Joshua Ten

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Joshua 10:1 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;

Joshua 10:2 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.

Joshua 10:3 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,

Joshua 10:4 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.

Joshua 10:5 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.

Joshua 10:6 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.

Joshua 10:7 So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valour.

Joshua 10:8 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.

Joshua 10:9 Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night.

Joshua 10:10 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.

Joshua 10:11 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.

The Lord cast down. That this unique event was of the Lord, inexplicable by either human might or natural phenomena, is evident from the entire account. The justification for God's miraculous intervention here was both the importance of this key battle in the entire plan of God for Israel and the world, as well as the testimonial value implicit in demonstrating to the sun-worshipping, moon-worshipping, nature-worshipping Canaanites—as well as the Israelites themselves—that the God of Israel controlled the sun and moon and forces of nature, using them in giving victory to Israel.

stones from heaven. The surprise dawn attack by Joshua was enough to give initial victory, but then the Amorites were about to escape and perhaps regroup when the first miracle occurred. The “great stones from heaven” were possibly from a volcanic eruption. The word for “stones” is used elsewhere only of stones of rock.

hailstones. Then came a great fall of “hailstones”— the Hebrew word is used elsewhere only of true hail—which killed still more of the Amorite horde. This implies a unique atmospheric upheaval, probably occasioned by a swift deceleration of the earth's rotation.

Joshua 10:12 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.

stand thou still. Next came the most amazing miracle of all, the stopping of the sun “in the midst of heaven” (presumably at mid-day) along with the simultaneous stopping of the moon in its own orbit about the earth. Since the earth rotates on its axis, the sun could only be made to “stand still” relative to earth by stopping the earth's rotation.

This amazing event could hardly have been a miraculous change in atmospheric refraction of the sun's rays (as some have suggested) nor supernatural strength imparted to the Israelites, so that it only seemed like a longer day (as others have supposed). Neither would account for either the concurrent hailstones or the halting of the moon. A gradual deceleration of the earth to a stop, then later a gradual acceleration again to its normal speed would not produce any necessary tectonic disturbances in the earth's crust or any displacement of objects on its surface. It would, however, generate profound atmospheric disturbances, since the normal circulation of the atmosphere is tied in closely with the earth's rotation. It might even generate volcanic activity, since the earth's interior magma circulation may also be influenced to some degree by its rotation. Thus a stopping of the planetary rotation and simultaneous stopping of the lunar revolution is the sole explanation satisfying all the descriptors of the event. The entire phenomenon (deceleration, stones from heaven, hailstones, acceleration, etc.) occupied “about a whole day,” so this long day was about twice the length of a normal day. This was surely a unique miracle, but not beyond the capabilities of the Creator of the sun and moon and planets. He started their motions, has maintained them through the ages, and is able to change them at will.

Joshua 10:13 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.

their enemies. The Amorite horde, though decimated, could still have escaped down the mountains, particularly as the day wore on into night. But God had commanded their complete destruction. Thus the long day enabled the Israelites to finish the job. These people (whose iniquity was “not yet full” in Abraham's time) were now irreclaimably evil, and God miraculously aided in their elimination.

book of Jasher. The original book of Jasher, to which Joshua could appeal for corroboration of this amazing miracle, has been lost. There still exists a book of the same name, purporting to be a copy of the original, but this copy was probably written much later than the original. The other Biblical mention of the book of Jasher is in reference to the lament of David over the death of Saul and Jonathan (2 Samuel 1:18). Therefore, the original book of Jasher must have been compiled sometime after the time of David. This reference in Joshua was most likely inserted by a scribe of this later period. In any case, the great miracle was clearly known and believed in these ancient times.

sun stood still. One trivial objection to the long day account is that the writer made a scientific mistake when he said that the sun stood still. The sun does not move, it is argued, so Joshua should have told the earth to stand still. The sun does move, however, and so does every star, planet and satellite in the universe, so far as known. Scientifically, every motion must therefore actually be expressed as relative motion, using some arbitrarily assumed reference point of zero motion. The latter is normally chosen for maximum convenience and simplicity of calculations. As far as relative motion of the sun and the earth is concerned, the optimum method normally is to define the point of the observer as the point of zero motion. Thus the most scientific approach is (as in the Bible) to assume that the sun moves relative to the earth.

Joshua 10:14 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.

no day like that. This day was unique in history, and the main evidence that it really happened is the historical record—not only as recorded in the Bible and the (probably) lost book of Jasher—but in the legends and traditions of all parts of the world. Such legends of a long day are found in Greece, Egypt and other ancient nations; legends of a long night are found among the American Indians, South Sea islanders and others in the Western Hemisphere. Reports that a “missing day” turned up in a space program computer analysis of ancient chronology, however, are false. This report seems to have been a modern interpretation of a later nineteenth century astronomical calculation by followers of the British-Israel belief. This calculation had been based on an arbitrary premise concerning the specific date of creation, a necessary starting point for any such attempted calculation.

Joshua 10:15 And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.

Joshua 10:16 But these five kings fled, and hid themselves in a cave at Makkedah.

Joshua 10:17 And it was told Joshua, saying, The five kings are found hid in a cave at Makkedah.

Joshua 10:18 And Joshua said, Roll great stones upon the mouth of the cave, and set men by it for to keep them:

Joshua 10:19 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.

Joshua 10:20 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.

Joshua 10:21 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.

Joshua 10:22 Then said Joshua, Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings unto me out of the cave.

Joshua 10:23 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.

Joshua 10:24 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.

Joshua 10:25 And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the LORD do to all your enemies against whom ye fight.

Joshua 10:26 And afterward Joshua smote them, and slew them, and hanged them on five trees: and they were hanging upon the trees until the evening.

Joshua 10:27 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.

Joshua 10:28 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.

Joshua took Makkedah. The campaign summarized in Joshua 10:28-40 involved the slaughter of the inhabitants of seven city-states—Makkedah, Libnah, Lachish, Gezer, Eglon, Hebron and Debir. Three of these—Lachish, Eglon and Hebron—had been in the five-city confederation of Amorites (Joshua 10:3) that had already been routed by the children of Israel, and their kings executed. Evidently only a portion of the armies of these three cities had gone with their kings against Gibeon, with all the others being slain later. A second king of Hebron was also slain at this time (Joshua 10:37), probably acting in absence of the first.

Joshua 10:29 Then Joshua passed from Makkedah, and all Israel with him, unto Libnah, and fought against Libnah:

Joshua 10:30 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.

Joshua 10:31 And Joshua passed from Libnah, and all Israel with him, unto Lachish, and encamped against it, and fought against it:

Joshua 10:32 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.

Joshua 10:33 Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua smote him and his people, until he had left him none remaining.

Joshua 10:34 And from Lachish Joshua passed unto Eglon, and all Israel with him; and they encamped against it, and fought against it:

Joshua 10:35 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.

Joshua 10:36 And Joshua went up from Eglon, and all Israel with him, unto Hebron; and they fought against it:

Joshua 10:37 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.

Joshua 10:38 And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir; and fought against it:

Joshua 10:39 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.

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.

Joshua 10:41 And Joshua smote them from Kadeshbarnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon.

Joshua 10:42 And all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel.

Joshua 10:43 And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.