in it. It is worthy of remark that while Libnah, Debir, and Makkedah are mentioned among the cities destroyed in this campaign, though they are not named among the cities of the league, Jarmuth, on the contrary, though it is one of the cities named, does not appear to have been taken with the rest. With the edge of the sword. Literally, "to the mouth of the sword," from its devouring character. All the souls. All the human beings. The ban under which everything in Jericho was laid did not apply to the other cities, though (see note on Joshua 8:26) all the inhabitants, without distinction, were to be exterminated.
Then Joshua passed from Makkedah, and all Israel with him, unto Libnah, and fought against Libnah:
Verse 29. - All Israel. The expression is not to be pressed in a literal sense. "All Israel" is simply equivalent to "all his disposable troops." Libnah. This belonged to the lowlands of Palestine. See note on ch. 9:1; also Joshua 15:42. It became a Levitical city. It revolted from Judah in the reign of Joram (2 Kings 8:22). It seems to have returned to its allegiance, since we find it not included in the conquest of Israel by Shalmaneser, while, on the other hand, it undergoes a siege among the fenced cities of Judah (2 Kings 18:13; 2 Kings 19:8). The cause (see Blunt 'Undesigned Coincidences,' part 2:27) of this return is not far to seek. The Levites cast off the authority of Joram "because he had forsaken the Lord God of his fathers" (2 Chronicles 21:10, 11). It probably remained independent - for it was not likely to have joined itself to Israel, either from geographical position or religious principles - until the accession of Joash terminated the connection between the royal house of Judah and the descendants of the wicked Ahab. Libnah, or the white city, has been identified with Tell es Safieh, the Blanche Garde of the Crusaders. See Stanley, 'Sinai and Palestine,' pp. 207, 258. Lieut. Conder, however, supposes it to have been Eleutheropolis, now Beit Jibrin, and Capt. Warren believes he has found it at Ibna. Vanclevelde suggests yet another site. But Lieut. Conder's description of the hill on which Tell es Safieh stands as "a white precipice of many hundred feet" ('Pal. Expl. Fund, Quart. Paper,' July, 1875), would account for the name Libnah.
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:
Verse 31. - And Joshua passed. No indication of time is given in the rest of this chapter. The campaign was probably an affair of some weeks, though none of the cities could have made a prolonged resistance.
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.
Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua smote him and his people, until he had left him none remaining.
Verse 33. - Then Horam king of Gezer. It is remarkable that, as Gezer lay somewhat out of the line of march, Joshua did not capture it. Accordingly, in spite of the alleged carelessness of our compiler, who is credited with having put together shreds of the various narratives in the most perfunctory manner, he takes care to add (Joshua 16:10) that the inhabitants of Gezer were not driven out. In like manner, with the single exception of Hebron, the people of which must have at once chosen another king, he carefully omits the mention of the king in the cities which had lost their kings in the battle before Gibeon. See also note on ver. 32. Thus a careful examination of the narrative puts the care and accuracy of the history very carefully before us. With regard to the situation of Gezer, it has been accurately determined by the Palestine Exploration Society. The Levitical boundaries, with Greek and Hebrew inscriptions, signifying the boundary of Gezer, have been discovered by M. Ganneau (see 'Quarterly Paper' for October, 1874). Tell el Jezer was first identified by M. Ganneau with Gezer. Continuing his researches, he found on a slab of rock nearly horizontal and very nearly two inches in length a bilingual inscription, in Greek and Hebrew, signifying the limit of Gezer (תהם גזר). Since the inscription is Greek and Talmudical in its character (the word תהום has not the signification of "limit" in the Hebrew Scriptures) it must, in spite of the early form of the letters, belong to a period long subsequent to the Babylonish captivity. M. Ganneau suggests the Maccabean period. (See below.) But it is, no doubt, the result of a remeasurement in accordance with the rules laid down in Numbers 35:5. Some have supposed the above to have been designed to fix the limit of the sabbath day's journey. But it is more probable that it served as a boundary between the Levitical and the tribal territory, the more especially as the words are so placed as to be read by one entering the town. It was a Levitical city (Joshua 21:21; 1 Chronicles 6:67), or at least assigned to the Levites; but Judges 1:29 shows that the Canaanitish population lived on with the Levites. It may have been the nondescript character of the population that caused it to fall an easy prey to Pharaoh (1 Kings 9:16, where note that the Canaanites had never been driven out); but when Solomon espoused his daughter he restored Gezer to Israel. Under the same name Gazara it plays a conspicuous part in the wars of the Maccabees (1 Macc. 9:52; 2 Macc. 10:32). From the latter passage we learn that it was "a very strong hold." It retains its old name, being now known as Tell el Jezer.
And from Lachish Joshua passed unto Eglon, and all Israel with him; and they encamped against it, and fought against it:
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:
Verse 36. - Went up. The accuracy of the geographical details must here be noticed. Joshua "passes" from one city to another in the plain. He "goes up" to Hebron, which is situated among the hills. See note on ver. 3; cf. also Joshua 11:21; Joshua 14:12. Hebron. Commentators of the school of Maurer and De Wette regard the taking of Hebron and Debir as irreconcilable with Joshua 11:21; Joshua 14:12; Joshua 15:13-17. But this is by no means certain. The operations of Joshua were sudden, and, so far as they went, decisive, But it is never pretended that his conquest of southern Palestine was complete. It is impossible to assert this in the face of such passages as Joshua 16:10, 17:12, 13, and especially in the face of such a fact as the continued existence of the Philistine power. Joshua extirpated the inhabitants of the cities he took, but there were many others - some of at least equal importance - which he did not take. We may instance Gaza, Garb, and Ashdod. See Joshua 11:22. Their inhabitants came and occupied again the cities which Joshua had destroyed, first when he was engaged in operations in the north and west, and again when the Israelites had begun to repose upon their laurels, and to neglect the task God had set them, namely, the complete extermination of the Canaanite race from Palestine. Thus Joshua returned from the north and found a large part of the country he had subdued reoccupied by the giant tribes of the south. He "cut them off from Hebron and Debir," i.e., he compelled them to evacuate those cities, but there was no necessity for a second of either. Yet at a later period they still lurked in the neighborhood (Joshua 14:12), perhaps in the mountain fastnessess (a very common thing in the history of nations, as the history of our own country, of the Basques in the Pyrenees, and of Swiss freedom shows), and were strong enough to regain Debir (Joshua 15:17). Jerusalem itself (see note on ver. 1) had a similar fate. After the capture of Jerusalem the Israelites were unable to hold it permanently (Joshua 15:63; cf. Judges 1:8, 21). And such expressions as "all the cities thereof" show that the south of Palestine was thickly populated. Each city was, like Gibeon, the head of a small confederacy. And as the chief cities smitten by Joshua would have been but a tithe of the confederations existing in the south, the task of reoccupying must have been an easy one. It seems to be implied in Judges 1. that Caleb took Hebron and Debir after Joshua's death.
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.
And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir; and fought against it:
Verse 38. - And Joshua returned. Rather, Joshua turned. Debir was not on the way back from Hebron to Eglon, but in a different direction. His march was now southward instead of eastward. Debir. A city of importance, since only Hebron and it are mentioned in the history of the campaign as having cities dependent on them. It is also called Kirjath-Sepher (Joshua 15:15; Judges 1:11), and Kirjath-Sannah (Joshua 15:49). The first name signifies "the city of the hook," from whence it has been argued that it was the seat of what we should now call an university. Recent discoveries have rendered this supposition by no means improbable. The Hittite remains have proved that people to have been a more influential and intellectual people in early times than had ever been supposed until lately. Others have suggested that it was the abode of an oracle, which is rendered probable if Debir be connected with דָבָר word. The meaning of Kirjath-Sannah is by no means clear. Some have derived it from the Arabic "sunna," law, or doctrine (whence the Sunnite sect among the Mohammedans), and some from סַנָּה or סֶנֶה, a palm branch, or more probably a thornbush. Ritter thinks that both Kirjath-Sepher and Kirjath-Sannah imply the place where the public records were kept. Perhaps what is meant is that, like Mona or Anglesea to the Druids, Debir was the home of the Canaanitish religious traditions. Debir appears as Dapur in the list of fortified cities in Canaan captured by Seti I. and Rameses II. of Egypt. They are depicted on the monumental records. See Tomkins, 'Studies of the Time of Abraham,' p. 84. Debir has lately been identified by the Palestine Survey. Lieut. Conder ('Quarterly Paper,' Jan., 1875, p. 48) fixes it at El Dho-heriyeh or Dhaheriyeh. The identification depends upon the passages Joshua 15:19, and Judges 1:15. See note on the former. The grounds of the identification are as follows:
1. Debir (see last note) was southward of Hebron.
2. The circumstances require an arid locality, but within a moderate distance two sets of springs, or pools of water.
3. There must be signs of ancient dwellings, and, as Debir was a royal city, it must be the converging point of the various roads. All these conditions are fulfilled by El Dhaheriyeh. The rock excavations, the sign of the most ancient dwellings, are plentiful there; ancient roads are found converging in all directions. And six miles and a half north of the village fourteen springs, or pools, are found, some at the head of the valley, some lower down, and some at a lower level still. The distance of these from Debit is in exact accordance with the narrative. They are too far off to be included as a matter of course within the boundaries of Debit, and would naturally enough become the object of such a petition as Achsah is said to have preferred in the passage above cited. Wilson's 'Lands of the Bible,' 1:351, speaks of the excavations here, but does not appear to have been aware of their antiquity. He describes the inhabitants as living in them. But he remarks - and it is a singular confirmation of Lieut. Conder's subsequent discovery - that the sites of five out of the ten cities mentioned in conjunction with Debir in Joshua 15:48-51, are to be found in the immediate neighbourhood of Dhaheriyeh (ibid. p. 353). From this passage and some others, however, Knobel has anticipated Lieut. Conder's suggestion. He describes Thaharijeh, as he calls it, as on the high road from Gaza, with ruins of great antiquity, situated in the midst of a country which, though barren in appearance and destitute of trees and arable land, is yet rich in pasture. But he says nothing of the springs, the only thing wanting to make the evidence complete. Ritter's description of the place as the "first place of importance" on arriving in Palestine from the south, and as the meeting place of the roads from Beersheba, from Gaza and Egypt, and from Petra and Sinai, confirm Lieut. Conder's view, but Bitter does not seem to have identified it with Debir, though he regards it as "one of a series of fortresses designed to protect the southern frontier of Judaea" (3:193, 288). It became a Levitical city (Joshua 21:15; 1 Chronicles 6:58).
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.
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.
And Joshua smote them from Kadeshbarnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon.
And all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel.
Verse 42. - At one time, i.e., in one campaign, carried on without a respite. Because the Lord God fought for Israel. It is the peculiar feature of Old Testament history that it draws the veil from the unseen. Other historians are content to note the secondary causes. The Scriptures trace all to their original source - the will of God. And it is His will, as the page of history shows, with exceptions that do but prove the rule, that a just cause, assisted by bravery., purity, and devotion combined, will not fail, in the long run, to overcome force and fraud. Wars of independence, wars undertaken to chastise wickedness and oppression, seldom fail in their object. And when they do fail, it is generally from the presence of similar crimes among those who undertake the righteous cause, and sully it by their own vices and crimes. History furnishes us with abundant instances of this. The leaders of the struggle for the Protestant Reformation in Europe were often almost as crafty, as ambitious, as self seeking, as immoral, as those against whom they contended. Struggles patriotic in their origin have been marred by the selfish aims of those who carried them on. Selfishness inspires distrust, and distrust produces disunion. But where "the Lord God fights for Israel," where noble objects are pursued by worthy means, there is a moral strength which triumphs over the greatest obstacles. Such an instance we have in modern history in the career of a man like William the Silent. Nearly ruined by the cowardice, obstinacy, and selfishness of his associates, his faith, courage, and perseverance carried a struggle hopeless at the outset to a triumphant conclusion. Men may cry that "Providence is on the side of the big battalions," but "the Lord's hand is not waxen short."
And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.