10:1-6 The Amorite Alliance
The treaty between Israel and Gibeon was a setback for the Amorites, because it was a big city with good fighters that stood between the Amorites and Israel. Now that line of defense was removed. Coupled with the fall of Jericho and Ai, the central part of Canaan was now controlled by the Israelites. The Amorites, led by Adoni-Zedek of Jerusalem, gathered their alliance and attacked Gibeon. This was a clever attempt to retake this central city for defense purposes and discourage future alliances with Israel.
The name “Adoni-zedek” means “lord of justice”. He was known to cut off the toes and thumbs of those he punished. He was not only the king of Jerusalem, but also seemed to be a chief or leader among the Canaanites tribes and cities. That is probably why he was the one to organize the alliance. There is also historical evidence for his existence. Tell Armana is an archeological site in Egypt. Egypt had dominion over Canaan for a long time. It was the capital city built by king Akhenaten. Many tables were found there, written in Akkadian. They are called the Tell Armana tablets. Among the Tell Amarna tablets are letters from Adoni-zedec to the King of Egypt. The letters show the invasion of Israel into this area from the perspective of the invaded. Some quotes from the letters are: "Behold, I say that the land of the king my lord is ruined", "The wars are mighty against me", "The Hebrew chiefs plunder all the king's lands", "Behold, I the chief of the Amorites am breaking to pieces." Then he implores the king of Egypt to send soldiers to help him, directing that the army should come by sea to Gaza, and thence march to Wru-sa-lim (Jerusalem) by the valley of Elah.
Each of these kings mentioned in Joshua 10 is the king of a city-state. All of them are southwest of Jerusalem, except Jerusalem itself. You probably recognize some of the names. Jerusalem was evidently originally just called Salem. This is the first time it is called Jerusalem in the Bible. After Abraham’s battle with the 5 kings and the rescue of Lot, Abraham encountered Melchizedek of Salem, according to Genesis 14:18. He was called priest of God Most High. He blessed Abraham and Abraham gave him a tithe of the spoils. Jerusalem eventually became the capital and David resided there. He had to win the city from the Jebusites, who were still living there.
Hebron is 23 miles south of Jerusalem. The Canaanites called it Kiriath Arba, naming it after Arba, the greatest man among the Anakites. Abraham moved there after separating from Lot, and he built an altar there. Sarah later died there. Genesis 23 tells us Abraham bought property there from the Hittites and buried Sarah in a cave. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rebecca and Leah were all eventually buried there. Joshua gave Hebron to Caleb, who was of the tribe of Judah. David was later anointed as king there and reigned there for 7 years.
The Israelites will continue to honor their treaty and oath to the Gibeonites.
10:7-11 (The Lightning Strike)
Joshua surprised the Amorites with an all night march to join the battle. More importantly, you see the Lord fighting the battle for them again. He gave them enemy into the hand of Israel, he threw the enemy into confusion, then he hurled large hailstones on them and killed more than the Israelites did. The Israelites pursued them for 20 miles.
10:12-15 (The Longest Day)
Joshua asked the Lord to make the sun stand still so they would have more time to fight. The Lord did so. You can almost hear the writer marvel at the wonder of God’s intercession in this way.
I am not sure the NIV has the translation right in verses 12 and 13. The NIV reads “…Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel…” But the literal translation is “and he said” and the subject is not specified. So, these words spoken to the sun may be the words of the Lord, not of Joshua, which make sense, given their commanding nature. In support of this interpretation, note that verse 14 says “surely the Lord was fighting for Israel”. The ESV preserves the ambiguity of the original text by saying “and he said in the sight of Israel”.
Notice also the reference to another book that is not in the Bible, the Book of Jashar. 2 Samuel 1:18 also refers to it. There is a claim that it was rediscovered in 1829, but that version appears to be a forgery. There is an 1840 translation on the Web. It is a re-telling of the Old Testament from creation through the time of the Judges with some extra stuff. It was printed in Hebrew in 1625. There is also a fraudulent version written in the Middle Ages. Some more cultic groups have embraced it as the true story of the O.T. times, including the House of Jehovah, the Mormans, the Rosicrucians (the forged version), and Ellen White appears to have copied some of it in her writings for the early Seventh Day Adventists.
I think the purpose of the reference is to say, I know this is fantastic, but if you don’t believe, go read that other book and see that it has the same facts.
10:16-28 Execution of the Kings
The kings were captured and imprisoned in a cave until the battles were over. Then Joshua humiliated them, executed them, and displayed their bodies. Joshua gave the Israelites an object lesson by having them place their feet on the neck of the kings to symbolize defeat and give them courage. The Bible tells us the Father told Jesus to sit at his right hand until he made his enemies a footstool for his feet. See Psalm 110:1; 1 Corinthians 15:25-27). Joshua also built another monument of stone to commemorate the victories.
The second Joshua will participate in a similar event. Revelation 6:15-17 says the kings of the earth will hide in caves from the face of the Father and the wrath of the Lamb. They acknowledge that no one can stand before their wrath.
10:29-43 The Southern Campaign
Joshua continued to attack, moving to destroy the southern cities that the Lord gave to him. They completely destroyed all the cities, as the Lord commanded.
LESSSONS TO LEARN:
When the Lord says he will give victory, he does give victory.
The Lord kept his promises to Abraham.
The Lord's judgment is awsome and to be avoided by placing our faith in Christ.