Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible

Joshua 10

Verse 1

JOSHUA CHAPTER 10

Five of the kings of Canaan, afraid of Joshua, are angry with the Gibeonites, and wage war against them; they send to Joshua for succours, Joshua 10:1-5. He rescues them, Joshua 10:6-10. God casts down hail-stones upon the enemy, Joshua 10:11. Joshua prays to God, and commands the sun to stand still, which it does for the space of a day, Joshua 10:12-15. The five kings hide themselves in caves, where Joshua causeth them to be shut up, afterwards to be brought forth, scornfully used, and hanged, and thrown into a cave by Makkedah, Joshua 10:16-27. This place taken, the king, city, and all therein are burnt, Joshua 10:28. Joshua doth the same to Libnah and Lachish, Joshua 10:29-32; to Gezer, Eglon, Hebron, Debir, and all the land, Joshua 10:33-42. Joshua returns to Gilgal, Joshua 10:43.

i.e. Were conversant with them, had yielded themselves to their disposal, submitted themselves to their laws, had mingled interests with them.

Verse 2

They feared, i.e. he and his people, the king being spoken of Joshua 10:1, as a public person representing all his people. Or, he and the following kings, Joshua 10:3. But this fear is mentioned, Joshua 10:2, as the cause why he sent to those kings.

As one of the royal cities; either,

1. Really a royal city, the Hebrew particle caph oft signifying the truth of a thing, as Hosea 4:4 5:10, and oft elsewhere. Or,

2. Equal to one of the royal cities, though it had no king, but seems to be governed aristocratically by their elders, Joshua 9:11.

Verse 3

He sent, either because he was superior to them in power or dignity, or because he was nearest the danger, and most forward in the work.

Verse 5

Amorites; this name being here taken largely or generally for any of the Canaanites, as is frequent; for, to speak strictly, the citizens of Hebron, here mentioned, Joshua 10:3, were Hittites; thus the Gibeonites, who were Hivites, Joshua 10:19, are called Amorites, 2 Samuel 21:2. It is reasonably supposed that the Amorites, being numerous and victorious beyond Jordan, did pour forth colonies or forces into the land of Canaan, and there subdued divers places, and so communicated their name to all the rest.

Verse 6

The men of Gibeon sent, or, had sent, when their enemies were drawn towards them, which they could easily learn. Slack not thy hand; do not neglect nor delay to help us. From thy servants, whom thou art obliged to protect both in duty, as thou art our master and ruler; and by thy own interest, we being part of thy possessions; and in ingenuity, because we have given ourselves to thee, and put ourselves under thy protection.

In the mountains; in the mountainous country.

Verse 7

Having, no doubt, asked advice of God first, which is implied by the answer God gives to him, Joshua 10:8.

And all the mighty men, or, even, or that is, as this particle is oft used, as hath been noted before. So it seems put here by way of explication and restriction; having said

all the people of war, he now adds, even all the mighty men, &c., i.e. an army of the most valiant men picked out from the rest; for it is not probable, either that he would take so many hundred thousands with him, which would have hindered one another, or that he would leave the camp without an army to defend it.

Verse 9

Though assured by God of the victory, yet he useth all prudent means, and surpriseth them. It is not said that he went from Gilgal to Gibeon in a night’s space, but only that he travelled all night; unto which you may add part either of the foregoing or of the following day.

Verse 10

Slew them, or, he slew them; either God or Israel; for God’s work is described Joshua 10:11.

At Gibeon, Heb. in Gibeon; not in the city, but in the territory belonging to it; as Joshua is said to be in Jericho, Joshua 5:13.

Verse 11

Great stones, i.e. hailstones of extraordinary greatness and hardness, cast down with that certainty as to hit the Canaanites, and not their pursuers the Israelites, and with that force as to kill them. Josephus affirms that thunder and lightning were mixed with the hail, which may seem probable from Habakkuk 3:11.

Verse 12

Joshua spake to the Lord, to wit, in way of petition for this miracle; being moved to beg it out of zeal to destroy God’s enemies, and directed to it by the motion of God’s Spirit; and receiving a gracious answer, and being filled with holy confidence of the success, he speaks the following words before the people, that they might be witnesses of it.

In the sight of Israel, i.e. in the presence and audience of Israel; seeing being sometimes put for hearing, as Genesis 42:1, compared with Acts 7:12; although these words may seem rather to be joined with the following, thus,

In the sight of Israel stand still, O sun, & c., which sense the Hebrew accents favour.

Upon Gibeon, i.e. over and above or against Gibeon, i.e. in that place and posture in which now it stands towards and looks upon Gibeon. Let it not go down lower, and by degrees, out of the sight of Gibeon. It may seem that the sun was declining; and Joshua perceiving that his work was great and long, and his time but short, begs of God the lengthening out of the day, and that the sun and moon might stop their course, and keep the place in which they now were.

In the valley, or, upon the valley; as before, upon Gibeon; the preposition being the same there and here.

Ajalon; either,

1. That Ajalon which was in the tribe of Zebulun, Jude 12:12 northward from Gibeon. Or rather,

2. That Ajalon which was in the tribe of Dan, Joshua 19:42 Jude 1:35, westward from Gibeon, For,

1. This was nearer Gibeon than the other.

2. This was most agreeable to the course of the sun and moon, which is from east to west.

3. This way the battle went, from Gibeon westward to Ajalon, and so further westward, even to Lachish, Joshua 10:31. And he mentions two places, Gibeon and Ajalon, not as if the sun stood over the one, and the moon over the other, which is absurd and ridiculous to affirm, especially these places being so near the one to the other; but partly to vary the phrase, as is common in poetical passages; partly because he was in his march in the pursuit of his enemies to pass from Gibeon to Ajalon; and he begs that he may have the help and benefit of longer light to pursue them, and to that end that the sun might stand still, and the moon also; not that he needed the moon’s light when he had the sun’s, but because it was fit, either that both the sun and moon should go, or that both should stand still, to prevent disorder and confusion in the heavenly bodies.

Verse 13

Stood still, Heb. was silent, i.e. still, as this phrase is commonly used, as 1 Samuel 14:9 Psalms 4:4 Jonah 1:12; the cessation of the tongue’s motion being put synecdochically for the cessation of any other motion or action.

Until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies, i.e. till they had utterly destroyed them, as is mentioned in the following chapter.

The book of Jasher; either of a man so called, or of the righteous or upright, wherein possibly the memorable actions of worthy men were recorded, and this amongst the rest. And this book was written and published before Joshua wrote his, and so is fitly alleged here. But this, as well as some few other historical books, is lost, not being a canonical book, and therefore not preserved by the Jews with the same care as they were.

So the sun stood still: here is no mention of the moon, because the sun’s standing was the only thing which Joshua desired and needed; and the moon’s standing he desired only by accident, to prevent irregularity in the motions of those celestial lights. Some take this to be but a poetical phrase and relation of the victory, that Joshua did so many and such great things in that day, as if the sun and moon had stood still and given him longer time for it. But the frequent repetition and magnificent declaration of this wonder manifestly confutes that fancy. That the sun and moon did really stand still, is affirmed, Habakkuk 3:11; /APC Sirach 46:5,6. And if it seem strange to any one that so wonderful a work, observed by the whole world that then was, should not be mentioned in any heathen writers; he must needs be satisfied, if he, considers, that it is confessed by the generality of writers, heathens and others, that there is no certain history or monument in heathen authors of any thing done before the Trojan wars, which was a thousand years after Joshua’s time; and that all time before that is called by the learnedest heathens the uncertain, unknown, or obscure time. In the midst of heaven; not mathematically, in the very meridian or middle part of that hemisphere; but morally, and with some latitude, when it had begun a little to decline, the consideration whereof seems to have given Joshua occasion for his desire.

About a whole day, i.e. for the space of a whole day. Understand an artificial day, between sun-rising and sun-setting; for that was the day which Joshua needed and desired, a day to give him light for his work.

Verse 14

There was no day like that, to wit, in those parts of the world in which he here speaks, and about which the comparison is here made: vain therefore is that objection, that the days are longer near the northern and southern poles, where they are constantly longer at certain seasons, and that by the order of nature; whereas the length of this day was purely contingent. and granted by God in answer to Joshua’s prayer, as is here added.

Object In Hezekiah’s time, and at his prayer, there was a day which may seem to have been longer; for the sun went back ten degrees in ten hours, and then returned again ten degrees in ten hours, and so it was twenty hours longer than a common day, and so longer than this.

Answer It is not certain either that each degree designed an hour, and not rather half an hour, or a quarter, as others think; or that the sun returned those ten degrees as slowly as he went down before or after. Besides, it was now near summer solstice, when the day was longest, and about fourteen hours; and that being doubled, the artificial day was twenty-eight hours; and because there is not the least evidence that Hezekiah’s day was longer, but rather of the contrary, it is much more reasonable to believe this Scripture assertion, than to deny or question upon mere suppositions or idle conjectures.

Hearkened unto the voice of a man, to wit, in such a manner to alter the course of nature, and of the heavenly bodies, that a man might have more time to pursue and destroy his enemies.

The Lord fought for Israel this is added as the reason why God was so ready to answer Joshua’s petition herein, because he was engaged and resolved to fight for Israel, and that in a more than ordinary manner.

Verse 15

Not immediately, or upon the same day, but after he had despatched the matter which here follows; as appears by Joshua 10:43, where the very same words are repeated, to show that that was the meaning of them. And they are put here to close the general discourse of the fight, which begun Joshua 10:10, and ends here; which being done, he particularly describes some remarkable passages, and closeth them with the same words.

Verse 16

The

five kings named above, Joshua 10:3.

In a cave, as a place of most secrecy or security; but there is no escaping the eye or hand of God, who here brought them into a net of their own making.

At Makkedah, Heb. in Makkedah; not in the city, for that was not yet taken; but in the territory of it; as in Gibeon, Joshua 10:10.

Verse 19

Stay ye not; lose not your opportunity by your sloth or negligence. The hindmost of them; their rereward, all whom you can overtake. To enter into their cities, whereby they will recover their strength, and renew the war.

The Lord hath delivered them into your hand; your work will be easy, God hath already done the work to your hands.

Verse 20

i.e. Joshua by the children of Israel; or the children of Israel, i.e. a party of them, by the command, direction, and encouragement of Joshua; for Joshua himself went not with them, but abode in the siege before Makkedah, Joshua 10:21.

Verse 21

To the camp; to the body of the army which were encamped there with Joshua to besiege that place.

None moved his tongue; not so much as a dog, as it is expressed, Exodus 11:7. Not only their men of war could not find their hands, but they were all so confounded, that they could not move their tongues in way of insultation and reproach, as doubtless they did when the Israelites were repulsed and smitten at Ai; but now they were silenced as well as conquered; they durst no more provoke nor injure the Israelites.

Verse 24

Put your feet upon the necks of these kings: this he did not from pride and contempt of their dignity in itself; but, partly, as a punishment of their impious rebellion against their sovereign Lord; partly, in pursuance of that curse of servility due to all this people, Genesis 9:25; partly, as a token to assure his captains that God would subdue the proudest of them all under their feet; and partly, to oblige and teach his people severely to execute the judgment of God upon them, and not to spare any of them, either out of a foolish pity, or out of respect to their dignity, as Saul afterwards spared Agag to his own ruin.

Verse 26

He hanged them, after they were dead, as a brand of infamy, and for the terror and instruction of others.

Verse 27

Laid great stones in the cave’s mouth; that neither wild beasts could come at them to devour them, nor any of their people to give them honourable burial.

Verse 28

That day, on which the sun stood still, or on which the five kings were hanged. Nor is it strange that so much work was done, and places so far distant taken, in one day, when the day was so long, and the Canaanites struck with such a terror. The king of Jericho was hanged, or otherwise killed, as appears from Joshua 6:2.

Verse 29

All Israel, to wit, who were with him in this expedition.

Libnah, a city of Judah, Joshua 15:42

Verse 30

All the souls, i.e. the human souls; for all the cattle they had for a prey.

Verse 32

On the second day; either the day after his first laying of the siege, or after the taking of Makkedah and Libnah.

Verse 33

Gezer; either that in Ephraim, of which Joshua 16:3 Jude 1:29; but that seems too remote from the other places; or rather, that in Judah, which was near Lachish, 1 Chronicles 14:16, whose king therefore was more capable, and more obliged to help them for his own sake.

Verse 34

Eglon, a city of Judah, Joshua 15:39.

Verse 35

On that day on which they first attempted it.

Verse 36

Which though they took and killed all its inhabitants, yet they did not keep it; and therefore when Joshua and his army had forsaken it, and were returned to Gilgal, it seems the giants and other Canaanites being burnt out, or driven away from their former seats, planted and fortified themselves there; which made it necessary for Caleb to take it a second time, as is recorded Joshua 15:14 Jude 1:10. Or this is the same story, and the same conquest of Hebron, which is here generally related, and afterwards repeated, and more particularly described, Joshua 15:13,14.

Verse 37

The king thereof; either him mentioned before, Joshua 10:23 whose death is here repeated in this account of the general destruction of all the inhabitants of that place, or his heir or successor.

All the cities thereof which were subject to its jurisdiction; this being, it seems, a royal city, as Gibeon was, Joshua 10:2, and having cities under it as that had, Joshua 9:17.

Verse 38

He is said to return thither, not as if he had been there before, but because having gone as far westward and southward as he thought fit, even as far as Gaza, Joshua 10:41, he now returned towards Gilgal, which lay northward and eastward from him, and in his return fell upon Debir: See Poole "Joshua 15:15".

Verse 40

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.

Verse 41

Kadesh-barnea lay in the south of Canaan, Numbers 34:4 Deuteronomy 1:19 Joshua 15:3.

Gaza was in the south-west of Canaan. So he here signifies that Joshua did in this expedition subdue all those parts which lay south and west from Gilgal.

Goshen; not that Goshen in Egypt, but another in Judah, Joshua 11:16 15:51.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 10". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://pro.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/joshua-10.html. 1685.