Joshua 10


Adoni-zedec, king of Jerusalem, hearing of the capture of Ai,

and that the Gibeonites had made peace with Israel, calls to

his assistance four other kings to fight against Gibeon, 1-4.

They join forces, and encamp against Gibeon, 5.

The Gibeonites send to Joshua for succour, 6,

who immediately marches to their relief, receives encouragement

from God, and falls suddenly on the confederate forces, 7-9,

and defeats them; they fly, and multitudes of them are slain by

a miraculous shower of hail-stones, 10, 11.

Joshua, finding that the day began to fail, prayed that the sun

and moon might stand still, that they might have time to pursue

and utterly destroy these confederate forces, 12.

The sun and moon stand still, and make that day as long as two,

13, 14.

Joshua and the people return to their camp at Gilgal, 15.

The five kings having taken shelter in a cave at Makkedah,

Joshua commanded the people to roll great stones against the

mouth of the cave, and set a watch to keep it, while Israel

were pursuing their enemies, 16-19.

The Israelites return to Makkedah, bring forth the five kings,

then slay and hang them on five trees, 20-27.

The Israelites take and destroy Makkedah, 28,

and Libnah, 29, 30,

and Lachish, 31, 32,

and defeat Horam king of Gezer, 33,

and take Eglon, 34, 35,

and Hebron, 36, 37,

and Debir, 38, 39,

and all the country of the hills, south, vale, and springs, and

the whole country from Kadesh-Barnea to Gibeon, 40-42.

They return to Gilgal, 43.


Verse 1. Adoni-zedec] This name signifies the Lord of justice or

righteousness; and it has been conjectured that the Canaanitish

kings assumed this name in imitation of that of the ancient

patriarchal king of this city, Melchizedek, whose name signifies

king of righteousness, or my righteous king: a supposition that

is not improbable, when the celebrity of Melchizedek is


Jerusalem] Yerushalam. This word has been variously

explained; if it be compounded of shalam, peace, perfection,

&c., and raah, he saw, it may signify the vision of peace-or,

he shall see peace or perfection.

Verse 2. As one of the royal cities] Not a regal city, but

great, well inhabited and well fortified, as those cities which

served for the royal residence generally were. It does not appear

that the Gibeonites had any king-they seem to have been a small

but powerful republic, all the men thereof were mighty, merely

governed by their elders: for in their address to Joshua,

Jos 9:11, they mention no

king, but simply state that they were sent by their elders and

the inhabitants of their country; nor do we any where read of

their king; and therefore we may naturally suppose that they had


Verse 3. Hoham king of Hebron] This city was situated in the

mountains, southward of Jerusalem, from which it was about thirty

miles distant. It fell to the tribe of Judah.

Piram king of Jarmuth] There were two cities of this name; one

belonged to the tribe of Issachar, see Jos 21:29; that mentioned

here fell to the tribe of Judah, see Jos 15:35; it is supposed to

have been about eighteen miles distant from Jerusalem.

Japhia king of Lachish] This city is celebrated in Scripture; in

that city Amaziah was slain by conspirators, 2Ki 14:19. It was

besieged by Sennacherib, 2Ki 18:14, 17; and without effect by the

king of Assyria, as we learn from Isa 37:8: it was also besieged

by the army of Nebuchadnezzar, see Jer 34:7; it also fell to the

lot of Judah, Jos 15:39.

Debir king of Eglon] Where this city was situated is very

uncertain; but we learn from Jos 15:39, that it fell to the lot

of the tribe of Judah.

Verse 5. The five kings of the Amorites] This is a general name

for the inhabitants of Canaan, otherwise called Canaanites; and it

is very likely that they had this appellation because the Amorites

were the most powerful tribe or nation in that country. The

inhabitants of Jerusalem were Jebusites, Jos 15:63; those of

Hebron were Hittites, Ge 23:2, 3; 25:9, 10; and the Gibeonites

were Hivites, Jos 9:7; and yet all these are called

Amorites occasionally, probably for the reason already

mentioned, viz., because that tribe was most numerous and


Verse 9. Joshua-came unto them suddenly] This he did by a forced

march during the night, for he went up from Gilgal all night; from

Gilgal to Gibeon was about eighteen or twenty miles; and, having

fallen so unexpectedly on these confederate kings, they were

immediately thrown into confusion.

Verse 10. Slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon] Multitudes

of them fell in the onset; after which they fled, and the

Israelites pursued them by the way of Beth-horon. There were two

cities of this name, the upper and lower, both in the tribe of

Ephraim, and built by Sherah, the daughter of Ephraim, 1Ch 7:24.

The situation of these two cities is not exactly known.

To Azekah, and unto Makkedah.] These two cities were in the

tribe of Judah, Jos 15:35-41.

Verse 11. The Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them]

Some have contended that stones, in the common acceptation of the

word, are intended here; and that the term hail-stones is only

used to point out the celerity of their fall, and their quantity.

That stones have fallen from the clouds, if not from a greater

height, is a most incontestable fact. That these have fallen in

different parts of the world is also true; the East Indies,

America, France, Germany, England, Ireland, &c., have all

witnessed this phenomenon: of such stones I possess and have seen

several fragments; some considerable pieces may be seen in the

British Museum. That God might have cast down such stones as these

on the Canaanites, there can be no doubt, because his power is

unlimited; and the whole account proves that here there was a

miraculous interference. But it is more likely that hail-stones,

in the proper sense of the word, are meant as well as expressed in

the text. That God on other occasions has made use of hail-stones

to destroy both men and cattle, we have ample proof in the plague

of hail that fell on the Egyptians. See Clarke on Ex 9:18.

There is now before me a square of glass, taken out of a south

window in the house of Mr. Ball of Crockerton, in the parish of

Longbridge Deverell, county of Wilts., through which a hail-stone

passed in a shower that fell there June 1, 1780, at two o'clock,

P.M. The hole is an obtuse ellipsis or oval, and is cut as true as

if it had been done with a diamond: it is three inches and a half

in diameter; a proof that the stone that pierced it, which was

about eleven inches in circumference, came with inconceivable

velocity, else the glass must have been shivered to pieces. I have

known a cannon ball go through a square of glass in the cabin

window of a ship, and make precisely the same kind of hole,

without either shattering or even starring the glass. It is

needless to add that this hail-shower did great damage, breaking

even trees in pieces, and destroying the vegetation through the

whole of its extent. But allowing that extraordinary showers of

hail have fallen in England or France, is it likely that such

showers ever fell in the promised land or its vicinity? They

certainly have. Albertus Aquensis, one of the writers in the

collection Gesta Dei per Francos, in describing the expedition of

Baldwin I. in the Holy Land, observes that, when he and his army

were in the Arabian mountains, in the vicinity of the Dead Sea,

they suffered incredibly from horrible hail, terrible frost, and

indescribable rain and snow, so that thirty of his men perished

by them. His words are: "Sexta vero die montanis permensis, in

extremo illorum cacumine maxima pertulerunt pericula, in GRANDINE

horribili, in GLACIE terribili, in PLUVIA et NIVE inaudita, quorum

immanitate, et horrore ingruente ad triginta homines pedites prae

frigore mortui sunt."-Hist. Hieros., p. 307. I conclude,

therefore, that a shower of hail-stones may be meant; and that

this shower, though natural in itself, was supernaturally employed

on this occasion, and miraculously directed to fall where it did,

and do the execution described.

But I am ready to grant, notwithstanding, that as a most

stupendous miracle was in this instance wrought, in causing the

sun and moon to stand still; there can be no doubt that the shower

of stones, which was also miraculous, might have been of real

stones as well as hail-stones. Of late, this subject of the fall

of real stones from the clouds has been very closely investigated,

and not only the possibility of the fall of such stones from the

clouds, or from much higher regions, but the certainty of the

case has been fully demonstrated. These substances are now, in

philosophical language denominated aeroliths or air-stones; and

the following table constructed by M. Izarn, a foreign chemist,

exhibits a variety of facts of this kind, and shows the places and

times in which these substances fell, and the testimony by which

these facts are supported. As it is as possible that God might

have projected a shower of stones on these idolaters, even from

the moon, as to arrest that planet in her course, I give the

table, and leave the reader to decide, in the present case, for

aeroliths or hail-stones, as may seem to him most congruous to

the fact here related.




| 1 | Shower of stones. . . . . . | At Rome. |

| 2 | Shower of stones. . . . . . | At Rome. |

| 3 | A very large stone. . . . . | Near the river Negos, Thrace. |

| 4 | Three large stones. . . . . | In Thrace. |

| 5 | Stone of 72 lbs . . . . . . | Near Larissa, Macedonia. |

| 6 | About 1,200 stones; one | | |

| | 120 lbs. . . . . . . . . .| Near Padua in Italy. |

| 7 | Another of 60 lbs . . . . | | |

| 8 | Another of 59 lbs . . . . . | On Mount Vasier, Provence. |

| 9 | Two large stones weighing | |

| | 20 lbs . . . . . . . . . . | Liponas, in Bresse. |

| 10 | A stony mass. . . . . . . . | Niort, Normandy. |

| 11 | A stone of 7 � lbs. . . . . | At Lure, in Le Maine. |

| 12 | A stone . . . . . . . . . . | At Aire, in Artois. |

| 13 | A stone . . . . . . . . . . | In Le Cotentin. |

| 14 | Extensive shower of stones. | Environs of Agen. |

| 15 | About 12 stones . . . . . . | Sienna Tuscany. |

| 16 | A large stone of 56 lbs . . | Wold Cottage, Yorkshire. |

| 17 | A stone of 10 lbs . . . . . | In Portugal. |

| 18 | A stone of about 120 lbs. . | Sale department of the Rhone |

| 19 | Shower of stones. . . . . . | Benares, East Indies. |

| 20 | Shower of stones. . . . . . | At Plann, near Tabor, Bohemia |

| 21 | Mass of iron, 70 cubic feet | America. |

| 22 | Mass of ditto, 14 quintals. | Abakauk, Siberia. |

| 23 | Shower of stones. . . . . . | Barboutan, near Roquefort |

| 24 | Large stone, 260 lbs. . . . | Ensisheim, Upper Rhine. |

| 25 | Two stones, 200 and 300 lbs | Near Verona. |

| 26 | A stone of 20 lbs . . . . . | Sales, near Ville Franche. |

| 27 | Several ditto from 10 to 17 | |

| | lbs . . . . . . . . . . . | Near L'Aigle, Normandy. |





| 1 | Under Tullus Hostilius . . . . . . . | Livy. |

| 2 | Consuls, C. Martius and M. Torquatus | J. Obsequens. |

| 3 | Second year of the 78th Olympiad . . | Pliny. |

| 4 | Year before J.C., 452. . . . . . . . | Ch. of Count Marcellin.|

| 5 | January, 1706. . . . . . . . . . . . | Paul Lucas. |

| 6,7| In 1510. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . | Carden, Varcit. |

| 8 | November 27, 1627. . . . . . . . . . | Gassendi. |

| 9 | September, 1753. . . . . . . . . . . | De La Lande. |

| 10 | In 1750. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . | De La Lande. |

| 11 | September 13, 1768 . . . . . . . . . | Bachelay. |

| 12 | In 1768. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . | Gurson de Boyaval. |

| 13 | In 1768. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . | Morand. |

| 14 | July 24, 1790. . . . . . . . . . . . | St. Amand, Baudin, &c. |

| 15 | July, 1794 . . . . . . . . . . . . . | Earl of Bristol. |

| 16 | December 13, 1795. . . . . . . . . . | Captain Topham. |

| 17 | February 19, 1796. . . . . . . . . . | Southey. |

| 18 | March 17, 1798 . . . . . . . . . . . | Le Lievre and De Dree. |

| 19 | December 19, 1798. . . . . . . . . . | J. Lloyd Williams, Esq.|

| 20 | July 3, 1753 . . . . . . . . . . . . | B. de Born. |

| 21 | April 5, 1800. . . . . . . . . . . . | Philosophical Magazine.|

| 22 | Very old . . . . . . . . . . . . . . | Pallas, Chladni, &c. |

| 23 | July, 1789 . . . . . . . . . . . . . | Darcet, jun., Lomet, &c|

| 24 | November 7, 1492 . . . . . . . . . . | Butenschoen. |

| 25 | In 1762. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . | Acad. de Bourd. |

| 26 | March 12, 1798 . . . . . . . . . . . | De Dree. |

| 27 | April 26, 1803 . . . . . . . . . . . | Fourcroy. |


These stones generally appear luminous in their descent, moving

in oblique directions with very great velocities, and commonly

with a hissing noise. They are frequently heard to explode or

burst, and seem to fly in pieces, the larger parts falling first.

They often strike the earth with such force as to sink several

inches below the surface. They are always different from the

surrounding bodies, but in every case are similar to one another,

being semi-metallic, coated with a thin black incrustation. They

bear strong marks of recent fusion. Chemists have found on

examining these stones that they very nearly agree in their nature

and composition, and in the proportions of their component parts.

The stone which fell at Ensisheim in Alsace, in 1492, and those

which fell at L'Aigle in France, in 1803, yielded, by the Analysis

of Fourcroy and Vanquelin, as in this table:-


| Ensisheim stone fell | L'Aigle stone fell | |

| A.D. 1492 | A.D. 1803 | |

|_______________________|______________________|__________________ |

| 56 0 | 54 | of silica |

| 30 0 | 36 | -oxyd of iron |

| 12 0 | 9 | -magnesia |

| 2 4 | 3 | -oxyd of nickel |

| 3 5 | 2 | -sulphur |

| 1 4 | 1 | -lime |

| _____ | _____ | |

| 105 3 | 105 | |


Their specific gravities are generally about three of four times

that of water, being heavier than common stones. From the above

account it is reasonable to conclude that they have all the same

origin. To account for this phenomenon, various hypotheses have

appeared; we shall mention three: 1. That they are little planets,

which, circulating in space, fall into the atmosphere, which, by

its friction, diminishes the velocity, so that they fall by their

weight. 2. That they are concretions formed in the atmosphere. 3.

That they are projected from lunar volcanoes. These are the most

probable conjectures we can meet with, and of these the two former

possess a very small degree of probability, but there are very

strong reasons in favour of the last. Among the reasons we may

notice the following: 1. Volcanoes in the moon have been observed

by means of the telescope. 2. The lunar volcanoes are very high,

and the surface of that globe suffers frequent changes, as appears

by the late observations of Schroeter. 3. If a body be projected

from the moon to a distance greater than that of the point of

equilibrium between the attraction of the earth and moon, it will,

on the known principle of gravitation, fall to the earth. 4. That

a body may be projected from the lunar volcanoes beyond the moon's

influence, is not only possible but very probable; for on

calculation it is found that four times the force usually given to

a twelve pounder, will be quite sufficient for this purpose; it is

to be observed that the point of equilibrium is much nearer the

moon, and that a projectile from the moon will not be so much

retarded as one from the earth, both on account of the moon's

rarer atmosphere, and its less attractive force. On this subject,

see Mr. Haward's valuable paper in the Philosophical Transactions

for 1802, and Dr. Hutton's dissertation in the new abridgment,

part xxi. It is highly probable that the ancile, or sacred shield,

that fell from heaven in the reign of Numa Pompilius, was a stone

of this sort. The description of its fall, as given by Ovid, Fast.

lib. iii., bears a striking resemblance to recent accounts of

stones falling from the atmosphere, particularly in the luminous

appearance and hissing noise with which it was accompanied.

Dum loquitur, totum jam sol emerserat orbem,

Et gravis aethereo venit ab axe fragor.

Ter tonuit sine nube Deus, tria fulgura misit:

Credite dicenti; mira, sed acta, loquor.

A media coelum regione dehiscere coepit:

Summisere oculos cum duce turba suos.

Ecce levi scutum versatum leniter aura

Decidit, a pupulo clamor ad astra venit.

Tolit humo munus________________________

Idque ancile vocat, quod ab omni parte recisum est.

It is very possible that the Palladium of Troy, and the Image of

the Ephesian Diana, were stones which really fell from the

atmosphere, bearing some rude resemblance to the human form. See

the IMPERIAL ENCYCLOPAEDIA, article Aerolith.

I believe it is generally agreed among philosophers, 1. That all

these aerial stones, chemically analyzed, show the same

properties; 2. That no stone found on our earth possesses exactly

the same properties, nor in the same proportions. This is an

extraordinary circumstance, and deserves particular notice.

Verse 12. Then spake Joshua to the Lord] Though Joshua saw that

the enemies of his people were put to flight, yet he well knew

that all which escaped would rally again, and that he should be

obliged to meet them once more in the field of battle if permitted

now to escape; finding that the day was drawing towards a close,

he feared that he should not have time sufficient to complete the

destruction of the confederate armies; in this moment, being

suddenly inspired with Divine confidence, he requested the Lord to

perform the most stupendous miracle that had ever been wrought,

which was no less than to arrest the sun in his course, and

prolong the day till the destruction of his enemies had been


Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley

of Ajalon.] To account for this miracle, and to ascertain the

manner in which it was wrought, has employed the pens of the

ablest divines and astronomers, especially of the last two

centuries. By their learned labours many difficulties have been

removed from the account in general; but the very different and

contradictory methods pursued by several, in their endeavours to

explain the whole, and make the relation accord with the present

acknowledged system of the universe, and the phenomena of nature,

tend greatly to puzzle the plain, unphilosophical reader. The

subject cannot be well explained without a dissertation; and a

dissertation is not consistent with the nature of short notes, or

a commentary on Scripture. It is however necessary to attempt an

explanation, and to bring that as much as possible within the

apprehension of common readers, in order to this, I must beg leave

to introduce a few preliminary observations, or what the reader

may call propositions if he pleases.

1. I take it for granted that a miracle was wrought as nearly as

circumstances could admit, in the manner in which it is here

recorded. I shall not, therefore, seek for any allegorical or

metaphorical interpretations; the miracle is recorded as a fact,

and as a fact I take it up.

2. I consider the present accredited system of the universe,

called sometimes the Pythagorean, Copernican, or Newtonian system,

to be genuine; and also to be the system of the universe laid down

in the Mosaic writings-that the SUN is in the centre of what is

called the solar system; and that the earth and all the other

planets, whether primary or secondary, move round him in certain

periodical times, according to the quantity of their matter, and

distance from him, their centre.

3. I consider the sun to have no revolution round any orbit, but

to revolve round his own axis, and round the common centre of

gravity in the planetary system, which centre of gravity is

included within his own surface; and in all other respects I

consider him to be at rest in the system.

4. I consider the earth, not only as revolving round the sun in

365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 48 seconds, but as revolving

round its own axis, and making this revolution in 23 hours, 56

minutes, and 4 seconds; that in the course of 24 hours complete,

every part of its surface is alternately turned to the sun; that

this revolution constitutes our day and night, as the former does

our year; and it is day to all those parts which have the sun

above the horizon, and night to those which have the sun below

it; and that this diurnal revolution of the earth, or revolving

round its own axis, in a direction from west to east, occasions

what is commonly called the rising and setting of the sun, which

appearance is occasioned, not by any motion in the sun himself,

but by this motion of the earth; which may be illustrated by a

ball or globe suspended by a thread, and caused to turn round. If

this be held opposite to a candle, it will appear half enlightened

and half dark; but the dark parts will be seen to come

successively into the light, and the enlightened parts into the

shade; while the candle itself which gives the light is fixed,

not changing its position.

5. I consider the solar influence to be the cause both of the

annual and diurnal motion of the earth; and that, while that

influence continues to act upon it according to the law which God

originally impressed on both the earth and the sun, the annual and

diurnal motions of the earth must continue; and that no power but

the unlimited power of God can alter this influence, change, or

suspend the operation of this law; but that he is such an

infinitely FREE AGENT, that HE can, when his unerring wisdom sees

good, alter, suspend, or even annihilate all secondary causes and

their effects: for it would be degrading to the perfections of his

nature to suppose that he had so bound himself by the laws which

he has given for the preservation and direction of universal

nature, that he could not change them, alter their effects, or

suspend their operations when greater and better effects, in a

certain time or place, might be produced by such temporary change

or suspension.

6. I consider that the miracle wrought on this occasion served

greatly to confirm the Israelites, not only in the belief of the

being and perfections of God, but also in the doctrine of an

especial providence, and in the nullity of the whole system of

idolatry and superstition.

7. That no evil was done by this miraculous interference, nor

any law or property of nature ultimately changed; on the contrary,

a most important good was produced, which probably, to this

people, could not have been brought about any other way; and that

therefore the miracle wrought on this occasion was highly worthy

of the wisdom and power of God.

8. I consider that the terms in the text employed to describe

this miracle are not, when rightly understood, contrary to the

well-established notions of the true system of the universe; and

are not spoken, as some have contended, ad captum vulgi, to the

prejudices of the common people, much less do they favour the

Ptolemaic or any other hypothesis that places the earth in the

centre of the solar system.

Having laid down these preliminaries, some short observations on

the words of the text may be sufficient.

Joshua's address is in a poetic form in the original, and makes

the two following hemistichs:-

Shemesh begibon dom:

Veyareach beemek Aiyalon.

Sun! upon Gibeon be dumb:

And the moon on the vale of Ajalon.

The effect of this command is related, Jos 10:13, in the

following words:-

vaiyiddom hashSHEMESH veYAREACH amad, And the

sun was dumb or silent and the moon stood still. And in the latter

clause of this verse it is added: And the sun stood still in the

midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.

It seems necessary here to answer the question, At what time of

the day did this miracle take place? The expression

bachatsi hashshamayim, in the midst of heaven, seems to intimate

that the sun was at that time on the meridian of Gibeon, and

consequently had one half of its course to run; and this sense of

the place has been strongly contended for as essential to the

miracle, for the greater display of the glory of God: "Because,"

say its abettors, "had the miracle been wrought when the sun was

near the going down, it might have been mistaken for some

refraction of the rays of light, occasioned by a peculiarly moist

state of the atmosphere in the horizon of that place, or by some

such appearance as the Aurora Borealis." To me there seems no

solidity in this reason. Had the sun been arrested in the

meridian, the miracle could scarcely have been noticed, and

especially in the hurry and confusion of that time; and we may be

assured, that among the Canaanites there were neither clocks nor

time-keepers, by which the preternatural length of such a day

could have been accurately measured: but, on the contrary, had the

sun been about the setting, when both the pursuers and the pursued

must be apprehensive of its speedy disappearance, its continuance

for several hours above the horizon, so near the point when it

might be expected to go down, must have been very observable and

striking. The enemy must see, feel, and deplore it; as their hope

of escape must, in such circumstances, be founded on the speedy

entering in of the night, through which alone they could expect to

elude the pursuing Israelites. And the Israelites themselves must

behold with astonishment and wonder that the setting sun hasted

not to go down about a whole day, affording them supernatural time

totally to destroy a routed foe, which otherwise might have had

time to rally, confederate, choose a proper station, and attack in

their turn with peculiar advantages, and a probability of success.

It appears, therefore, much more reasonable that Joshua should

require this miracle to be performed when daylight was about to

fail, just as the sun was setting. If we were to consider the sun

as being at the meridian of Gibeon, as some understand the midst

of heaven, it may be well asked, How could Joshua know that he

should not have time enough to complete the destruction of his

enemies, who were now completely routed? Already multitudes of

them had fallen by the hail-stones and by the sword: and if he had

yet half a day before him, it would have been natural enough for

him to conclude that he had a sufficiency of time for the purpose,

his men having been employed all night in a forced march, and half

a day in close fighting; and indeed had he not been under an

especial inspiration, he could not have requested the miracle at

all, knowing, as he must have done, that his men must be nearly

exhausted by marching all night and fighting all day. But it may

be asked, What is the meaning of bachatsi hashshamayim,

which we translate in the midst of heaven? If, with Mr. Bate, we

translate chatsah, to part, divide asunder, then it may refer

to the horizon, which is the apparent division of the heavens into

the upper and lower hemisphere; and thus the whole verse has been

understood by some eminently learned men, who have translated the

whole passage thus: And the sun stood still in the (upper)

hemisphere of heaven, and hasted not to go down when the day was

complete; that is, though the day was then complete, the sun being

on the horizon; the line that to the eye constituted the mid

heaven-yet it hasted not to go down; was miraculously sustained in

its then almost setting position; and this seems still more

evident from the moon's appearing at that time, which it is not

reasonable to suppose could be visible in the glare of light

occasioned by a noon-day sun.

But the main business relative to the standing still of the sun

still remains to be considered.

I have already assumed, as a thoroughly demonstrated truth, that

the sun is in the centre of the system, moving only round his own

axis, and the common centre of the gravity of the planetary

system, while all the planets revolve round him, Prop. 2 and 3;

that his influence is the cause of the diurnal and annual

revolutions of the earth; nor can I see what other purpose his

revolution round his own axis can possibly answer, Prop. 5.

I consider that the word dom, in the text, refers to the

withholding or restraining this influence, so that the cessation

of the earth's motion might immediately take place. The desire of

Joshua was, that the sun might not sink below the horizon; but as

it appeared now to be over Gibeon, and the moon to be over the

valley of Ajalon, he prayed that they might continue in these

positions till the battle should be ended; or, in other words,

that the day should be miraculously lengthened out.

Whether Joshua had a correct philosophical notion of the true

system of the universe, is a subject that need not come into the

present inquiry: but whether he spoke with strict propriety on

this occasion is a matter of importance, because he must be

considered as acting under the Divine influence, in requesting the

performance of such a stupendous miracle; and we may safely assert

that no man in his right mind would have thought of offering such

a petition had he not felt himself under some Divine afflatus.

Leaving, therefore, his philosophic knowledge out of the question,

he certainly spoke as if he had known that the solar influence was

the cause of the earth's rotation, and therefore, with the

strictest philosophic propriety, he requested that that influence

might be for a time restrained, that the diurnal motion of the

earth might be arrested, through which alone the sun could be kept

above the horizon, and day be prolonged. His mode of expression

evidently considers the sun as the great ruler or master in the

system; and all the planets (or at least the earth) moving in

their respective orbits at his command. He therefore desires him,

in the name and by the authority of his Creator, to suspend his

mandate with respect to the earth's motion, and that of its

satellite, the moon. Had he said, Earth, stand thou still, the

cessation of whose diurnal motion was the effect of his command,

it could not have obeyed him; as it is not even the secondary

cause either of its annual motion round the sun, or its diurnal

motion round its own axis. Instead of doing so, he speaks to the

sun, the cause (under God) of all these motions, as his great

archetype did when, in the storm on the sea of Tiberias, he

rebuked the wind first, and then said to the waves, Peace! be

still! σιωπαπεφιμωσο Be SILENT! be DUMB! Mr 4:39; and the

effect of this command was a cessation of the agitation in the

sea, because the wind ceased to command it, that is, to exert

its influence upon the waters.

The terms in this command are worthy of particular note: Joshua

does not say to the sun, Stand still, as if he had conceived him

to be running his race round the earth; but, Be silent or

inactive, that is, as I understand it, Restrain thy

influence-no longer act upon the earth, to cause it to revolve

round its axis; a mode of speech which is certainly consistent

with the strictest astronomical knowledge; and the writer of the

account, whether Joshua himself or the author of the book of

Jasher, in relating the consequence of this command is equally

accurate, using a word widely different when he speaks of the

effect the retention of the solar influence had on the moon: in

the first case the sun was silent or inactive, dom;

in the latter, the moon stood still, amad. The standing

still of the moon, or its continuance above the horizon, would be

the natural effect of the cessation of the solar influence, which

obliged the earth to discontinue her diurnal rotation, which of

course would arrest the moon; and thus both it and the sun were

kept above the horizon, probably for the space of a whole day. As

to the address to the moon, it is not conceived in the same terms

as that to the sun, and for the most obvious philosophical

reasons; all that is said is simply, and the moon on the vale of

Ajalon, which may be thus understood: "Let the sun restrain his

influence or be inactive, as he appears now upon Gibeon, that the

moon may continue as she appears now over the vale of Ajalon." It

is worthy of remark that every word in this poetic address is

apparently selected with the greatest caution and precision.

Persons who are no friends to Divine revelation say "that the

account given of this miracle supposes the earth to be in the

centre of the system, and the sun moveable; and as this is

demonstrably a false philosophy, consequently the history was

never dictated by the Spirit of truth." Others, in answer, say

"that the Holy Spirit condescends to accommodate himself to the

apprehensions of the vulgar. The Israelites would naturally have

imagined that Joshua was deranged had he bid the earth stand

still, which they grant would have been the most accurate and

philosophical mode of command on this occasion." But with due

deference both to the objectors and defenders I must assert, that

such a form of speech on such an occasion would have been utterly

unphilosophic; and that the expressions found in the Hebrew text

are such as Sir Isaac Newton himself might have denominated, every

thing considered, elegant, correct, and sublime. Nor does it at

all appear that the prejudices of the vulgar were consulted on

this occasion; nor is there a word here, when properly understood

that is inconsistent with the purest axiom of the soundest

philosophy, and certainly nothing that implies any contradiction.

I grant that when the people have to do with astronomical and

philosophical matters, then the terms of the science may be

accommodated to their apprehensions; it is on this ground that Sir

Isaac Newton himself speaks of the rising and of the setting of

the sun, though all genuine philosophers know that these

appearances are produced by the rotation of the earth on its own

axis from west to east. But when matters of this kind are to be

transacted between God and his prophets, as in the above case,

then subjects relative to philosophy are conceived in their proper

terms, and expressed according to their own nature. At the

conclusion of the 13th verse a different expression is used when

it is said, So the sun stood still, it is not dom, but

amad; vaiyaamod hashshemesh, which expression, thus

varying from that in the command of Joshua, may be considered as

implying that in order to restrain his influence which I have

assumed to be the cause of the earth's motion, the sun himself

became inactive, that is, ceased to revolve round his own axis,

which revolution is probably one cause, not only of the revolution

of the earth, but of all the other planetary bodies in our system,

and might have affected all the planets at the time in question;

but this neither could nor did produce any disorder in nature; and

the delay of a few hours in the whole planetary motions dwindles

away into an imperceptible point in the thousands of years of

their revolutions. But the whole effect mentioned here might have

been produced by the cessation of the diurnal motion of the earth,

the annual being still continued; and I contend that this was

possible to Omnipotence, and that such a cessation might have

taken place without occasioning the slightest disturbance in the

motions of any others of the planetary system. It is vain to cry

out and say, "Such a cessation of motion in one planet could not

take place without disordering the motions of all the rest;" this

I deny, and those who assert it neither know the Scripture nor the

power of God; therefore they do greatly err. That the day was

preternaturally lengthened, is a Scripture fact. That it was so by

a miracle, is asserted; and whether that miracle was wrought as

above stated, is a matter of little consequence; the thing is a

Scripture fact, whether we know the modus operandi or not. I need

scarcely add that the command of Joshua to the sun is to be

understood as a prayer to God (from whom the sun derived his being

and his continuance) that the effect might be what is expressed in

the command: and therefore it is said, Jos 10:14, that the LORD

HEARKENED UNTO THE VOICE OF A MAN, for the Lord fought for Israel.

I have thus gone through the different parts of this astonishing

miracle, and have endeavoured to account for the whole in as plain

and simple a manner as possible. It is not pretended that this

account should satisfy every reader, and that every difficulty is

solved; it would be impossible to do this in such a compass as

that by which I am necessarily circumscribed; and I have been

obliged, for the sake of brevity, to throw into the form of

propositions or observations, several points which may appear to

demand illustration and proof; for such I must refer the reader to

Astronomical Treatises. Calmet, Scheuchzer, and Saurin, with

several of our own countrymen, have spoken largely on this

difficult subject, but in such a way as, I am obliged to confess,

has given me little satisfaction, and which appears to me to leave

the main difficulties unremoved. Conscious of the difficulties of

this subject, I beg leave to address every candid reader in the

often quoted words of an eminent author:-

Vive, Vale! si quid novisti rectius istis,

Candidus imperti; si non, his utere mecum.

Hor. Epist. l. i., E. vi., ver. 68.

Farewell! and if a better system's thine,

Impart it frankly or make use of mine.


Book of Jasher] The book of the upright. See the note on

Nu 21:14. Probably this was a book which, in reference to

Joshua and his transactions, was similar to the commentaries of

Caesar, on his wars with the Gauls. Critics and commentators are

greatly divided in their sentiments relative to the nature of this

book. The opinion above appears to me the most probable.

Verse 14. And there was no day like that] There was no period of

time in which the sun was kept so long above the horizon as on

that occasion. Some learned men have supposed that the Fable of

Phaeton was founded on this historic fact. The fable may be seen

with all the elegance of poetic embellishment in the commencement

of the second book of Ovid's Metamorphoses; but I confess I can

see nothing in the pretended copy that can justify the above


Verse 15. And Joshua returned-unto the camp to Gilgal.] That the

Israelitish army did not return to the camp at Gilgal till after

the hanging of the five kings and the destruction of their cities,

is sufficiently evident from the subsequent parts of this chapter.

When all this business was done, and not before, they returned

unto the camp to Gilgal; see Jos 10:43. This verse is omitted by

the Septuagint and by the Anglo-Saxon; and it does not appear to

have existed in the ancient hexaplar versions; it stands in its

proper place in Jos 10:43, and is not only useless where it is,

but appears to be an encumbrance to the narrative. Should it be

considered as genuine and in its proper place, I would propose

that makkedah should be read instead of gilgalah,

for we find from Jos 10:21 that Joshua had a temporary camp

there. Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the

camp to MAKKEDAH; after which we may suppose that Joshua having

secured the cave, sent some detachments to scour the country and

cut off all the remaining straggling Canaanites; when this was

done they also returned to the camp at Makkedah, as is related

Jos 10:21, and when the business was completed they struck the

camp at Makkedah, and all returned to their fortified camp at

Gilgal, Jos 10:43.

Verse 16. Hid themselves in a cave] It is very likely that this

cave was a fortified place among some rocks; for there were many

such places in different parts of Palestine.

Verse 21. None moved his tongue] The whole transaction of this

important day had been carried on so evidently under the direction

of God that there was not the least murmuring, nor cause for it,

among them, for their enemies were all discomfited. There is an

expression similar to this, Ex 11:7, on which the reader is

requested to consult the note.

Verse 24. Put your feet upon the necks of these kings.] This act

was done symbolically, as a token, not only of the present

complete victory, but of their approaching triumph over all their

adversaries, which is the interpretation given of it by Joshua in

the succeeding verse.

Verse 26. Smote-slew-and hanged them on five trees] Hanging

alive seems a barbarous custom: among the Hebrews, criminals

were first deprived of life; this was the debt required by

justice: then they were hanged up, perhaps generally by the

hands, not by the neck; this was done by way of example, to

deter others from committing the crimes for which those had

suffered: but they were never permitted to hang thus exposed all

night, as this could have answered no purpose, either of justice

or example, as they could not be seen in the night-season. One day

also was deemed enough for their exposure, it being thought

sufficient to show the public that justice had been executed; and

to have exhibited them longer would have appeared to be a

barbarous cruelty which attempted to extend punishment beyond the

possible requisitions of justice. See Clarke on De 21:23.

Verse 28. That day Joshua took Makkedah] It is very possible

that Makkedah was taken on the evening of the same day in which

the miraculous solstice took place; but as to the other cities

mentioned in this chapter, they certainly were subdued some days

after, as it is not possible that an army, exhausted as this must

have been with a whole night's march, and two days' hard fighting,

could have proceeded farther than Makkedah that night; the other

cities were successively taken in the following days.

Verse 29. Fought against Libnah] This city was near Makkedah,

see Jos 15:42, and fell to the tribe of Judah, Jos 10:20, 42,

and was given to the priests, Jos 21:13. Sennacherib besieged it,

after he had been obliged to raise the siege of Lachish. See

2Ki 19:8; Isa 37:8.

Verse 32. Lachish] It appears that this was anciently a very

strong place; notwithstanding the people were panic-struck, and

the Israelites flushed with success, yet Joshua could not reduce

it till the second day, and the king of Assyria afterwards was

obliged to raise the siege. See above, and

See Clarke on Jos 10:3.

Verse 33. Horam king of Gezer] It is likely that Horam was in a

state of alliance with the king of Lachish, and therefore came to

his assistance as soon as it appeared that he was likely to be

attacked. Joshua probably sent a detachment against him, before he

was able to form a junction with the forces of Lachish; and

utterly destroyed him and his army.

Gezer is supposed to have been situated near Azotus. See

1Mac 16:34. It fell to the tribe of Ephraim, Jos 16:3, but was

probably taken afterwards by some of the remnant of the

Canaanitish nations; for we find it was given by Pharaoh to his

son-in-law Solomon, 1Ki 9:16, which proves that it had got out of

the possession of the Israelites previously to the days of


Verse 34. Eglon] It is likely that this town was not any great

distance from Lachish. See Clarke on Jos 10:3.

Verse 36. - 37. Hebron-and the king thereof] See the note on

Jos 10:3. From Jos 10:23 we learn that the king of Hebron was

one of those five whom Joshua slew and hanged on five trees at

Makkedah. How then can it be said that he slew the king of Hebron

when he took the city, which was some days after the transactions

at Makkedah? Either this slaying of the king of Hebron must refer

to what had already been done, or the Hebronites, finding that

their king fell in battle, had set up another in his place; which

was the king Joshua slew, after he had taken the city and its

dependencies, as is related Jos 10:37.

It appears that the city of Hebron had fallen back into the

hands of the Canaanites, for it was again taken from them by the

tribe of Judah, Jud 1:10.

Debir had also fallen into their hands, for it was reconquered

by Othniel, the son-in-law of Caleb, Jud 1:11-13. The manner in

which Calmet accounts for this is very natural: Joshua, in his

rapid conquests, contented himself with taking, demolishing, and

burning those cities; but did not garrison any of them, for fear

of weakening his army. In several instances no doubt the scattered

Canaanites returned, repeopled, and put those cities in a state of

defence. Hence the Israelites were obliged to conquer them a

second time. This is a more rational way of accounting for these

things, than that which supposes that the first chapter of Judges

gives the more detailed account of the transactions recorded here;

for there it is expressly said, that these transactions took place

after the death of Joshua, (see Jud 1:1,) and consequently cannot

be the same that are mentioned here.

Verse 37. See Clarke on Jos 10:36.

Verse 39. Destroyed all the souls]

vaiyacharimu eth col nephesh, they brought every person under an

anathema; they either slew them or reduced them to a state of

slavery. Is it reasonable to say those were slain who were found

in arms, of the others they made slaves?

Verse 40. All the country of the hills]

See Clarke on De 1:7.

Destroyed all that breathed] Every person found in arms who

continued to resist; these were all destroyed,-those who submitted

were spared: but many no doubt made their escape, and afterwards

reoccupied certain parts of the land. See Jos 10:36, 37.

Verse 41. And all the country of Goshen] Calmet contends that

this was the very same country in which the Hebrews dwelt before

their departure from Egypt; and according to this hypothesis he

has constructed his map, causing it to extend from the Nile, which

was called the river of Egypt, along the frontiers of the land of

Cush or Arabia. It however appears plain that there was a city

named Goshen in the tribe of Judah, see Jos 15:51; and this

probably gave name to the adjacent country which may be that

referred to above.

Verse 42. Did Joshua take at one time] That is, he defeated all

those kings, and took all their cities, in ONE campaign; this

appears to be the rational construction of the Hebrew. But these

conquests were so rapid and stupendous, that they cannot be

attributed either to the generalship of Joshua, or the valour of

the Israelites; and hence the author himself, disclaiming the

merit of them, modestly and piously adds, because the Lord Good of

Israel fought for Israel. It was by this aid that Joshua took all

these kings and their land at one time-in a single campaign. And

when all the circumstances related in this chapter are properly

weighed, we shall find that GOD alone could have performed these

works, and that both reason and piety require that to HIM alone

they should be attributed.

1. THE principal subjects of this important chapter have been

considered so much in detail in the preceding notes, that there is

little room to add any thing to what has already been said. The

principal subject is the miracle of the sun's standing still; and

to assert that all difficulties have been removed by the preceding

notes and observations, would be to say what the writer does not

believe, and what few readers would perhaps feel disposed to

credit. Yet it is hoped that the chief difficulties have been

removed, and the miracle itself shown to have nothing

contradictory in it. If, as is generally believed, the sun and

moon were objects of the Canaanitish adoration, the miracle was

graciously calculated to check this superstition, and to show the

Israelites, as well as the Canaanites, the vanity of such worship,

and the folly of such dependence. Even their gods at the command

of a servant of JEHOVAH, were obliged to contribute to the

destruction of their votaries. This method of checking

superstition and destroying idolatry God adopted in the plagues

which he inflicted upon the Egyptians; and by it at once showed

his justice and his mercy. See the concluding observations on

Clarke "Ex 12:51".

2. The same God who appeared so signally in behalf of his people

of old is still the governor of the heavens and the earth; and, if

applied to, will do every thing essentially necessary for the

extension of his truth and the maintenance of his religion among

men. How is it that faith is so rarely exercised in his power and

goodness? We have not, because we ask not. Our experience of his

goodness is contracted, because we pray little and believe less.

To holy men of old the object of faith was more obscurely revealed

than to us, and they had fewer helps to their faith; yet they

believed more, and witnessed greater displays of the power and

mercy of their Maker. Reader, have faith in God, and know that to

excite, exercise, and crown this, he has given thee his word and

his Spirit; and learn to know that without him thou canst do


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