For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2000 James Melough

10:1.  "Now it came to pass, when Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem had heard how Joshua had taken Ai, and had utterly destroyed it; as he had done to Jericho and her king, so he had done to Ai and her king; and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel, and were among them;"

10:2.  "That they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, as one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all the men thereof were mighty."

Adoni-zedek means lord of righteousness or justice.  Since he was a Canaanite, the righteousness or justice associated with his name can only be according to human standards, not God's, and by His standard, "All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags" Isa 64:6.

Jerusalem, meaning dual peace shall be taught: lay (set) ye double peace, represents the human heart, which cannot know true peace until the Lord Jesus Christ reigns in the life.  The heart of the unconverted man is ruled by a righteousness and justice which are according to the dictates of his own darkened intelligence, but that heart is "deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" Jer 17:9, and its enmity against the spirit is deadly.

Powerful king though he was amongst the Canaanites, he and his people "feared greatly" when confronted with the evidence of God's power put forth on behalf of Israel.  It is one thing to scoff at God when He is perceived, wrongly, as being afar off, but it is a very different matter when puny man is confronted by Him near at hand.  One day each man must stand in the presence of that same Lord of righteousness and justice.  What great fear will grip the hearts of those who on earth mocked His righteousness and justice, and refused to be reconciled to Him through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior!

Gibeon may have been great among the cities of Canaan, and its men mighty by human standards, but the greatness and might were as nothing when measured by God's standard.  The meaning of the name a little hill suggests its real worth.

10:3.  "Wherefore Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem sent unto Hoham king of Hebron, and unto Piram king of Jarmuth, and unto Japhia king of Lachish, and unto Debir king of Eglon saying,"

Hoham means alas, he crushed; Hebron, communion; Piram, their wild ass; Jarmuth, he will be lifted up: elevation; Japhia, bright: causing brightness; Lachish, obstinate: walk of a man; Debir, an oracle; Eglon, a bull calf: circular. 

Since all of these are Canaantites, enemies of Israel, the meanings must then be understood in the context of evil, and also in the realization that typologically they represent the spiritual foes against which we have to fight, the old nature within us being their most powerful ally, so that Hoham is the symbolic announcement of the truth that the old nature will attempt to crush the new.  His being king of Hebron directs attention to the fact that what the enemy seeks to crush is our communion with our heavenly Father, that evil work being facilitated by our neglect of prayer and study of the Scriptures.

The ass, as already noted, represents the body at the disposal of the old nature for the gratification of its lusts; the wild ass portraying total lack of restraint relative to fleshly lusts; the bridled ass representing the body under at least some measure of moral restraint as dictated by law, social custom, religion, etc.  Piram therefore represents those evil impulses which urge the gratification of fleshly lusts; while his being king of Jarmuth he will be lifted up: elevation speaks of man's lifting himself up against God.

Japhia brightness, in a good context would speak of spiritual illumination, but here the illumination of that of mere human wisdom which is simply darkness.  Combined with the meaning of his city obstinate: walk of a man, it warns us that another deadly foe of faith is the world's wisdom, which produces an obstinate defiance of God.

Debir an oracle, represents the Word of God, but in the present context it speaks of the Scriptures being interpreted by mere human intelligence rather than by the illumination of the Holy Spirit Who indwells every believer.  Such interpretation produces what is represented by Eglon a bull calf: circular, i.e., a vigorous activity which simply goes in a circle and leads nowhere.

In this evil coalition God bids us see the character of the forces which seek our destruction, using our minds and bodily members to accomplish their deadly work.

Their attack on Gibeon is very similar to Amalek's attack on Israel when they first escaped from Egypt's bondage, Ex 17:8, for as discussed in chapter 9, these Gibeonites, now in covenant relationship with God, represent believers newly saved, as did Israel just come out of Egypt.  Amalek represents the will of the flesh, striving continually against the spirit, and producing that unceasing warfare that will not end until our earthly course is finished.  He gave his name to his descendants, the Amalakites, the first people to attack Israel in the wilderness, causing God to declare "I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.... the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation" (Ex 17:14-16≠). 

This Canaanite coalition attacking Gibeon also portrays the venomous antagonism of the flesh against the spirit, the only difference being that whereas Amalek represents the will of the flesh, these five portray some of the ways in which the flesh attacks the spirit.

10:4.  "Come up unto me, and help me, that we may smite Gibeon: for it hath made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel."

The lesson being taught here is that a man will no sooner have trusted Christ, than the flesh, the old nature, will begin to seek his destruction, as it is written, "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.  For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would" Ga 5:16-17.

10:5.  "Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, the king of Eglon, gathered themselves together, and went up, they and all their hosts, and encamped before Gibeon, and made war against it."

These kings were Amorites meaning a sayer.  They represent those who profess to be believers, but who have never been born again.  They are, in fact, the representatives of the great false church, apostate Christendom, history bearing irrefutable testimony to its murderous hatred of Christ and of those who belong to Him.  During the thousand years fitting called The Dark Ages when the harlot Roman "church" ruled Europe with an iron fist, the blood of Christ's martyrs flowed like water, countless thousands of them being put to death by the cruelest methods the mind of man could invent.  Nor should anyone imagine that that evil harlot travesty has changed because she is forced by public opinion to now present herself as an angel of light.  Her activity is no less deadly, for having discovered that physical torture simply separated the mere professor from the true believer, leading the latter to die rather than deny his Lord, she still slays countless multitudes by means of her deadly doctrine which brings men down to hell, but by means so subtle that few of her dupes ever discover the fatal nature of the opiate she administers under the disguise of her ornate ritual, gorgeous vestments, and magnificent architecture.

In the heart where Christ is refused control, Satan rules, and is here portrayed by the king of Jerusalem, the evil ruler of this Canaanite coalition.  Where he rules, the happy communion with God, enjoyed by the obedient believer and represented here by Hebron, falls also under his control so that the disobedient believer, like the unbeliever, never knows the joy of that communion.  Simlarly, the high ground, represented here by Jarmuth, to which obedience lifts the believer up, will be exchanged for the dangerous height to which the unbeliever and the disobedient  saint are lifted up by pride.  Likewise, submission to the flesh and its worldly wisdom will lead the believer out of the pleasant path of obedience, into that of the obstinate rebel as represented here by Lachish, and making him the object of God's chastisement instead of blessing.  And the vigorous fruitless activity impelled by the flesh, and portrayed here by Eglon, will prove in the end to be that which will be consumed by the fire at the Bema as being unworthy of any reward.

10:6.  And the men of Gibeon sent unto Joshua to the camp to Gilgal, saying, Slack not thy hand from thy servants; come up to us quickly, and save us: for all the kings of the Amorites that dwell in the mountains are gathered together against us."

Conscious of their own weakness against this enemy, the Gibeonites wisely made their need known to Joshua, realizing apparently that only he could save them.  The lesson God would have us learn from this is that in ourselves we are also helpless against the enemy represented by this evil coalition, but the foe is equally powerless against the One of Whom Joshua is but a type, the Lord Jesus Christ.  We have but to cast ourselves upon Him, and the deliverance brought to the Gibeonites will prove to be but the symbol of ours.

The place to which they sent their appeal is also instructive: it was Gilgal meaning rolling: a wheel.  As the place associated with the circumcision of Israel, it speaks of Calvary where the Lord Jesus Christ was cut off in death.  He Who by that death has vanquished man's mightiest foe, is well able to deliver us from all who would seek to do us harm.

10:7.  "So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor."

Our Defender has also "ascended from Gilgal," coming from Calvary with the spoils of victory in His omnipotent hand, having won that mighty victory alone.  If Satan and all his hosts couldn't vanquish Christ when He came against them alone, what hope have they now against Him since He in resurrection glory has with Him the armies of heaven, while their leader, Satan, is a mortally wounded creature whose activity is but his death throes!  No foe can touch those who hide behind Christ.  Our great danger lies in being deluded into believing that we can overcome any foe in our own puny strength.

10:8.  "And the Lord said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee."

That same Lord has delivered every enemy into the hand of the true Joshua, and the day is fast approaching when that fact will be revealed, to the rejoicing of every believer, and the consternation of every unbeliever.  While awaiting that day, faith glorifies God by resting in that assurance, and walking  accordingly.  Fear and doubt on the part of a believer are dishonoring to God, and destructive of the peace He means us to enjoy while here on earth.

10:9.  "Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night."

Surely no believer will fail to see in that swift night time march from Gilgal to beseiged Gibeon a foreshadowing of what is yet to be.  Out of the spiritual darkness that will enshroud the world during the coming terrible Tribulation era, Christ accompanied by the armies of heaven, will suddenly appear to deliver the remnant of Israel (portrayed here by the besieged Gibeonites) out of the hand of the armies assembled to destroy her, and represented by these five evil Canaanite kings.

10:10.  "And the Lord discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Beth-horon, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah."

Beth-horon means consumer's house: cavernous house; Azekah, fenced round: dug over: tilled; and Makkedah, branding (spotting) place.  Prophetically, this slaughter of the Amorites is the OT foreshadowing of the still more terrible slaughter that will occur when the Lord Jesus Christ, returning in power and glory at the end of the Tribulation, will destroy the armies assembled to destroy Jerusalem.  Practically, however, the assurance is that as we cast ourselves upon Christ, the power of the flesh will be broken, and we will be enabled to live the victorious life which is God's ideal for every believer.

The meanings of the places mentioned add significant details to the typological picture, e.g., Beth-horon consumer's house: cavernous house points to the truth that every unrepentant rebel will ultimately enter that cavernous house of the unbelieving dead to be eternally consumed by God's wrath, but without the relief that would come by their being annihilated.  Their torment will be eternal.

Azekah fenced round: dug over: tilled is the symbolic announcement that no rebel will escape.  As God fences in His own with His protecting care so that none can harm them, so does He also fence in those who defy Him so that they have no hope of escaping the just recompense of their rebellion.  Relative to dug over, or tilled, the figure is of a field broken up by being tilled or grubbed, and it calls to mind what is written concerning Christ, "The plowers plowed upon my back: they made long their furrows" Ps 129:3.  As His back was "dug over, tilled, grubbed, furrowed" by the lash; as His hands and feet were pierced; and as His brow was torn with the crown of thorns, so will the flesh of His enemies be mutilated in the carnage at Armageddon, see Re 19:17-18, their torment continuing eternally in the lake of fire.

In a good sense literal grubbing or tilling is used figuratively of Godís work in the life of each believer so as to make that life fruitful for His glory, and the obedient believerís eternal profit.

Makkedah branding (spotting) place is related to the marking of cattle by branding or puncturing (probably their ears).  Prophetically this continues to point to what will be at, and following, Armageddon.  During the Tribulation era believers will refuse to receive the mark of the beast, and many of them will seal their faithful testimony with their blood.  When the Lord returns, however, those bearing the mark of the beast will be separated from those who refused to receive it, and then, like cattle branded for destruction, they will be banished bodily into hell, as the godly hear the Lord's gracious invitation, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" Mt 25:34.

The puncturing of the ear in connection with the branding reminds us that the perfect obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ is symbolically declared in the words of the Psalmist, "Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened (lit., digged)...." Ps 39:6, in other words, every word of His Father was obeyed.  The reward of that obedience is that He has been raised from among the dead, and given a name which is above every name, "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow ... and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" Php 2:9-11.  Another symbolic picture of Christ's perfect obedience is presented in the piercing of the ear of the Hebrew servant whose love for his master, wife, and children impelled him to refuse to leave the service of that master.  It is surely significant that in connection with those whose disobedience will have made them heirs of judgment, the idea of piercing the ear should also be alluded to, but in their case to mark or brand them for shame and eternal punishment, because they turned a deaf ear to God's invitation through the Gospel.

10:11.  "And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Beth-horon, that the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died of the hailstones than they whom the children of Israwl slew with the sword."

Relative to its being said in verse 10 that the way "goeth up to Beth-horon," and here in verse 11 that the way is "down to Beth-horon" the explanation is that there were two places of the same name, one being called upper Beth-horon, and the other lower Beth-horon.  They were fleeing down the ridge from upper to lower Beth-horon.

Hail is invariably connected with the expression of God's anger, e.g., the hail sent as one of the plagues on Egypt.  This continues to depict the slaughter that will be when the Lord returns at the end of the tribulation; but it reminds us also that as long as we walk in obedience the Lord will make His power available to us in our conflict with all the forces which oppose us, as Paul says, "I can do all things through Christ Who strengtheneth me" Php 4:13, the further encourgement being given in the assurance that if God be for us none can be successful against us, Ro 8:31.  

10:12.  "Then spake Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon."

Ajalon means deer-field: a large stag; and Gibeon, a little hill: hilly, so that while Joshua's request was that the sun and moon literally cease to move, metaphorically it was that God's power be put forth on Israel's behalf both in the mountain and in the valley, i.e., where ever the enemy was found.

10:13.  "And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies.  Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day."

10:14.  "And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the Lord fought for Israel."

We know that the movement of sun and moon is only apparent, being the result of the revolution of the earth on its own axis, but there is good reason to believe that the sun, which is the center of our galaxy, is itself revolving around yet another heavenly body which is its center, so that the miracle of Joshua's extended day may have resulted from God's slowing the revolution of the earth on its own axis, or on his having slowed the movement of the sun in the course of its path around its center.  The how of the miracle isn't important.  Faith believes that by some means God did extend that day so that Israel had opportunity to exterminate the Amorites before darkness facilitated their escape.  The lesson God would teach us in this miracle is that He is omnipotent, and that by whatever means He may choose He will exercise His power on behalf of His own, so that we can live in the peaceful assurance of knowing that every circumstance of life is ordered or permitted by God, and works together "for good to those who love Him" Ro 8:28; but since our love for Him is measured by our obedience, the lesson is that His power is exercised on our behalf in proportion to the measure of our obedience.

10:15.  "And Joshua returned, and all Isael with him, unto the camp to Gilgal."

As already noted, Gilgal, the place where the Israelites were circumcised, is a type of Calvary, where in the "cutting off" of Christ, the power of the flesh has been annulled for every believer.  In Israel's returning to Gilgal after the cutting off of the Amorites, who represent different aspects of the activity of the flesh, which still dwells within us even as redeemed men, God would remind us of the means by which the power of the flesh has been abolished: it cost the Lord Jesus Christ His life.  In the literal circumcision of the Israelites at Gilgal we are being shown symbolically our state according to God's reckoning.  For us the flesh has been cut off.  In the destruction of the Amorite coalition, however, we are being shown in symbol God's ideal for us practically.  We are to make good in practice what is true by God's imputation.  We are to keep the flesh in the place of death, and permit it no activity in our lives.  Sadly, our failure to achieve the ideal is all too clearly demonstrated by the degree to which the flesh is active in our lives, our sin being the more heinous by virtue of the fact that the flesh can act only by our permission!

10:16.  "But these five kings fled, and hid themselves in a cave at Makkedah."

A clue to the typological significance of caves lies in the fact that they were frequently used as burial places.  They speak symbolically of death.  The evil activity of the flesh, which these five kings represent, must always flee before the power of God, and must retreat into the realm of death, for all that pertains to the flesh is inseparably linked to death.  The flesh, when opposed by obedient faith, must flee, but it will attempt to hide itself while waiting for a more opportune time to resume its evil work against the spirit.

The location of that cave at Makkedah branding (spotting) place is the symbolic announcement of the fact that the flesh, and everything associated with it, is branded for judgment and death, as it is written, "Death and hell were cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death" Re 20:14.

Their number, five, the Biblical number of responsibility, ought to remind us that we are responsible to keep the flesh where it belongs: in the place of death, permitting it no activity in our lives.

10:17.  "And it was told Joshua, saying, The five kings are found hid in a cave at Makkedah."

The flesh is adept at hiding itself from us, i.e., of disguising its evil character, but it cannot hide from the One Whom Joshua represents: the Lord Jesus Christ.

10:18.  "And Joshua said, Roll great stones upon the mouth of the cave, and set men by it for to keep them:"

The spiritual instruction is clearly written here.  As those five Amorite kings were to be imprisoned in the cave by covering its entrance with great stones, so is the flesh to be imprisoned with the "great stones" of the Word of God, our obedience to that Word effectively cutting off the activity of the flesh.

In addition to the stones, men were also to be placed on guard to prevent the imprisoned kings from removing the stones and regaining their liberty.  The lesson couldn't be clearer.  We are the men responsible for ensuring that the flesh doesn't succeed in moving aside any part of the written Word and thereby succeed in luring us into disobedience.  The flesh can be very subtle in moving "the stones" away from the mouth of the cave.  False teachers, for example, can so wrest the Word as to make it appear to permit activity which God prohibits; and from the negative perspective, it can transform Divine commands into mere options, with the result that what we should be doing is left undone, to God's dishonor and our eternal loss.

10:19.  "And stay ye not, but pursue after your enemies, and smite the hindmost of them; suffer them not to enter into their cities: for the Lord your God hath deliverd them into your hand."

This teaches that our resistance of the flesh is not to consist of mere passive abstention from sin: there must be also an active suppression of the lusts of the flesh.  For example, relative to the Lord's command to go into all the world with the Gospel, the flesh will urge us to take our ease.  That urging is not to be obeyed.  Time that we might use for something which is not in itself sinful, e.g., recreation, is to be used instead to obey the Lord's command.

"... smite the hindmost of them."  Nothing of the flesh is to be spared.  Even the little things that may seem of little consequence are not to be permitted a place in our lives, as we are reminded in the symbolic language of Ca 2:15 "Take us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines."  A hobby, for example, may be absorbing time that could more profitably be given to prayer, Bible study, etc.

"... suffer them not to enter into their cities."  This conflict was at the beginning of Israel's entrance into the land, which corresponds to our conversion, and the lesson is that it is right at the beginning of our Christian lives that everything of the flesh is to be put away.  That which is permitted to remain after conversion is like the Amorite escaping into his city.  It becomes more difficult to eradicate if not expelled during the initial euphoria which usually accompanies conversion.

"... for the Lord your God hath delivered them into your hand."  This same assurance is given to us relative to the flesh.  Through the Lord's work at Calvary the power of the flesh has been broken.  It can now have power over us only when we voluntarily yield to its evil impulses.

10:20.  "And it came to pass, when Joshua and the children of Isarel had made an end of slaying them with a very great slaughter, till they were consumed, that the rest which remained of them entered into fenced cities."

This depicts the position of the flesh relative to the believer.  As the Amorites were forced to flee into their cities and cower there in fear of Israel, so is it with regard to the flesh and the believer.  The flesh which once had complete dominion over us is now placed under our dominion, and can act only as we permit it.  Sadly, this situation didn't last long in Israel, for her disobedience resulted in the withdrawal of God's power, and the return of the enemy to his former place of dominance; and so is it with us. Our disobedience has enabled the flesh to regain its dominance so that all too many of us have become its slaves, to God's dishonor and our eternal loss.

The fact that some of them did succeed in entering into fenced cities is the symbolic announcement of the truth that there is no believer who doesn't in some degree permit at least some activity of the flesh in his life.  Were we more conscious of its presence within us, and of its evil propensities, we would be more diligent in keeping it where it belongs and where it is by God's imputation: in the place of death.

10:21.  "And all the people returned to the camp to Joshua at Makkedah in peace: none moved his tongue against any of the children of Israel."

There is always peace in the life of the believer who keeps the flesh in the place of death.        

10:22.  "Then said Joshua, Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings unto me out of the cave."  

10:23.  "And they did so, and brought forth those five kings unto him out of the cave, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon."

10:24.  "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, put your feet upon the necks of these kings.  And they came near, and put their feet upon the necks of them."

This is the assurance that the flesh has no more power over us, Christ having broken that power at Calvary.  Since it was the captains of Israel, who as leaders and representatives of the people, were to put their feet on the necks of the enemy kings, a further lesson being taught is that the elders of the churches have a special responsibility relative to the activity of the flesh.  Part of their shepherd care is to watch over the flock, and where there is any evidence that the flesh has been allowed out of "the cave" in the life of any believer, they are responsible to help that believer put the flesh back into "the cave," for to the extent that the flesh is endulged the whole assembly will be weakened.

10:25.  "And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of a good courage: for thus shall the Lord do to all your enemies against whom ye fight."

Fear is one of our greatest enemies, and when we become fearful the next step is that we become dismayed, that is, we prostrate (the meaning of the word) ourselves before the enemy: we submit again to the dominion of the old nature.  The word "strong" is linked with the thought of "seizing," so that the idea is of seizing the old nature while it is trying to escape our control, and putting it back in the "cave" (place of death) where it belongs.

10:26.  "And afterward Joshua smote them, and slew them, and hanged them on five trees: and they were hanging upon the trees until the evening."

The smiting of the five kings answers to what happened at Calvary.  While to the natural eye it seemed that Christ was the One slain and hanged on the tree, it was really Satan and the flesh that were put to death that day.  Christ rose again on the third day.  The enemy will never recover.  We are to remember that we too have been crucified with Christ, and the five trees (number of responsibility) reminds us that we are responsible to keep the flesh in the place of death.

"until the evening."  Our responsibility also lasts "until evening," that is, till the end of life's journey.

It is necessary at this point to explain something relative to Satan's having been slain at Calvary, for that he was slain is indicated in Ge 3:15, "... it (Christ, the seed of the woman) shall bruise thy head," and a bruised or crushed head means death.  But if he was slain at Calvary, how do we account for his continuing activity?  The answer seems to be related to what is true of us by God's imputation.  As to our bodies we are reckoned by God to have been crucified with Christ, His death being imputed to us; but obviously as to our bodies and our old natures, we are still alive, and the old nature, though by God's reckoning dead, is still very active in each of us.  The actual end of these earthly bodies and old natures won't come until we are in heaven.  And so also with Satan.  By God's reckoning he was slain that day at Calvary, but his actual end won't come until that day when he is cast into the lake of fire.

10:27.  "And it came to pass at the time of the going down of the sun, that Joshua commanded, and they took them down off the trees, and cast them into the cave wherein they had been hid, and laid great stones in the cave's mouth, which remain until this very day."

"At the going down of the sun" speaks of the end of our earthly lives.  The return of the dead bodies to the cave, and the laying again of the great stones "which remain until this very day" speaks of what will be when we reach heaven: the flesh will never again be seen, nor its activity experienced.

10:28.  "And that day Joshua took Makkedah, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof he utterly destroyed, them, and all the souls that were therein; he let none remain: and he did to the king of Makkedah as he did unto the king of Jericho."

Joshua's taking Makkedah may certainly point to that day when Christ will return in power and glory to destroy his enemies, but it is also meant to teach us that individual aspects of the flesh must be dealt with by us through the  Word of which the sword is the symbol.  It is our weapon in every conflict, to be used as the Lord used it to refute every temptation presented by Satan.

The cave where the five kings were buried appears to have been in the vicinity of Makkedah, and as nothing of that city was spared neither are we to spare any activity of the flesh.  As Joshua had slain the king of Jericho with the sword, see 6:21, so did he also slay the king of Makkedah.  The repetition of the phrase "as he did unto the king of Jericho" is instructive, for it marks Israel's treatment of Jericho as the pattern for their treatment of every enemy city; but since the destruction of Jericho is the typological anticipation of Christ's victory over Satan at Calvary, it declares that the means by which He won His great victory there is the pattern for us in all our encounters with the enemy, whether it be the world, the flesh, or the devil.  But what were the means He used?  They were unbelievably simple.  He yielded perfect meek obedience to the written Word, and relative to meekness, the words of Jack Hunter are worth quoting, "Meekness is a quality claimed by the Lord Jesus (Mt 11:29).  It is often translated 'gentleness'.  It would seem to be the opposite of self-assertiveness, arrogance and violence and descriptive of one who is gentle and mild.  But it is not weakness.  If the Lord was meek, then it was the result of submission to the will of God and of a consicousness of inward power.  This would suggest that meekness is strength under control" - What the Bible Teaches (Galatians) - Ritchie Publishers, p.91.

10:29.  "Then Joshua passed from Makkedah, and all Israel with him, unto Libnah, and fought against Libnah:"

As all Israel followed Joshua so are we to follow Christ, for the lesson God would teach us here is that in every conflict in which we may engage, the Lord goes before us, standing between us and the foe, and assuring us of victory.  Since Libnah means whiteness, and whiteness speaks of righteousness, that righteousness has to be understood as being according to the world's standards, not God's.  Such righteousness is to have no place in our lives for it has wrought incalculable harm in the Church.  What Libnah represents is to be opposed with the same vigor as was used by Joshua and Israel against the literal Canaanite city.

10:30.  "And the Lord delivered it also, and the king thereof, into the hand of Israel; and he smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein; he let none remain in it; but did unto the king thereof as he did unto the king of Jericho."

As the Lord delivered Libnah into Israel's hand so has He also delivered every enemy into ours, so there is no excuse for failure on our part.  It was up to Joshua and Israel whether they would destroy the enemy, and so is it with us.  God has delivered every enemy into our hands, but it is our responsibility to destroy those enemies.  Israel's fatal mistake was that after the days of Joshua they didn't destroy those whom God had delivered into their hands, and the result was that the enemy wound up as master.  So is it with us when we spare the flesh.  The days of Joshua, incidentally, in this context, may represent the time when the Lord was here on earth; and the days after Joshua's death, this present age when the Lord is in heaven.

Again we encounter the phrase "as he did unto the king of Jericho," and as noted already, this reminds us that the means by which Christ prevailed at Calvary are to be the pattern for our conduct in our conflict with the enemy, but the question may be asked, What is the spiritual significance of the fact that five of the enemy kings were slain as a group, and the others left to be slain individually as each city was taken?  The answer appears to be that in the five, God intends us to see every enemy vanquished by Christ at Calvary, His victory being imputed to us; but in the others who were slain individually as each city was taken, He would teach us that we are to make good in practice what is ours by His imputation.  We have been empowered to achieve the same victory over the enemies who oppose us daily. We have no excuse for being anything but victors, our assurance being, "I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me" Php 4:13.

It is to be remembered, however, that it cost the Lord much to vanquish the enemy at Calvary: indescribable pain, and ultimately His life.  Neither will the flesh in us be "cut off" without pain, and he who would be victor in the conflict must also die to everything that is of the world, as it is written, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world" Ga 6:14; "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" Ga 2:20.

10:31.  "And Joshua passed from Libnah, and all Israel with him, unto Lachish, and encamped against it, and fought against it:"

As already noted, Lachish means walk of a man, and it represents the world bent on having believers live by its standards rather than God's.  It too is a deadly foe to be resisted.  The fact that its king had already been slain, points symbolically to the fact that the prince of this world has already been slain at Calvary, but Israel's going against the city and destroying it and everything in it, warns us that we are also to wage unrelenting war against the world and all its attempts to impose its ways upon us.  Israel's encamping against it and fighting against it, declares the determination of Joshua and Israel to destroy this city.  The same resolve should mark our opposition to every attempt of the world to have us adopt its ways.

Lachish is closely akin in its spiritual significance to Libnah, but while Libnah points to the theoretical standard of the world, Lachish represents the actual walk or manner of life.  Among men there is a great deal of latitude that allows ample scope for the activity of the flesh, and excuses it on the ground that "we're all human."  God's standard, however, permits no latitude.  His imperative is, "But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (living); because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy," 1 Pe 1:15-16.

10:32.  "And the Lord delivered Lachish into the hand of Israel, which took it on the second day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein, according to all that he had done to Libnah."

Its being taken on the second day (number of witness or testimony) reminds us that believers are not to walk as they did formerly, for they are now "new creatures in Christ," indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and are to walk as those who have been made His witnesses on the earth.  The standard for the Christian is laid down in the Scriptures, and is accompanied by the injunction, "...walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called," Eph 4:1.  That the task is not easy is indicated in the fact that it took two days to capture Lachish; but that it is not impossible is assured in that the city was captured, reminding us that what is impossible in our own strength can be accomplished in the power of Christ, for, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" Php 4:13.

10:33.  "Then Horam king of Gezer came up to help Lachish; and Joshua smote him and his people, until he had left him none remaining."

It seems that Horam had been on his way to assist Lachish, but had arrived too late, and was himself also slain by Joshua.  His name means their progenitor; and his city Gezer a piece; a portion (as cut off).  He appears to represent Satan, for it is he who is the "progenitor" of every rebel.  Gezer is an apt symbol of his kingdom, for that kingdom is a piece or cut off portion, inferior to what it was once, when he was Lucifer, the anointed cherub.  Horam's coming to the aid of Lachish reminds us that Satan is not only the father of all rebels, but that he will spare no effort to support their opposition to God and His people.  Horam's defeat, however, at the hands of Joshua and Israel assures us that, "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world" 1 Jn 4:4.

10:34.  "And from Lachish Joshua passed unto Eglon, and all Israel with him; and they encamped against it, and fought against it:"

The next enemy stronghold to be taken was Eglon, which as we have noted already in our study of verse 3, represents the world's wisdom.  Its king, Debir an oracle, was one of the five kings slain in connection with the attempt to destroy the Gibeonites, see verse 3.  In his death we see of course the mortal wounding of Satan at Calvary; but in the continued opposition of his city, we are reminded that the opposition of Satan continues through his attempt to replace the wisdom of God with the wisdom of earth.  In regard to that wisdom, however, we are warned, "This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.... But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy" Jas 3:15-17.  God's comment on worldly wisdom, as recorded in 1 Co 1:17-2:16, should also be studied carefully.  The lesson being taught in Joshua's conquest of Eglon is that as believers we are to be governed by the wisdom of God as recorded in the Scriptures, and are never to allow the wisdom of the world to replace that which is from above.

10:35.  "And they took it on that day, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and all the souls that were therein he utterly destroyed that day, according to all that he had done to Lachish."

It is emphasized by being repeated twice that they took it "on that day," i.e., the first day they went against it, and the lesson being taught isn't difficult to read, for that first day speaks of the first day of our new life, i.e., the day when we first became possessed of true wisdom, for it is written, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding" Pr 9:10, and it cannot be over emphasized that genuine conversion is preceded by fear of God.  The day of conversion is the day when the believer overcame what Eglon represents: the activity of the world's wisdom which simply goes round in circles and leads nowhere, see comments on verse 3.  As with the other cities, nothing was spared; nor is anything of the world's wisdom to be permitted activity in our lives.

10:36.  "And Joshua went up from Eglon, and all Israel with him, unto Hebron;and they fought against it:"

10:37.  "And they took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof, and all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining, according to all that he had done to Eglon; but destroyed it utterly and all the souls that were therein."

From Eglon, Joshua and Israel went on to take Hebron communion. It speaks of the believer's communion with God, and in Israel's wresting it from the hand of the enemy, we are being taught that our communion with God is something to be fought for, because there are few areas of our spiritual inheritance from which Satan is more anxious to keep us.  Where he is permitted to succeed in keeping us out of the communion which Hebron represents, his intent to spoil our testimony is easily accomplished, for with communion gone, everything else is soon also lost.

The former name of Hebron was Kirjath-Arba, meaning city of four.  This being as it is the number of earth and testing, would remind us that that communion which has its foundation in Christ, is a very different thing from what passes for communion among the men of earth.  The communion enjoyed between the believer and his Lord, and with fellow believers, is one which has its origin in the willingness of the Lord Jesus Christ to lay down His life to redeem us, and is characterized by the believer's willingness to die for his Lord, and for other believers, see e.g., Ac 15:25-26, "It seemed good unto us ... to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ," and Ac 16:3, "Greet Priscilla and Aquilla ... who have for my life laid down their own necks...."

Its being twice repeated that they slew "all the souls that were therein" places the emphasis on the extermination of the citizens, reminding us that Satan very often uses people to interrupt our communion with God.  Every believer should set aside a special time each day to be alone with his heavenly Father, allowing God to speak to him from the pages of Scripture, he then speaking to God in prayer.  No one and no thing should be allowed to usurp or interrupt that time, except for something of absolute necessity.

10:38.  "And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to Debir; and fought against it:"  

10:39.  "And he took it, and the king thereof, and all the cities thereof; and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and utterly destroyed all the souls that were therein; he left none remaining: as he had done to Hebron, so he did to Debir, and to the king thereof; as he had done also to Libnah, and to her king."

The fifth city was Debir, meaning an oracle (the utterance of a god).  Its Canaanite name was Kirjath-sepher, which means city of the book.  The obvious affinity between "an oracle," and the "city of the book" furnishes the clue to the spiritual significance of this city - it represents the Word of God.  The Canaanite name declares that to the natural man the Bible is just another book; but its Hebrew name declares the truth that to the believer that "book" is the Word of the living God.  In its having to be taken from the enemy by conflict that spared none of the inhabitants, we learn the lesson that Satan will employ every artifice to keep us from the study of the Word, for the Christian separated from his Bible is a vulnerable target for the enemy's machinations.  That nothing is to be permitted to keep us from that study, however, is declared in that not one of the inhabitants was to be spared. 

The linking of Hebron communion and Libnah whiteness with Debir the word of God declares that the spiritual things which these three cities represent cannot be separated.  If we are to enjoy communion with God there must be purity in the life, and there must be diligent study of and obedience to the written Word.  These three things form a whole, and to separate one destroys the other two.

10:40.  "So Joshua smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings: he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded." 

This is a brief summation of the first stage of the conquest of Canaan.  Hills and mountains are Biblical symbols of rulers and/or spheres of government, so that Joshua's conquering "all the country of the hills" is the symbolic declaration of the truth that every area of the believer's life is to be taken away from the dominion of the flesh or old nature, which is in effect the dominion of Satan.  Christ must be received not only as Savior, but also as Lord, the whole life being subject to His government. Where Satan once ruled through the lusts of the flesh, Christ is now to rule through the Holy Spirit's being allowed to direct the life according to the written Word.

The fact that this was the first stage of the conquest of the land informs us that the spiritual equivalent is to occur at the very beginning of our Christian lives.  The change of government, as it were, is to take place as soon as we trust the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.  That it won't occur apart from conscious effort on our part, and that it won't be easy, is declared by the fact that Joshua and Israel had to engage in battle to exterminate the enemy from the inheritance God wanted His redeemed people to enjoy.

Relative to the time of this spiritual conquest, experience teaches that if it isn't effected at the very beginning of the new life it becomes increasingly difficult to vanquish the enemy.

"... and of the south." In Scripture, the south is always associated with faith, so that Joshua's taking control of "the south" tells us that it is Christ Who is Lord, not only of the faith by which we were saved, but also of the faith by which we now live.  The believer's faith is to be in Him, not just for salvation, but for every detail of life.

"... and of the vale."  The vale is spiritually synonymous with labor and fruit-bearing, reminding us that the sphere of service must be under Christ's control.  There may be much busy activity in a believer's life, but if that labor isn't Christ-directed it will accomplish nothing having eternal value.  Likewise, there may be outward moral conformity to the Word of God, but if that conformity isn't impelled by love for Christ and His people it is worthless, see 1 Cor 13.

"... and of the springs."  There is no difficulty in interpreting the meaning of the springs - they represent the water of the Word.  In our unsaved days the living springs of the Word were under the control of the enemy who blinded our eyes and stopped our ears against its truth.  The wisdom of the world declared the Bible to be foolishness, mere myth.  But the enemy is to be exterminated.  Nothing is to be permitted to keep us from that living water which God has given for our daily refreshment and cleansing.

"... and all their kings."  Whatever would usurp the lordship of Christ in these spheres is to be exterminated as were the kings of these cities; and the fact that Joshua and Israel "utterly destroyed all that breathed" declares that nothing is to be spared which would hinder total obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ.

"... as the Lord God of Israel commanded."  This extermination of the enemy isn't an option.  The Lord God Who commanded the extirpation of the Canaanites is the same Lord God Who commands us to utterly destroy their spiritual equivalents.

10:41.  "And Joshua smote them from Kadesh-barnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon."

Kadesh-barnea means the son of wandering was set apart; Gaza, she was strong; Goshen, drawing near; and  Gibeon, a little hill: hilly.  

We were once wanderers "set apart" for judgment, but now saved through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have been "set apart" to and for Him.  That change is symbolically declared in the destruction of the Canaanite Kadesh-barnea, and its passing into the possession of Joshua and Israel.  What is true of us by Divine imputation is now to be made good in the practical living of our lives, as it is written, "Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called" Eph 4:1.

Gaza she was strong was a Philistine city, and since the Philistine represents apostasy, this city portrays the strength of the great harlot system of Roman Catholicism which has ruled Christendom for the past two thousand years, and which, in spite of the outward religious facade, has been the murderous foe of God and His people.  Her apostate sister Protestantism continues to use many of her religious forms, and is no less the enemy of true Christianity; and in Israel's destruction of Gaza God would have us learn that none of the things which mark these two systems are to be permitted a place in our individual lives or in our corporate gatherings.

"... and all the country of Goshen drawing near."  This territory in the extreme south of Israel is not to be confused with the Egyptian Goshen.  The south is always symbolic of the realm of faith, and in that context Goshen may be viewed in two ways: (1) believers drawing near to God, or (2) uneblievers drawing near to mingle with God's people for an ulterior motive, e.g., to avail themselves of the social programs offered by a so-called "church" so that they and their families will have friends of a higher moral calibre than is likely to be found amongst the "unchurched."  No matter what the motive, the "drawing near" of such people will ultimately prove to be detrimental to God's people.  They will inevitably prove to be Satan's wolves and weeds mingling amongst God's sheep and wheat for their harm.  One has but to look at Christendom to see the evil results of the unbeliever's "drawing near" to mingle with believers.  The lesson God would have us learn in Israel's destruction of Goshen is that constant vigilance is necessary to guard against all such "drawing near."

"... even unto Gibeon" reminds us that the Gibeonites, type of the saved Gentiles, and protected by the covenant of God, were the ones on whose behalf Joshua's attack against the Canaanite kings had begun.  The victory was for the Gibeonites just as much as for Israel.  Christ's great victory at Calvary was for Jew and Gentile alike, and His watchful care today is exercised impartially on behalf of all believers regardless of nationality or social standing.  No believer has more claim on Him than another.

10:42.  "And all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time, because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel."

This emphasis upon Joshua's having taken them "at one time" points us to Calvary, where the One Whom Joshua represents, fulfilled the type, and "at one time" (when He died), defeated every foe, His victory being declared in the triumphant cry, "It is finished."  There is, however, a practical lesson which we shouldn't miss.  The best way to enter into the enjoyment of a victorious Christian life is to sever at once every connection with the things that would hold us back in the Christian race; and the best time to effect that separation is at the moment of conversion.  If it hasn't been done already, then the next best time is now.

10:43.  "And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal."

As was noted in our study of chapter four, Gilgal rolling: a wheel - the place where the reproach of Egypt was symbolically "rolled away" in their being circumcised - represents the renunciation of all confidence in the flesh.  Their returning to Gilgal therefore after their victorious campaign, is intended to remind us of the danger of becoming self-confident.  "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" 1 Cor 10:12.  The safeguard is to return frequently to "Gilgal" - to recall that all we are, and have, and ever hope to be, is because the Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be "cut off" at Calvary.  We have nothing except what we have received through His finished work.

[Joshua 11]



     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough