Bible Commentary: Joshua 10

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Joshua 10

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Joshua’s Long Day 

Adonizedek, the king of Jerusalem, is not happy with the treaty the Gibeonites made with the Israelites. His name (meaning “Lord of Righteousness”) is probably a title (like Pharaoh), perhaps passed down from the days of the Priest-King Melchizedek (“King of Righteousness,” Hebrews 7:1-4 Hebrews 7:1-4 [1] For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; [2] To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; [3] Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like to the Son of God; stays a priest continually. [4] Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.
American King James Version×
), who appears to have been king of the same city in the days of Abraham (Genesis 14:18-20 Genesis 14:18-20 [18] And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. [19] And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: [20] And blessed be the most high God, which has delivered your enemies into your hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
American King James Version×
). The similarity ends there, as Melchizedek was actually the preincarnate Jesus Christ while Adonizedek, Israel’s enemy, was certainly not a true servant of God. If the Jebusites did have Christ among them in the days of Abraham, they had long since rejected Him and His ways (compare Deuteronomy 7:1-5 Deuteronomy 7:1-5 [1] When the LORD your God shall bring you into the land where you go to possess it, and has cast out many nations before you, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than you; [2] And when the LORD your God shall deliver them before you; you shall smite them, and utterly destroy them; you shall make no covenant with them, nor show mercy to them: [3] Neither shall you make marriages with them; your daughter you shall not give to his son, nor his daughter shall you take to your son. [4] For they will turn away your son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy you suddenly. [5] But thus shall you deal with them; you shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.
American King James Version×
; Deuteronomy 8:20 Deuteronomy 8:20As the nations which the LORD destroys before your face, so shall you perish; because you would not be obedient to the voice of the LORD your God.
American King James Version×
; Deuteronomy 12:29-31 Deuteronomy 12:29-31 [29] When the LORD your God shall cut off the nations from before you, where you go to possess them, and you succeed them, and dwell in their land; [30] Take heed to yourself that you be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before you; and that you inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. [31] You shall not do so to the LORD your God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hates, have they done to their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.
American King James Version×
). Adonizedek gets four neighboring kings to join him in an attack against Gibeon. The Gibeonites send messengers to the Israelite encampment at Gilgal, asking them to return to Gibeon and honor the covenant of peace they had made (compare Joshua 9:15-17 Joshua 9:15-17 [15] And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation swore to them. [16] And it came to pass at the end of three days after they had made a league with them, that they heard that they were their neighbors, and that they dwelled among them. [17] And the children of Israel journeyed, and came to their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, and Chephirah, and Beeroth, and Kirjathjearim.
American King James Version×
) by helping them against the Amorite kings. God lets Joshua know that He will give them the victory, and uses a hailstorm to kill more than the Israelites did during this first battle (Joshua 10:11 Joshua 10:11And 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 on them to Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.
American King James Version×
). Desperate for more time to deal with Israel’s enemies, Joshua makes his request of God that the sun and moon stop moving.

Some try to use this as proof that the Bible is not inspired, since the author, they argue, implies that the sun and moon actually travel across the sky each day, while we know today that this is only apparent because of the earth’s rotation. But it is clear from the context that the author is speaking from the reference point of one standing on the earth. Even if Joshua himself falsely believed in a geocentric universe with a fixed earth, that does not negate the inspiration of the verses here. For the language used is quite valid. Indeed, if the same phenomenon occurred today, many would still use the same terminology to describe it—describing what they perceive even though they understand the truth of the earth’s rotation.

It is amazing to consider the enormity of this miracle. Its complexities, which Joshua himself may not have been able to contemplate, are staggering. The rotation of the earth, with a surface velocity of more than 1,000 miles per hour at the equator, had to somehow come to a screeching halt, and start up again later, without inertial forces then creating tremendous geologic and tidal upheaval, destroying the earth’s inhabitants. It is difficult to imagine the multiple cataclysmic consequences that would have occurred if God had not performed many other miracles to accompany the halting of the rotation. As it was, everyone in the world must have been in utter confusion over what was happening. While half the world wondered why the sun wasn’t setting, the other half was wondering if they would ever see it again! And indeed, there are obscure myths from several ancient cultures that seem to reflect this very confusion. As amazing as this event was, the account focuses not so much on the magnitude of the miracle, but on the fact that God listened to the voice of one man and fought so grandly for His people (verse 14). Here is proof that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:17 James 5:17Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
American King James Version×
). Much indeed. Following the initial victory, the Israelites move from one city to another in the southern part of Canaan, destroying the inhabitants and conquering the land—which will eventually be given t o Judah, Simeon and Benjamin—before returning to the encampment at Gilgal.

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