- Joshua 10 (Contemporary English Version)
- King Adonizedek of Jerusalem heard that Joshua had captured and destroyed the town of Ai, and then killed its king as he had done at Jericho. He also learned that the Gibeonites had signed a peace treaty with Israel.
- This frightened Adonizedek and his people. They knew that Gibeon was a large town, as big as the towns that had kings, and even bigger than the town of Ai had been. And all of the men of Gibeon were warriors.
- So Adonizedek sent messages to the kings of four other towns: King Hoham of Hebron, King Piram of Jarmuth, King Japhia of Lachish, and King Debir of Eglon. The messages said,
- "The Gibeonites have signed a peace treaty with Joshua and the Israelites. Come and help me attack Gibeon!"
- When these five Amorite kings called their armies together and attacked Gibeon,
- the Gibeonites sent a message to the Israelite camp at Gilgal: "Joshua, please come and rescue us! The Amorite kings from the hill country have joined together and are attacking us. We are your servants, so don't let us down. Please hurry!"
- Joshua and his army, including his best warriors, left Gilgal.
- "Joshua," the LORD said, "don't be afraid of the Amorites. They will run away when you attack, and I will help you defeat them."
- Joshua marched all night from Gilgal to Gibeon and made a surprise attack on the Amorite camp.
- The LORD made the enemy panic, and the Israelites started killing them right and left. They chased the Amorite troops up the road to Beth-Horon and kept on killing them, until they reached the towns of Azekah and Makkedah.
- And while these troops were going down through Beth-Horon Pass, the LORD made huge hailstones fall on them all the way to Azekah. More of the enemy soldiers died from the hail than from the Israelite weapons.
- The LORD was helping the Israelites defeat the Amorites that day. So about noon, Joshua prayed to the LORD loud enough for the Israelites to hear: "Our LORD, make the sun stop in the sky over Gibeon, and the moon stand still over Aijalon Valley." So the sun and the moon stopped and stood still until Israel defeated its enemies. This poem can be found in The Book of Jashar. The sun stood still and didn't go down for about a whole day.
- (SEE 10:12)
- Never before and never since has the LORD done anything like that for someone who prayed. The LORD was really fighting for Israel.
- After the battle, Joshua and the Israelites went back to their camp at Gilgal.
- While the enemy soldiers were running from the Israelites, the five enemy kings ran away and hid in a cave near Makkedah.
- Joshua's soldiers told him, "The five kings have been found in a cave near Makkedah."
- Joshua answered, "Roll some big stones over the mouth of the cave and leave a few soldiers to guard it.
- But you and everyone else must keep after the enemy troops, because they will be safe if they reach their walled towns. Don't let them get away! The LORD our God is helping us get rid of them."
- So Joshua and the Israelites almost wiped out the enemy soldiers. Only a few safely reached their walled towns.
- The Israelite army returned to their camp at Makkedah, where Joshua was waiting for them. No one around there dared say anything bad about the Israelites.
- Joshua told his soldiers, "Now, move the rocks from the entrance to the cave and bring those five kings to me."
- The soldiers opened the entrance to the cave and brought out the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon.
- After Joshua had called the army together, he forced the five kings to lie down on the ground. Then he called his officers forward and told them, "You fought these kings along with me, so put your feet on their necks." The officers did,
- and Joshua continued, "Don't ever be afraid or discouraged. Be brave and strong. This is what the LORD will do to all your enemies."
- Joshua killed the five kings and told his men to hang each body on a tree. Then at sunset
- he told some of his troops, "Take the bodies down and throw them into the cave where the kings were found. Cover the entrance to the cave with big rocks." Joshua's troops obeyed his orders, and those rocks are still there.
- Later that day, Joshua captured Makkedah and killed its king and everyone else in the town, just as he had done at Jericho.
- Joshua and his army left Makkedah and attacked the town of Libnah.
- The LORD let them capture the town and its king, and they killed the king and everyone else, just as they had done at Jericho.
- Joshua then led his army to Lachish, and they set up camp around the town. They attacked,
- and the next day the LORD let them capture the town. They killed everyone, as they had done at Libnah.
- King Horam of Gezer arrived to help Lachish, but Joshua and his troops attacked and destroyed him and his army.
- From Lachish, Joshua took his troops to Eglon, where they set up camp surrounding the town. They attacked,
- captured it that same day, then killed everyone, as they had done at Lachish.
- Joshua and his army left Eglon and attacked Hebron.
- They captured the town and the nearby villages, then killed everyone, including the king. They destroyed Hebron in the same way they had destroyed Eglon.
- Joshua and the Israelite army turned and attacked Debir.
- They captured the town, and its nearby villages. Then they destroyed Debir and killed its king, together with everyone else, just as they had done with Hebron and Libnah.
- Joshua captured towns everywhere in the land: In the central hill country and the foothills to the west, in the Southern Desert and the region that slopes down toward the Dead Sea. Whenever he captured a town, he would kill the king and everyone else, as the LORD God of Israel had commanded.
- Joshua wiped out towns from Kadesh-Barnea to Gaza, everywhere in the region of Goshen, and as far north as Gibeon.
- The LORD fought on Israel's side, so Joshua and the Israelite army were able to capture these kings and take their land. They fought one battle after another, then they went back to their camp at Gilgal after capturing all that land.
- (SEE 10:42)
Once the king of Jerusalem became aware that Israel was closing a circle around his city, he realized he must take action. He sent word to four other kings of major cities in the south to enlist their support in forming a coalition against Israel. Surely together they could defeat Israel. Since Israel had made a peace treaty with Gibeon they would take advantage of the treaty to draw out Israel onto their playing field. By attacking Gibeon, they could punish the people for turning their backs on their neighbors while drawing Israel into battle on their terms. As expected, soon after Gibeon came under attack a runner was sent to Israel to ask for help. It would seem that allowing Gibeon to be destroyed by her neighbors would solve a problem for Israel, but Joshua evidently didn't consider this to be an option.
With the Lord's assurance that He had handed the forces of the coalition over to them, Joshua and "his whole military force" set out from Gilgal to Gibeon marching all night to cover the 25 miles by daylight the next day and catch the coalition by surprise. Once the battle was underway, God began His part by first throwing the enemy into confusion. A "great slaughter" at Gibeon ensued. In defeat, the remaining soldiers of the coalition fled, but they were not to escape. Again God intervened. This time with hail. He sent a discriminating hailstorm that struck only the fleeing Canaanites, killing "More of them . . . from the hail than the Israelites killed with the sword." (10:11)
At this point Israel could have claimed victory, but God did not intend for there to be any survivors. If Israel was to destroy the remaining soldiers fleeing them they needed to do so while it was still daylight or those fleeing would escape into the night. So Joshua prayed a bold prayer asking God to make the sun and moon stand still "until the nation took vengeance on its enemies." (10:13) It is ridiculous to argue the fallacy of religion versus science over Joshua's request of God. While it is unlikely that Joshua knew that the earth rotated around the sun instead of vice versa, God, to whom he made the request, knew the difference for He had made it all. Besides, even science refers to sunrise and sunset and this was really all that Joshua referred to. Neverthe less, God granted Joshua's request and resulted in a day unlike any before or after. A day in which the earth slowed in its rotation, extending daylight by "almost a full day." (10:13) With this extension of daylight Israel was able to destroy the entire coalition forces.
God used the plans of men who schemed to overpower His army to provide Israel the opportunity of destroying five major armies of the region in a 48 hour span of time. Capturing the momentum of this victory, Joshua swiftly led his army from this victory on through the southern region of Canaan destroying 8 cities and all the inhabitants. Obviously, the destruction of these cities and their inhabitants didn't mean no people remained in the region. Regardless, the military strength of the inhabitants was broken making it possible for each Israelite tribe to complete the task once they took possession of their territories.
Do we argue against the validity of a God who would command such an annihilation of people? Or, on the other hand, do we argue against this account being true since a loving God would not do such a thing? In either case, to make such arguments is to claim greater wisdom than the Creator of the universe.