Joshua 10:9, 10: Joshua Relieves Gibeah, Part 2

Verse 9:[1] Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night.

[He rushed upon them suddenly] Unforeseen evils strike more grievously. But why this caution, since God had promised certain victory? Response: It is not to be supposed that the benignity of God looks to the fostering of our idleness. Suddenly: That was noted of Cæsar that, Μηδὲν ἀναβαλλόμενος, he put off nothing; and of Themistocles,[2] that he was patient with friends, swift with enemies, when each was asked concerning his victories (Masius).

[All night] Question: Since the distance from Gilgal to Gibeon was twenty-six miles, how did he traverse this in one night? Response: By the words of Holy Scripture to the night it is permissible to add as much of the preceding day as you wish. They only signify that no part of the night was given to rest, but that the whole was taken up in making the journey (Masius).

Joshua therefore came unto them suddently, etc.: Though assured by God of the victory, yet he useth all prudent means, and surpriseth them. It is not said that he went from Gilgal to Gibeon in a night’s space, but only that he travelled all night; unto which you may add part either of the foregoing or of the following day.


Verse 10:[3] And the LORD (Judg. 4:15; 1 Sam. 7:10, 12; Ps. 18:14; Isa. 28:21) discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up (Josh. 16:3, 5) to Beth-horon, and smote them to (Josh. 15:35) Azekah, and unto Makkedah.

[And He discomfited, וַיְהֻמֵּם[4]] And He wore them out (Hebrews in Munster, the Chaldean in Masius); He destroyed (Arabic); He routed (Junius and Tremellius); He agitated them in mind (the Septuagint in Masius). הָמָה does indeed signify that, to which הָמָם is related; neither is it absurd that the one word is used in the place of the other. He threw into confusion. God here brings to pass what He had promised, Exodus 23:27, וְהַמֹּתִי, and I will discomfit, etc.;[5] and there is an allusion here to those words (Masius). He terrified (Piscator).

[And he slew] Who? Either, the Lord, both with the sword of the Israelites, and with stones (Junius). Or, Israel: I translate it, and so he struck them (Piscator). Or, both God and Israel, who accommodated themselves to the counsel of God (Masius).

Slew them, or, he slew them; either God or Israel; for God’s work is described verse 11.

[In Gibeon] That is, at Gibeon; or, in Gibeonite territory; as, in Joshua 5:13, Joshua is said to be in Jericho,[6] which nevertheless was shut up[7] (Masius).

At Gibeon: Hebrew: in Gibeon; not in the city, but in the territory belonging to it; as Joshua is said to be in Jericho, Joshua 5:13.

[By the way of the ascent of Beth-horon] Beth-horon was twofold, an upper and a nether. Mention is made of both in 1 Chronicles 7:24; 2 Chronicles 8:5 (Masius). I think that both were in the tribe of Ephraim, because they were built by a woman of the tribe of Ephraim, 1 Chronicles 7:20, 24. It is treated here of the nether. But that city was not yet built (for it was not possible, whether because of the [yet] brief stay in Canaan, or because of enemies, especially in this place, gathered on every side). And so the sense shall be, by the way in which in this time one ascends to Beth-horon (Bonfrerius).

[And he smote unto Azekah and Makkedah] These were two cities of the tribe of Judah, as it is evident out of Joshua 15:20, 35, 41. Neither is it strange that they went from Gibeon, which was in the tribe of Benjamin, into the tribe of Ephraim (that is, that part of it which was bordering on the Tribe of Benjamin), and soon into the tribe of Judah (Bonfrerius). For, either they followed the curves and windings of the way; or, being in great perplexity, they seized upon a most uncertain way there, and did not flee directly toward their cities, but retreaed first toward the North, then, as if with their error discerned, toward the West and South (Masius). Moreover, since mention is made here of the ascent, and in the following verse of the declivity, of Beth-horon, it was able to be one place that was sometimes called the ascent, sometimes the descent (Masius). Something is to be understood here: He smote them (supply, in pursuing) unto Azekah (Vatablus).

[1] Hebrew: וַיָּבֹ֧א אֲלֵיהֶ֛ם יְהוֹשֻׁ֖עַ פִּתְאֹ֑ם כָּל־הַלַּ֕יְלָה עָלָ֖ה מִן־הַגִּלְגָּֽל׃

[2] Themistocles (c. 524-459 BC) was an Athenian politician and general, and instrumental in defending Greece in the First and Second Persian Invasions.

[3] Hebrew: וַיְהֻמֵּ֤ם יְהוָה֙ לִפְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וַיַּכֵּ֥ם מַכָּֽה־גְדוֹלָ֖ה בְּגִבְע֑וֹן וַֽיִּרְדְּפֵ֗ם דֶּ֚רֶךְ מַעֲלֵ֣ה בֵית־חוֹרֹ֔ן וַיַּכֵּ֥ם עַד־עֲזֵקָ֖ה וְעַד־מַקֵּדָֽה׃

[4] הָמַם signifies to confuse, or to discomfit.

[5] Exodus 23:27:  “I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy (וְהַמֹּתִי) all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee.”

[6] Joshua 5:13a:  “And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho (בִּירִיחוֹ, in Jericho), that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand…”

[7] Joshua 6:1.

1 thought on “Joshua 10:9, 10: Joshua Relieves Gibeah, Part 2

  1. Matthew Henry: “Joshua applies himself to execute this resolve, and God assists him in the execution. Here we have, 1. The great industry of Joshua, and the power of God working with it for the defeat of the enemy. In this action, (1.) Joshua showed his goodwill in the haste he made for the relief of Gibeon (Joshua 10:9): He came unto them suddenly, for the extremity was such as would not admit delay. If one of the tribes of Israel had been in danger, he could not have shown more care or zeal for its relief than here for Gibeon, remembering in this, as in other cases, there must be one law for the stranger that was proselyted and for him that was born in the land. Scarcely had the confederate princes got their forces together, and sat down before Gibeon, when Joshua was upon them, the surprise of which would put them into the greatest confusion. Now that the enemy were actually drawn up into a body, which had all as it were but one neck, despatch was as serviceable to his cause as before delay was, while he waited for this general rendezvous; and now that things were ripe for execution no man more expeditious than Joshua, who before had seemed slow. Now it shall never be said, He left that to be done tomorrow which he could do today. When Joshua found he could not reach Gibeon in a day, lest he should lose any real advantages against the enemy, or so much as seem to come short or to neglect his new allies, he marched all night, resolving not to give sleep to his eyes, nor slumber to his eyelids, till he had accomplished this enterprise. It was well the forces he took with him were mighty men of valour, not only able-bodied men, but men of spirit and resolution, and hearty in the cause, else they neither could nor would have borne this fatigue, but would have murmured at their leader and would have asked, ‘Is this the rest we were promised in Canaan?’ But they well considered that the present toil was in order to a happy settlement, and therefore were reconciled to it. Let the good soldiers of Jesus Christ learn hence to endure hardness, in following the Lamb whithersoever he goes, and not think themselves undone if their religion lose them now and then a night’s sleep; it will be enough to rest when we come to heaven. But why needed Joshua to put himself and his men so much to the stretch? Had not God promised him that without fail he would deliver the enemies into his hand? It is true he had; but God’s promises are intended, not to slacken and supersede, but to quicken and encourage our endeavours. He that believeth doth not make haste to anticipate providence, but doth make haste to attend it, with a diligent, not a distrustful, speed. (2.) God showed his great power in defeating the enemies whom Joshua so vigorously attacked, Joshua 10:10, 11. Joshua had a very numerous and powerful army with him, hands enough to despatch a dispirited enemy, so that the enemy might have been scattered by the ordinary fate of war; but God himself would appear in this great and decisive battle, and draw up the artillery of heaven against the Canaanites, to demonstrate to this people that they got not this land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them, but God’s right hand and his arm, Psalm 44:3. The Lord discomfited them before Israel. I srael did what they could, and yet God did all.”

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