Joshua 10 – The Longest Day
This chapter really inspires me, especially when the five kings teamed up against the king of Gibeon. This shows that my enemy will always team up with those who do not wish me well, but my GOD will first give them all into my hands to defeat, thereby encouraging me, and then He will join the fight by throwing stones at them right from the House of Caves, Wrath and Anger to the Cultivated Ground. The 5 kings themselves will be drawn out of their hiding place and the Heavenly hosts will step on their necks, while I stand still in victory.
Joshua Verses 1-6
When sinners leave the service of Satan and the friendship of the world, that they make peace with God and join Israel, they must not marvel if the world hate them, if their former friends become foes. By such methods Satan discourages many who are convinced of their danger, and almost persuaded to be Christians, but fear the cross. These things should quicken us to apply to God for protection, help, and deliverance.
Now it came to pass when Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard how Joshua had taken Ai and had utterly destroyed it; as he had done to Jericho and its king, so he had done to Ai and its king; and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them, that they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were mighty. Therefore Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem sent to Hoham king of Hebron, Piram king of Jarmuth, Japhia king of Lachish, and Debir king of Eglon, saying, “Come up to me and help me, that we may attack Gibeon, for it has made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel.” Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered together and went up, they and all their armies, and camped before Gibeon and made war against it.
Enemies of Israel feared greatly, but like our spiritual enemies, they do not retreat when they are afraid, but launch attacks that are even bolder, as a wild animal might fight when it feels attacked. Because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were mighty: We are reminded that the Gibeonites did not submit to Israel out of a position of weakness; indeed all its men were mighty. Yet it was because of their love and honor of the God of Israel that they submitted to perpetual service in His tabernacle.
The plea for help from Gibeon and the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal, saying, “Do not forsake your servants; come up to us quickly, save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the mountains have gathered together against us.” Do not forsake your servants; come up to us quickly, save us and help us: The Gibeonites rightly looked to the people of Israel as their helpers and protectors. They were not too proud to call for help.
Joshua Verses 7-14
The meanest and feeblest, which have just begun to trust the Lord, are as much entitled to be protected as those who have long and faithfully been his servants. It is our duty to defend the afflicted, who, like the Gibeonites, are brought into trouble on our account, or for the sake of the gospel. Joshua would not forsake his new vassals. How much less shall our true Joshua fail those who trust in Him! We may be wanting in our trust, but our trust never can want success.
Yet God’s promises are not to slacken and do away, but to quicken and encourage our endeavors. Notice the great faith of Joshua, and the power of God answering it by the miraculous staying of the sun, that the day of Israel’s victories might be made longer. Joshua acted on this occasion by impulse on his mind from the Spirit of God. It was not necessary that Joshua should speak, or the miracle be recorded, according to the modern terms of astronomy. The sun appeared to the Israelites over Gibeon and the moon over the valley of Ajalon, and there they appeared to be stopped on their course for one whole day. Is anything too hard for the Lord? Proclamation was hereby made to the neighboring nations, Behold the works of the Lord, and say, what nation is there as great as Israel, who has God so nigh unto them?
Joshua and the people of Israel are faithful to their vow to the Gibeonites. So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. We saw that in Joshua 9:1-27, Joshua, the leaders of Israel, and all the people of Israel knew they made a bad vow to the Gibeonites, yet they did not turn their backs on that vow.
But here, we see Joshua and the leaders of Israel going a step further. Allowing these Canaanite kings to wipe out the Gibeonites would have been a convenient way to get out of a vow that should not have been made, but they will have none of it. We should have the same sense of honor. Though Joshua was only bound to not kill the Gibeonites himself (Joshua 9:15), he goes on to fulfill what the spirit of the vow he made to the Gibeonites.
God’s command and promise to Joshua. And the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.” Do not fear them: This is a command. Though Joshua has reason to fear because Israel faces a confederation of five kings, God commands Joshua to not fear his enemies. We can cripple our ability to fight God’s battles through our fear. Though we might face strong enemies, we are commanded to not fear.
Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly, having marched all night from Gilgal. Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly: Having the assurance of God’s promise (Joshua 10:8), Joshua did not sit back to passively watch God work without his participation. He went to great effort to participate with the work and will of God. The march from Gilgal to Gibeon involved a climb of 3,300 feet, and the distance was about twenty miles, taking eight to ten hours of hard marching, all through the night.
God does His work, but He draws us into working with Him. Often God waits to see our initiative, our willingness to be a partner with Him, before He does what only He can do. This is not the idea that “God helps those who help themselves.” The idea is “God wants to draw His people into partnership with Him in seeing His work done.”
So the LORD routed them before Israel, killed them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, chased them along the road that goes to Beth Horon, and struck them down as far as Azekah and Makkedah. And it happened, as they fled before Israel and were on the descent of Beth Horon, that the LORD cast down large hailstones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword. Then Joshua spoke 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 still over Gibeon; and Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the people had revenge upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. And there has been no day like that, before it or after it that the LORD heeded the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel. Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.
So the LORD routed them before Israel: God’s work, and the partnership of Joshua’s work with the LORD, accomplished something great. The enemies of God were routed. The LORD cast down large hailstones from heaven: The hailstones which killed the retreating armies of the Canaanites were obviously miraculous. The hail itself could have been a phenomenon of nature, but their aim and timing obviously displayed the hand of God.
“Sun, stand still over Gibeon; and Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still: Seeing God’s miraculous hand in action gave Joshua the boldness to ask for an even more stupendous miracle – to keep the day going, to keep the sun from setting, so that Israel had time to accomplish a complete victory before darkness fell.
So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. And there has been no day like that, before it or after it: How was the length of this day extended? It could have been a slowing of the earth’s rotation; it could have been a tilting of the earth’s axis; it could have been a miracle of reflection of light; it could have been simply the presence of God manifested in light. Whatever it means, the result was clear. The sun seemed to stay still in the sky, and Israel was able to complete the victory.
Till the people had revenge upon their enemies: Joshua did not ask God to do the fighting for him, even though God did do some of that. Joshua simply asked that God would miraculously give him the opportunity to fight for Him. When we work in partnership with God, always in touch with our place like Gilgal – the place where Israel was conquered by God – then we will see God do amazing things; we will be able to say “there has been no day like that.”
Joshua Verses 15-27
None moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel. This shows their perfect safety. The kings were called to an account, as rebels against the Israel of God. Refuges of lies will but secure for God’s judgment. God punished the abominable wickedness of these kings, the measure of whose iniquity was now full. And by this public act of justice, done upon these ringleaders of the Canaanites in sin, he would possess his people with the greater dread and detestation of the sins of the nations that God cast out from before them. Here is a type and figure of Christ’s victories over the powers of darkness, and of believers’ victories through him. In our spiritual conflicts we must not be satisfied with obtaining some important victory. We must pursue our scattered enemies, searching out the remains of sin as they rise up in our hearts, and thus pursue the conquest. In so doing, the Lord will afford light until the warfare be accomplished.
But these five kings had fled and hidden themselves in a cave at Makkedah. And it was told Joshua, saying, “The five kings have been found hidden in the cave at Makkedah.” So Joshua said, “Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave, and set men by it to guard them. And do not stay there yourselves, but pursue your enemies, and attack their rear guard. Do not allow them to enter their cities, for the LORD your God has delivered them into your hand.” Then it happened, while Joshua and the children of Israel made an end of slaying them with a very great slaughter, till they had finished, that those who escaped entered fortified cities. And all the people returned to the camp, to Joshua at Makkedah, in peace. No one moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel. Then Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings to me from the cave.” And they did so, and brought out those five kings to him from the cave: the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon. So it was, when they brought out those kings to Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the captains of the men of war who went with him, “Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings.” And they drew near and put their feet on their necks. Then Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.” And afterward Joshua struck them and killed them, and hanged them on five trees; and they were hanging on the trees until evening. So it was at the time of the going down of the sun that Joshua commanded, and they took them down from the trees, cast them into the cave where they had been hidden, and laid large stones against the cave’s mouth, which remain until this very day.
Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave, and set men by it to guard them. And do not stay there yourselves, but pursue your enemies, and attack their rear guard: Joshua will not allow anything – even the personal capture of the kings – to keep him from completing Israel’s victory. The kings can be imprisoned and dealt with later. The people of Canaan know, beyond any doubt, that God is with Joshua and the nation of Israel. Their respect is so great that no one moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel.
Joshua Verses 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?
Joshua conquered all the land: In a period of weeks, these six cities are defeated, without a single loss for Israel. Each battle was a test. None of them were easy, but under the leadership of Joshua, they all were victorious. All these kings and their land Joshua took at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel: The victory was won one at a time. We often want to do everything and win every battle for God all at once. This can be Satan’s strategy to set us up for a strong attack of discouragement.
Most importantly, the key to victory was that the Lord GOD of Israel fought for Israel. This is also true as we battle against our own spiritual enemies. We can only win as we see the LORD fighting on our behalf. He provides the victory and we walk in it. Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal: Israel’s victories always came from Gilgal. This was the place of total faith, commitment and fellowship with God, and the place where Israel had been conquered by God.