Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
Adoni-zedec - i. e "Lord of righteousness" (compare Melchizedek, "King of righteousness"); probably an official title of the Jebusite kings.
Jerusalem - i. e. "foundation of peace," compare Gen 14:18. The city belonged to the inheritance of Benjamin Jos 18:28, but was on the very edge of the territory of Judah Jos 15:8. Hence, it was the strong and war-like tribe of Judah which eventually captured the lower part of the city, most likely in the days of Joshua's later conquests Jdg 1:8, and after the warlike strength of the Jebusites had been weakened by the defeat in the open field, recorded in this chapter. The upper town, more especially the fortified hill of Zion, remained in the hands of the Jebusites, who accordingly kept a footing in the place, along with the men of Judah and Benjamin, even after the conquest Jos 15:63; Jdg 1:21; and would seem, indeed, to have so far, and no doubt gradually, regained possession of the whole, that Jerusalem was spoken of in the days of the Judges as a Jebusite city. David finally stormed "the stronghold of Zion," and called it "the City of David" Sa2 5:6-9. It was, probably, only after this conquest and the adoption by David of the city as the religious and political metropolis of the whole nation, that the name Jerusalem came into use Sa2 5:5 in substitution for Jehus.
For Hebron, see Gen 13:18. Jarmuth, afterward one of the cities of Judah Jos 15:35, is probably identified with the modern Yarmuk. Lachish was also a city of Judah Jos 15:39, and, like Jarmuth, occupied by Jews after the captivity, Neh. 11:39. It was fortified by Rehoboam after the revolt of the Ten tribes Ch2 11:9, and seems to have been regarded as one of the safest places of refuge Kg2 14:19. Through Lachish the idolatry of Israel was imported into Judah Mic 1:13, and of this sin the capture of the city by Sennacherib was the punishment Kg2 18:14-17; Kg2 19:8. Lachish is by most authorities identified with Um Lakis, lying some twenty miles west of Eleutheropolis, on the road to Gaza (and by Conder with El Hesy).
Eglon is the modern Ajlan.
The language reflects the urgency of the crisis. Accordingly Joshua made a forced march, accompanied only by his soldiers Jos 10:7, and accomplished in a single night the distance from Gilgal to Gibeon (about 15 miles in a direct line), which on a former occasion had been a three days' journey Jos 9:17.
Beth-horon - The two places of this name, the upper and the lower Beth-horon (marginal reference), are identified with the villages Beit-ur el Foka (the upper) and Beit-ur et Tahta (the lower): Beit-ur being probably a corruption of Beth-horon. The name itself ("house of caves") points to the exceedingly rocky character of the district. Upper Beth-horon was between six and seven miles west of Gibeon; and "the way that goeth up to Beth-horon" must accordingly be the hilly road which leads from Gibeon to it. Between the two Beth-horons is a steep pass, "the going down to Beth-horon" Jos 10:11; and here the Amorites were crushed by the hailstones. The main road from Jerusalem and the Jordan valley to the seacoast lay through the pass of Beth-horon; and, accordingly, both the Beth-horons were secured by Solomon with strong fortifications Ch2 8:5. It was in this pass that Judas Maccabaeus routed the Syrians under Seron (1 Macc. 3:13ff). and here also, according to Jewish traditions, the destruction of the host of Sennacherib took place Kg2 19:35.
Azekah, which has not been as yet certainly identified, was in the hill country, between the mountains around Gibeon and the plain (see the marginal reference). It was fortified by Rehoboam Ch2 11:9 and besieged by the Babylonians Jer 34:7 shortly before the captivity. It was an inhabited city after the return from the exile Neh 11:30.
Makkedah - The exact site of this town is uncertain. It was situated in the plain between the mountains and the line of seacoast which the Philistines held Jos 15:41, and no great way northeast of Libnab Jos 12:15-16. (Warren (Conder) identifies it with the modern el Mughhar, a village on the south side of the valley of Torek.)
Compare Ecclesiasticus 46:6. Frightful storms occasionally sweep over the hills of Judaea; but this was evidently a miraculous occurrence, like the hail which smote Egypt Exo 9:24 and the tempest which fell on the Philistines at Ebenezer Sa1 7:10.
These four verses seem to be a fragment or extract taken from some other and independent source and inserted into the thread of the narrative after it had been completed, and inserted most probably by another hand than that of the author of the Book of Joshua.
It is probable that Jos 10:12 and the first half of Jos 10:13 alone belong to the Book of Jasher and are poetical, and that the rest of this passage is prose.
The writer of this fragment seems to have understood the words of the ancient song literally, and believed that an astronomical miracle really took place, by which the motion of the heavenly bodies was for some hours suspended. (Compare also Ecclesiasticus 46:4.) So likewise believed the older Jewish authorities generally, the Christian fathers, and many commentators ancient and modern.
It must be allowed, indeed, that some of the objections which have been urged against this view on scientific grounds are easily answered. The interference, if such there were, with the earth's motion was not an act of blind power ab extra and nothing more. The Agent here concerned is omnipotent and omniscient, and could, of course, as well arrest the regular consequences of such a suspension of nature's ordinary working as He could suspend that working itself. It is, however, obvious, that any such stupendous phenomenon would affect the chronological calculations of all races of men over the whole earth and do so in a similarly striking and very intelligible manner. Yet no record of any such perturbation is anywhere to be found, and no marked and unquestionable reference is made to such a miracle by any of the subsequent writers in the Old or New Testament. For reasons like these, many commentators have explained the miracle as merely optical.
The various explanations show how strongly the difficulties which arise out of the passage have been felt. Accordingly, stress has been laid by recent commentators on the admitted fact that the words out of which the difficulty springs are an extract from a poetical book. They must consequently, it is argued, be taken in a popular and poetical, and not in a literal sense. Joshua feared lest the sun should set before the people had fully "avenged themselves of their enemies." In his anxiety he prayed to God, and God hearkened to him. This is boldly and strikingly expressed in the words of the ancient book, which describes Joshua as praying that the day might be prolonged, or, in poetical diction, that the sun might be stayed until the work was done. Similarly, Jdg 5:20 and Psa 18:9-15 are passages which no one construes as describing actual occurrences: they set forth only internal, although most sincere and, in a spiritual sense, real and true convictions. This explanation is now adopted by theologians whose orthodoxy upon the plenary inspiration and authority of holy Scripture is well known and undoubted.
In the sight of Israel - literally, "before the eyes of Israel," i. e. in the sight or presence of Israel, so that the people were witnesses of his words. (Compare Deu 31:7.)
Sun, stand thou still - literally, as margin, "be silent" (compare Lev 10:3); or rather, perhaps, "tarry," as in Sa1 14:9.
Thou, moon - The words addressed to the moon as well as to the sun, indicate that both were visible as Joshua spoke. Below and before him, westward, was the valley of Ajalon; behind him, eastward, were the hills around Gibeon. Some hours had passed, since in the early dawn he had fallen upon the host of the enemy, and the expression "in the midst of heaven" Jos 10:13 seems to import that it was now drawing toward mid-day, though the moon was still faintly visible in the west. If the time had been near sunset, Joshua would have seen the sun, not, as he did, eastward of him, but westward, sinking in the sea.
The valley of Ajalon - i. e. "the valley of the gazelles." This is the modern Merj Ibn Omeir, described by Robinson, a broad and beautiful valley running in a westerly direction from the mountains toward the great western plain. The ancient name is still preserved in Yalo, a village situated on the hill which skirts the south side of the valley.
Book of Jasher - i. e. as margin, "of the upright" or "righteous," a poetical appellation of the covenant-people (compare "Jeshurun" in Deu 32:15, and note; and compare Num 23:10, Num 23:21; Psa 111:1). This book was probably a collection of national odes celebrating the heroes of the theocracy and their achievements, and is referred to again (marginal reference) as containing the dirge composed by David over Saul and Jonathan.
About a whole day - i. e. about twelve hours; the average space between sunrise and sunset.
Joshua's return (compare Jos 10:43) to Gilgal was not until after he had, by the storm and capture of the principal cities of south Canaan, completed the conquest of which the victory at Gibeon was only the beginning.
This verse is evidently the close of the extract from an older work, which connected the rescue of Gibeon immediately with the return to Gilgal, and omitted the encampment at Makkedah Jos 10:21, and also the details given in Jos 10:28-42.
The thread of the narrative, broken by the four intermediate verses, Jos 10:12-15, is now resumed from Jos 10:11.
Joshua himself remained at Makkedah with the guards set before the cave. The other warriors would not return from the pursuit until the evening of the overthrow of the Amorites; and the execution of the kings and the capture of Makkedah itself belong, no doubt, to the day following Jos 10:27-28.
None moved his tongue - See the marginal reference and note.
Put your feet upon the necks of these kings - A symbol of complete subjugation (compare the marginal references and Co1 15:25).
Libnah - The word means "white" or "distinct," and undoubtedly points to some natural feature of the spot, perhaps the "Garde Blanche" of the Crusaders, a castle which stood on or near the white cliffs which bound the plain of Philistia to the east opposite to Ascalon. It was in the southern part of the hill-country of Judah Jos 15:42, and was one of the cities afterward assigned to the priests Jos 21:13.
Gezer lies on the southern border of the tribe of Ephraim Jos 16:3. It was considerably to the northward of Joshua's present line of operations, and does not appear to have been captured at this time. He contented himself for the present with repulsing the attack made upon him, killed Horam (compare Jos 12:12), inflicting a severe defeat upon his people, and then continued to pursue his conquests over the confederated kings and their allies in south Canaan.
The king thereof - No doubt the successor of the king slain at Makkedah Jos 10:23.
All the cities thereof - i. e. the smaller towns dependent upon Hebron. The expression marks Hebron as the metropolis of other subject towns.
Joshua returned - The words mark a change in the direction of the march. Joshua from Hebron turned to the southwest, and attacked Debir or Kirjath-sepher and its dependencies Jos 15:15.
See Jos 9:1. "The south" was the Negeb Num 13:17. Render "the springs" "slopes." The word here means the district of undulating ground between "the vale" (or שׁפלה shephêlâh) last named and "the hills."
From Kadesh-barnea unto Gaza - Num 13:26 This limits Joshua's conquests on the west, as the other line, "all the country of Goshen unto Gibeon," does on the east. Goshen Jos 15:51 has not been identified. It was in the southern part of the territory of Judah, and is, of course, quite distinct from the Goshen of Gen 46:28.
At one time - i. e. in one campaign or expedition, which no doubt lasted some days, or perhaps weeks (compare Jos 11:18).