1690.) Joshua 10

“Joshua speaks to the sun” by Salvador Dali (1964)

Joshua 10   (NRSV)

The Sun Stands Still

photo of the sun by the Hubble Space Telescope

When King Adoni-zedek of Jerusalem heard how Joshua had taken Ai, and had utterly destroyed it, doing to Ai and its king as he had done to Jericho and its king, and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them, 2he became greatly frightened, because Gibeon was a large city, like one of the royal cities, and was larger than Ai, and all its men were warriors. 3So King Adoni-zedek of Jerusalem sent a message to King Hoham of Hebron, to King Piram of Jarmuth, to King Japhia of Lachish, and to King Debir of Eglon, saying, 4“Come up and help me, and let us attack Gibeon; for it has made peace with Joshua and with the Israelites.”

5Then 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 their forces, and went up with all their armies and camped against Gibeon, and made war against it.

6And the Gibeonites sent to Joshua at the camp in Gilgal, saying, “Do not abandon your servants; come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us; for all the kings of the Amorites who live in the hill country are gathered against us.”

The Gibeonites rightly looked to the people of Israel as their helpers and protectors. They were not too proud to call for help. And the Israelites honor the vow they made previously to the Gibeonites, not to kill them — or even to let someone else kill them.

7So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the fighting force with him, all the mighty warriors. 8The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have handed them over to you; not one of them shall stand before you.”

9So Joshua came upon them suddenly, having marched up all night from Gilgal. 10And the Lord threw them into a panic before Israel, who inflicted a great slaughter on them at Gibeon, chased them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon, and struck them down as far as Azekah and Makkedah. 11As they fled before Israel, while they were going down the slope of Beth-horon, the Lord threw down huge stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died; there were more who died because of the hailstones than the Israelites killed with the sword.

“The Lord hurled large hailstones down on them.”  —  by Israeli artist Nurit Tzarfati

12On the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the Israelites, Joshua spoke to the Lord; and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and Moon, in the valley of Aijalon.”

“Joshua Stops the Sun” by Rafael, 1518 (The Rafael Loggia, Vatican)

13And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in mid-heaven, and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. 14There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded a human voice; for the Lord fought for Israel.

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Music:

HERE  is “Cannons”  by Phil Wickham. “The moon and the stars declare who you are . . . “

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from Joshua, by Jerome F.D. Creach:

At stake in our interpretation of this text is nothing less than our view of God’s role in history and nature.  This does not mean that the details of Joshua 10:1-14 must be taken as historical in order to be faithful to Scriptures.  In fact, we must recognize that the notion of the sun standing still is not as unique as verse 14 indicates.  There is a very similar story in the Iliad (II.412) in which Agamemnon prays that the sun would not set until the Achaeans won their battle.  Hence, Joshua’s authors are using battle imagery and descriptive language known in other traditions, and from that point one might conclude that the story is not historical.  Nevertheless, that point should not end discussion of the larger issue, God’s involvement in human affairs.  Historicity may not have been the real issue for the author of this story, either.  He is, after all, drawing information from an ancient source; he is not claiming to have seen the sun stand still.  Rather, his main concern was that God could and did intervene within history for Israel.

Herein lies the main issue for modern Christians.  This author, like all biblical writers, thought of history and nature as parts of the created order that God controlled.  He conceived humans as part of nature and therefore subject to the movements of history over which God was master.  The modern view of things has radically changed these relationships so that humans are separate from nature, and humans shape history.  This worldview encourages an understanding of God as one who allows the world to run by natural law and of humans as those who move and shape history.  Joshua 10:1-14 calls the church to wrestle with this arrogant understanding of humanity.  For indeed the church claims that there was a day like no other, namely the day of the resurrection of the Lord (Acts 2:29-36).  That day was not brought about by human will or plan but by the act of God on behalf of broken humanity.

15Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.

Five Kings Defeated

16Meanwhile, these five kings fled and hid themselves in the cave at Makkedah.

“Five kings had hidden in the cave.” — by Israeli artist Nurit Tzarfati

17And it was told Joshua, “The five kings have been found, hidden in the cave at Makkedah.” 18Joshua said, “Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave, and set men by it to guard them; 19but do not stay there yourselves; pursue your enemies, and attack them from the rear. Do not let them enter their towns, for the Lord your God has given them into your hand.”

20When Joshua and the Israelites had finished inflicting a very great slaughter on them, until they were wiped out, and when the survivors had entered into the fortified towns, 21all the people returned safe to Joshua in the camp at Makkedah; no one dared to speak against any of the Israelites.

22Then Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave, and bring those five kings out to me from the cave.” 23They did so, and brought the five kings out 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. 24When they brought the kings out to Joshua, Joshua summoned all the Israelites, and said to the chiefs of the warriors who had gone with him, “Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings.” Then they came near and put their feet on their necks.

25And Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous; for thus the Lord will do to all the enemies against whom you fight.” 26Afterward Joshua struck them down and put them to death, and he hung them on five trees. And they hung on the trees until evening.

The Canaanite kings were executed. Joshua wants to make it clear that there can be absolutely no accommodation with these Canaanite kings. After this pattern, we can allow no place in our lives to our spiritual enemies. All the ground belongs to Jesus, and must be taken for Him.

–David Guzik

Habakkuk 3:11-13 (NIV)

Sun and moon stood still in the heavens
at the glint of your flying arrows,
at the lightning of your flashing spear.

In wrath you strode through the earth
and in anger you threshed the nations.

You came out to deliver your people,
to save your anointed one.
You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness,
you stripped him from head to foot.
Selah

27At sunset Joshua commanded, and they took them down from the trees and threw them into the cave where they had hidden themselves; they set large stones against the mouth of the cave, which remain to this very day.

28Joshua took Makkedah on that day, and struck it and its king with the edge of the sword; he utterly destroyed every person in it; he left no one remaining. And he did to the king of Makkedah as he had done to the king of Jericho.

Southern Cities Conquered

29Then Joshua passed on from Makkedah, and all Israel with him, to Libnah, and fought against Libnah. 30The Lord gave it also and its king into the hand of Israel; and he struck it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it; he left no one remaining in it; and he did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho.

31Next Joshua passed on from Libnah, and all Israel with him, to Lachish, and laid siege to it, and assaulted it. 32The Lord gave Lachish into the hand of Israel, and he took it on the second day, and struck it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it, as he had done to Libnah. 33Then King Horam of Gezer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua struck him and his people, leaving him no survivors.

34From Lachish Joshua passed on with all Israel to Eglon; and they laid siege to it, and assaulted it; 35and they took it that day, and struck it with the edge of the sword; and every person in it he utterly destroyed that day, as he had done to Lachish.

36Then Joshua went up with all Israel from Eglon to Hebron; they assaulted it, 37and took it, and struck it with the edge of the sword, and its king and its towns, and every person in it; he left no one remaining, just as he had done to Eglon, and utterly destroyed it with every person in it.

38Then Joshua, with all Israel, turned back to Debir and assaulted it, 39and he took it with its king and all its towns; they struck them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed every person in it; he left no one remaining; just as he had done to Hebron, and, as he had done to Libnah and its king, so he did to Debir and its king.

40So Joshua defeated the whole land, the hill country and the Negeb and the lowland and the slopes, and all their kings; he left no one remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded. 41And Joshua defeated them from Kadesh-barnea to Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, as far as Gibeon. 42Joshua took all these kings and their land at one time, because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel.

43Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.

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The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Dali.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/10-dali-joshua-sun.jpg
Hubble photograph of the sun.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/10-hubble-the-sun.jpg
Tzarfati.    http://www.biblical-art.com/artist_artwork.asp?id_artist=2096&alt=2&pagenum=1
Rafael.    http://www.christusrex.org/www1/stanzas/L39-Joshua.jpg
history book.    http://www.clipartguide.com/_small/1386-0804-0812-1544.jpg
sun and moon.    http://www.universaluv.com/universalUV%20website/Paintings/Sun%20&%20Moon.jpg
map of Joshua’s southern campaign.    http://www.generationword.com/images/bible_study/bs_9_ot_3/joshua_entrance_campaign.jpg
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