Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
The report that Joshua had taken Ai, and put it, like Jericho, under the ban, and that the Gibeonites had concluded a treaty with Israel, filled Adonizedek the king of Jerusalem with alarm, as Gibeon was a large town, like one of the king's towns, even larger than Ai, and its inhabitants were brave men. He therefore joined with the kings of Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon, to make a common attack upon Gibeon, and punish it for its alliance with the Israelites, and at the same time to put a check upon the further conquests of Israel. Adonizedek, i.e., lord of righteousness, is synonymous with Melchizedek (king of righteousness), and was a title of the Jebusite kings, as Pharaoh was of the Egyptian. Jerusalem, i.e., the founding or possession of peace, called Salem in the time of Abraham (Gen 14:18), was the proper name of the town, which was also frequently called by the name of its Canaanitish inhabitants Jebus (Jdg 19:10-11; Ch1 11:4), or "city of the Jebusite" (Ir-Jebusi, Jdg 19:11), sometimes also in a contracted form, Jebusi (היבוּסי, Jos 18:16, Jos 18:28; Jos 15:8; Sa2 5:8).
(Note: In our English version, we have the Hebrew word itself simply transposed in Jos 18:16, Jos 18:28; whilst it is rendered "the Jebusite" in Jos 15:8, and "the Jebusites" in Sa2 5:8. - Tr.)
On the division of the land it was allotted to the tribe of Benjamin (Jos 18:28); but being situated upon the border of Judah (Jos 15:8), it was conquered, and burned by the sons of Judah after the death of Joshua (Jdg 1:8). It was very soon taken again and rebuilt by the Jebusites, whom the sons of Judah were unable to destroy (Jos 15:63; Jdg 19:10-12), so that both Benjaminites and Judahites lived there along with the Jebusites (Jdg 1:21; Jos 15:63); and the upper town especially, upon the summit of Mount Zion, remained as a fortification in the possession of the Jebusites, until David conquered it (Sa2 5:6.), made it the capital of his kingdom, and called it by his own name, "the city of David," after which the old name of Jebus fell into disuse. Hebron, the town of Arba the Anakite (Jos 14:15, etc.; see at Gen 23:2), was twenty-two Roman miles south of Jerusalem, in a deep and narrow valley upon the mountains of Judah, a town of the greatest antiquity (Num 13:22), now called el Khalil, i.e., the friend (of God), with reference to Abraham's sojourn there. The ruins of an ancient heathen temple are still to be seen there, as well as the Haram, built of colossal blocks, which contains, according to Mohammedan tradition, the burial-place of the patriarchs (see at Gen 23:17). Jarmuth, in the lowlands of Judah (Jos 15:35; Neh 11:29), according to the Onom. (s. v. Jermus) a hamlet, Jermucha (Ἰερμοχωῶς), ten Roman miles from Eleutheropolis, on the road to Jerusalem, is the modern Jarmuk, a village on a lofty hill, with the remains of walls and cisterns of a very ancient date, the name of which, according to Van de Velde (Mem. pp. 115-6), is pronounced Tell 'Armuth by the Arabs (see Rob. Pal. ii. p. 344). Lachish, in the lowlands of Judah (Jos 15:39), was fortified by Rehoboam (Ch2 11:9), and besieged by Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar (Kg2 18:14; Kg2 19:8; Jer 34:7), and was still inhabited by Jews after the return from the captivity (Neh 11:30). It is probably to be found in Um Lakis, an old place upon a low round hill, covered with heaps of small round stones thrown together in great confusion, containing relics of marble columns; it is about an hour and a quarter to the west of Ajlun, and seven hours to the west of Eleutheropolis.
(Note: It is true that Robinson dispute the identity of Um Lakis with the ancient Lachish (Pal. ii. p. 388), but "not on any reasonable ground" (Van de Velde, Mem. p. 320). The statement in the Onom. (s. v. Lochis), that it was seven Roman miles to the south of Eleutheropolis, cannot prove much, as it may easily contain an error in the number, and Robinson does not admit its authority even in the case of Eglon (Pal. ii. p. 392). Still less can Knobel's conjecture be correct, that it is to be found in the old place called Sukkarijeh, two hours and a half to the south-west of Beit Jibrin (Eleutheropolis), as Sukkarijeh is on the east of Ajlun, whereas, according to Jos 10:31-36, Lachish is to be sought for on the west of Eglon.)
Eglon: also in the lowlands of Judah (Jos 15:39). The present name is Ajln, a heap of ruins, about three-quarters of an hour to the east of Um Lakis (see Rob. Pal. ii. p. 392, and Van de Velde, Mem. p. 308). In the Onom. (s. v. Eglon) it is erroneously identified with Odollam; whereas the situation of Agla, "at the tenth stone, as you go from Eleutheropolis to Gaza" (Onom. s. v. Βηθαλαΐ́μ, Bethagla), suits Eglon exactly.
These five kings marched against Gibeon and besieged the town. The king of Jerusalem headed the expedition, as his town was so near to Gibeon that he was the first to fear an attack from the Israelites.
The Gibeonites then sent to Joshua to the camp at Gilgal, and entreated him to come to his help as speedily as possible. "Slack not thy hand from thy servants," i.e., withhold not thy help from us. The definition appended to "the kings of the Amorites" ("that dwelt in the mountains") is to be understood a potiori, and does not warrant us in drawing the conclusion, that all the towns mentioned in Jos 10:3 were in the mountains of Judah. The Amorites who dwelt in the mountains were the strongest of all the Canaanites.
In accordance with this petition Joshua advanced from Gilgal (ויּעל, not went up) with all the people of war, even (vav expl.) all the men of valour.
The Lord then renewed the assurance of His help in this particular war, in which Joshua was about to fight for the first time with several allied kings of Canaan (cf. Jos 2:24; Jos 6:2; Jos 8:1, Jos 8:18).
Joshua came suddenly upon them (the enemy), as he had marched the whole night from Gilgal, i.e., had accomplished the entire distance in a night. Jiljilia is fully fifteen miles from el-Jib.
"Jehovah threw them into confusion," as He had promised in Exo 23:27, and in all probability, judging from Jos 10:11, by dreadful thunder and lightning (vid., Sa1 7:10; Psa 18:15; Psa 144:6 : it is different in Exo 14:24). "Israel smote them in a great slaughter at Gibeon, and pursued them by the way of the ascent of Bethhoron," i.e., Upper Bethhoron (Beit Ur, el-Foka), which was nearest to Gibeon, only four hours distant on the north-west, on a lofty promontory between two valleys, one on the north, the other on the south, and was separated from Lower Bethhoron, which lies further west, by a long steep pass, from which the ascent to Upper Bethhoron is very steep and rocky, though the rock has been cut away in many places now, and a path made by means of steps (see Rob. Pal. iii. p. 59). This pass between the two places leads downwards from Gibeon towards the western plain, and was called sometimes the ascent, or going up to Bethhoron, and sometimes the descent, or going down from it (Jos 10:11), ἀνάβασις καὶ κατάβασις Βαιθωρῶν (1 Macc. 3:16, 24). Israel smote the enemy still further, "to Azekah and Makkedah:" so far were they pursued and beaten after the battle (cf. Jos 10:16, Jos 10:21). If we compare Jos 10:11, according to which the enemy was smitten, from Bethhoron to Azekah, by a violent fall of hail, it is very evident that the two places were on the west of Bethhoron. And it is in perfect harmony with this that we find both places described as being in the lowland; Azekah in the hill-country between the mountains and the plain (Jos 15:35), Makkedah in the plain itself (Jos 15:41). Azekah, which was fortified by Rehoboam (Ch2 11:9), besieged by Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 34:7), and still inhabited after the captivity (Neh 11:30), was not far from Socoh, according to Jos 15:35; whilst sideways between the two was Ephes-dammim (Sa1 17:1). Van de Velde has discovered the latter in the ruins of Damm, about an hour's journey east by south from Beit Nettif (Mem. p. 290), and consequently imagines that Azekah is to be found in the village of Ahbek, which stands upon a lofty mountain-top a mile and a half to the north of Damm, and about four of five miles N.N.E. of Shuweikeh, supposing this to be Aphek. The statement in the Onom. (s. v. Ἀζηκά), ἀνάμεσον Ἐλευθεροπολεως καὶ Αἰλίας, agrees with this. Makkedah is described in the Onom. as being eight Roman miles to the east of Eleutheropolis, and hence Knobel supposes it to have been near Terkumieh, or Morak; but he is wrong in his supposition, as in that case it would have been in the hill-country or upon the mountains, whereas it was one of the towns in the plain (Jos 15:41). Van de Velde's conjecture (p. 332) is a much more probable one, viz., that it is to be found in Summeil, a considerable village on an eminence in the plain, with a large public well 110 feet deep and 11 feet in diameter, with strongly built walls of hewn stones, where there is also part of an old wall, which to all appearance must formerly have belonged to a large square castle built of uncemented stones, resembling in some respects the oldest foundation wall of Beit Jibrin (Rob. Pal. ii. p. 368). It is two hours and a half to the north-west of Beit Jibrin, and there Van de Velde discovered the large cave (see at Jos 10:16), which Robinson has not observed (see his Journey through Syria and Palestine).
The large stones which the Lord threw upon the flying foe at the slope of Bethhoron were hail-stones (see Isa 30:30), not stone-hail, or a shower of stones, but a terrible hail-storm, in which hail fell upon the foe in pieces as large as stones (see Wis. 46:6), and slew a greater number of them than the swords of the Israelites. This phenomenon, which resembled the terrible hail in Egypt (Exo 9:24), was manifestly a miraculous occurrence produced by the omnipotent power of God, inasmuch as the hail-stones slew the enemy without injuring the Israelites, who were pursuing them. By this the Israelites were to be made to see that it was not their own power, but the supernatural help of their God, which had given them the victory; whilst the enemy discovered that it was not only the people of Israel, but the God of Israel, that had devoted them to destruction.
In firm reliance upon the promise of God (Jos 10:8), Joshua offered a prayer to the Lord during the battle, that He would not let the sun go down till Israel had taken vengeance upon their foes; and the Lord hearkened to the prayer of His servant, and the sun hastened not to go down till the defeat of the Amorites was accomplished. This miraculous victory was celebrated by the Israelites in a war-song, which was preserved in the "book of the Righteous." The author of the book of Joshua has introduced the passage out of this book which celebrates the mighty act of the Lord for the glorification of His name upon Israel, and their foes the Amorites. It is generally admitted, that Jos 10:12-15 contain a quotation from the "book of Jasher," mentioned in Jos 10:13. This quotation, and the reference to the work itself, are analogous to the notice of "the book of the wars of the Lord," in Num 21:14, and to the strophes of a song which are there interwoven with the historical narrative; the object being, not to confirm the historical account by referring to an earlier source, but simply to set forth before other generations the powerful impression which was made upon the congregation by these mighty acts of the Lord. The "book of Jasher," i.e., book of the upright, or righteous man, that is to say, of the true members of the theocracy, or godly men. ישׁר (Jasher, the righteous) is used to denote the genuine Israelite, in the same sense as in Num 23:10, where Balaam calls the Israelites "the righteous," inasmuch as Jehovah, the righteous and upright one (Deu 32:4), had called them to be His people, and to walk in His righteousness. In addition to this passage, the "book of the righteous (Jasher)" is also mentioned in Sa2 1:18, as a work in which was to be found David's elegy upon Saul and Jonathan. From this fact it has been justly inferred, that the book was a collection of odes in praise of certain heroes of the theocracy, with historical notices of their achievements interwoven, and that the collection was formed by degrees; so that the reference to this work is neither a proof that the passage has been interpolated by a later hand, nor that the work was composed at a very late period. That the passage quoted from this work is extracted from a song is evident enough, both from the poetical form of the composition, and also from the parallelism of the sentences. The quotation, however, does not begin with ויּאמר (and he said) in Jos 10:12, but with תּת בּיום (in the day when the Lord delivered) in Jos 10:12, and Jos 10:13 and Jos 10:14 also form part of it; so that the title of the book from which the quotation is taken is inserted in the middle of the quotation itself. In other cases, unquestionably, such formulas of quotation are placed either at the beginning (as in Num 21:14, Num 21:27; Sa2 1:18), or else at the close of the account, which is frequently the case in the books of Kings and Chronicles; but it by no means follows that there were no exceptions to this rule, especially as the reason for mentioning the original sources is a totally different one in the books of Kings, where the works cited are not the simple vouchers for the facts related, but works containing fuller and more elaborate accounts of events which have only been cursorily described. The poetical form of the passage in Jos 10:13 also leaves no doubt whatever that Jos 10:13 and Jos 10:14 contain the words of the old poet, and are not a prose comment made by the historian upon the poetical passage quoted. The only purely historical statement in Jos 10:15; and this is repeated in Jos 10:43, at the close of the account of the wars and the victory. But this literal repetition of Jos 10:15 in Jos 10:43, and the fact that the statement, that Joshua returned with all the people to the camp at Gilgal, anticipates the historical course of the events in a very remarkable manner, render it highly probable, it not absolutely certain, that Jos 10:15 was also taken from the book of the righteous.
In the day when Jehovah delivered up the Amorites to the children of Israel ("before," as in Deu 2:31, Deu 2:33, etc.), Joshua said before the eyes (i.e., in the presence) of Israel, so that the Israelites were witnesses of his words (vid., Deu 31:7): "Sun, stand still (wait) at Gibeon; and, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon." דּמם, to be silent, to keep one's self quiet or still, to wait (Sa1 14:9). The address to the sun and moon implies that they both of them stood, or were visible in the heavens at the time; and inasmuch as it was spoken to the Lord, involves a prayer that the Lord and Creator of the world would not suffer the sun and moon to set till Israel had taken vengeance upon its foes. This explanation of the prayer is only to be found, it is true, in the statement that the sun and moon stood still at Joshua's word; but we must imagine it as included in the prayer itself. גּוי without an article, when used to denote the people of Israel, is to be regarded as a poetical expression. In the sequel (Jos 10:13) the sun only is spoken of: "and the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day." The poetical word אוּץ, to press or hurry, is founded upon the idea that the sun runs its course like a strong man, with vigour, and without weariness or cessation (Psa 19:6-7). It follows from this, that Joshua merely prayed for the day to be lengthened, i.e., for the setting of the sun to be delayed; and that he included the moon (Jos 10:12), simply because it was visible at the time. But even if this is the case, we are not therefore to conclude, as C. v. Lapide, Clericus, and others have done, that Joshua spoke these words in the afternoon, when the sun was beginning to set, and the moon had already risen. The expression השּׁמים בּחצי, "in the half," i.e., the midst, "of the sky," is opposed to this view, and still more the relative position of the two in the sky, the sun at Gibeon and the moon in the valley of Ajalon, i.e., in the fine broad basin on the north side of Yalo (see at Jos 19:42), the present Merj Ibn Omeir (Rob. iii. p. 63, 64), which is four hours' journey to the west of Gibeon. As Joshua smote the enemy at Gibeon, and they fled to the south-west, he was not doubt on the west of Gibeon when he commanded the sun and moon to stand still; and therefore from his point of view the sun would be in the east when it stood over Gibeon, and the moon in the far west when it stood over the valley of Ajalon. But that could only be the case before noon, a few hours after sunrise, when the moon had not yet set in the western sky. In all probability the battle took place quite early in the morning, as Joshua had marched from Gilgal the night before, and fell quite suddenly upon the enemy (Jos 10:9). But after the conflict had lasted for some hours, and Joshua began to be anxious lest he should be unable to overcome the enemy before night came on, he addressed the prayer to the Lord to lengthen out the day, and in a short time saw his prayer so far fulfilled, that the sun still stood high up in the sky when the enemy was put to flight. We take for granted that these words were spoken by Joshua before the terrible hail-storm which fell upon the enemy in their flight, when they were near Bethhoron, which is about two hours from Gibeon, and smote them to Azekah. There is nothing to prevent our assuming this. The fact, that in the historical account the hail is mentioned before the desire expressed by Joshua and the fulfilment of that desire, may be explained on the simple ground, that the historian, following the order of importance, relates the principal incident in connection with the battle first, before proceeding to the special point to be cited from the book of the righteous. תמים כּיום, "towards (about, or as it were) a whole day," neither signifies "when the day was ended" (Clericus), nor "as it usually does when the day is perfected or absolutely finished" (Rosenmller); but the sun did not hasten or press to go down, delayed its setting, almost a whole day ("day" being the time between sunrise and sunset).
What conception are we to form of this miraculous event? It is not stated that the sun actually stood still in one spot in the heavens-say, for instance, in the zenith. And if the expression, "the sun stood still in the midst of heaven," which is added as an explanation of ויּדּום, is so pressed as to mean that the sun as miraculously stopped in its course, this is hardly reconcilable with לבוא אץ לא, "it hasted not to go down," as these words, if taken literally, merely denote a slower motion on the part of the sun, as many of the Rabbins have observed. All that is clearly affirmed in Jos 10:12 and Jos 10:13 is, that at Joshua's word the sun remained standing in the sky for almost a whole day longer. To this there is added, in Jos 10:14, "There was no day like that before it, or after it, that Jehovah hearkened to the voice of a man; for Jehovah fought for Israel." This expression must not be pressed too far, as the analogous passages ("there was none like him," etc.) in Kg2 18:5 and Kg2 23:25 clearly show. They merely express this thought: no other day like this, which God so miraculously lengthened, ever occurred either before or afterwards. So much, therefore, is obvious enough from the words, that the writer of the old song, and also the author of the book of Joshua, who inserted the passage in his narrative, were convinced that the day was miraculously prolonged. At the same time, it must be borne in mind that it is not stated that God lengthened that day at the request of Joshua almost an entire day, or that He made the sun stand still almost a whole day, but simply that God hearkened to the voice of Joshua, i.e., did not permit the sun to go down till Israel had avenged itself upon its enemies. This distinction is not without importance: for a miraculous prolongation of the day would take place not only if the sun's course or sun's setting was delayed for several hours by the omnipotent power of God, and the day extended from twelve to eighteen or twenty hours, but also if the day seemed to Joshua and all Israel to be miraculously prolonged; because the work accomplished on that day was so great, that it would have required almost two days to accomplish it without supernatural aid. It is not easy to decide between these two opposite views; in fact, it is quite impossible if we go to the root of the matter. When we are not in circumstances to measure the length of the day by the clock, it is very easy to mistake its actual length, especially in the midst of the pressure of business or work. The Israelites at that time had neither sun-clocks nor any other kind of clock; and during the confusion of the battle it is hardly likely that Joshua, or any one else who was engaged in the conflict, would watch the shadow of the sun and its changes, either by a tree or any other object, so as to discover that the sun had actually stood still, from the fact that for hours the shadow had neither moved nor altered in length. Under such circumstances, therefore, it was quite impossible for the Israelites to decide whether it was in reality, or only in their own imagination, that the day was longer than others. To this there must be added the poetical character of the verses before us. When David celebrates the miraculous deliverance which he had received from the Lord, in these words, "In my distress I called upon the Lord ... . He heard my voice out of His temple ... . He bowed the heavens also, and came down ... . He sent from above, He took me, He grew me out of many waters" (Psa 18:7-17), who would ever think of interpreting the words literally, and supposing them to mean that God actually came down from the sky, and stretched out His hand to draw David out of the water? Or who would understand the words of Deborah, "They fought from heaven, the stars in their courses fought against Sisera" (Jdg 5:20), in their literal sense? The truthfulness of such utterances is to be sought for in the subjective sphere of religious intuition, and not in a literal interpretation of the words. And it may be just the same with these verses, without their actual contents being affected, if the day was merely subjectively lengthened, - that is to say, in the religious conviction of the Israelites. But even if the words really affirmed that a miraculous and objective lengthening of the day did actually take place, we should have no reason whatever for questioning the credibility of the statement.
All the objections that have been raised with reference to the reality or possibility of such a miracle, prove to have no force when we examine the subject more closely. Thus, for example, the objection that the annals of the other nations of the earth contain no account of any such miracle, which must have extended over the whole world, loses all its significance from the simple fact that there are no annals in existence belonging to other nations and reaching back to that time, and that it is altogether doubtful whether the miracle would extend far beyond the limits of Palestine. Again, an appeal to the unchangeableness of the motions of the stars according to eternal and unchangeable laws, is not adapted to prove the impossibility of such a miracle. The eternal laws of nature are nothing more than phenomena, or forms of manifestation, of those divine creative powers, the true character of which no mortal has ever fathomed. And does not the almighty Creator and Upholder of nature and all its forces possess the power so to direct and govern the working of these forces, as to make them subservient to the realization of His purposes of salvation? And lastly, the objection that a sudden stoppage of the revolution of the earth upon its axis would have dashed to pieces all the works of human hands that were to be found upon its surface, and hurled the earth itself, with its satellite the moon, out of their orbits, cannot prove anything, because it leaves out of sight the fact that the omnipotent hand of God, which not only created the stars, but gave them the power to revolve with such regularity in their orbits as long as this universe endures, and which upholds and governs all things in heaven and on earth, is not too short to guard against any such disastrous consequences as these. But to this we may add, that even the strictest and most literal interpretation of the words does not require us to assume, as the fathers and earlier theologians did, that the sun itself was miraculously made to stand still, but simply supposes an optical stopping of the sun in its course, - that is to say, a miraculous suspension of the revolution of the earth upon its axis, which would make it appear to the eye of an observer as if the sun itself were standing still. Knobel is by no means warranted in pronouncing this view of the matter an assumption at variance with the text. For the Scriptures speak of the things of the visible world as they appear; just as we speak of the sun as rising and setting, although we have no doubt whatever about the revolution of the earth. Moreover, the omnipotence of God might produce such an optical stoppage of the sun, or rather a continuance of the visibility of the sun above the horizon, by celestial phenomena which are altogether unknown to us or to naturalists in general, without interfering with the general laws affecting the revolution of the heavenly bodies. Only we must not attempt, as some have done, to reduce the whole miracle of divine omnipotence to an unusual refraction of the light, or to the continuance of lightning throughout the whole night.
The five kings fled and hid themselves in the cave that was a Makkedah. When they were discovered there, Joshua ordered large stones to be rolled before the entrance to the cave, and men to be placed there to watch, whilst the others pursued the enemy without ceasing, and smote their rear (vid., Deu 25:18), and prevented their entering into their cities. He himself remained at Makkedah (Jos 10:21).
When the great battle and the pursuit of the enemy were ended, and such as remained had reached their fortified towns, the people returned to the camp to Joshua at Makkedah in peace, i.e., without being attacked by anybody. "There pointed not (a dog) its tongue against the sons of Israel, against any one" (see at Exo 11:7). לאישׁ is in apposition to ישׂראל לבני, and serves to define it more precisely. It is possible, however, to regard the ל as a copyist's error, as Houbigant and Maurer do, in which case אישׁ would be the nominative to the verb.
Joshua then commanded the five kings to be fetched out of the cave, and directed the leaders of the army to set their feet upon the necks of the kings; and when this had been done, he ordered the kings to be put to death, and to be hanged upon trees until the evening, when their bodies were to be thrown into the cave in which they had concealed themselves. Of course this did not take place till the day after the battle, as the army could not return from their pursuit of the foe to the camp at Makkedah till the night after the battle; possibly it did not take place till the second day, if the pursuit had lasted any longer. In Jos 10:24, "all the men of Israel" are all the warriors in the camp. ההלכוּא, with ה artic., instead of the relative pronoun (see Ges. 109; Ew. 331, b.); and the ending וּא for וּ or וּן, as in Isa 28:12 (see Ew. 190, b.). The fact that the military leaders set their feet at Joshua's command upon the necks of the conquered kings, was not a sign of barbarity, which it is necessary to excuse by comparing it with still greater barbarities on the part of the Canaanites, as in Jdg 1:7, but was a symbolical act, a sign of complete subjugation, which was customary in this sense even in the Eastern empire (see Bynaeus de calceis, p. 318, and Constant. Porphyrogen de cerimon. aulae Byzant. ii. 19). It was also intended in this instance to stimulate the Israelites to further conflict with the Canaanites. This is stated in the words of Joshua (Jos 10:25): "Fear not, nor be dismayed (vid., Jos 1:9; Jos 8:1); for thus shall the Lord do to all your enemies." On the putting to death and then hanging, see Jos 8:29 and Deu 21:22-23. The words וגו ויּשׂימוּ (Jos 10:27) are generally understood as signifying, that after the bodies of the kings had been cast into the cave, the Israelites placed large stones before the entrance, just as in other cases heaps of stones were piled upon the graves of criminals that had been executed (vid., Jos 7:25), and that these stones remained there till the account before us was written. But this leaves the words עצם עד unexplained, as עצם never occurs in any other case where the formula "until this day" is used with the simple meaning that a thing had continued to the writer's own time. הזּה היּום עצם expresses the thought that the day referred to was the very same day about which the author was writing, and no other (see Jos 5:11; Gen 7:13; Gen 17:23; Exo 12:17, etc.). If, therefore, it has any meaning at all in the present instance, we must connect the whole clause with the one preceding, and even construe it as a relative clause: "where they (the kings) had hidden themselves, and they (the Israelites) had placed large stones at the mouth of the cave until that very day" (on which the kings were fetched out and executed).
Further prosecution of the victory, by the conquest of the fortified towns of the south, into which those who escaped the sword of the Israelites had thrown themselves.
On the same day on which the five kings were impaled, Joshua took Makkedah (see at Jos 10:10), and smote the town and its king with the edge of the sword, banning the town and all the persons in it, i.e., putting all the inhabitants to death (many MSS and some editions adopt the reading אתהּ for אתם, as in Jos 10:37), taking the cattle and the property in the town as booty, as in the case of Ai (Jos 8:27-28), and treating its king like the king of Jericho, who was suspended upon a stake, to judge from Jos 8:2, Jos 8:29, although this is not stated in Josh 6.
From Makkedah he went with all Israel, i.e., all the men of war, against Libnah, and after effecting the conquest of it, did just the same as he had done to Makkedah. Libnah was one of the towns of the plain or of the hill-country of Judah (Jos 15:42); it was allotted to the priests (Jos 21:13), revolted from Judah in the reign of Joram (Kg2 8:22), and was besieged by Sennacherib (Isa 37:8). It is to be sought on the north-west of Lachish, not on the south as Knobel erroneously infers from Isa 37:8. According to the Onom. (s. v. Lebna), it was at that time villa in regione Eleutheropolitana, quae appellatur Lobna. It has not been discovered yet; but according to the very probable conjecture of V. de Velde (Mem. p. 330), the ruins of it may perhaps be seen upon the hill called Ark el Menshiyeh, about two hours to the wets of Beit Jibrin.
(Note: Knobel is decidedly wrong in his supposition, that Libnah is to be seen in the considerable ruins called Hora, which lie in the plain (Seetzen and V. de Velde) and are called Hawara by Robinson. He founds his conjecture upon the fact that the name signifies white, and is the Arabic translation of the Hebrew name. But Hora is only two hours and a half to the north of Beersheba, and is not in the plain at all, but in the Negeb.)
Lachish, i.e., Um Lakis (see at Jos 10:3), shared the same fate.
Joshua also smote the king of Gezer, who had come with his people to help of Lachish, and left no one remaining. Nothing is said about the capture of the town of Gezer. According to Jos 16:10 and Jdg 1:29, it was still in the possession of the Canaanites when the land was divided, though this alone is not sufficient to prove that Joshua did not conquer it, as so many of the conquered towns were occupied by the Canaanites again after the Israelites had withdrawn. But its situation makes it very probable that Joshua did not conquer it at that time, as it was too much out of his road, and too far from Lachish. Gezer (lxx Γάζερ, in Ch1 14:16 Γαζηρά, in 1 Macc. Γαζήρα or Γάζαρα plur., in Josephus Γάζαρα, Ant. vii. 4, 1, viii. 6, 1, and also Γάδαρα, v. 1, 22, xii. 7, 4) was on the southern boundary of Ephraim (Jos 16:3), and was given up by that tribe to the Levites (Jos 16:9-10; Jos 21:20-21. It is very frequently mentioned. David pursued the Philistines to Gezer (Gazer), after they had been defeated at Gibeon or Geba (Sa2 5:25; Ch1 14:16). At a later period it was conquered by Pharaoh, and presented to his daughter, who was married to Solomon; and Solomon built, i.e., fortified it (Kg1 9:16-17). It was an important fortress in the wars of the Maccabees (1 Macc. 9:52; 2 Macc. 10:32; cf. 1 Macc. 4:15; 7:45; 13:53; 14:34; 15:28, 35). According to the Onom. (s. v. Gazer), it was four Roman miles to the north of Nicopolis, i.e., Anwas, and was called Γαζάρα. This is not only in harmony with Jos 16:3, according to which the southern border of Ephraim ran from Lower Bethhoron to Gezer, and then on to the sea, but also with all the other passages in which Gezer is mentioned,
(Note: The statement in 1 Macc. 7:45, that Judas Maccabaeus pursued the army of Nicanor, which had been beaten at Adasa, for a day's journey, as far as Gazera ("a day's journey from Adasa into Gazera"), is perfectly reconcilable with the situation of el Kubab; for, according to Josephus (Ant. xii. 10, 5), Adasa was thirty stadia from Bethhoron, and Bethhoron is ten miles to the west of Jubab (measuring in a straight line upon the map); so that Judas pursued the enemy fifteen miles - a distance which might very well be called "a day's journey," if we consider that the enemy, when flying, would not always take the straightest road, and might even make a stand at intervals, and so delay their pursuers. Still less do the statement in 1 Macc. 14:34, that Simon fortified Joppa on the sea, and Gazara on the border of Ashdod, the combination of Joppa, Gazara, and the tower that is in Jerusalem (1 Macc. 15:28, 35), and the fact that the country of Gadaris, with the town of Gadara, occurs between Joppa and Jamnia in Strabo xvi. 759, warrant us in making a distinction between Gazara (Gezer) and the place mentioned in the Onom., as Grimm does (on 1 Macc. 4:15), and identifying it with the village of Jazr, an hour and a half from Jaffa, although Arvieux calls this village Gesser. The objections of Van de Velde against the identity of Jubab and Gazer are without any force. It does not necessarily follow from the expression "went up," that Lachish stood on higher ground than Gezer, as going up often signifies nothing more than making a hostile attack upon a fortification. And no importance can be attached to the conjecture, that with the great distance of Jubab from Um Lakis, the king of Gezer would have come to the help of the kings of Makkedah and Libnah, who were much nearer and were attacked first, as the circumstances which determined his conduct are too thoroughly unknown to us, for it to be possible to pronounce an opinion upon the subject with any certainty.)
and answers very well to the situation of El Kubab, a village of considerable size on a steep hill at the extreme north of the mountain chain which runs to the north-west of Zorea, and slopes off towards the north into the broad plain of Merj el Omeir, almost in the middle of the road from Ramleh to Yalo. For this village, with which Van Semden identifies Gezer (Van de Velde, Mem. p. 315), was exactly four Roman miles north by west of Anwas, according to Robinson's map, and not quite four hours from Akir (Ekron), the most northerly city of the Philistines; so that Josephus (Ant. vii. 4, 1) could very properly describe Gazara as the frontier of the territory of the Philistines. Robinson discovered no signs of antiquity, it is true, on his journey through Kubab, but in all probability he did not look for them, as he did not regard the village as a place of any importance in connection with ancient history (Bibl. Res. pp. 143-4).
From Lachish Joshua proceeded eastwards against Eglon (Ajlan, see Jos 10:3), took the town, and did to it as he had done to Lachish.
From Eglon he went up from the lowland to the mountains, attacked Hebron and took it, and did to this town and its king, and the towns belonging to it, as he had already done to the others. The king of Hebron cannot of course be the one who was taken in the cave of Makkedah and put to death there, but his successor, who had entered upon the government while Joshua was occupied with the conquest of the towns mentioned in Jos 10:28-35, which may possibly have taken more than a year. "All the cities thereof" are the towns dependent upon Hebron as the capital of the kingdom.
Joshua then turned southwards with all Israel (i.e., all the army), attacked Debir and took it, and the towns dependent upon it, in the same manner as those mentioned before. Debir, formerly called Kirjath-sepher, i.e., book town, πόλις γραμμάτων (lxx Jos 15:15; Jdg 1:11), and Kirjath-sanna, i.e., in all probability the city of palm branches (Jos 15:49), was given up by Judah to the priests (Jos 21:15). It stood upon the mountains of Judah (Jos 15:49), to the south of Hebron, but has not yet been certainly discovered, though V. de Velde is probably correct in his supposition that it is to be seen in the ruins of Dilbeh, on the peak of a hill to the north of Wady Dilbeh, and on the road from Dhoberiyeh to Hebron, about two hours to the south-west of the latter. For, according to Dr. Stewart, there is a spring at Dilbeh, the water of which is conducted by an aqueduct into the Birket el Dilbeh, at the foot of the said hill, which would answer very well to the upper and lower springs at Debir, if only Debir might be placed, according to Jos 15:49, so far towards the north.
(Note: Knobel imagines that Debir is to be found in the modern village of Dhoberiyeh (Dhabarije), five hours to the south-west of Hebron, on the south-west border of the mountains of Judah, upon the top of a mountain, because, in addition to the situation of this village, which is perfectly reconcilable with Jos 15:49, there are remains of a square tower there (according to Krafft, a Roman tower), which point to an ancient fortification (vid., Rob. Pal. i. pp. 308ff.; Ritter, Erdk. xvi. pp. 202ff.), and because the name, which signifies "placed behind the back," agrees with Debir, the hinder part or back (?), and Kirjath-sepher, if interpreted by the Arabic words, which signify "extremitas, margo, ora." But both reasons prove very little. The meanings assigned to Debir and Kirjath-sepher are improbable and arbitrary. Moreover, it has not been shown that there are any springs near Dhoberiyeh, such as there were in the neighbourhood of Debir (Jos 15:19.). The view held by Rosenmller, and adopted by Bunsen, with regard to the situation of Debir, - namely, that it was the same as the modern Idwirbn or Dewirbn, an hour and a quarter to the west of Hebron, because there is a large spring there with an abundant supply of excellent water, which goes by the name of Ain Nunkr, - is also quite untenable; for it is entirely at variance with Jos 15:49, according to which Debir was not on the west of Hebron, but upon the mountains to the south, and rests entirely upon the erroneous assumption that, according to Jos 10:38 (ויּשׁב, he turned round), as Joshua came from Eglon, he conquered Hebron first, and after the conquest of this town turned back to Debir, to take it also. But שׁוּב, does not mean only to turn round or turn back: it signifies turning generally; and it is very evident that this is the sense in which it is used in Jos 10:38, since, according to Jos 15:49, Debir was on the south of Hebron.)
Moreover, not very long afterwards, probably during the time when the Israelites were occupied with the subjugation of northern Canaan, Hebron and Debir were taken again by the Canaanites, particularly the Anakites, as Joshua had not entirely destroyed them, although he had thoroughly cleared the mountains of Judah of them, but had left them still in the towns of the Philistines (Jos 11:21-22). Consequently, when the land was divided, there were Anakites living in both Hebron and Debir; so that Caleb, to whom these towns were given as his inheritance, had first of all to conquer them again, and to exterminate the Anakites (Jos 14:12; Jos 15:13-17 : cf. Jdg 1:10-13).
(Note: By this simple assumption we get rid of the pretended contradictions, which neological critics have discovered between Jos 10:36-39 on the one hand, and Jos 11:21-22, and Jos 14:12; Jos 15:13-17 on the other, and on account of which Knobel would assign the passages last named to a different document. On the first conquest of the land by Joshua, Masius observes that "in this expedition Joshua ran through the southern region with an armed band, in too hurried a manner to depopulate it entirely. All that he needed was to strike such terror into the hearts of all through his victories, that no one should henceforth offer any resistance to himself and to the people of God. Those whom he pursued, therefore, he destroyed according to the commands of God, not sparing a single one, but he did not search out every possible hiding-place in which any could be concealed. This was left as a gleaning to the valour of each particular tribe, when it should take possession of its own inheritance.")
Summary of the Conquest of the Whole of Southern Canaan. - In the further prosecution of his victory over the five allied kings, Joshua smote the whole land, i.e., the whole of the south of Canaan from Gibeon onwards, in all its districts, namely the mountains (Jos 15:48), the Negeb (the south land, Jos 15:21), the lowlands (Jos 15:33), and the slopes, i.e., the hill region (Jos 12:8, and comm. on Num 21:15), and all the kings of these different districts, banning every living thing (כּל־נשׁמה = כּל־נפשׁ, Jos 10:28, Jos 10:30, i.e., all the men; vid., Deu 7:1-2; Deu 20:16. He smote them from Kadesh-barnea, on the southern boundary of Canaan (Jos 15:3; see at Num 12:16), to Gaza (see at Gen 10:9), and all the country of Goshen, a different place from the Goshen of Egypt, deriving its name in all probability from the town of Goshen on the southern portion of the mountains (Jos 15:51). As the line "from Kadesh-barnea to Gaza" defines the extent of the conquered country from south to north on the western side, so the parallel clause, "all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon," defines the extent from south to north on the eastern side. There is no tenable ground for the view expressed by Knobel, which rests upon very uncertain etymological combinations, that the land of Goshen signifies the hill country between the mountains and the plain, and is equivalent to אשׁדות.
All these kings and their country Joshua took "once," i.e., in one campaign, which lasted, however, a considerable time (cf. Jos 11:18). He was able to accomplish this, because Jehovah the God of Israel fought for Israel (see Jos 10:14). After this he returned with the army to the camp at Gilgal (Jiljilia; cf. Jos 10:15).