Conquering the Land of Canaan: 3 Phases Joshua 6:1-12:24, cont’d.
Joshua 9:1-10:43 Phase 2: Conquering Southern Canaan
Joshua 9:1-27-Deception of the Gibeonites
Joshua 9:1-2-The kings of the surrounding nations (Hittite, Amorite, Canaanite, Perizzite, Hivite, Jebusite) gather together to fight against Israel.
John 9:3-27-The Gibeonites (Hivites, :7...same as Horites, cf. Gen. 36:2,20) deceived Joshua and Israel. We don’t know how the Gibeonites had gained their information…but somehow they knew that Israel was allowed to make peace with distant cities…but not those in Canaan. Since Gibeon was located only 6½ miles southwest from Ai…the Gibeonites came up with an ingenious, though devious plan. They disguised themselves in worn-out clothing and old food in order to make Joshua think that they had been on a trip from a long way off. Then they came to him and proposed a peace plan. To a degree it worked and they were allowed to continue to live in their land. Verse 14 says that Joshua and Israel "did not ask for the counsel of the LORD"…and they agreed to not destroy them, but to allow them to live. Several days later they discovered the deception of the Gibeonites. When word got around to the people about what had happened, "the whole congregation grumbled against the leaders" (v. 18). This means that the people wanted to go ahead and destroy them…since the agreement had made under false representation of the facts. But the leaders said that they had sworn to not destroy them before God…so, no matter what the circumstances, they would follow their agreement. However, while they were allowed to live, they became forced labor for Israel. They had to collect firewood and draw water for the altar of the LORD (:27).
Joshua 10:1-43-Victory over the Amorite Coalition
Joshua 10:1-27-Adoni-zedek (“zedek” means “king”), King of Jerusalem...gathered the other Amorite kings (:5) together…Hoham, king of Hebron, and Priam, king of Jarmuth, and Japhia, king of Lachish, and Debir, king of Eglon (kings of the Amorites, v. 6)...to attack Gibeon for making peace with Israel. Gibeon sends word to Joshua asking for help. God told Joshua that he would defeat them. As the enemy fled, near Bethhoron, huge hailstones fell on them and more died from that than in battle (:11). Joshua prayed for more daylight to continue fighting the battle and the sun stood still (vv. 12-14). A non-Biblical book is mentioned here, "the book of Jashar".
For a consideration of how this miracle might be explained see:
- When the King of Jerusalem heard of the Gibeonite alliance with Israel, he formed a pact with four other kings for the purpose of destroying both Israel and Gibeon.
- Upon hearing this, Joshua is instructed to attack this alliance before they can attack him. During the battle, he is aided by a divinely sent hailstorm.
- Joshua then prayed God would allow the sun to give prolonged additional light for the mopping-up exercises. This happened, for the sun stopped in the heavens and stayed there for almost twenty-four hours.
Apart from the whale and Jonah, perhaps no other biblical miracle has caused such ridicule from unbelievers and so much uncertainty among believers. What really happened here? Three basic views can be found in the writings of sound Bible scholars.
- The total eclipse view. Dr. John Davis writes: "The essence of this view is that God brought darkness rather than light on this occasion" (Conquest and Crisis, p. 66).
This prayer was then a petition from Joshua to shade his weary troops from the fierce Mideast sun. God, it would seem, answered this prayer by sending a massive hailstorm which not only cooled off Joshua's weary troops, but killed their enemies. No less a scholar than Dr. Robert Dick Wilson of Princeton advocates this theory, pointing out that the Hebrew word dom, translated "stand thou still" in the KJV, can also be correctly rendered "be silent," "cease," and "leave off." However, two serious objections would seem to discredit this view.
(1) The account in Joshua 10:11 would indicate that the hailstorm occurred before Joshua's petition, and not after.
(2) In verse 14, we are told that this day was absolutely unique in history, which simply would not be true if the miracle here involved only a massive hailstorm.
- The slowing down of the earth’s rotation. The late scientist and Bible student Dr. Harry Rimmer held this view and cited Professor Pickering of Harvard Observatory along with Dr. Totten of Yale among those who favored this position. Another believer in this view is Immanuel Velikovsky, who suggests in his famous book, Worlds in Collision, that the miracle was caused by a comet which came near the earth, exerted its gravitational pull, and disrupted normal movement. The comet's icy tail, according to Velikovsky, could have provided the hailstones. Finally, in listing the various points which favor the second view, it may be said that research has brought to light reports from Egyptian, Chinese, and Hindu sources of such a long day. But the second view is not without its problems.
(1) One consideration is the sheer staggering power it would take to slow down or stop the earth on its own axis. Our planet weighs some six trillion tons and at the equator is moving about a thousand miles an hour. It has been estimated that it would take roughly twenty million billion of our largest hydrogen bombs to stop the earth. Of course, God is capable of anything, but compared to this the impressiveness of the universal flood (the greatest Old Testament miracle) would shrink significantly. In fact, this would require more raw power than anything God had ever done since creation, either before or after. If this really occurred, however, it would seem strange that the only other reference to it is found in Habakkuk 3:11.
(2) If the second view is correct, then God would be required to do this same stupendous thing again for Hezekiah. Dr. John Davis writes:
"It is extremely doubtful that such a miracle was performed on that occasion. In fact, the parallel passage found in 2 Chronicles 32:24-31 seems to imply that it was a local miracle. Verse 24 of this passage indicates that God gave a special sign to Hezekiah. That sign was evidently witnessed only in Palestine, for verse 31 records the fact that ambassadors from Babylon were sent down to Hezekiah to ‘inquire of the wonder that was done in the land’! If the miracle performed in the days of Hezekiah was universal, there would be little need for ambassadors to come all the way from Babylon to inquire of the miracle.” (Conquest and Crisis, p. 69)
- The extension of refraction of the sun’s rays on a local level. Taking everything into consideration, this would seem to be the most scriptural approach. At least two other instances come to mind when God did a similar thing concerning light and darkness on a local level. These are:
(1) The three-day darkness upon the land of Egypt (Ex. 10:21-23)
(2) The three-hour darkness surrounding the area of the cross (Mk. 15:33).
Willmington’s Guide to the Bible, H.L. Willmington, pp. 88-89
Joshua 10:28-43-The conquest of southern Palestine. Other cities were attacked and destroyed...Makkedah, Libnah, Lachish, Gezer, Eglon, Hebron, Debir. They defeated the kings of the entire area. The reason they could do this was because, “the LORD, the God of Israel, fought for Israel” (:42).
Prayer: Father, I believe. I believe that when You command something to happen…no matter how impossible it may seem…it will happen. You are the God of the universe and You control it. It is Yours to command. With that in mind…it gives me incredible peace and confidence…knowing that as certainly as You are in control of the universe, You are in control of my life. I believe.