Joshua 10:24: Treading upon the Necks of Enemies

Verse 24:[1] And it came to pass, when they brought out those kings unto Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said unto the captains of the men of war which went with him, Come near, (Ps. 107:40; 110:5; 149:8, 9; Is. 26:5, 6; Mal. 4:3) put your feet upon the necks of these kings. And they came near, and put their feet upon the necks of them.

[He called all the men of Israel[2]] אִישׁ here signifies, either, eminent men, which sort alone undoubtedly he had led with himself on this expedition (thus Masius); or, all the Israelites (thus the Septuagint and the Chaldean in Masius, Malvenda).

[Unto the principal men of the army, אֶל־קְצִינֵ֞י אַנְשֵׁ֤י הַמִּלְחָמָה֙] Unto the leaders of the men of war (Montanus); to the commanders of the military men (Junius and Tremellius) [similarly all interpreters].

[Which were with him, הֶהָלְכ֣וּא אִתּ֔וֹ] Which had gone with him (Montanus); which went with him (Junius and Tremellius) [similarly all interpreters]. In the verb הֶהָלְכוּא the ה in the beginning functions in the place of אֲשֶׁר/who/which, as often happens: but the א at the end is paragogic, which the Massoretes note is found twelve times in the Sacred Books (Masius).

[Put your feet upon the necks] But this appears to be barbaric inhumanity, to trample upon the necks of Kings that, having been prostrated, were lying as supplicants before his feet. But Joshua did this by Divine instinct, and would have gravely sinned if he had not done it; just like Saul, 1 Samuel 15, and Ahab, 1 Kings 20, when they sinfully spared Agag and Ben-hadad (Masius). Now, this was done, 1. To fulfill the promises of God, Deuteronomy 33:29, Thou shalt tread upon their high places, that is, their necks, according to all translations (Masius). Thus Psalm 91:13; 110:1; 149 (Drusius). 2. So that he might increase confidence in his own (Lapide, Menochius, Masius) in these beginnings of the greatest and most difficult battle (Masius). For this was a symbol of utter subjection (Bonfrerius). 3. So that he might exact deserved punishments from these most impious tyrants (Lapide). That is, because the crimes of Kings harm many by example, therefore, they ought deservedly to be removed with sharper punishment (Masius). 4. So that he might keep his own at a greater distance from their superstitions and sins, whom they see pay such heavy penalties to God (Masius, Lapide). 5. When they saw that no mercy was extended to the Kings, the people were armed against a twisted and vicious mercy, by which otherwise perhaps they would have entertained friendly feelings towards some Canaanites. You will say, They were thus trained to vengeance. Response: It is one thing to avenge injuries received privately; it is another to avenge that for the punishing of which the sword is presented to us, is extended into our hands, as it were, by God (Masius).

Put your feet upon the necks of these kings: this he did not from pride and contempt of their dignity in itself; but, partly, as a punishment of their impious rebellion against their sovereign Lord; partly, in pursuance of that curse of servility due to all this people, Genesis 9:25; partly, as a token to assure his captains that God would subdue the proudest of them all under their feet; and partly, to oblige and teach his people severely to execute the judgment of God upon them, and not to spare any of them, either out of a foolish pity, or out of respect to their dignity, as Saul afterwards spared Agag to his own ruin.

[1] Hebrew: וַ֠יְהִי כְּֽהוֹצִיאָ֞ם אֶת־הַמְּלָכִ֣ים הָאֵלֶּה֮ אֶל־יְהוֹשֻׁעַ֒ וַיִּקְרָ֙א יְהוֹשֻׁ֜עַ אֶל־כָּל־אִ֣ישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל וַ֠יֹּאמֶר אֶל־קְצִינֵ֞י אַנְשֵׁ֤י הַמִּלְחָמָה֙ הֶהָלְכ֣וּא אִתּ֔וֹ קִרְב֗וּ שִׂ֚ימוּ אֶת־רַגְלֵיכֶ֔ם עַֽל־צַוְּארֵ֖י הַמְּלָכִ֣ים הָאֵ֑לֶּה וַֽיִּקְרְב֔וּ וַיָּשִׂ֥ימוּ אֶת־רַגְלֵיהֶ֖ם עַל־צַוְּארֵיהֶֽם׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיִּקְרָ֙א יְהוֹשֻׁ֜עַ אֶל־כָּל־אִ֣ישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל.

2 thoughts on “Joshua 10:24: Treading upon the Necks of Enemies

  1. Jonathan Edwards, “Types of the Messiah”: “The great agreement there is between the history of Joshua and the things said of him in Scripture, and the things said of the Messiah in the Old Testament, strongly argues Joshua to be a type of the Messiah…. Joshua was the captain of the host of Israel, that fought their battles for them, and subdued their enemies, though many and mighty. He was their captain in their war with Amalek, and, as we may suppose, the other enemies of Israel that they encountered in the wilderness; and he conquered the numerous and mighty enemies in Canaan; agreeably to what is represented of the Messiah every where by the prophets. He came up out of the Jordan when it was swelled with a great flood, into Canaan; as the Messiah is spoken of by the prophets as coming up out of great affliction, terrible sufferings and death, into heaven, a land of rest and great delight. Great sufferings are in the Old Testament represented by the swelling of the Jordan, Jeremiah 12:5. Joshua brought the children of Israel out of the wilderness and out of Bashan, and out of great waters, into Canaan a land of rest flowing with milk and honey, agreeably to Psalm 68:22, ‘The Lord said, I will bring again from Bashan, I will bring my people again from the depths of the sea:’ and Isa 11:10, ‘There shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people, and his rest shall be glorious.’ Hosea 2:14-15, ‘I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably to her: and I will give her her vineyard from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope; and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt:’ and agreeably to many prophecies that represent the salvation of the Messiah as a bringing of God’s people into a state of liberty, rest, and joy, in Canaan, out of a state of bondage and great affliction in foreign lands, comparing it to God’s first bringing his people through the wilderness into Canaan, which were observed before; and agreeable to many prophecies which speak of God’s people, as delivered from great misery, and brought into happy circumstances, by the Messiah, and as therein partaking with the Messiah in his deliverance from his sufferings and advancement to a state of rest and glory. Joshua, in going before the children of Israel as the captain of the Lord’s host, and bringing them into the land of Canaan, did that which is spoken of in the books of Moses and Joshua themselves, as the office of that angel of God’s presence, who (as I have shown is evident by the Old Testament) was the same person with the Messiah, Numbers 23:20, ‘Behold, I send an angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.’ Exodus 23:23, ‘For mine angel shall go before thee, and bring thee in unto the Amorites and the Hittites,’ etc. Exodus 33:14, ‘My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.’ Josh 5:14, ‘Nay, but as the captain of the Lord’s host am I now come.’ Joshua was a most glorious conqueror, as the Messiah is every where represented to be in the prophecies. Joshua entered Canaan, conquered his enemies, and brought in his people to their rest and inheritance, by his righteousness or strict obedience to God’s commands. Joshua 1:2, etc., ‘Go over this Jordan, thou and all this people, into the land which I do give thee every place that the sole of your feet shall tread upon, that I have given unto you from the wilderness, and this Lebanon, unto the great river, the river Euphrates. There shall not a man be able to stand before thee. Unto this people shall thou divide for an inheritance the land which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe and do according to all the law which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand nor to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shall meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shall make thy way prosperous, and thou shall have good success.’ God promised that he would be with Joshua, and would uphold him, and not fail him, till he had complete victory over all his enemies, agreeably to what is said of the Messiah, Isaiah 42:1-4, ‘Behold my servant whom I uphold. The smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth, and the isles wait for his law.’ Isaiah 42:6, ‘I the Lord have called thee in righteousness: I will hold thine hand: I will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people.’ Isaiah 49:2, ‘He hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he held me, and made me as a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me.’ Isaiah 49:7-8, ‘Kings shall see and arise; princes also shall worship, because of the Lord that is faithful. In a day of salvation have I helped thee, and I will preserve thee and give thee for a covenant of the people.’ Psalm 89:20, etc., ‘I have found David my servant, with my holy oil have I anointed him: with whom my hand shall be established; mine arm also shall strengthen him. The enemy shall not exact upon him, nor the son of wickedness afflict him. I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him. But my faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him, and in my name shall his horn be exalted:’ and many other places; and agreeably to the prophecies of the Messiah, God made his enemies his footstool. Joshua 1:3-5, ‘Every place that the sole of your feet shall tread upon,’ etc. with Josh 10:24, ‘Put your feet upon the necks of those kings,’ etc.

  2. Matthew Henry: “The kings that had hidden themselves must now be called to an account, as rebels against the Israel of God, to whom, by the divine promise and grant, this land did of right belong and should have been surrendered upon demand. See here…How they were triumphed over. Joshua ordered them to be brought forth out of the cave, set before him as at the bar, and their names called over, Joshua 10:22, 23. And when they either were bound and cast upon the ground unable to help themselves, or threw themselves upon the ground, humbly to beg for their lives, he called for the general officers and great men, and commanded them to trample upon these kings, and set their feet upon their necks, not in sport and to make themselves and the company merry, but with the gravity and decorum that became the ministers of the divine justice who were not herein to gratify any pride or passion of their own, but to give glory to the God of Israel as higher than the highest, who treads upon princes as mortar (Isaiah 41:25), and is terrible to the kings of the earth, Psalm 76:12. The thing does indeed look barbarous, thus to insult over men in misery, who had suddenly fallen from the highest pitch of honour into this disgrace. It was hard for crowned heads to be thus trodden upon, not by Joshua himself (that might better have been borne), at least not by him only, but by all the captains of the army. Certainly it ought not to be drawn into a precedent, for the case was extraordinary, and we have reason to think it was by divine direction and impulse that Joshua did this. (1.) God would hereby punish the abominable wickedness of these kings, the measure of whose iniquity was now full. And, by this public act of justice done upon these ringleaders of the Canaanites in sin, he would possess his people with the greater dread and detestation of those sins of the nations that God cast out from before them, which they would be tempted to imitate. (2.) He would hereby have the promise by Moses made good (Deuteronomy 33:29), Thou shalt tread upon their high places, that is, their great men, which should the rather be speedily fulfilled in the letter because they are the very last words of Moses that we find upon record. (3.) He would hereby encourage the faith and hope of his people Israel in reference to the wars that were yet before them. Therefore Joshua said (Joshua 10:25): Fear not, nor be dismayed. [1.] ‘Fear not these kings, nor any of theirs, as if there were any danger of having this affront now put upon them in aftertime revenged upon yourselves, a consideration which keeps many from being insolent towards those they have at their mercy, because they know not how soon the uncertain fate of war may turn the same wheel upon themselves; but you need not fear that any should rise up ever to revenge this quarrel.’ [2.] ‘Fear not any other kings, who may at any time be in confederacy against you, for you see these brought down, whom you thought formidable. Thus shall the Lord do to all your enemies; now that they begin to fall, to fall so low that you may set your feet on their necks, you may be confident that they shall not prevail, but shall surely fall before you,’ Esther 6:13. (4.) He would hereby give a type and figure of Christ’s victories over the powers of darkness, and believers’ victories through him. All the enemies of the Redeemer shall be made his footstool, Psalm 110:1. And see Psalm 18:40. The kings of the earth set themselves against him (Psalm 2:2), but sooner or later we shall see all things put under Him (Hebrews 2:8), and principalities and powers made a show of, Colossians 2:15. And in these triumphs we are more than conquerors, may tread upon the lion and adder (Psalm 91:13), may ride on the high places of the earth (Isaiah 58:14), and may be confident that the God of peace shall tread Satan under our feet, shall do it shortly and do it effectually, Romans 16:20. See Psalm 149:8-9.”

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