OT History Part 1 – Joshua 9-10

Now when all the kings west of the Jordan heard about these things—the kings in the hill country, in the western foothills, and along the entire coast of the Mediterranean Sea as far as Lebanon (the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites)—they came together to wage war against Joshua and Israel.
However, when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they resorted to a ruse: They went as a delegation whose donkeys were loaded with worn-out sacks and old wineskins, cracked and mended. They put worn and patched sandals on their feet and wore old clothes. All the bread of their food supply was dry and moldy. Then they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and the Israelites, “We have come from a distant country; make a treaty with us.”
The Israelites said to the Hivites, “But perhaps you live near us, so how can we make a treaty with you?”
“We are your servants,” they said to Joshua.
But Joshua asked, “Who are you and where do you come from?”
They answered: “Your servants have come from a very distant country because of the fame of the Lord your God. For we have heard reports of him: all that he did in Egypt, and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan—Sihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth. And our elders and all those living in our country said to us, ‘Take provisions for your journey; go and meet them and say to them, “We are your servants; make a treaty with us.”’ This bread of ours was warm when we packed it at home on the day we left to come to you. But now see how dry and moldy it is. And these wineskins that we filled were new, but see how cracked they are. And our clothes and sandals are worn out by the very long journey.”
The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.
Three days after they made the treaty with the Gibeonites, the Israelites heard that they were neighbors, living near them. So the Israelites set out and on the third day came to their cities: Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth and Kiriath Jearim. But the Israelites did not attack them, because the leaders of the assembly had sworn an oath to them by the Lord, the God of Israel.
The whole assembly grumbled against the leaders, but all the leaders answered, “We have given them our oath by the Lord, the God of Israel, and we cannot touch them now. This is what we will do to them: We will let them live, so that God’s wrath will not fall on us for breaking the oath we swore to them.” They continued, “Let them live, but let them be woodcutters and water carriers in the service of the whole assembly.” So the leaders’ promise to them was kept.
Then Joshua summoned the Gibeonites and said, “Why did you deceive us by saying, ‘We live a long way from you,’ while actually you live near us? You are now under a curse: You will never be released from service as woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.”
They answered Joshua, “Your servants were clearly told how the Lord your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you the whole land and to wipe out all its inhabitants from before you. So we feared for our lives because of you, and that is why we did this. We are now in your hands. Do to us whatever seems good and right to you.”
So Joshua saved them from the Israelites, and they did not kill them. That day he made the Gibeonites woodcutters and water carriers for the assembly, to provide for the needs of the altar of the Lord at the place the Lord would choose. And that is what they are to this day.

  • Joshua 9:1-27

Now Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard that Joshua had taken Ai and totally destroyed it, doing to Ai and its king as he had done to Jericho and its king, and that the people of Gibeon had made a treaty of peace with Israel and had become their allies. He and his people were very much alarmed at this, because Gibeon was an important city, like one of the royal cities; it was larger than Ai, and all its men were good fighters. So Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem appealed to Hoham king of Hebron, Piram king of Jarmuth, Japhia king of Lachish and Debir king of Eglon. “Come up and help me attack Gibeon,” he said, “because it has made peace with Joshua and the Israelites.”
Then the five kings of the Amorites—the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon—joined forces. They moved up with all their troops and took up positions against Gibeon and attacked it.
The Gibeonites then sent word to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal: “Do not abandon your servants. Come up to us quickly and save us! Help us, because all the Amorite kings from the hill country have joined forces against us.”
So Joshua marched up from Gilgal with his entire army, including all the best fighting men. The Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.”
After an all-night march from Gilgal, Joshua took them by surprise. The Lord threw them into confusion before Israel, so Joshua and the Israelites defeated them completely at Gibeon. Israel pursued them along the road going up to Beth Horon and cut them down all the way to Azekah and Makkedah. As they fled before Israel on the road down from Beth Horon to Azekah, the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them, and more of them died from the hail than were killed by the swords of the Israelites.
On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel:
“Sun, stand still over Gibeon,
    and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”
So the sun stood still,
    and the moon stopped,
    till the nation avenged itself on its enemies,
as it is written in the Book of Jashar.
The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!
Then Joshua returned with all Israel to the camp at Gilgal.
Now the five kings had fled and hidden in the cave at Makkedah. When Joshua was told that the five kings had been found hiding in the cave at Makkedah, he said, “Roll large rocks up to the mouth of the cave, and post some men there to guard it. But don’t stop; pursue your enemies! Attack them from the rear and don’t let them reach their cities, for the Lord your God has given them into your hand.”
So Joshua and the Israelites defeated them completely, but a few survivors managed to reach their fortified cities. The whole army then returned safely to Joshua in the camp at Makkedah, and no one uttered a word against the Israelites.
Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave and bring those five kings out to me.” So they brought the five kings out of the cave—the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon. When they had brought these kings to Joshua, he summoned all the men of Israel and said to the army commanders who had come with him, “Come here and put your feet on the necks of these kings.” So they came forward and placed their feet on their necks.
Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.” Then Joshua put the kings to death and exposed their bodies on five poles, and they were left hanging on the poles until evening.
At sunset Joshua gave the order and they took them down from the poles and threw them into the cave where they had been hiding. At the mouth of the cave they placed large rocks, which are there to this day.
That day Joshua took Makkedah. He put the city and its king to the sword and totally destroyed everyone in it. He left no survivors. And he did to the king of Makkedah as he had done to the king of Jericho.
Then Joshua and all Israel with him moved on from Makkedah to Libnah and attacked it. The Lord also gave that city and its king into Israel’s hand. The city and everyone in it Joshua put to the sword. He left no survivors there. And he did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho.
Then Joshua and all Israel with him moved on from Libnah to Lachish; he took up positions against it and attacked it. The Lord gave Lachish into Israel’s hands, and Joshua took it on the second day. The city and everyone in it he put to the sword, just as he had done to Libnah. Meanwhile, Horam king of Gezer had come up to help Lachish, but Joshua defeated him and his army—until no survivors were left.
Then Joshua and all Israel with him moved on from Lachish to Eglon; they took up positions against it and attacked it. They captured it that same day and put it to the sword and totally destroyed everyone in it, just as they had done to Lachish.
Then Joshua and all Israel with him went up from Eglon to Hebron and attacked it. They took the city and put it to the sword, together with its king, its villages and everyone in it. They left no survivors. Just as at Eglon, they totally destroyed it and everyone in it.
Then Joshua and all Israel with him turned around and attacked Debir. They took the city, its king and its villages, and put them to the sword. Everyone in it they totally destroyed. They left no survivors. They did to Debir and its king as they had done to Libnah and its king and to Hebron.
So Joshua subdued the whole region, including the hill country, the Negev, the western foothills and the mountain slopes, together with all their kings. He left no survivors. He totally destroyed all who breathed, just as the Lord, the God of Israel, had commanded. Joshua subdued them from Kadesh Barnea to Gaza and from the whole region of Goshen to Gibeon. All these kings and their lands Joshua conquered in one campaign, because the Lord, the God of Israel, fought for Israel.
Then Joshua returned with all Israel to the camp at Gilgal.

  • Joshua 10:1-43

Noted Biblical Scholars, Teachers, and Preachers Comments

Joshua 9:3-5 ‘What the Gibeonites did’: “Gibeon was located only twenty-five miles from the camp of Israel at Gilgal and was on Joshua’s list to be destroyed. In Deuteronomy 20:10-20, God’s law stated that Israel must destroy all the cities in Canaan. If after the conquest Israel was involved in other wars, they could offer peace to cities that were outside the land. (See also 7:1-11.) Somehow the Gibeonites knew about this law and decided to use it for their own protection. Since the enemy knows how to use the Word of God for their own purposes, God’s people must keep alert (Matt. 45-7).
“The Gibeonites assembled a group of men and equipped them to look like an official delegation from a foreign city. Their clothing, food, and equipment were all designed to give the impression that they had been on a long and difficult journey from a distant city. Satan is a counterfeiter and ‘masquerades as an angel of light’ (2 Cor. 11:14 NIV). He has his ‘false apostles’ and ‘deceitful workmen’ (v. 15 NIV) at work in this world, blinding the lost and seeking to lead believers astray. It’s much easier for us to identify the lion when he’s roaring than to detect the serpent when he’s slithering into our lives.”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Strong

Joshua 9:3-15 ‘The Gibeonite Deception’: “The Gibeonites and their allies also react to what they have seen, but the Gibeonites choose a different strategy (9:3-15). They seek a way to make peace with the invaders. The issue at stake should be clarified. There are numerous indications that Canaanites who were willing to give up their Canaanite identity, religion, and immorality by becoming Yahwists could be accepted into the Hebrew nation. However, national identity, especially explicit identification with one’s own ancestors in one’s own land, was precious to people of the ancient biblical world. The Gibeonite league was interested not only in preserving their lives, but also in preserving their lives in such a way that their historic identity could also be preserved, even if under a new religious umbrella. This is the real issue of the Gibeonite deception. Their strategy is to gain a treaty with Israel by pretending that they have come from a great distance even though this implies acceptance of Israelite lordship and, at least formally, religion.
“The Gibeonites prepare stale food and worn-out clothing and go to Gilgal where they present their deceptive request. The Israelites are suspicious, but not suspicious enough. Several points are clear in the negotiations. The Gibeonites assume the subordinate role in the discussions. The term servants in this context implies a position of vassalage. In the ancient world, the subordinate role implied not only political submission but also acceptance of the sovereignty of the ruler’s gods. Thus, in this context, the Gibeonite acknowledgment of God’s great deeds amounts to a formal acceptance of Yahweh as their God.
“The Gibeonites’ false report of their preparations and journey, while duplicating material presented earlier, represents a high level of narrative technique and a skillful use of repetition. The failure to depend upon God rather than human wisdom is dramatically presented in Israel’s testing of the fabricated evidence without seeking God’s direction. A treaty is made, and, from general historical practice, includes at least three provisions: (1) Gibeon’s acceptance of the God of Israel; (2) Gibeon’s observance of the duties of a vassal; and (3) Israel’s acceptance of the duties of a lord, mainly that of defending their vassals.”

  • Walter A. Elwell, editor, Baker Commentary on the Bible

Joshua 9:6-13 ‘What the Gibeonites said’: “Satan is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44), and human nature is such that many people find it easier to tell lies than the truth. With tongue in cheek, the American political leader Adlai Stevenson said, ‘A lie is an abomination unto the Lord-and a very present help in trouble.’ The Gibeonites told several lies in their attempt to get out of trouble.
“First, they said they were ‘from a very far country’ (Josh. 9:6, 9) when they actually lived twenty-five miles away. Then they lied about their clothing and food. ‘This bread of ours was warm when we packed it at home on the day we left to come to you. But now see how dry and moldy it is’ (v. 12 NIV). They also lied about themselves and gave the impression that they were important envoys on an official peace mission from the elders of their city. They also called themselves ‘your servants’ (vv. 8, 9, 11), when in reality they were the enemies of Israel.”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Strong

Joshua 9:14-15 ‘Why they succeeded’: “The reason is simple: Joshua and the princes of Israel were impetuous and didn’t take time to consult the Lord. They walked by sight and not by faith. After listening to the strangers’ speech and examining the evidence, Joshua and his leaders concluded that the men were telling the truth. The leaders of Israel took the ‘scientific approach’ instead of the ‘spiritual approach.’ They depended on their own senses, examined the ‘facts,’ discussed the matter, and agreed in their conclusion. It was all very logical and convincing, but it was all wrong. They had made the same mistake at Ai (Josh. 7) and hadn’t yet learned to wait on the Lord and seek His direction.
“The will of God comes from the heart of God (Ps. 33:11), and He delights to make it known to His children when He knows they are humble and willing to obey. We don’t seek God’s will like customers who look at options but like servants who listen for orders. ‘If any of you really determines to do God’s will, then you will certainly know’ (John 7:17 TLB) is a basic principle for victorious Christian living. God sees our hearts and knows whether we are really serious about obeying Him. Certainly we ought to use the mind God has given us, but we must heed the warning of Proverbs 3:5-6 and not lean on our own understanding.”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Strong

Joshua 9:16-27 ‘Enlisting the Enemy’: “How did the leaders of Israel discover that they had made a big mistake? Knowing that they were now out of danger, perhaps the ‘ambassadors’ openly admitted what they had done. Or maybe the Gibeonites were overheard rejoicing in their success. Did some of Joshua’s spies return to camp after reconnaissance and recognize the enemy? Perhaps the Gibeonites overheard the plans for Israel’s next attack and had to inform the leaders that a solemn oath now protected those cities. However it happened, Joshua discovered that he and the princes had blundered, and no doubt they were humbled and embarrassed because of it.
“We must give the leaders credit for being men of their word. To violate their oath would have been to take the holy name of Jehovah in vain, and this would have brought about divine judgment. Years later King Saul violated this oath, and God judged the nation severely (2 Sam. 21). Military leaders of lesser character than Joshua might have argued that ‘all’s fair in love and war’ and forced the Gibeonites to divulge information that would help him conquer their city. Instead, when the Jewish army arrived at Gibeon and the neighboring cities, they didn’t attack them.”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Strong

Joshua 9:21-23 ‘While honoring the pledge of peace with the Gibeonites’: “Joshua made them woodcutters and water carriers because of the deception. This curse extended the perpetual part (v. 23) of ‘cursed be Canaan’ (Gen. 9:26). Gibeon became a part of Benjamin’s land area (Josh. 18:25). Later, Joshua consigned Gibeon as one of the Levite towns (21:17). Nehemiah had help from some Gibeonites in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem (Neh. 3:7).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Joshua 10:1-5 ‘The kings’ call to the armies’: “The king of Jerusalem, whose name means ‘lord of righteousness,’ heard what the Gibeonites had done and announced that these traitors had to be punished. If a great city like Gibeon capitulated to the Jews, then one more barrier was removed against the advancement of Israel in the land. It was important for the Canaanites to recover that key city, even if they had to take it by force. Four other Canaanite kings allied with Adoni-zedek, and their combined armies encamped before Gibeon. The poor Gibeonites had made peace with the invaders and were now at war with their former allies!
“As this confederation of armies and kings assembled, God in heaven must have laughed (Ps. 2:1-4), because unknown to them He was using these events to accomplish His own purposes. Instead of having to defeat these five city-states one by one, He would help Joshua conquer them all at one time! Just as God used the defeat at Ai to form a battle plan for victory over Ai (Josh. 8), so also He used Joshua’s mistake with the Gibeonites to protect Gibeon and accelerate the conquest of Canaan.
“The mistakes we make embarrass us, especially those mistakes that are caused by our running ahead of the Lord and not seeking His will. But we need to remember that no mistake is final for the dedicated Christian. God can use even our blunders to accomplish His purposes. Somebody defined success as ‘the art of making your mistakes when nobody’s looking,’ but a better definition would be ‘the art of seeing victory where other people see only defeat.’ ”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Strong

Joshua 10:1-11 ‘large hailstones’: “Gibeon and three other towns (9:17) were attacked by a coalition of five cities. Israel came to the rescue, with God giving the victory (v. 10).
“The hailstones were miraculous. Note their: (1) source, God; (2) size, large; (3) slaughter, more by stones than by sword; (4) selectivity, only on the enemy; (5) swath, ‘as far as Azekah’; (6) situation, during a trek down a slope and while God caused the sun to stand still; and (7) similarity, to miraculous stones God will fling down during the future wrath (Rev. 16:21).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Joshua 10:1-28 ‘Defeat of the Five Amorite Kings’: “Joshua is next divinely encouraged to lead his people to preordained victory against the five Amorite kings that have come against Israel’s ally, Gibeon: ‘The LORD said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands; not one of them shall stand before you” ‘ (10:8). The remainder of the passage describes how the Lord accomplished Israel’s smashing victory through means of supernatural, meteorological phenomena (10:9-28).”

  • Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson, Exploring Bible Prophecy

Joshua 10:6-7 ‘The Gibeonites’ call to Joshua’: “In spite of their paganism, these Gibeonites are a good example for people to follow today. When they knew they were headed for destruction, they came to Joshua (‘Jehovah is Savior’) and obtained from him a promise of protection. Would that lost sinners realize their plight and turn to Jesus Christ by faith! When the Gibeonites found themselves in danger, they believed Joshua’s promise and called on him for help. That’s what God’s people need to do when they find themselves facing the battles of life. The Gibeonites turned the whole burden over to Joshua and trusted him to keep his word, and he did.”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Strong

Joshua 10:8 ‘The promise’: “Joshua’s actions here illustrate two important verses: ‘Whatsoever is not of faith is sin’ (Rom. 14:25) and ‘faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God’ (10:17). Whenever we believe the promises of God and obey the commands of God, we act by faith and can expect God’s help. The Jews didn’t have to be afraid, because God had already promised them victory. God’s promises of victory had encouraged Joshua when he became leader of the nation (Josh. 1:5-9), when he anticipated attacking Jericho (6:2), and when he attacked Ai after a humiliating defeat (8:1). God’s promises would be fulfilled because ‘there has not failed one word of all His good promise’ (1 Kings 8:56 NKJV).”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Strong

Joshua 10:9 ‘the strategy’: “But faith apart from works is dead, and Joshua proved his faith by using wise strategy. He ordered an all-night march and a surprise attack on the enemy army, strategy he had used before when attacking Ai (8:3ff.). It was a long trek from Gilgal to Gibeon, and the road was uphill, but Joshua assembled his troops and made the journey as quickly as possible. No doubt the men were weary when they arrived, but the Lord was with them and gave them victory. What kept the soldiers going? They believed God’s promise and knew that the victory was assured.
“God assisted the weary Jewish soldiers by killing the enemy army with large hailstones. The timely occurrence of the storm was itself a miracle, but an even greater miracle was the fact that the stones hit only the enemy soldiers. God took His special ‘ammunition’ out of His storehouse and used it to good advantage (Job 38:22-23). When God’s people are obeying God’s will, everything in the universe works for them, even ‘the stars in their courses’ (Judg. 5:20). When we disobey God’s will, everything works against us. (Read Jonah 1 for a vivid illustration of this truth.)”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Strong

Joshua 10:10-15 ‘The prayer’: “But the miracle of the hailstorm was nothing compared to the miracle of extending the day so that Joshua could finish the battle and secure a complete victory over the enemy. His men were weary and the task was great, and if night came on, the enemy could escape. Joshua needed a special act from God to enable him to claim the victory the Lord had promised.
“This is the last miracle recorded in Joshua and certainly the greatest. Joshua prayed for God’s help, and the Lord answered in a remarkable way. This event is questioned by those who deny the reality of miracles and look only to science for truth. ‘How could God stop the rotation of the earth and extend the length of a day,’ they ask, ‘without creating chaos all over the planet?’ They seem to forget the fact that days are normally of different lengths in various parts of the world without the planet experiencing chaos. At two o’clock in the morning, I read the newspaper by sunlight in Norway.
“But how do you explain a miracle, any miracle? Of course, the simplest answer is the answer of faith: The Lord is God and nothing is too hard for Him (Jer. 32:17, 27). Day and night belong to God (Ps. 74:16), and everything He has made is His servant. If God can’t perform the miracle described in Joshua 10, then He can’t perform any miracle and is imprisoned in His own creation, unable to use or suspend the very laws He built into it. I have a difficult time believing in that kind of a God.”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Strong

Joshua 10:12-14 ‘sun stood still, and the moon stopped’: “Some say an eclipse hid the sun, keeping its heat from Joshua’s tired soldiers, allowing the temperature to cool for battle. Others suppose that it was caused by a local (not universal) refraction of the sun’s rays such as the local darkness in Egypt (Ex. 10:21-23). Another view explains it as only language of observation, i.e., it only seemed to Joshua’s men that the sun and moon stopped as God helped them do in one, literal, twenty-four-hour day what would normally take longer. Others view it as lavish poetic description, not literal fact. However, such ideas fail to do justice to 10:12—14, and needlessly question God’s power as Creator. This is best accepted as an outright, monumental miracle. Joshua, moved by the Lord’s will, commanded the sun to delay (Heb., ‘be still, silent, leave off’). Possibly, the earth actually stopped revolving or, more likely, the sun moved in the same way to keep perfect pace with the battlefield. The moon also temporarily ceased its orbiting. This permitted Joshua’s troops time to finish the battle with complete victory (v. 11).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Joshua 10:14 ‘Does your belief change you?’: “It is easy to be orthodox in matters that are remote from us, that have no immediate bearing upon our lives. It is quite another thing to be orthodox in matters which intimately concern us, which ‘come home to our business and our bosoms.’
“A man may, for instance, believe the Mosaic account of creation, the stories of the flood and of Joshua’s commanding the sun to stand still, and experience no difficulty whatever. For, after all, he is neither better nor worse for believing those things. They make no moral demands upon him. He can believe them implicitly without altering his life.
“He may go on to accept the whole record of the life and work of Christ as given in the New Testament. He may receive without question every doctrine taught by his church and yet be exactly the same man as he was before, the only slight difference being a small increase in the amount of his mental furniture.
“Receiving the truth is not enough. The man who would know the power of the Christian faith must submit and obey. When our faith becomes obedient, the mighty energies of grace begin to operate.
“We are always in danger of allowing teaching to substitute for living. Indoctrination is not regeneration and should never be mistaken for it. Thousands are turned out of confirmation classes each year who have never known the transforming power of the gospel. These go out to be lifelong anomalies, orthodox in creed, but untouched pagans in fact. They have absorbed the notion that to receive the creed concerning Christ is identical with receiving Christ. This is a costly and tragic error.”

  • A. W. Tozer, The Early Tozer: A Word in Season

Joshua 10:16-28 ‘Joshua’s call to his army’: “At the end of an incredible battle, Joshua performed a public ceremony that gave encouragement and strength to his soldiers. Their past victories had given them control over the central part of the land, but now they faced campaigns in both the south and the north of Palestine. ‘Divide and conquer’ was Joshua’s strategy, and it worked. Joshua wanted to remind his men that the Lord would give them victory throughout the land.
“Knowing that the five kings were trapped in a cave, Joshua temporarily left them and led his men in the ‘mopping up’ operation, which verse 20 describes as ‘slaying them with a very great slaughter.’ Only a few of the enemy soldiers escaped to the cities, but since those cities would eventually be destroyed anyway, those fugitives had no hope.
“Returning to the camp, probably the next day, Joshua ordered the kings to be taken from the cave and put on the ground, their faces in the dirt. This humiliating posture announced that Joshua had won a total victory and their end had come. But there was more. He called for his officers to put their feet on the necks of the kings, symbolic not only of the past victory but also of the victories the Lord would give His people in the days ahead. The kings were slain and the five corpses hung on five trees until sundown. Then their bodies were put into the cave, with a pile of stones closing up the entrance. This pile of stones was another monument in the land speaking of the power and victory of the Lord.”

  • Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Strong

My Thoughts

The NIV headings may not be God-inspired, but they could have inspired Robert Ludlum.  I read the title for Joshua 9, “The Gibeonite Deception”, and I immediately thought of Robert Ludlum.  The deception was well thought out.  It would be worthy of one of his novels, but alas, Robert Ludlum already had The Prometheus Deception and The Bourne Deception.  Having a third might be overkill.

These emissaries left nothing to doubt.  They wore worn out clothing.  Their animals had seen better days.  Their bread was stale and moldy.  Surely, they had travelled more than 25 miles, but no, that was it.  Somehow, 25 miles seemed so far away.

And, not wanting to have another repeat performance like the Battle of Ai, Joshua calls in his tribal leaders to determine if these emissaries are real and telling the truth.  Ummm.  The problem was not in being careful beforehand and asking for wise counsel.  The problem was in not asking God beforehand.  Joshua had failed again.

Rev. Wiersbe adds blasphemy to the growing charges against the Gibeonites in that in Joshua 9:14 they mockingly praise God while telling one falsehood after another, all in trying to deceive Joshua.

Yet, in the end, Joshua’s curse that he brings upon the Gibeonites, that they would be the servants of the Israelites, is really God’s curse upon the Canaanites in Genesis 9:25.  That verse has been misused over the centuries, misused in enslaving people, but it may have had no more meaning than the Promised Land would be conquered and if any Canaanites survived, the survivors will become slaves. In the photo, we see three ladies carrying water, possibly not unlike a task that the Gibeonites performed.

Rev. Wiersbe gives a variety of methods in which Joshua learns who had tricked him, but the point is that if Joshua never learned, he would have attacked Gibeon and violated the oath.  He had to learn of the deception or the ruse would be for naught.

And immediately, God has another plan.  What had become Joshua’s latest mistake was turned into God’s greatest victory.  How could you call it Joshua’s victory?  He marches his army all night long so that they can start a battle early in the morning.  Then, as the enemy starts to run, the enemy is pelted with hail.  More died from the hail than died from the sword.  Then, Joshua asked God to stop the sun and moon for about a day, twenty-four hours give or take.

As a soldier, once, long, long ago, the first miracle that I see is that Joshua’s army maintains contact with the enemy and continues to fight when none of them have slept in three days, at least missing two consecutive nights’ sleep.  At some point, your muscles say “no more” and you collapse.  And when you are swinging a sword and running after the retreating enemy that would be a lot quicker than sitting in a foxhole and shooting a weapon every now or then.  The miracle of eternal energy is the first miracle.  Even though the Scriptures continue the story, I can live with the concept that the army slept for the night and then dealt with the kings that were trapped in the cave the next morning.  The story continues without a break, but there is no word like “immediately” they retrieved the kings from the cave.  Let’s let the Israelite soldiers sleep for a few hours, as long as the guards at the cave entrance do not sleep.

But then, there are so many experts that state that the sun and moon stopping is impossible.  “Earth to experts!!!!  That’s why they call it a miracle.”  The earth stops spinning and everything on earth that is not bolted down is flung into space.  God would have thought of that, since He created the rules that govern such things.  The concept that the sun revolves to match the spin of the earth and then returns to normal is just as ridiculous.  The moon stopping in its orbit and slowly crashing into the gravity field of the earth.  Again, God created those laws of Physics too.  That’s why we call these things miracles.

And the experts jumped on the sun and the moon, but the hail only killed the enemy while the Israelites were in contact with the enemy at the time, a sword distance away.  Selective targeting with hailstones is easily possible compared to that sun and moon thing.  Cherry picking miracles is a dangerous thing.  Can we not accept the fact that God performed many miracles to claim victory.

Besides, I have lived through a 36-hour airplane trip, all in the same day.  We flew from Mumbai in India to Singapore.  We changed planes in Singapore and flew to Tokyo for a refueling stop.  We then flew to Los Angeles, but I was watching the GPS screen at midnight.  We crossed the international dateline at midnight, reliving the day we had just lived.  We then flew from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh, completing my only around the world flight, a month after I left Pittsburgh, PA.  The point is that we had been in the Mumbai airport for about seven hours; we were flying or changing flights for 36 hours; we arrived in Pittsburgh in the late afternoon, and it was Friday the entire time.  Sure, it was dark a lot of that time, mot the same thing at all, but when it comes to miracles, can we get out of the physical laws box?

And the Baker Commentary mentioned the internet hoax (or is it real)?  The Baker Commentary wrote, not quoted above, about the story of NASA calculating a roughly one day error in the location of the expanding universe.  Everyone was scared that the astronauts could not count on the Keppler equations due to the error until a Bible reading scientist brought up the sun and moon stopping in Joshua 10 and Hezekiah seeing the shadow go from one direction on the temple steps to the opposite direction.  This resolved the error in the calculations and thus the rest is history, but the Baker Commentary states that there is nothing to corroborate that this error in the calculations ever existed in the first place or that an unknown scientist had read his Bible.  Yes, many scientists read their Bibles, and many of those scientists believe what they read, but the NASA story cannot be denied or confirmed, according to the Baker Commentary, the only commentary that I read that even mentioned the rumor that has been emailed around the world a few times.

Joshua 10 ends with the deaths of the kings and then the southern exploits of Joshua’s army.

Some Serendipitous Reflections

“1. The men of Israel ‘did not inquire of the Lord’ (v.14), as they should have. Have you ever made an important decision in your life without inquiring of the Lord? What was the result?
“2. Have you ever made a promise which later turned out to be difficult or unpopular to keep? What happened?
“3. As a fearful and accursed Gibeonite, would you have fought for your freedom or submitted to perpetual slavery? Why? What does that say about your fighting style in general? Do you readily accept, or usually resist, authority imposed on you? Does it depend on who is doing the imposing? How so?
“4. Strategy was important for Joshua. What does that say about the use of strategy in planning your life? ln doing God’s work?
“1. Who in your group do you feel you could call on for help in a tough spot?
“2. What are you doing now that you wish God would give you more time to accomplish? If more time is not available but more workers would get the job done, is there a way your small group can help?
“1. In your life, do you feel more like: (a) I’ve got the enemy trapped but not destroyed? (b) The enemy has me trapped? (c) Battles abound, but I’m not alone? (d) I’m overwhelmed by the battles I still have to face? (e) The enemy doesn’t dare utter one word against me?
“2. In each instance, who (or what) is your enemy?
“1. Where in your life is it evident that the Lord is fighting for you? Do you have anyone alongside you in that battle? Who? How long is it taking to win your particular battle?
“2. Why do you think God commanded the Israelites to destroy the cities totally? Might God command something similar today? if so, what ‘zero tolerance’ program comes to mind?”

  • Lyman Coleman, et al, The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups

There are one set of questions for Joshua 9, and there is three sets of questions for Joshua 10.

Substitute whatever group for any reference to a small group or ask who could come to your aid.

If you like these Thursday morning Bible studies, but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Thursday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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