Understanding the Old Testament

The Southern Campaign

(All quotations are from the New American Standard Bible translation)

The kings of five city-states in southern Canaan formed an alliance to crush the Israelite invasion: Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon. The armies of these five kings attacked Israel’s ally, Gibeon, which sent a plea for help to Joshua. (Joshua 10:1-6)

Rushing to the aid of his ally, Joshua marched his warriors all night and launched a surprise attack against the southern allies at Gibeon. (Joshua 10:9-10) With the Lord’s help, the Israelites routed the allied armies, and as they were fleeing the Lord killed many more with large hailstones. (Joshua 10:10-11)

At some point during the battle, Joshua asked the Lord to make the sun stand still so the battle could continue—and the sun stopped for about a day. (Joshua 10:13-14)

A possible alternate translation of Joshua 10:13-14 is that Joshua asked the Lord to make the sun stop beating down so hard—that is, to reduce the solar heat so that the Israelites would not get so tired and could continue the fight. If this translation is accepted, then the Lord sent thick clouds to block the sun’s rays—i.e., a thunderstorm, which would also be consistent with the hailstones. But this alternate translation seems inconsistent with Joshua 10:14, which says “There was no day like that before it or after it. . . .”

With the southern allies’ armies demolished and their best warriors dead, only the mopping up remained. Joshua publicly executed the five kings, who were found hiding in a cave at Makkedah. Then he captured each southern city one by one, killing all of the inhabitants as he did so.

Afterward, Joshua and the Israelite warriors returned to their camp at Gilgal, just west of the Jordan River near Jericho. (Joshua 4:19, 10:43) This was undoubtedly where the women and children had stayed when Joshua led his army to Gibeon. Thus, the warriors were reunited with their families and given an opportunity to rest and plan for the northern campaign.

Question to ponder or discuss
: As they did with the Amorites, the Israelites killed all of the inhabitants of southern Canaan who did not flee. While this seems appalling and shocking when viewed from a worldly perspective, how do verses like 1 Peter 3:18-20 and 1 Peter 4:6 alter our perspective?

.Copyright 2018 by Don Davidson

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