Joshua 10:1-15 (The Battle for Gibeon, Part I)

Artwork by Doug Kallerson

Joshua 10:1-15
The Battle for Gibeon, Part I

The passage before us in Joshua 10 is an exceedingly exciting set of verses. But you may not be overly excited about my evaluation of them. I have read the account many times and have had a presupposition about their meaning because I have trusted the words of the translators.

After setting those presuppositions aside, I have a completely different view of what these verses are saying. For those who don’t accept my evaluation, there will be the usual disappointment that comes from being steered away from the sensational, like when finding out that Nephilim are not the product of angels who sleep with human women. But that is so much more dramatic.

However, we must go where the text leads. I sent this to my good old friend who reads and understands Hebrew to look over my comments because I didn’t want to be wrong in the evaluation. He came back saying, “…if one completely removes the previous knowledge of this account, then yes, that’s the way to read it.” Thanks, Sergio.

The words of the Lord in Job help explain the sensational nature of the work of the Lord as described in the passage today. How is it that the Lord intervenes in this passage? We will find out. Job 38 gives us a hint…

Text Verse: “Have you entered the treasury of snow,
Or have you seen the treasury of hail,
23 Which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
For the day of battle and war?” Job 38:22, 23

A portion of our verses today is poetical. Thus, by its very nature, it is not necessarily to be taken as it may at first appear. Translating poetry is complicated. We saw that in the Song of Moses.

As for the Book of Jasher which is referenced in this passage, that takes us down another avenue of sensational teaching. It is a book mentioned only twice in Scripture. And, of course, there are teachers out there that claim they have the book of Jasher and will sell you a copy of it. Ooooh, ahhh!

The problem with that is that it is a forgery. But, but, but it is sensational, and so people would rather spend money on that than read the Bible. We see it all the time. The book of Enoch. The book of Jubilees. People will read any of these before the Bible.

It is a terrible waste of time, but sensation sells. Be wise, spend your time in the word, and be content that it is sensational enough in what it tells us because it tells us about Jesus. Such wonderful things are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today, and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Not a Man Shall Stand Before You (verses 1-11)

Now it came to pass when Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard

With the destruction of both Jericho and Ai, along with the treaty made by the Gibeonites, there is a stir arising in the land. This will all be brought forth in the clauses and verses ahead, but the beginning of the matter rests with Adoni-Tsedeq melekh Yerushalaim, or Adoni-Zedek, king Jerusalem.

His name means Lord of Righteousness or My Lord is Righteous. The name Jerusalem is now introduced into Scripture. Despite its fame as a city, the meaning of the name is debated. It may mean Foundation of Peace, Rain of Peace, Teaching Peace, Possession of Peace, Vision of Peace, He Shall See Peace, In Awe of Peace, or some other variant. Any of these may be correct based on the surrounding context.

The name itself carries with it the sense of a plural word as it ends with a dual termination sound – Yerushalaim. That might signify that the city has two areas, an upper and a lower half. But that is debated as well. The complicated meaning of the name of the city is almost as great as is the historical fame of it.

The name Adoni-Zedek, Lord of Righteousness, is not unlike Melchizedek, or King of Righteousness, who reigned in this same place at the time of Abram. Thus, it may be an official title that was given to the king of the city like Pharaoh is given to the king of Egypt. Of this king, it next describes what he heard. It was…

1 (con’t) how Joshua had taken Ai and had utterly destroyed it—

ki lakhad Yehoshua eth ha’ai va’yakharimah – “that had taken Joshua the Ai and anathematized her.” It wasn’t just that Joshua had taken Ai and subdued it, making the people subject to Israel. Nor was it that they took Ai captive. Rather, the city was taken, and it was utterly devoted to the Lord, meaning every living being was destroyed. This was…

1 (con’t) as he had done to Jericho and its king, so he had done to Ai and its king—

ka’asher lirikho u-l’malkah ken asah la’ay u-l’malkah – “According to which to Jericho and to her king, thus he has done to Ai and to her king.” The highlight is on the act of anathema waged against the cities. In other words, it isn’t just that they devoted one city and then began to show mercy. Rather, they utterly destroyed Jericho, and then they utterly destroyed Ai.

But more, it says “and to her king” for both Jericho and Ai. It is the king of Jerusalem who is the subject of the verse. He fully understands that not only were the cities overrun and destroyed, but the kings of the cities were shown no mercy. He knows he will not be able to buy his way out of whatever pickle he finds himself in when Israel comes to his city. And more…

1 (con’t) and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them,

v’ki hishlimu yosh’ve giv’on eth Yis’rael va’yihyu b’qir’bam – “And that had acquiesced inhabitants Gibeon toward Israel and were in their midst.” The word is shalam, signifying the completion of something. In this case, there was a state of enmity that is now becoming an alliance by covenant.

Gibeon, after having seen the total destruction of Jericho and Ai, had simply made peace without even attempting to defend themselves. They had voluntarily become totally subservient to Israel. This is especially problematic because Israel has a foothold in a strategic location in the heart of the land. The entire southern region of Canaan would be more exposed to the incursions of Israel. Hence, the king wanted to recapture this location if possible.

As a reminder, Jericho means Place of Fragrance. Ai means Heap of Ruins. Gibeon means Hilly or Hill Town. Concerning the events that took place among these three cities, it next says…

that they feared greatly,

The translation is correct: va’yir’u meod – “And they feared greatly.” Verse 1 spoke only of the king of Jerusalem. The text switches to the plural, they, here. This could be referring to him and his subjects within Jerusalem, but it may be anticipatory of the kings that will be mentioned in the next verse. Either way, there is a great fear of what had happened…

2 (con’t) because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities,

The word “royal” is an adjective, but the Hebrew has a noun: ki ir gedolah giv’on k’akhat are ha’mamlakha – “for city whopping, Gibeon, according to cities the kingdom.” Hence, I would speculate that Gibeon actually had its own king, but when they went to make the treaty with Israel, he abdicated his throne.

This would explain why it never mentions any leader when the covenant was cut in Chapter 9. It is possible they never had a king, but based on the listing of cities, each with its own king, in Joshua 12, it seems unlikely that they were without a formal leader. This seems especially so based on the next words…

2 (con’t) and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were mighty.

v’ki hi gedolah min ha’ay v’kal anasheha giborim – “and for she whopping from the Ai and all her men – heroes.” Ai had its own king and men of war. If Gibeon was greater than Ai and its men are all described as great men, then it would logically follow that they also had a king. Again, this is personal speculation, but it would explain why the account continues as it does…

Therefore Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem sent to Hoham king of Hebron, Piram king of Jarmuth, Japhia king of Lachish, and Debir king of Eglon, saying,

Some of these names have various meanings, but essentially they are: 1) Hoham – whom Yehovah impels. Hebron – Alliance. 2) Piram – Indomitable. Jarmuth – Elevation. 3) Japhia – Illuminous. Lachish – Obstinate. 4) Debir – Place of the Word. Eglon – Heifer-like.

It should be remembered from Numbers and Deuteronomy that the great and tall people known as the Anakim dwelt in Hebron. They are also noted in Joshua 11 as being elsewhere. Hence, they would probably be a part of the alliance to be made.

Each of these four named cities was in the area eventually granted to Judah. It is to these kings that Adoni-Zedek said…

“Come up to me and help me, that we may attack Gibeon,

The planned attack is not against Joshua and Israel but against Gibeon. Throughout the book, Joshua will always be on the offensive against the nations it wars with. As for Gibeon, there are probably several reasons for attacking it.

First, it would set an example for any other Canaanite cities that they were not to make a treaty with Israel. Second, being strategically located, it would be good to have the area recaptured in order to regain command of the surrounding area.

And, third, it was probable that Gibeon would have been either disarmed or mostly disarmed by Israel once it was discovered that they were close by. As such, they could only lightly defend the city, but probably not much more than that. Each of these could be considered in the next words…

4 (con’t) for it has made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel.”

Although Jerusalem is the city nearest to Gibeon, the loss of Gibeon would eventually be a threat to all of them. Therefore, to act quickly and decisively against Gibeon would be the desirable option to take.

By aligning with the other kings, it would also strengthen their ties into the future, making it more likely one would come to the aid of another if any was attacked by Israel. Obviously, this plan was well received as it next says…

Therefore the five kings of the Amorites,

It is singular, showing the united nature of the people: va’yeas’phu va’yaalu khameshet malkhe ha’emori – “And gathered together and went up five kings the Amorite.” It is five kings, but one people, even though they were not all Amorites.

Rather, they included Hittites, Jebusites, etc. But they are lumped together as being a part of “the Amorite.” To further unite them in thought, the next words include no definite articles in the Hebrew…

5 (con’t) the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered together and went up,

Rather, it simply reads: “king Jerusalem, king Hebron, king Jarmuth, king Lachish, king Eglon.” It is five kings united as one…

5 (con’t) they and all their armies,

Rather than armies, it says: hem v’kal makhanehem – “they and all their camps.” The kings went forward to besiege the city and then to make war against it. Hence, they are called camps. They set up in an array in order to hem the city in. As it next says…

5 (con’t) and camped before Gibeon and made war against it.

It isn’t just that their armies went up and began a full-on assault. Rather, Gibeon is besieged and attacked according to a set plan, probably figuring that word could not make it to Joshua if they had them surrounded. However…

And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal,

Despite being besieged, they were able to get word out to Joshua. Several possibilities exist. It could be the word was sent while the armies were gathering. If so, then the message was sent prior to the city being besieged (i.e. “had sent to Joshua”). Maybe some were working in the fields and saw the camps setting up. Maybe some broke through the lines at night. Whatever the case, the fact is that some of the men were able to get word to Joshua at Gilgal…

6 (con’t) saying, “Do not forsake your servants;

The words contain a jussive: al tereph yadekha m’avadekha – “Not [might you] relax your (sg.) hand from your (sg.) servants.” The words are spoken to Joshua, and they are certainly an appeal to the covenant that was cut, but without directly commanding anything. In essence, “You are (hopefully) not to relax your hand from your servants according to our agreement.” Instead…

6 (con’t) come up to us quickly, save us and help us,

There is a sort of play on the name of Joshua here: aleh elenu m’herah v’hovoshiah lanu – “Come up to us quickly and save us and help us.” The word translated as “save” is the word, yasha, from which Joshua’s name is derived. They are calling out for Joshua to be their savior and their helper in their time of need. The reason is…

6 (con’t) for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the mountains have gathered together against us.”

Again, it is singular – “all kings the Amorite.” They are contrasting themselves to the people group of Canaan and have indicated their alliance with Joshua. Also, the word “mountains” is singular. It is “the mountain.”

This is said even though some of the kings dwelt in the low country. Hence, “the mountain,” is certainly referring to Jerusalem as the main identity in the alliance. The kings of the Amorite who dwell in the mountain have gathered (or were gathering) together against Gibeon…

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

The words at first seem to give two classes – va’yaal Yehoshua min ha’gilgal hu v’kal am ha’milkhamah imo v’kol gibore he’khayil – “And ascended Joshua from the Gilgal, he, and all people the war with him, and all mighty the valor.”

The structure of the words, however, is a way of the second clause describing those of the first clause, such as, “All the people of war, even all the mighty men of valor.” Joshua responded immediately according to the terms of the covenant that had been cut, and he set out with his best soldiers. And more…

And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand;

The word nathan, give, is used – “I have given them into your hand.” The enemy is as a present to Joshua, and so he is not to be afraid as he faces the foe in battle. And more…

8 (con’t) not a man of them shall stand before you.”

lo yaamod ish mehem b’phan’ekha – “No shall stand man from them in your (sg.) presence.” The meaning is that despite there being five kings with their combined forces, they will be so utterly defeated that all will either be killed or will flee away. But none shall be left to stand before him.

Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly, having marched all night from Gilgal.

The words are more precise, and they speak only of Joshua: “And came unto them Joshua suddenly (all the night ascended (sg.) from the Gilgal).” What was a march that took until the third day to be complete in verse 9:17 has been completed in a single night.

And more, it was an ascent all the way from Gilgal to Gibeon. In this, they would have been completely undetected as they approached the camps surrounding the city…

10 So the Lord routed them before Israel,

v’humem Yehovah liphne Yisrael – “And confused (sg.) them, Yehovah, before Israel.” It is the same word, hamam, that the Lord used when He promised just this in Exodus 23 –

“I will send My fear before you, I will cause confusion [hamam] among all the people to whom you come, and will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. 28 And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite from before you.” Exodus 23:27, 28

The word signifies to make a noise or move noisily, and thus to cause confusion. This is ascribed to the Lord, and it very well could be because of a thundering storm that came at the time of the battle. Whatever threw them into confusion, it is exactly what the promise from Exodus 23 said would happen. Also…

10 (con’t) killed them with a great slaughter at Gibeon,

The words are most forceful, and they give the credit to the Lord: va’yakem makah gedolah b’giv’on – “And struck (sg.) them blow whopping in Gibeon.”

The people were obviously unprepared for an external attack and had set up their forces for a siege on the city. When Joshua showed up, they were completely confused and decisively struck. From there they…

10 (con’t) chased them along the road that goes to Beth Horon,

Again, the action is credited to the Lord: va’yird’phem derek maaleh beith horon – “and chased (sg.) them way ascent Beth Horon.” Beth Horon means House of the Hollow and also House of Freedom. Even if it is Israel who was engaged in the battle, the Lord is who is spoken of.

It was His assurances of victory that impelled the men to march all night, to attack without sleep, and to sustain them throughout the day. The singular nature of the battle’s description next says…

10 (con’t) and struck them down as far as Azekah and Makkedah.

va’yakem ad azeqah v’ad maqedah – “and struck (sg.) them unto Azekah and unto Makkedah.” The action of the Lord will be more fully described in the next verse. For now, Azekah means “Tilled Over.” Makkedah means “Place of Shepherds.”

11 And it happened, as they fled before Israel and were on the descent of Beth Horon,

The translation is close enough. We are being given an exacting description of the events: who, where, and so on. The details are particular to give the reader the mental ability to follow along as if it is happening before his eyes. While these men are running down the slope in Beth Horon, it was…

11 (con’t) that the Lord cast down large hailstones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died.

It says, “and Yehovah cast upon them stones whopping from the heavens until Azekah, and they died.” This cannot simply be a rockslide, but an actual atmospheric event that came from the skies.

If the previous confusion was caused by a storm and thundering, this would then fit well with hailstones coming down upon the people. The carnage from these was so great that…

11 (con’t) There were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword.

rabbim asher metu b’avne ha’barad m’asher hargu bene Yisrael b’kharev – “more who died in stones the hail from who killed sons Israel in the sword.” This word for hail, barad, hasn’t been noted since the time of the Exodus when the Lord sent hail upon Egypt.

It is the same word used in our text verse today where the Lord claims to use it in exactly this circumstance, meaning the day of battle and war. Throughout the Bible, the Lord uses the elements according to His wisdom and in order to demonstrate his greatness.

The Canaanites had various gods, including the god of the storm, Hadad. That is also the Hebrew word for “thunder.” The Bible does not ascribe deity to the storm, but it shows that God is above the storm, using it according to His purposes.

Hence, while the Canaanites were worshipping the elements, Yehovah is using the elements to gain victory over them and to gain glory for Himself. With that noted, the next account is given…

The Lord will fight the battle for you
Watch and behold the greatness of His splendid hand
All that is necessary to win the victory, He will do
Trust in Him and He will accomplish what He has planned

He will fight for you and bring the victory
Upon the enemy He will work out His plan
What He purposes will come about, you will see
When He responds to the voice of a Man

It will all be accomplished before the day’s end
And the enemy will be defeated on that day
Upon him the Lord many woes will send
At that time, “Hallelujah to our God” our voices will say

II. Then Joshua Spoke to the Lord (verses 12-15)

12 Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel,

az y’daber Yehoshua Yehovah b’yom teth Yehovah eth ha’emori liph’ne bene Yisrael – “At that time, spoke Joshua, Yehovah, in day gave Yehovah the Amorite before sons Israel.” The word az is a demonstrative adverb signifying the beginning of something. Hence, what is said is at the beginning of the matter.

Using the word “then” here gives a false sense of the intent of the words. Rather, just when the battle was getting started, Joshua spoke. The reason this is important is because it sets the tone for the day of battle and of what will occur.

Also, as before, it says, “the Amorite.” The collective nature of the people is highlighted. They are the Renowned, and yet they are delivered to the children of Israel. In their being delivered, it is the Lord who gains renown for Himself. To increase the victory of the Lord, Joshua spoke to Him…

12 (con’t) and he said in the sight of Israel:

va’yomer l’ene Yisrael – “and he said to eyes Israel.” Rather than, “in the ears of Israel,” it says, “to the eyes of Israel.” This is key to understanding the nature of the words to come. It is the same expression used in Numbers 20:8 where Moses and Aaron were to speak to the rocks “to their eyes,” meaning the eyes of Israel.

They were to see the event based on the words. Joshua made a request of the Lord in the sight of Israel. Should the Lord accept his words as a request, it would be a sure sign to them that the Lord was fully satisfied with the people and willing to act on their behalf when they were living in accord with His will. As for his words, Joshua next says…

12 (con’t) “Sun, stand still over Gibeon;

The words here are poetical in nature and must be taken that way:  shemesh b’giv’on dom – “Sun, in Gibeon, be silent.” There is no article before sun or moon. Rather, the words are spoken to the sun and the moon as Moses and Aaron were to speak to the rock. But the rock was not going to respond. The Lord was.

Likewise, the sun and moon are not going to respond. The Lord will. The word is damam. Depending on the context, it means to wait (1 Samuel 14:9); to be still, such as lying on one’s bed and being still (Psalm 4:4); be silent (Psalm 31:7); to cease as in ending something (Psalm 35:5); to be cut off, such as in men of war being cut off (Jeremiah 50:30); and so on.

There is no reason to assume that Joshua is actually asking for the sun to stop where it is in the sky. Rather, it is a poetic wish for the sun to tarry in the sky until the task is complete. Psalm 19 notes that the voice of the heavens goes forth. This includes the sun –

“In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun,
Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
And rejoices like a strong man to run its race.
Its rising is from one end of heaven,
And its circuit to the other end;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.” Psalm 19:4-6

Instead of the sun speaking its voice as it runs its race, Joshua is asking it to be silent. As such, Joshua is certainly conveying to the Lord his great desire is that the sun would not go down before he had a chance to completely destroy his enemies.

This would then be a petition for his actions to complete the job in a timely manner, rather than for the sun to delay its actions. The poetic action is for the sun to belay its setting, but the actual action is for Joshua to complete the battle before the sun sets, as verse 13 will clearly indicate.

12 (con’t) And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”

v’yareakh b’emeq Ayalon – “And moon in depth Aijalon.” The emeq is a deep valley. The name Aijalon comes from ayyal or deer. Hence, it signifies Place of the Deer. However, that comes from the same as ayil, or ram, which is derived from a word indicating strength. Hence, I would think Place of Strength is not out of line.

At this time, the moon is west. This is often the case when the sun rises, and the descending moon is to the west. This is certain because if the sun is over Gibeon at this point and the moon is over Aijalon, it means that the sun is still eastward, and the day is not yet half-spent. And more likely, it is just beginning.

The battle began early in the morning, and Joshua is poetically asking that he can accomplish the battle before the day ends. There is nothing here to suggest that he is asking for the day to stop, but that his mission will be accomplished before the day ends. With this, the poetic nature of the words continues…

13 So the sun stood still,

The verb is imperfect: va’yidom ha’shemesh – “And is silent the sun.” This is a poetic response to Joshua noting that the sun remained silent, not rushing to run its course while Joshua continued the battle…

13 (con’t) And the moon stopped,

Rather: v’yareakh amad – “And moon stood.” The word amad means to stand. It can mean stopped, such as when Leah stopped bearing children. But it can also mean to endure, as in continuing in a matter. These are clearly poetic words.

If we want a job done before nightfall, we might say, “I hope the sun stands long enough for us to complete this task.” Being poetic lines, this is surely all that this means. It does not mean that a great thing isn’t taking place, but we must allow the word to define what the great thing is, and it will…

13 (con’t) Till the people had revenge
Upon their enemies.

The verb translated as “had revenge” is imperfect – avenges. Also, the word nation is singular, thus contrasting Israel with the Amorite: ad yiqom go oy’vah – “Until avenges nation upon his enemies.” The sun did not go down until the task was complete.

To this point, there is nothing to ascribe the miraculous to the suspension of the sun and moon in the heavens. To understand, we could go back to the previous example. “It was great! The sun stood in the sky until our job was complete.” Even if that is not so miraculous, the earlier verses have spoken of the miraculous, and the account will continue to do so as well.

13 (con’t) Is this not written in the Book of Jasher?

ha’lo hi ketuvah al sepher ha’yashar – “Not it written upon scroll the Upright (One)?” The book of Jasher is noted twice in the Bible, here and in 2 Samuel 1:18. From the two uses, it appears likely that it is a poetical book of the heroic deeds of the people.

It very well may be the same book called “the Book of the Wars” in Numbers 21:14. The poetic verses cited in that passage are said to have been written there. At that time, we noted that it was probably a collection of songs or psalms that celebrated the great acts of the powerful deliverances the Lord’s people experienced through His personal action.

With the use of the name Jeshurun, or Upright, by Moses to describe Israel in Deuteronomy, it very well may be that the Book of the Wars was renamed the Book of the Upright One to indicate the wars of Israel under the Lord. It is all speculation, but it does fit with the ongoing narrative. Putting them side by side, one can see from the Hebrew that each is a play upon the name Israel –

Israel – Yisrael:  יִשְׂרָאֵל
Jeshurun – Yeshurun: יְשֻׁרוּן
The Upright (One) – ha’Yashar: הַיָּשָׁ֑ר

13 (con’t) So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.

One will naturally translate the words as they presuppose the meaning to be. Until I studied them, I presupposed that this was a literal occurrence of the sun not moving for a whole day. But when evaluating Scripture, we must do our best to drop all presuppositions and simply read the words as they are given.

It does not necessarily say “stood still.” It does not necessarily say “midst.” It does not say “about.” And one must presuppose the word “whole.” It says: va’yaamod ha’shemesh ba’khatsi ha’shamayim v’lo az la’bo ke’yom tamim – “And stood the sun in the half of the heaven’s and no hasten to go, according to day complete.”

The word tamam signifies that which is blameless, complete, sound, without blemish, perfect, entire, and so on. The meaning is simply that the sun didn’t rush to its setting before things were done. It went at its usual pace, standing in the heavens as it would on any complete (perfect) day.

Also, notice the important words that have been excluded. This verse, which is the completion of the action, says nothing of the moon remaining in the sky. It does say earlier in the verse ad, or until, but that is referring to the completion of taking vengeance. It did stand, during the battle, even if it eventually slipped below the horizon. It was the sun that continued, and it remained until the requested action was complete. If both had stopped, it surely would have said so.

Going back to our example from before, the words can simply mean, “It was the perfect day. We completed everything before the sun rushed off and set, disappearing below the horizon.”

In this, we are talking in poetic fashion and demonstrating gratefulness that the job was complete. With that noted, the miraculous is seen in the next words and they tell us that it is not that the sun and the moon stopped. Rather…

14 And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of a man;

v’lo hayah ka’yom ha’hu l’panav v’akharav lishmoa Yehovah b’qol ish – “And no has been according to day, the it, before it or after it, to hearken Yehovah in voice man.” The meaning is that Joshua spoke, and his words were answered by the Lord in a manner that had not been done before or after that day.

What is the miracle? First, it is based upon the words of verse 12 which anticipate the battle. If Joshua said the words in the eyes of Israel, it means that he said them before the battle started.

He petitioned the Lord to allow the day to not end before the nation had avenged itself upon his enemy. As such, the battle was engaged, and to ensure that it would be successfully completed according to Joshua’s words the Lord personally intervened…

14 (con’t) for the Lord fought for Israel.

This is the miracle. The battle was engaged by men who had marched all night. They began the battle immediately, and as they were set to battle, Joshua had asked the Lord to allow the task to be complete before the sun went down.

In order for that to come about, the Lord personally engaged the enemies of Israel, confusing the people and casting down whopping hailstones upon them as was recorded in verses 10 & 11. The “heeding the voice of a man” is answered by the words ki Yehovah nilkham l’Yisrael – “for Yehovah fought to Israel.”

The word ki, or “for” is an explanatory conjunction. With that noted, it next says…

*15 (fin) Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.

va’yashav Yehoshua v’kal Yisrael imo el ha’makhaneh ha’gilgalah – “And returned Joshua, and all Israel with him, to the camp, the Gilgal.” The words are a part of the quotation concerning the book of Jasher that began in verse 12, demonstrating that the sequence of events as I outlined is correct.

Verses 12-15 go back and speak of the events detailed in verses 9-11 that confirm the words of Joshua. The Lord fought the battle for Israel, something that had not happened in such a manner before that day or after it, at least until the time that the words were inscribed in the Book of Jasher.

We know this is correct concerning this verse because in verse 21 (in next week’s passage) the people will return to Makkedah, not Gilgal. The men then continued the conquest of these five kings and their cities after that and only then did they return to Gilgal, as is recorded in verse 43.

To assume anything else would be to assume that the sun did not set during the entire campaign over the five cities, something that would have taken an extended period of time, meaning days, weeks, or even months. It is also something contrary to the narrative itself based on the timeline provided in verses 28-43.

Rather, Joshua petitioned the Lord that the battle of that day would not be complete before the sun set, and to ensure that it was accomplished according to his desire, the Lord worked on behalf of Israel for it to come about.

That alone is miraculous because the words were spoken before the entire band of fighting men. Each could testify to what he saw, exactly as would have been the case if Moses and Aaron had obeyed the Lord’s word while at the Rock in Numbers 20.

Hearing my evaluation of these verses may leave you either a little miffed or a little disappointed if you want to accept that the sun actually stood still in the sky for an extended period of time. But it shouldn’t be so. The Lord is said to have brought the sun backward on the sundial of Ahaz ten degrees in Isaiah 38.

Other events in the Bible demonstrate the miraculous in nature, such as the parting of the Red Sea and the parting of the Jordan. Signs are given and prophecies are fulfilled, but this section of Joshua is a poetic look into the Lord’s response to a need stated by Joshua. Even if the sun moved as it always did, the miraculous is in the story, nonetheless.

An army traveling all night, engaging an enemy comprised of five kings and their armies, and who then defeats that enemy before the sunset, stands as its own miracle. It truly demonstrates that the Lord fought for Israel. I can only go where I believe the text leads, and that speaks of the Lord’s response to Joshua’s call as outlined in a body of poetry –

“At that time, spoke Joshua, Yehovah, in day gave Yehovah the Amorite before sons Israel and he said to eyes Israel:

‘Sun, in Gibeon, be silent.
And moon in depth Aijalon.’

And is silent the sun.
And moon stood.
Until avenges nation upon his enemies.

Not it written upon scroll the Upright (One)? And stood the sun in the half of the heaven’s and no hasten to go, according to day complete.

And no has been according to day the it, before it or after it, to hearken Yehovah in voice man, for Yehovah fought to Israel. And returned Joshua, and all Israel with Him, to the camp, the Gilgal.”

Notice the structure:

V.12 – At that time, spoke Joshua, Yehovah, in day gave Yehovah the Amorite before sons Israel and he said to eyes Israel.

V.13 Until avenges nation upon his [Israel’s] enemies.

V.15 – And no has been according to day, the it, before it or after it, to hearken Yehovah in voice man, for Yehovah fought to Israel.

The bracketing thoughts explain what the miracle was. And isn’t that enough? We needed a Savior, and the Lord has fought for us. He has brought about the victory. Do we need something more to satisfy our sensations? Rather, what the Lord did is so far beyond our comprehension that we have a literal eternity ahead of us to discover all it actually means.

Let us be thankful to the Lord that He has responded to the voice of a Man, and that He now responds to the voice of men. Christ spoke out our salvation, and now we simply need to speak out the word of faith. Thank God for Jesus Christ our Lord who has fought for us.

Closing Verse: “Lift up your heads, O you gates!
And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle.” Psalm 24:7,8

Next Week: Joshua 10:16-27 The battle went on and on until it was through… (The Battle for Gibeon, Part II) (21st Joshua Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. It is He who has defeated the enemy and who now offers His people rest. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Battle for Gibeon, Part I

Now it came to pass
When Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard (his ears did ring)
How Joshua had taken Ai and had utterly destroyed it
As he had done to Jericho and its king

So he had done to Ai and its king
And how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace
With Israel and were among them
That they feared greatly their knee knocking wouldn’t cease

Because Gibeon was a great city
Like one of the royal cities all-righty
And because it was greater than Ai
And all its men were mighty

Therefore Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem
Sent to Hoham king of Hebron, words he was relaying
And Piram king of Jarmuth, Japhia king of Lachish
And Debir king of Eglon, saying

“Come up to me and help me
That we may attack Gibeon,” to them he did tell
For it has made peace with Joshua
And with the children of Israel

Therefore the five kings of the Amorites
The king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron also
The king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish
And the king of Eglon all joined the show

And gathered together and went up
They and all their armies, a mighty corps
And camped before Gibeon
And against it made war

And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal
Saying, “Do not forsake your servants; come up to us quickly
———-(that would be a major plus)
Save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites
Who dwell in the mountains have gathered together against us”

So Joshua ascended from Gilgal
Up they did go
He and all the people of war with him
And all the mighty men of valor also

And the LORD said to Joshua
“Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand
Not a man of them shall stand before you
Your victory will be grand

Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly, like a storming wall
Having marched all night from Gilgal

So the LORD routed them before Israel
Killed them with a great slaughter at Gibeon – oorah!
Chased them along the road that goes to Beth Horon
And struck them down as far as Azekah and Makkedah

And it happened, as they fled before Israel
And were on the descent of Beth Horon
That the LORD cast down large hailstones from heaven on them
As far as Azekah, and they died, death from a large stone

There were more who died from the hailstones, a great horde
Than the children of Israel killed with the sword

Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day
When the LORD delivered up the Amorite
Before the children of Israel
And he said in Israel’s sight:

“Sun, stand still over Gibeon
And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon”

So the sun stood still
And the moon stopped
Till the people had revenge upon their enemies
Up they were chopped

Is this not written in the Book of Jasher?
So the sun in the midst of heaven stood still
And did not hasten to go down
For about a whole day, saving on the lighting bill

And there has been no day like that
Before it or after it, for sure we can tell
That the LORD heeded the voice of a man
For the LORD fought for Israel

Then Joshua returned, probably having a ball
And all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now it came to pass when Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard how Joshua had taken Ai and had utterly destroyed it—as he had done to Jericho and its king, so he had done to Ai and its king—and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them, that they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were mighty. Therefore Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem sent to Hoham king of Hebron, Piram king of Jarmuth, Japhia king of Lachish, and Debir king of Eglon, saying, “Come up to me and help me, that we may attack Gibeon, for it has made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel.” Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered together and went up, they and all their armies, and camped before Gibeon and made war against it.

And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal, saying, “Do not forsake your servants; come up to us quickly, save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the mountains have gathered together against us.”

So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.” Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly, having marched all night from Gilgal. 10 So the Lord routed them before Israel, killed them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, chased them along the road that goes to Beth Horon, and struck them down as far as Azekah and Makkedah. 11 And it happened, as they fled before Israel and were on the descent of Beth Horon, that the Lord cast down large hailstones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword.

12 Then Joshua spoke 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 still over Gibeon;
And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
13 So the sun stood still,
And the moon stopped,
Till the people had revenge
Upon their enemies.

Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. 14 And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel.

15 Then Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal.

 

Joshua 9:19-27 (War Are Your Servants, Part II)

Artwork by Douglas Kallerson

Joshua 9:19-27
We Are Your Servants, Part II

Of the Gibeonites, Adam Clarke said, “Had they come to the Israelites, and simply submitted themselves without opposition and without fraud, they had certainly fared much better. Lying and hypocrisy always defeat their own purpose, and at best can succeed only for a short season. Truth and honesty never wear out.”

Again, as he summed up his commentary on chapter 9, he said –

  1. The Gibeonites told lies, in order to save their lives. No expediency can justify this, nor are we called to attempt it. The Gibeonites were heathens, and we can expect nothing better from them.
  2. They did not profit by their falsity: had they come in fairly, sought peace, and renounced their idolatry, they would have had life on honorable terms. As it was, they barely escaped with their lives, and were utterly deprived of their political liberty. Even the good that is sought by unlawful means has God’s curse on it.
  3. We need not be solicitous for the character of the Gibeonites here; they are neither our models, nor believers in the true God, and therefore pure religion is not concerned in their prevarication and falsity.

For someone whose commentary I so enjoy, he can get very far afield at times. He said, “Had they come to the Israelites, and simply submitted themselves without opposition and without fraud, they had certainly fared much better.”

Rather, they would have all been killed. This was the command of the Lord. The people were devoted to God, and they could not spare them. We already saw what happened when Achan broke the law of kherem.

Next, he said of their lying, “No expediency can justify this.” Actually, the saving of their lives did justify it, just as was the case with Rahab. After that, he said, “They did not profit by their falsity.” Actually, the result of their falsity was one hundred percent profit. They would have lost everything otherwise.

They did escape with their lives. And even if they did not possess all the rights of Israel, they were given the political liberty of Israel because they were granted protection under the covenant of Israel.

Finally, he said that the Gibeonites were not “believers in the true God.” Actually, they were. This is exactly why they came to Joshua, just as Rahab already had done.

Text Verse: “‘I create the fruit of the lips:
Peace, peace to him who is far off and to him who is near,’
Says the Lord,
‘And I will heal him.’
20 But the wicked are like the troubled sea,
When it cannot rest,
Whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
21 There is no peace,”
Says my God, “for the wicked.’” Isaiah 57:19-21

The Lord offers peace to those who are far off, and he says there is no peace for the wicked. In last week’s passage, Joshua was said to have made shalom, or peace, with the Gibeonites. Did the Lord take a nap during the events that transpired, or are we being shown something else than what Adam Clarke has noted?

From the text itself, we can see that the Gibeonites profited off of their lies. That may have upset Israel, but the Gibeonites were not under the Law of Moses. They were, however, under the law of conscience. They weighed out their options, saw that only one may possibly preserve their lives, and they did what any rational person would do who was in a similar circumstance.

For Christians, this is not a note condoning lying, but neither are we under the law. Consider the Jews in Nazi Germany. They have been marked for extermination. If we hide one in our basement and then lie about it, we have evaluated the circumstance, made a moral decision, and weighed out the positives and negatives. Even if our lives are forfeit for what we have done, it is surely the proper course to take.

Try not to sit too high on your bench of supposed moral superiority. You may find out that when you fall, it will be a painful experience. It is right and proper to tell the truth, but it can be right and proper to not do so at times. It is certain that Corrie ten Boom and many like her would agree.

Seek the highest moral principle at all times, and the way you can know which is right is to study the word of God. In it, you will find the proper standard of all morality by which you can then rightly conduct your affairs.

For now, we will continue on with the story of the Gibeonites. It is a marvelous part of God’s superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again, and… May God speak to us through His word today, and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Woodcutters and Water Carriers (verses 19-27)

19 Then all the rulers said to all the congregation,

The words of the rulers now are given in response to what was said in the final verse of the previous sermon –

“But the children of Israel did not attack them, because the rulers of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord God of Israel. And all the congregation complained against the rulers.” Joshua 9:18

The people complained against the rulers because they were not allowed to attack and plunder the Gibeonites. In response, the rulers now speak to all the congregation, saying…

19 (con’t) “We have sworn to them by the Lord God of Israel;

anakhnu nishbanu lahem b’Yehovah elohe Yisrael – “We have sworn to them in Yehovah, God of Israel.” It is true that the Gibeonites entered into the covenant under false pretenses, but it is also true that Israel did not do their due diligence in searching out the matter before agreeing and entering into the covenant.

When they did search it out, it was already confirmed “in Yehovah, God of Israel.” It was thus binding upon them. The thought is reflected in a list of traits the Lord expects of His people found in Psalm 15. A couple of them are –

“In whose eyes a vile person is despised,
But he honors those who fear the Lord;
He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
He who does not put out his money at usury,
Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.

He who does these things shall never be moved.” Psalm 15:4, 5

The people feared the Lord in whose name the oath was made. This was true for both the Gibeonites and those of Israel. The people had sworn, even to their own hurt, and now they had to stand by their words. Because of this…

19 (con’t) now therefore, we may not touch them.

In this case, the general word naga, or touch, carries with it the sense of striking or harming them. They must keep their hands off them because of the covenant that had been cut. The fact that this is correct is validated hundreds of years later when Saul violated the terms of the covenant –

“Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David inquired of the Lord. And the Lord answered, “It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house, because he killed the Gibeonites.” 2 Samuel 21:1

The words had been spoken, and Israel was bound to them. But this does not mean that they didn’t have other options at their disposal while still remaining faithful to their oath…

20 This we will do to them:

There is no profit that can be gained from the Gibeonites through their death and the plundering of their goods. That is established through the oath. However, they can be profited off through their lives, and so…

20 (con’t) We will let them live,

There is a strong emphasis through the use of an infinitive absolute verb: v’hakhayeh otam – “And letting live them.” This sets the parameters as required by the covenant. Without complying, the leaders knew there would be consequences…

20 (con’t) lest wrath be upon us because of the oath which we swore to them.”

v’lo yihyeh alenu qetseph al ha’shevuah asher nishbanu lahem – “And no become upon us wrath upon the oath which we swore to them.” They directly tie the Lord’s wrath to the cutting of the covenant. As noted, this is exactly what came upon Israel when Saul violated it many generations later.

As one can see, there is now a conflict between the precept of the law that demanded Israel kill every living person in Canaan and being obedient to the covenant that was made. Both are explicitly addressed in the law, and yet one precept now must trump the other (see Numbers 30:2 and Deuteronomy 20:16).

But this has already happened in the oath the two spies made with Rahab. That can be seen as nothing but a violation of the precept of the law, and yet, they were obligated to preserve her after the oath was made. For the Gibeonites, the covenant stands. However, nothing was said about any of the finer details. Israel will now use that to their advantage…

21 And the rulers said to them, “Let them live, but let them be woodcutters and water carriers for all the congregation, as the rulers had promised them.”

There is a particular emphasis in the words that even the English displays pretty well: yikhyu va’yihyu – “Let them live, and let them be…” It was the Gibeonites who came to Israel to make a covenant. Israel agreed, but the covenant itself was based on falsity.

Therefore, there was nothing to limit them beyond the basic words of the covenant. They were to be subjected to the lowest form of servile labor. In this, they use a proverbial expression first stated in Deuteronomy –

 “All of you stand today before the Lord your God: your leaders and your tribes and your elders and your officers, all the men of Israel, 11 your little ones and your wives—also the stranger who is in your camp, from the one who cuts your wood to the one who draws your water— 12 that you may enter into covenant with the Lord your God, and into His oath, which the Lord your God makes with you today, 13 that He may establish you today as a people for Himself, and that He may be God to you, just as He has spoken to you, and just as He has sworn to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 29:10-13

It will be seen later that this specifically includes a job tied to the service of the Lord. The designation for this service eventually became known as Nethinim, or those given to the service of the Temple. They are mentioned mostly in Ezra and Nehemiah, and some of those people are possibly descendants of these Gibeonites.

22 Then Joshua called for them, and he spoke to them, saying, “Why have you deceived us, saying, ‘We are very far from you,’ when you dwell near us?

Whether Joshua realizes it or not, the fingers are actually pointing in both directions at the same time – “Why have you deceived us?” It is true that the Gibeonites deceived Israel, but the reason for it is as obvious as the nose on one’s face. They wanted to live.

The Gibeonites could just as easily have said, “And why didn’t you do a better job of checking things out?” Joshua could have said, “We will send ambassadors with you to your people and consult with them first.” That would have resolved the matter immediately.

One can see that the Gibeonites knew, without a doubt, that Israel would hold fast to the covenant if it was made. This is what they were counting on, and that has been proven true. The subterfuge worked, the lie obtained its purpose, and Israel was limited in what it could do. But they were not completely hand-tied…

23 Now therefore, you are cursed,

v’atah arurim atem – “And now cursed you.” This is actually nothing new. These people descended from Canaan, the son of Ham and the grandson of Noah –

“Canaan begot Sidon his firstborn, and Heth; 16 the Jebusite, the Amorite, and the Girgashite; 17 the Hivite, the Arkite, and the Sinite; 18 the Arvadite, the Zemarite, and the Hamathite.” Genesis 10:15-18

Canaan, meaning him and all who issued from him, had been cursed by their ancestor Noah in Genesis 9 –

“So Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him. 25 Then he said:
‘Cursed be Canaan;
A servant of servants
He shall be to his brethren.’” Genesis 9:24, 25

From one curse to another, the Gibeonites were still blessed enough to have saved their lives through cunning.  However…

23 (con’t) and none of you shall be freed from being slaves—

v’lo yikareth mikhem eved – “and no shall be cut (sg.) from you (pl.) servant.” This follows after the curse of Noah. They were slaves (servants – the word is the same), and they were to remain that way forever. With that stated, Joshua clarifies the words of verse 21…

23 (con’t) woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.”

Not only are they to be woodcutters and water carriers, but they are to do so l’beit elohay – “to house my God.” The meaning of this is actually twofold. First, they were to supply wood and water continuously for the maintenance of the tabernacle. This would be for burning of the sacrifices and offerings and for the required washings mandated by the law.

However, this surely would have also included service in the building of the temple at the time of Solomon –

“All the people who were left of the Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, who were not of Israel— that is, their descendants who were left in the land after them, whom the children of Israel did not destroy—from these Solomon raised forced labor, as it is to this day. But Solomon did not make the children of Israel servants for his work. Some were men of war, captains of his officers, captains of his chariots, and his cavalry. 10 And others were chiefs of the officials of King Solomon: two hundred and fifty, who ruled over the people.” 2 Chronicles 8:7-10

One can see that the Gibeonites (Hivites) were not the only ones who were not destroyed by Israel. Rather, Israel generally failed to comply with the words of the law in utterly exterminating many people in the land.

Despite this, the forced labor went beyond the temple even to the building of Solomon’s house, the storage cities, and so on. With the burdensome mandate levied upon the Gibeonites by Joshua, they next respond as to why they chose this path…

24 So they answered Joshua and said,

Joshua is obviously speaking to the rulers of the people, and they together respond with the motivating issue behind their scheme…

24 (con’t) “Because your servants were clearly told that the Lord your God commanded His servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you;

The words are emphatic: ki huged hugad la’avadekha – “for declaring it was declared to your servants.” They knew without any question that the law had been set forth and that all in Canaan were to be exterminated. But more, they note that it was a command from Yehovah through Moses…

24 (con’t) therefore we were very much afraid for our lives because of you, and have done this thing.

va’nira meod l’naphshotenu mipenekhem va’naaseh eth ha’davar ha’zeh – “And feared greatly to our souls from your presence and did the word, the this.” Of this, Cambridge incorrectly states, “Fear had been their sole motive in seeking an alliance with Israel. Theirs was not the faith, which had prompted Rahab to save the spies.” ather, fear is exactly what made Rahab do what she did –

“Now before they lay down, she came up to them on the roof, and said to the men: ‘I know that the Lord has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you.’” Joshua 2:8, 9

It was faith in the Lord that drove both Rahab and the Gibeonites to fear the Lord. If they didn’t believe in the Lord, they would have been like everyone else. But they believed the word concerning the Lord and they believed the word of the Lord spoken to Moses. Thus, they acted in faith which was spurred on by fear.

This is no different than Cornelius in Acts 10:2 who was “a devout man and one who feared God.” The Lord saw his faith, his fear, and his deeds. And so, He led him to Himself.

And again, Albert Barnes misses the scope of the matter, saying, “They sought for union with God’s people, not for its own sake, but to save their lives. Rahab’s motives were higher. … Hence, she was adopted into Israel; the Gibeonites remained forever bondsmen of Israel.”

This is not entirely correct. We don’t know what happened to the family of Rahab other than that they dwelt among Israel, just as the Gibeonites did (Joshua 6:25). Also, Ishmaiah the Gibeonite is specifically noted as a chief man among David’s warriors in 1 Chronicles 12:4. As for the Gibeonites at the time of Joshua…

25 And now, here we are, in your hands;

v’atah hinu b’yadekha – “And now behold us in your (sg.) hand.” They have placed themselves solely at the mercy of Joshua and his power – “in your hand.” They know their lives will be spared. This is all they could have hoped for. If their plan failed, they would have died, which is exactly what they knew lay ahead for them anyway. Anything beyond execution is, therefore, grace. And so…

25 (con’t) do with us as it seems good and right to do to us.”

The words are solely to Joshua in the singular: katov v’khayashar b’enekha la’asoth lanu aseh – “According to the good and according to the straight in your eyes to do to us, do.” He is the leader of Israel, he has made his judgment, and they have agreed without any protest at all, acknowledging that his determination is good – meaning it is fair – and that it is straight – meaning that it is in accord with the words of the covenant that was already cut.

26 So he did to them, and delivered them out of the hand of the children of Israel, so that they did not kill them.

Here is righteousness. It cannot be said that this is so much an act of mercy. Mercy would be if these people came and said, “We are Gibeonites and we submit ourselves to you. Please do not kill us,” and that was then followed by an agreement to not kill them. However, that would have been unrighteous mercy because they were already commanded to utterly kill the inhabitants.

Instead, it is the Gibeonites who acted with subterfuge and Israel cut the covenant without properly checking the necessary facts. Despite this, the covenant was cut. As such, Joshua is displaying righteousness in his upholding of the covenant. Along with that…

27 And that day Joshua made them woodcutters and water carriers for the congregation

It is more personal and precise: va’yitenem Yehoshua ba’yom ha’hu khot’ve etsim v’shoave mayim la’edah – “And gave them, Joshua, in the day, the it, hewers wood and drawers water to the congregation.” They have placed themselves in Joshua’s hand, and Joshua now gives them as a gift to the congregation.

This is justice. The people were denied the plunder of the cities, and the Gibeonites were given to the people to replace the failing of cutting the covenant which deprived the people of their spoil. The people would be happy, the Gibeonites would be alive, and Joshua has resolved the matter without violating the covenant that had been cut. Also…

*27 (fin) and for the altar of the Lord, in the place which He would choose, even to this day.

u-l’mizbakh Yehovah ad ha’yom ha’zeh el ha’maqom asher yivkhar – “and to altar Yehovah until the day, the this, to the place which He would choose.”

This is grace. Despite being a lowly job, it is a service to the Lord, and thus it is the highest service one could perform. It is reminiscent of the words of Psalm 84 –

“For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
12 O Lord of hosts,
Blessed is the man who trusts in You!” Psalm 84:10-12

Despite not being a part of the congregation, the Gibeonites were spared in order to serve the Lord’s people and the altar of the Lord. Hence, despite their situation, they fared better than those of other nations who had not yet even heard of the Lord. It is better to share in the Lord as a servant than to have no share in the Lord.

Better a slave of Christ than to be the richest king
To have Jesus is more wonderful than the finest gold
Sharing in His goodness, we shall forever sing
And revel in the greatest story ever told

Better to have Jesus than gems galore
To have all the world’s silver is to be rejected
Such things will never get a sinner through the Door
That will only happen when right faith is detected

If you possessed Satan’s signet ring
And you had all the world’s authority and power
Such things would not mean a thing
When finally came your dying hour

Rejoice in the Lord and rest in Jesus always
Only He can give life and bestow eternal days

II. Pictures of Christ

The first chapters of Joshua showed the process of Israel coming to Christ. Chapter 8 revealed the ending of the Old Covenant and the acceptance of the New in the account of building the altar at Mount Ebal. That is something still in Israel’s future.

The New Covenant was made not with the Gentiles, but with Israel. That is clearly stated in Jeremiah 31 –

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” Jeremiah 31:31-34

That is clear and unambiguous. It is also addressed to the people of Israel long before the coming of Christ. Hence, it is impossible for it to be referring to anyone but Israel. That is confirmed in Hebrews 8:7-13, much of which is a direct citation from Jeremiah.

The author of Hebrews is addressing the Hebrew people, not the church, even if aspects of the letter apply to all believers. When Jesus established the New Covenant as recorded in the gospels, He did so in accordance with the words of Jeremiah, meaning, it was made with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.

Nothing He said could lead anyone to any other conclusion. And yet, Paul refers to the New Covenant in 1 and 2 Corinthians. First, he cites Jesus’ words from the gospels –

“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Next, he speaks of those who administer this New Covenant –

“And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:4-6

Paul is clearly writing to Gentiles as the Apostle to the Gentiles. But this doesn’t explain how Gentiles are included in the New Covenant if it was given to Israel and Judah. The account of the Gibeonites in this passage reveals how that occurs.

Obviously, there is a real account that is being dealt with, and so there is a lot that has to be stripped out of it to get to the basics. The reason this is so is that the Gibeonites were real people who really served Israel in their history. And so what happens includes details concerning their state as servants of Israel.

But the point is that they were brought into a covenant standing with Israel who is in a covenant (or a New Covenant) standing with the Lord. And so this account is presented.

If you noticed, there were lots of people groups mentioned as serving as laborers in Israel in the account from 2 Chronicles 8, including Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. With the exception of the Canaanites, these same groups were mentioned in verse 1 of this chapter. There is no need to mention the Canaanites because other than the Perizzites, they are Canaanite people groups.

But it is the Gibeonites who are highlighted here in order to set the typology. All the people groups formed an alliance in order to fight against Israel, but the Gibeonites want to be allied with Israel.

In verse 4, we saw that the Gibeonites were as cunning against Israel as Israel had been against Ai. Israel defeated the law, overcoming it through Christ. Now, the Gibeonites (those who want to join Israel) act in cunning to join with them.

To do this, they have old sacks on their donkeys, old wineskins torn and mended, old and patched shoes, old garments, and bread that is dry and crumbly. In this state, in verse 6, it said that they went to Joshua and spoke to him and to all the men of Israel, noting they were from a land far away, and ask for a covenant to be made with them.

Although this isn’t true, it still reflects their state. If they were from Haijima, Japan, for all intents and purposes, they wouldn’t be any closer to Israel concerning their rights than being from Gibeon which is geographically just down the road a bit. They truly are far off from Israel, at least in that sense.

In verse 7, Joshua is not mentioned, just the men of Israel who respond with, “And said (pl.) man (sg.) Israel unto the Hivite (sg.).” As noted, the name probably means Tent Villager, but it is identical to khavah or “Life,” the name of Adam’s wife (Eve).

Abarim notes that the verb form khavah “means to lay out in order to live collectively, and describes investing one’s personal sovereignty into a living collective like a symbiont. It’s mostly translated as to prostrate, which is to submit oneself wholly and bodily to a collective or to the leader of that collective.” That is essentially what they are doing, submitting themselves to a collective. But more, they are doing it to find… life.

In the next verses, they speak to Joshua, noting they are his servants and have come because of the name of Yehovah and they had heard of His fame and of all He did in Egypt. Also what He had done to Sihon and Og. Israel had been brought out of bondage and the Gibeonites wanted to share in that.

It must be noted that Israel had been brought out of Egypt and into the law. Nothing was said by the Gibeonites about Israel crossing the Jordan as they did. In other words, the typology of crossing through Christ was supposedly unknown to them, even though they knew perfectly well that Israel had passed through the Jordan.

After this, and for a second time, the account focused on the bread, the wineskins, the garments and the sandals. It is then that we noted the contrast to Israel –

“And I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn out on your feet. You have not eaten bread, nor have you drunk wine or similar drink, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 29:5, 6

That all occurred while Israel was under the law. The typology is obvious: these people were not under the law. No need to worry in this regard. Israel is under the New Covenant and these people are not under the law. In other words, typologically, these are not Judaizers trying to get Israel to return to the law.

To more fully understand that you could go back and review those verses in the Deuteronomy 29 sermon, but suffice it to say that Israel, while under the punishment of the law, lacked the things that would normally keep people alive and united – food, wine, and strong drink. And yet, they remained a people.

They are now united in Christ under the New Covenant. These Gibeonites are not law observers, they are not members of the New Covenant, and they are far off from Israel.

With that noted, Israel accepted that they were who they said they were, and they were willing to cut a covenant with them, even without inquiring of the Lord.

As such, it says Joshua made peace with them and cut a covenant with them to let them live. It also noted that the rulers swore to them. In typology, Joshua represents Jesus, and the elders represent the rulers. That can be established based on Jesus’ words of Matthew 19:28 –

“So Jesus said to them, ‘Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’”

One who sits on a throne is a ruler. The apostles were in agreement concerning the conversion of Gentiles as noted in Acts 15 and elsewhere.

After the subterfuge was discovered, it said that Israel journeyed to their cities and four cities were named. I couldn’t identify anything in the names that gives additional typology, but the number four is the world number. Hence, it is surely indicating that there is Israel, and there is the agreement made with the world beyond Israel.

With that, the final verse from last week noted that Israel did not attack them because they had sworn by the Lord God of Israel. Because of this, the congregation complained against the rulers. That seems obvious enough. Israel wants it to be all about them, but there are others that are brought into the covenant relationship as well.

The verses for today show the actual response of Israel to the cunningness of the Gibeonites, but the point of those verses is that there was nothing they could do. The covenant had been cut and nothing could be done to them.

But what Israel saw as a loss turned out to be a benefit for them. They may not have been able to plunder their spoil, but they were able to use the productivity of these Gentiles for their benefit. This was to be literally true in Israel. And typologically it has been true as well.

It is the Gentiles who have done the work of expanding the kingdom, building the church, and searching out God’s word. Thus, Israel has benefitted, even if they were unhappy about the situation at first. The Gentiles were granted life through the covenant cut with Jesus, and they have been productive for the kingdom ever since.

In short, this story is given to reveal how the Gentiles ended up under the New Covenant even though that covenant was promised to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.

The name Gibeon, as we saw, means Hill Town or Hilly. But the name comes from gavia, which is derived from a root word conveying the sense of elevation or roundness, hence it means a cup or a bowl. When upside down, it looks like a hill.

I would surmise that they were chosen because the name is etymologically akin to the Aramaic word Gabbatha which means an elevated place, a knoll – hence a rounded area like a goblet.

Jesus submitted Himself to the Roman authority in order to establish the New Covenant in His blood. The Gibeonites submitted themselves to Joshua in order to enter into the covenant relationship that had been established with Israel.

And actual distance aside, they were as far from the nation of Israel as they could have been. Hence, there was the strong focus on the word far. It was used three times in the passage, and twice it was joined to the superlative meod, or very. That perfectly fits with Paul’s words of Ephesians –

“Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— 12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:11-13

The Gibeonites submitted themselves to Joshua (verse 9:8) and it said in verse 15, “So made (sg.) with them, Joshua, peace and cut (sg.) to them covenant to live them.” It practically mirrors the words of Isaiah from our text verse –

“Peace, peace to him who is far off and to him who is near,’
Says the Lord,
‘And I will heal him.’” Isaiah 57:19

That is also exactingly stated by Paul in Ephesians 2, and that will be cited in our closing verse today. As far as the idea of being woodcutters and water bearers, that is not given in typology, but as a poetic idea of providing for the altar of the Lord. It is something we have all participated in if you think about it.

Christ died on the cross for our sins. If we can put ourselves into that picture, we can see that with our sins we actually helped cut the wood, that of His cross, our altar before God. And what do we do with the salvation that comes from it? Isaiah says –

“And in that day you will say:
‘O Lord, I will praise You;
Though You were angry with me,
Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me.
Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
‘For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song;
He also has become my salvation.’
Therefore with joy you will draw water [shaav]
From the wells of salvation.” Isaiah 12:1-3

Isaiah uses the same word to describe drawing of waters from the wells of salvation that is used of the Gibeonites drawing water for Israel. As noted, it is the Gentiles that have carried the banner of the church, and it is from those efforts that Israel will someday realize they need Jesus. When that comes about, the water from those wells will truly be used to minster to Israel.

The typology in the passage here, and of which I have failingly presented to you because of so much that has surely been missed, is given to show us several things. First and foremost, it is to again let us know that the church has not replaced Israel.

Rather the church is a body made up of both Jews and Gentiles and it is based on the New Covenant, the Christ Covenant. Israel as a nation today has not yet entered into that New Covenant, but we have been shown in the previous chapters that they will do so someday.

Until they do, there needed to be an explanation provided as to how the Gentiles are brought into this New Covenant, and thus into the commonwealth of Israel. This passage has addressed that. The Gibeonites were never under the law or the sustaining hand of Israel during their time of punishment under the law.

Further, Gentiles have been far off from the promises to Israel. There was no hope; rather, there was only the promise of being destroyed. But those Gentiles who come to Jesus in faith, just as the Gibeonites came to Joshua in faith, will be saved. They will be given life. The typology tells us this, even if I may have failed to present some of the finer points.

For you today, it is your duty to come to Christ, believe the gospel, and receive the salvation He offers to those who will.

Closing Verse: “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.” Ephesians 2:14-18

Next Week: Joshua 10:1-15 The fighting will go on and on, until the battle is done… (The Battle for Gibeon, Part I) (20th Joshua Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. It is He who has defeated the enemy and who now offers His people rest. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

We Are Your Servants, Part II

Then all the rulers said to all the congregation
“We have sworn to them by the LORD God of Israel
Now therefore, we may not touch them
Shoot, darn, dangitall, and oh well

“This we will do to them:
We will let them live, no haw or hem
Lest wrath be upon us
Because of the oath which we swore to them”

And the rulers said to them, “Let them live
But let them woodcutters be
And water carriers for all the congregation
As the rulers had promised them after their trickery

Then Joshua called for them, and he spoke to them, saying
“Why have you deceived us
Saying ‘We are very far from you,’ when you dwell near us?
This is not so kosher and not “plus, plus, plus”

Now therefore, you are cursed
And none of you shall from being slaves be freed
Woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God
Because of your sneaky deed

So they answered Joshua and said
“Because your servants were clearly told words not so grand
That the LORD your God commanded
His servant Moses to give you all the land

“And to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you
Therefore we were very much afraid; yes, our ears did ring
For our lives because of you
And so we have done this thing

“And now, here we are, in your hands, for us it is a plus
Do with us as it seems good and right to do to us”

So he did to them
And delivered them out of the hand
Of the children of Israel
So that they did not kill them as they planned

And that day Joshua made them woodcutters
And water carriers for the congregation, so it was that way
And for the altar of the LORD
In the place which He would choose, even to this day

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

Joshua 9:1-18 (We Are Your Servants, Part I)

Artwork by Douglas Kallerson.

Joshua 9:1-18
We Are Your Servants, Part I

The week before typing this sermon, it was my birthday. For my birthday, some special folks gave me a copy of the movie Leap of Faith. The main character is played by the comedian and actor Steve Martin.

The basic plot is that of a touring evangelistic ministry that exists pretty much for the sake of ripping people off through false miracles, false healings, and outright deceit. And yet, the evangelist, Jonas Nightengale, openly admits this to those who ask about it. Most don’t, simply because they want to believe in the miraculous.

The ministry is so obviously pointing to the false healing ministries in the world today that one cannot help but identify one or more of them even if you have only watched a few minutes of Christian TV. They have a whole crew out doing what Jonas Nightengale’s crew was doing. They are slick, they are showy, and they are sharks.

Text Verse: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

As I watched the movie, I was literally upset at what I was watching. Not because Steve Martin was inaccurately portraying these people, but because he was accurately portraying them. They are shameless people who exploit the name of Jesus in order to get rich and famous.

What makes me even more upset is that the movie accurately portrayed the people who went to his revivals. Like those who fall for the false teachers of the church, they are just dumb, ignorant sheep that are taken in by such people. And the reason for this comes down to one thing: a lack of knowledge about the word.

Hosea, quoting the Lord, said of Israel, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” People are ripped off, led down the heresy highway, never given the truth about ten thousand points of proper doctrine, and lead miserable lives simply because they lack proper knowledge of the word.

Told to tithe? You’ve been duped. Mormon? You’re following a false Christ. Accepting of homosexuality or some other perversion in your church? You are accepting what Christ openly and strongly condemns. Believe you can lose your salvation? You haven’t been properly instructed on what the word “grace” means. Told you must be circumcised? Paul says that is anathema. You have fallen from grace, and you are (or will be) a debtor to the entire law.

We could go on and on and on. But instead, we will go on. Learn your Bible. Have discernment and forget “trust but verify.” Rather, trust no one until verified. In today’s passage, Israel will trust without full verification, even though they thought they had it. Why? Because they didn’t ask the Lord.

Be sure to ask the Lord about stuff. Great lessons such as this are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again, and… May God speak to us through His word today, and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Perhaps You Dwell Among Us (verses 1-8)

And it came to pass when all the kings who were on this side of the Jordan,

Though obvious, the reference as to which side of the Jordan it is speaking of must be inferred: vayhi kishmoa kal ham’lakhim asher b’ever ha’yarden – “And it came to pass according to hearing all the kings who in side the Jordan.” It simply says, “in side the Jordan.” From there, one must know that it is speaking of Canaan proper.

The word got out very quickly that first Jericho and now Ai had been destroyed. Because of this, it is understood that a slow and methodical chipping away at the cities of the land is starting to take place. Unless something is done about this, each city stood on its own, and as such, could not stand. This included those kings…

1 (con’t) in the hills and in the lowland and in all the coasts of the Great Sea toward Lebanon

All of the locations are stated in the singular: in the hill-country, in the lowland, and in all the coastland of the Sea, the Great, toward against the Lebanon. The three areas mentioned would be the hill-country, meaning the mountains of Ephraim and Judah, but probably not the mountains of the northeastern area. Those will be dealt with later in Joshua.

Next is the sh’felah or lowland which is the plain area to the west of Jerusalem. It is also known as the Judean foothills. It comprises an area somewhat between Joppa and Gaza. The khoph, or coastland, probably would be the area in the north from Joppa to Tyre due to the words “toward against the Lebanon.” Of these locations, the people groups are…

1 (con’t) —the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite—heard about it,

It is correct. Each is identified in the singular. Thus, each is set in opposition to the nation of Israel. Hence, taken together, they are six nations against one. Hittite means Terror, Terrible, Fearsome. Amorite means Talkers (active) or Renown (passive). Canaanite means Humiliated, or Humbled, or even Subdued. Perizzite means A Breach or Irruption. Hivite means Villagers, or more specifically Tent Villagers. Jebusite means Treading Down (active) or Trodden Underfoot (passive). It is when these groups heard…

that they gathered together to fight with Joshua and Israel with one accord.

va’yitqabtsu yakhdav l’hilakhem im Yehoshua v’im Yisrael pe ekhad – “And gathered together to battle with Joshua and with Israel – mouth one.” The expression “one mouth” means that instead of placing the interests of their individual clan above the others, they united as if one person, speaking with one thought and expressing it with one voice. John Gill presents the thought well –

“…were unanimous in their councils and resolutions; they all confederated together, and agreed as one man to make a common cause of it, and oppose Israel with their united forces.” John Gill

However, in contrast to these people groups, there is a portion of them that understands the gravity of the situation. Despite the magnificent force that could be mustered, if God was not on their side, they could not prevail. And because of their understanding about what the Lord had done to Egypt, including the crossing of the Red Sea, as well as the parting of the Jordan, it was clearly evident that He was with Israel. Therefore, it next says…

But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai,

v’yosheve giv’on shameu eth asher asah Yehoshua lirikho v’la’ay – “And dwellers Gibeon heard what had done Joshua to Jericho and to the Ai.” The name Gibeon, or Giv’on, comes from gavia, meaning a cup or a bowl. When upside down, it looks like a hill. As such, it means Hill Town or Hilly.

These are of the Hivite people group. Their city will eventually be granted to the tribe of Benjamin (Joshua 18:25), and it will become a Levitical city within Benjamin (Joshua 21:17). At this point, they have heard of the destruction that was brought against both Jericho and Ai, and they knew they would not be long for this world if they didn’t act. Therefore…

they worked craftily,

va’yaasu gam hemah b’ar’mah – “And did also in cunning.” Here, the word gam, or also, is referring to Joshua of the previous verse where the same word, asah or “to do,” is used –

Asher asah [had done] Yehoshua
Va’yaasu [did] gam hemah

Joshua did this, and so they did that. And the “that” they have done is to act in a cunning or crafty way. That craftiness led them to…

4 (con’t) and went and pretended to be ambassadors.

The words “pretended to be” are not correct. Being ambassadors is exactly what they are: va’yel’khu va’yitstayaru – “and went as ambassadors.” It is a word found only here in the Bible, tsayar. It signifies acting as an envoy, coming from tsiyr, an envoy.

These men were, in fact, sent out as envoys. Hence, the craftiness is not in who they are but in what they will do. If your Bible reads differently, such as, “and they took along provisions,” the change comes from substituting a single consonant in the Hebrew.

This is how the Greek and some other ancient translations make it. Thus, it would agree with the “moldy bread” that will be mentioned in verse 12. But that is dealt with in verse 5, so that seems less likely. Either way, as for the craftiness itself, that begins to be explained with the next words…

4 (con’t) And they took old sacks on their donkeys,

va’yiqhu saqim balim la’khamorehem – “And took sacks worn out to their donkeys.” Here is a new word, baleh, or worn out. It will be seen four times in verses 9:4 and 9:5 and then only one more time in Ezekiel 23:43. At this point, we have no idea what the old sacks are for. But they are placed on the donkeys.

The word khamor, or donkey, comes from khamar, meaning to ferment or boil. The idea is that as a pot boils, it glows from redness. Therefore, the donkey gets its name from its red dun color. Next, it mentions…

4 (con’t) old wineskins torn and mended,

v’nodoth yayin balim um’buqaim um’tsorarim – “and skins wine old, and burst, and bound up.” The word nod, or wineskin, is used here for the first of six times. It is a bag made of skin and used for fluids. In this case, it is for fermented wine.

It does not say the place where the skins burst is sewn. Rather, they are just bound up. The surest way to repair such a skin would be to put a patch on it and sew it. Instead, this gives the sense of them grabbing the skin to close the hole and then winding a string around it to tie it off as people would do on a journey.

It still isn’t known what the items are used for, but it is getting intriguing as the narrative continues. One can see that whatever is coming, it is a deception given in contrast to Israel’s warfare against Ai. Israel had set out a diversionary attack against the city which was then overtaken by the main force.

Now, we are seeing the inhabitants of Gibeon using their own trickery in order to overtake Israel in some unusual way. As such it explains the contrasting expression which began the verse, “And did also in cunning.” Israel was cunning against Ai, and now Gibeon is being cunning against Israel. This crafty plan continues with…

old and patched sandals on their feet,

un’aloth baloth um’tulaoth b’raglehem – “And shoes old and spotted in their feet.” The word tala is elsewhere translated as “spotted.” As such, the idea is that they had shoes that needed patches, and the patches made them look mottled, or it could be that they were worn through or stained and thus they looked spotted. The word translated as “shoe” can mean sandal, but one patches a shoe while one mends a sandal. Also…

5 (con’t) and old garments on themselves;

u-s’lamoth baloth alehem – “and garments old upon them.” We still haven’t been told what is coming, but it’s starting to sound like a hobo convention in a Roger Miller song. Also…

5 (con’t) and all the bread of their provision was dry and moldy.

v’kol lekhem tsedam yavesh hayah niqudim – “and all bread provision dry had become speckled.” Here is another new word, niqud. It comes from an unused word meaning to mark by puncturing or branding. And so this means it is either 1) crumbly, thus falling apart and making speckles, 2) pierced by vermin that ate holes in it, or 3) moldy because it has spots.

The only other time it is used outside of this chapter is in 1 Kings 14:3 where it cannot mean moldy. Rather, there it speaks of a type of bread probably for dipping, as in honey. Hence, pierced or crumbly bread is surely what is meant here.

And they went to Joshua, to the camp at Gilgal, and said to him and to the men of Israel,

The translation is close enough to get the full sense. These Gibeonites have left with all of their old stuff and traveled a short distance from their city to the Gilgal by the Jordan. It is a distance that can be traveled in a single night as is seen in Joshua 10:9.

6 (con’t) “We have come from a far country;

me’erets r’khoqah banu – “From land far we have come.” This isn’t just a lie, but a blatant one. The word far can mean a lot of things, maybe even if they were from the border by Lebanon, but it cannot mean a distance of what is reckoned as 15 to 20 miles.

That might be a long walk for someone whose donkey is broken down on the side of the road, but not for a group of ambassadors who are coming to meet with another group of people about an important matter. The craftiness of the preparations has not yet been explained, but their cunning is perfectly evident from the lie.

6 (con’t) now therefore, make a covenant with us.”

v’atah kirtu lanu berit – “and now cut to us covenant.” The meaning is that a sacrifice is made and those who make it invoke their God or gods, swearing allegiance to be faithful to the covenant that is made in connection with the cutting of the sacrifice.

It was, at times, accompanied by dividing the sacrificed animals in half and those who agreed to the stipulations would pass through the pieces. In this, it was a way of stating that the same end should come upon those who violate the covenant as that of the animal. In other words, it is an irrevocable matter.

Such a covenant can be fulfilled, but it cannot be arbitrarily revoked. Hence, when Jesus spoke of the Law of Moses, He said –

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” Matthew 5:17, 18

In the case of Israel, even to this day, it is an indication that they are still bound to the terms of the Mosaic covenant until they accept the terms of the New Covenant. As for the meeting between Israel and the Gibeonites…

Then the men of Israel said to the Hivites,

The Hebrew spoken form (sg.) is different from the written (pl.) to avoid a confusion in what is conveyed, but the subject and the object are singular. The written form is: va’yomeru ish Yisrael el ha’khivi – “And said (pl.) man (sg.) Israel unto the Hivite (sg.).”

Though confusing, it is essentially all of the men speaking with one voice. To make it a bit more understandable, it could be rendered, “And they said, the man of Israel, unto the Hivite.” This would take us in thought back to verse 1 where all of the people groups spoke with one mouth. The same is being conveyed here.

There is a united voice that is being portrayed as the words of a single man (Israel) and it is conveying words to a single entity, the Hivite. As noted, the name Hivite means Tent Villager, but it is identical to khavah or “Life,” the name of Adam’s wife (Eve).

Abarim notes that the verb form khavah “means to lay out in order to live collectively, and describes investing one’s personal sovereignty into a living collective like a symbiont. It’s mostly translated as to prostrate, which is to submit oneself wholly and bodily to a collective or to the leader of that collective.” That is, surprisingly, what they are now doing. The response to them by Israel is…

7 (con’t) “Perhaps you dwell among us; so how can we make a covenant with you?”

ulay b’qirbi atah yoshev v’ek ekhroth l’kha berith – “Perhaps in my (sg.) midst you (sg.) dwell, and how I (sg.) make to you (sg.) covenant?” The entire point of what is being conveyed is that Israel has already made claim on the land of Canaan – “my midst.”

As this is so, the question is obvious – “How can I, Israel, make a covenant with you (people group) if you live in my midst?” Added to that would be the implied thought, “Because you do not belong here any longer!”

Of these confusing words, and specifically the term “in my midst,” Keil says, “which is to be explained on the ground that only one of the Israelites (viz., Joshua) was speaking as the mouthpiece of all the rest. The plural ויּאמרוּ [va’yomeru – “and they said”] is used, because Joshua spoke in the name of the people.”

I would argue it is exactly the opposite. The people are speaking as a single entity in the previous clause (“Then said (pl.) the men of Israel … perhaps in my (sg.) midst you dwell”) rather than Joshua being referred to in the plural.

Israel is saying that anyone in the land does not belong there any longer because Israel, the single entity comprised of many, has moved in. Obviously, such could not be the case and so Israel could never agree to such a thing. Hence, the Gibeonites continue…

But they said to Joshua, “We are your servants.”

The translation is now correct. It is plural, and they are addressing the leader of Israel alone. But more, it completely blows off the people’s questions as if they were never asked. Instead, they masterfully speak in the customary way found elsewhere in Scripture to indicate courteous fellowship with a hint of subordination – “We are your servants.”

They have come to make a covenant, and thus, they are – at this time – subordinating themselves to Joshua in order to secure it, showing that they are willing to accept reasonable terms. Despite this, Joshua remains unsatisfied…

8 (con’t) And Joshua said to them,

Again, it is correct. Joshua alone speaks now to them all. The people have spoken, they have conveyed the fact that they are united and that the land belongs to Israel. Joshua now prods further to determine their people group and their land with direct questions…

8 (con’t) “Who are you, and where do you come from?”

The verb is imperfect: mi atem u-me’ayin tabou – “who you and from where you coming.” They represent a people group. As such, for them to come means that the people group is coming and will continue to come.

In other words, if a group of emissaries was to go from Israel to Iran today, they would be representing Israel. If they form an alliance by cutting a covenant, then it would be that from then on, Israel could come to Iran and Iran would come to Israel. The new bond would be formed.

With that understood, the Gibeonites will now speak out their answers to his questions, and as Adam Clarke says, they will “do it very artfully by a mixture of truth, falsehood, and hypocrisy.”

For sure we are telling the truth
We wouldn’t deceive you and that’s no lie
We are honest Injun, even since our youth
And we shall be that way till the day we die

Here is the proof that we are honest men
These things will validate our story is true
If we have to, we will repeat it again and again
We would never do anything to deceive you

Trust in us, we are faithful to our word
We are the straightest of shooters, that is for sure
You can trust every word you have heard
We are honest, upright, clean, and pure

II. Make a Covenant with Us (verses 9-18)

So they said to him: “From a very far country your servants have come,

In full crafty mode, they completely ignore the first question which would ruin any chance of an agreement. Instead, they launch directly into answering the second question while using a perfect verb: me’erets rekhoqah meod bau avdekha – “from land far very have come your servants.”

The “your servants” is singular. They are emissaries who have arrived to make an alliance with Joshua on behalf of their people. The perfect verb in essence means, they are not “coming;” they “have come.” They are here to make a covenant, and to them, it is a done deal in regard to their submission to it. Hence, they subordinate themselves to him. And this is…

9 (con’t) because of the name of the Lord your God;

l’shem Yehovah elohekha – “to name Yehovah your God.” The meaning of “to” equates to “for.” They acknowledge that Yehovah, Joshua’s God (because Joshua stands as representative of all Israel), is the reason for their coming. And more…

9 (con’t) for we have heard of His fame, and all that He did in Egypt,

The same word, translated as “His fame,” is used of the Lord now which was used in verse 6:27 when referring to Joshua. It signifies a report and thus fame. They have heard the report of the Lord based on all that He had done in Egypt. But more…

10 and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan—

It is singular: ha’emori – “the Amorite.” They speak of the two kings as one people implicitly in opposition to Israel, the people under the Lord. They then continue by stating their specific knowledge of these two kings.

As such, it implies that they were great kings to have been renowned even in a land “very far” away. Therefore, it conveys the idea of the greatness of the Lord on behalf of Israel concerning what He did…

10 (con’t) to Sihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who was at Ashtaroth.

The battle against these two foes was recorded in Numbers 21. The name Ashtaroth, however, has only been seen in Deuteronomy 1. It is believed to signify Union of Instructions, and thus One Law. The emissaries openly speak about these as obviously great victories. Thus the report, or fame, of the Lord had come to their knowledge because of these.

What is notable is that this is where they stop their words on this line of thought. They prudently mention nothing about the crossing of the Jordan or of the battles of Jericho and Ai.

This would give the sense that these recent deeds had not yet reached their ears. And yet, ironically, they might possibly have even heard the sounds of battle and smelled the smoke of the burning if the wind was in the right direction.

With that large gap in their supposed understanding of recent events, they then bolster this as they continue speaking…

11 Therefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying,

All the pronouns in the verse are plural. The superlative nature of the statement is given to add icing to the cake they have already baked up. They note the elders but mention no king. Thus, they are a people that is small and without power, or they are a people that would not have a threatening system of power under a single ruler.

As such, mentioning the elders would be expected, but they add in, “all the inhabitants of our country.” Their unity of thought is the great, mutually agreed upon idea in this non-threatening country.

It is as if the nation was stirred up with the success of the Lord working on Israel’s behalf, and so they came flooding forward agreeing that something needed to be done. And so…

11 (con’t) ‘Take provisions with you for the journey,

The word “provision” is singular: qehu b’yedkhem tsedah la’derek – “take in your hands provision to the way.” Everything they loaded up is taken as a single provision. The reason for this is that it was all comprised of things that were supposedly suitable for sustaining them as a single group as they departed. “You have a load of provision. Everything you need is provided, head out…”

11 (con’t) and go to meet them, and say to them, “We are your servants;

The plural of the pronouns continues. The whole nation of people told them to go, and they are to meet the whole nation of people in Israel. “You are great! We are your servants.” The appeal is from people group to people group, one subordinating themselves to the other. And so…

11 (con’t) now therefore, make a covenant with us.”’

v’atah kirtu lanu berit – “and now cut (you all) with us covenant.” They are a friendly people that agree among one another, they don’t have a king over them, and they are awed by the fame of the Lord over Israel. They have subordinated themselves to the people they desire to covenant with. There are no negatives to raise doubts as to what should be done.

And, certainly, their story must be true. The evidence of it is right in front of them…

12 This bread of ours we took hot for our provision from our houses on the day we departed to come to you.

The translation is close enough. They pull out their old bread that was either crumbled or insect eaten and show it to them, claiming that it was hot the day they left. The word kham, or hot, is introduced here. It will only be seen again in Job 37:17. It signifies warm or hot, just as one would expect with bread that is freshly made and handed to the travelers…

12 (con’t) But now look, it is dry and moldy.

v’atah hineh yabesh v’hayah niqudim – “And now, behold! Dry and become crumbled (or insect eaten).” It is a nice touch if you think about it. Like in a Columbo movie, there is always some small thing that the bad guy overlooks. Well, in this case, it sure isn’t the bread.

One can see them having gone out behind the local baker’s place and picking up pieces of bread that had been gnawed on by rats or that had been stepped on by the feet of passersby. It was a totally convincing argument because bread is what sustains. Who would travel without food that was satisfactory for a trip? And more…

13 And these wineskins which we filled were new, and see, they are torn;

This is not an improbable thing. Wineskins that are filled have weight. When they rub long enough, they will split. If they are pulled out at a stop and the people drink, they may get put down on a rock that will puncture them.

If the travelers do a bit of extra drinking after a long day, they are bound to be handled even a bit more roughly. A bit more drinking and… you get the point. Hence, after a while, they would bear the marks of their overuse. However, it still takes a lot to wear through skins, and so a long journey easily explains the matter. Columbo hasn’t found a clue yet…

13 (con’t) and these our garments and our sandals have become old because of the very long journey.”

The words should more appropriately read “from the exceeding greatness of the way” (YLT). It refers to the route itself and the distance that was traversed.

Again, this is what one would expect, especially in the dry, rocky area of the Mideast. A donkey would get tired if ridden too long, and so there would be plenty of walking next to it. If it was heavily loaded for a long journey, walking would be all that occurred. Everything is satisfactorily straight in this regard.

And more, everything here is given in complete contrast to Israel since they had left Egypt –

“And I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn out on your feet. You have not eaten bread, nor have you drunk wine or similar drink, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 29:5, 6

Israel would have heard their words, considered their own situation in light of that, and concluded that the Lord’s miraculous provision for them was in complete contrast to these people now coming to seek the fame of the Lord. Everything passed the Columbo test in their eyes, thus far…

14 Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions;

It’s obvious that the NKJV translator of this passage simply copied someone else. The words “of Israel” are not in the text and yet they are not italicized: va’yiqhu ha’anashim mitsedam – “And took the men from their provision.” Maybe the translator was too busy sampling the “provision” himself.

Despite that, it is debated whether “the men” are the emissaries who simply take out their provisions to show Israel (which has already been noted above), or if it is Israel who took of them, meaning tried them. The answer is obvious based on the next clause. The men of Israel took and sampled.

The verse reveals a careful attention to detail by Israel. They tried whatever was packed to see if it was fresh or not, and what they tried obviously passed the smell test. That is the last note of their inquiry into the matter…

14 (con’t) but they did not ask counsel of the Lord.

v’eth pi Yehovah lo shaalu – “And mouth Yehovah no they did ask.” This shows that the previous clause was referring to those of Israel. It also obviously shows a great failing on behalf of the people. But the text is careful to remove Joshua from the overall responsibility for the matter by leaving out his name.

It is an indication that there is typology being conveyed for us to consider. Israel did not do the one thing that is most important of all in this matter.

And yet, we have to consider it from both directions. Not only did Israel not seek the counsel of the Lord, but the Lord did not speak to Joshua as He has already done at least a dozen times so far in the book.

This pretty certainly tells us that the Lord was willing to allow them to make their own mistakes, but they are mistakes that are 1) not going to lead to a permanent disability in the plan of redemption, 2) will (hopefully) teach Israel a lesson, 3) will actually have some benefit in the redemptive narrative, and 4) will typologically show us something concerning the future.

Some find this an actual violation of the Mosaic law –

“And the Lord said to Moses: ‘Take Joshua the son of Nun with you, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; 19 set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and inaugurate him in their sight. 20 And you shall give some of your authority to him, that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. 21 He shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire before the Lord for him by the judgment of the Urim. At his word they shall go out, and at his word they shall come in, he and all the children of Israel with him—all the congregation.” Numbers 27:18-21

There is nothing to say that Joshua was required to go before the Lord in all instances. It simply notes that this was something that was available for him to do. And there are already recorded times where the Lord clearly speaks directly to Joshua. Hence, this cannot be considered a violation of the law.

15 So Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them to let them live;

Joshua is the one highlighted here. “So made (sg.) with them, Joshua, peace and cut (sg.) to them covenant to live – them.” It isn’t just that Israel wouldn’t kill them, but that they are covenanted to preserve them as when nations are attacked by other nations. This is an important point that is not long in being brought forth. They made the appropriate sacrifices, and the covenant is cut…

15 (con’t) and the rulers of the congregation swore to them.

Not only did Joshua make peace with them and cut a covenant with them, but it is acknowledged by the rulers in an oath as well. With this now done, it cannot be undone. And yet…

16 And it happened at the end of three days, after they had made a covenant with them, that they heard that they were their neighbors who dwelt near them.

Rather than “made a covenant,” it more precisely reads, “cut a covenant.” Other than that, the translation is fine. Nothing is said about how Israel found this out. It could be as simple as the men getting back on their donkeys, going back to Gibeon and telling them the news, and then Gibeon sending the men, or others, back to Israel to tell them the truth.

Whatever the situation was, it was enough to cause Israel to respond with a display of their displeasure…

17 Then the children of Israel journeyed and came to their cities on the third day.

In using the term, “the children of Israel,” it appears that the entire army went out, just in case there was any trouble to arise. Hence, it took till the third day to reach them. With that noted, it next says…

17 (con’t) Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kirjath Jearim.

This shows that it was no small number of people involved in the treaty. For reference, Gibeon means Hill Town or Hilly. Chephirah means Village. Beeroth means Wells. Kirjath Jearim means City of Forests or City of Honeycombs.

The first three cities will eventually be allotted to the land grant of Benjamin. The last will be allotted to Judah. It explains why there will be trouble with something that Saul will do in the future which will cause great distress for Israel. Saul will kill many of the Gibeonites, thus breaking this treaty.

Despite showing up in force, the text notes how Israel’s hands are tied in the next words…

18 But the children of Israel did not attack them,

v’lo hikkum bene Yisrael – “And no did strike them sons Israel.” There is a never-ending supply of speculation as to why they did not strike them, as if the entire text has no meaning and people need to try to discover some unintelligible reason.

But the answer has already been given, and it will be given again in the next clause. A covenant was cut, an oath was made, and that is the end of it. There is no need to speculate beyond that. As it next clearly says…

18 (con’t) because the rulers of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord God of Israel.

ki nishbeu lahem n’sie ha’edah b’Yehovah elohe Yisrael – “for had sworn to them rulers the congregation in Yehovah God Israel.” As just noted, a covenant was cut, and the elders of Israel had sworn an oath. This was in the name of the Lord, and it was absolutely binding. Despite this…

*18 (fin) And all the congregation complained against the rulers.

The word lun signifies to lodge, as in staying overnight. However, it also means to complain or murmur. It is possible that our term “to lodge a complaint” is derived from this thought. For now, one can see that Israel is upset at what has transpired.

They see four cities that would increase their own wealth through plundering, and they care less about their agreement than they do about enriching themselves. But the agreement has been made, so all they can do is moan about it against the rulers.

Unfortunately, it is time to end the verses for the day. We’ll have to finish things up next Sunday. A few simple lessons to learn from the account are obvious. Even though there is nothing prescriptive in here for us today, it is always wise to consult the Lord before making any type of binding agreement.

Our means of consulting the Lord is two-fold. One is to read, know, contemplate, meditate on, and apply the word. If we do this, then we will not do what is contrary to the word. That is obvious. The second is to not neglect what Israel neglected, which is to speak to the Lord.

Not everything we do or want to do is laid out in Scripture. As such, we have decisions that must be made that are up to us. But it is the imprudent soul who will fail to talk to the Lord about the important things, and – indeed – even the minor things that we encounter in our daily lives.

When we tell him what our plans are, we should then ask Him to favor the decision if it is in His will, and to keep them from coming about if it is not. We can then assume that even if catastrophe results from our decision, that the Lord determined that it was the right thing to happen.

The other thing we can learn from today’s passage is that not everything people present to us is as it appears. Even those who seem convincingly honest often have an ulterior motive. Hence, I would ask you to consider who you believe and why you do so.

Have you checked out the facts to the fullest extent possible? There is always a Jonas Nightengale ready to pull the wool over your eyes. So watch out concerning what you accept.

Closing Verse: “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.” Ephesians 4:13, 14

Next Week: Joshua 9:19-27 Being slaves is what they deserveants, yes it is true… (We Are Your Servants, Part II) (19th Joshua Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. It is He who has defeated the enemy and who now offers His people rest. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

We Are Your Servants, Part I

And it came to pass when all the kings
Who were on this side of the Jordan, as the line is drawn
In the hills and in the lowland
And in all the coasts of the Great Sea toward Lebanon

The Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite
The Hivite, and the Jebusite heard about it – yes, that word
That they gathered together to fight
With Joshua and Israel with one accord

But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard
What Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai
They worked craftily
And went and pretended to be ambassadors – gee, I wonder why

And they took old sacks on their donkeys
Old wineskins torn and mended
Old and patched sandals on their feet
And old garments on themselves, but the story isn’t ended

And all the bread of their provision
Was dry and moldy. Being sneaky was their decision

And they went to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal
And said to him and to the men of Israel
“We have come from a far country
Now therefore, make a covenant with us so that things go well

Then the men of Israel said to the Hivites
“Perhaps you dwell among us
So how can we make a covenant with you?”
That would be a big minus and not a plus

But they said to Joshua
“We are your servants. Come, come!”
And Joshua said to them
“Who are you, and where do you come from?”

So they said to him: “From a very far country
———-your servants have come
We walked and walked but happily no one tripped
Because of the name of the LORD your God
For we have heard of His fame, and all that He did in Egypt

And all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites
Who were beyond the Jordan. Yes, we heard that note
To Sihon king of Heshbon
And Og king of Bashan, who was at Ashtaroth

Therefore, our elders and all the inhabitants of our country
Spoke to us, saying, (and making a bit of a fuss)
‘Take provisions with you for the journey, and go to meet them and say
“We are your servants; now therefore, make a covenant with us”’

This bread of ours we took hot
For our provision from our houses on the day
We departed to come to you
But now look, it is dry and moldy. See how it has gotten that way!

And these wineskins which we filled were new
And look, they are torn – see the proof! No need for an attorney
And these our garments and our sandals have become old
Because of the very long journey

Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions
———-according to their word
But they did not ask counsel of the LORD

So Joshua made peace with them
And made a covenant with them to let them live
And the rulers of the congregation swore to them
Their vow to them they did give

And it happened at the end of three days
After they had made a covenant with them
That they heard that they were their neighbors
Who dwelt near them, those rascally men

Then the children of Israel journeyed
And came to their cities on the third day
Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth
———-and Kirjath Jearim
To them, they had strong words to say

But the children of Israel did not attack them
Because the rulers of the congregation
Had sworn to them by the LORD God of Israel
And all the congregation complained against the rulers
———-of the nation

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And it came to pass when all the kings who were on this side of the Jordan, in the hills and in the lowland and in all the coasts of the Great Sea toward Lebanon—the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite—heard about it, that they gathered together to fight with Joshua and Israel with one accord.

But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they worked craftily, and went and pretended to be ambassadors. And they took old sacks on their donkeys, old wineskins torn and mended, old and patched sandals on their feet, and old garments on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and moldy. And they went to Joshua, to the camp at Gilgal, and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us.”

Then the men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you dwell among us; so how can we make a covenant with you?”

But they said to Joshua, “We are your servants.”

And Joshua said to them, “Who are you, and where do you come from?”

So they said to him: “From a very far country your servants have come, because of the name of the Lord your God; for we have heard of His fame, and all that He did in Egypt, 10 and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan—to Sihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who was at Ashtaroth. 11 Therefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, ‘Take provisions with you for the journey, and go to meet them, and say to them, “We are your servants; now therefore, make a covenant with us.”’ 12 This bread of ours we took hot for our provision from our houses on the day we departed to come to you. But now look, it is dry and moldy. 13 And these wineskins which we filled were new, and see, they are torn; and these our garments and our sandals have become old because of the very long journey.”

14 Then the men of Israel took some of their provisions; but they did not ask counsel of the Lord. 15 So Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them to let them live; and the rulers of the congregation swore to them.

16 And it happened at the end of three days, after they had made a covenant with them, that they heard that they were their neighbors who dwelt near them. 17 Then the children of Israel journeyed and came to their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kirjath Jearim. 18 But the children of Israel did not attack them, because the rulers of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord God of Israel. And all the congregation complained against the rulers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joshua 8:30-35 (All that Moses Had Commanded)

Artwork by Douglas Kallerson

Joshua 8:30-35
All that Moses Had Commanded

Joshua 8 ends with a seemingly unrelated set of verses to what has been presented in the first 29 verses. But in understanding all that has happened in the past chapters of Joshua, it is not only related, but it is a beautiful finishing to what has been so methodically presented.

Salvation is something that happens all at once. We believe the gospel and we are saved. We die to law at that moment. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit. We enter into God’s rest. We are seated in the heavenlies with Christ. We are imputed God’s righteousness. And so on. A lengthy list of things happens in a believer’s life the moment he is saved.

Innumerable books and sermons have been written on each of these individual topics. In the final Deuteronomy sermon and in these early Joshua sermons, the Lord has been taking us through a snapshot of various events that will occur in the life of national Israel someday.

Some of those things overlap with individual salvation. And one picture (in chapter 4) explicitly showed that there would be another government formed during the time that Israel is not right with God because of their rejection of Christ.

It is amazing to see how all of this has been presented, and today’s passage will complete the picture of salvation that has been so carefully presented. In their comments on verse 33, the Jamison-Faucet-Brown commentary said –

“they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings—This had been done when the covenant was established (Ex 24:5); and by the observance of these rites (De 27:6), the covenant was solemnly renewed—the people were reconciled to God by the burnt offering, and this feast accompanying the peace or thank offering, a happy communion with God was enjoyed by all the families in Israel.” JFB

In not grasping the symbolism and the anticipation of Christ, they only saw a literal rendering of the verses. But this is not anticipating a renewed covenant at all. Everything has been anticipating the fulfillment of Moses and the introduction of the New Covenant. That will be clearly seen today.

Text Verse: “In that He says, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” Hebrews 8:13

The Mosaic covenant is still in effect for Israel. Someday, it will be done forever in them when they come to Christ. May that day be soon. The covenant was not even renewed at the time of Joshua. It was in effect during all of the wilderness wanderings. This is why they wandered in the wilderness.

And it is why since Christ’s coming Israel has been under the curse of the law. There will be no “renewing” of the covenant for them. There will only be a setting aside of that which is annulled in Christ. For today’s sermon, it is right that we reread Deuteronomy 27. In doing so, it will help us see a little more clearly what is going on in Joshua. (Read Deuteronomy 27).

With that noted, let’s get going. Great, great things are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today, and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. That They Should Bless the People of Israel (verses 30-35)

Chapter 8 has been concerned with the fall of Ai. The details were meticulous even if difficult at times to understand exactly what was being conveyed. But after the fall of Ai, instead of recording more conquests or other affairs dealing with the settling of the nation, it immediately goes to this account.

It is something that was explicitly referred to by Moses in Deuteronomy 11 –

“Now it shall be, when the Lord your God has brought you into the land which you go to possess, that you shall put the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. 30 Are they not on the other side of the Jordan, toward the setting sun, in the land of the Canaanites who dwell in the plain opposite Gilgal, beside the terebinth trees of Moreh? 31 For you will cross over the Jordan and go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and you will possess it and dwell in it. 32 And you shall be careful to observe all the statutes and judgments which I set before you today.” Deuteronomy 11:29-32

This was also seen in Deuteronomy 27:1-8 which was read a moment ago. From there, Chapter 27 went into more detail about what was to be done at the time of the building of the altar. The words now in Joshua are given to show compliance to the command. Therefore…

30 Now Joshua built an altar

az yivneh Yehoshua mizbeakh – “Then built Joshua altar.” The word az is a demonstrative adverb that generally signifies “at that time” or “thereupon.” It can refer to a point in the future when a prophecy or a statement of fact is given, such as “At that time, the Lord will do such and such.”

At first, it appears the word is being used to indicate that as soon as the city of Ai was destroyed this was the next order of business for Israel. However, this does not logically follow. First, the next word, yivneh, is an imperfect verb and thus carries the sense of ongoing or even the future. The same form is used in 2 Samuel 7, saying –

“He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” 2 Samuel 7:13

This is especially so when considering the details of Chapter 9. The opening statement itself calls the timeline into question –

“And it came to pass when all the kings who were on this side of the Jordan, in the hills and in the lowland and in all the coasts of the Great Sea toward Lebanon—the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite—heard about it, that they gathered together to fight with Joshua and Israel with one accord.” Joshua 9:1, 2

Although not known until it was discovered in 1980, the altar to be built is rather massive and was thus both time-consuming to erect and took many people to construct.

The ceremony to be conducted by the people will be loud. Its surrounding location was certainly occupied by people, and it is quite some distance north and west of Ai in the middle of Canaan. As such, they would have to go through lots of land (about 20-30 miles) in order to go there and erect it.

Also, the ceremony to be conducted includes the entire congregation, including women and children. It would seem unlikely, at best, that at this time Israel would bring all of these people into the midst of the nations who desired to destroy them. And more, Joshua 9:6 returns the narrative with the entire camp to Gilgal where they have been since crossing the Jordan. Noting Israel remaining in Gilgal will continue after Chapter 9.

Understanding this, and noting that Israel has already been through battles in the land, we can see that the words of Deuteronomy 27:2, “on the day when you cross over the Jordan,” do not mean literally “on the day.”

Rather, it said, “in the day,” not “on the day.” It was referring to the timeframe, not a specific day. And more, it would have to be at a time when the command could actually be carried out. It would be unreasonable to think that Israel just marched through the breadth of the land and built this altar with all their enemies just watching from a distance.

As this is so, it can be assumed that the words now, “Then built Joshua altar,” are not necessarily chronological but are categorical and expressive. Everything up to this point in Joshua has been centered on national Israel’s salvation and it also has detailed the process of salvation as it is centered on Jesus.

Now that process has been expressed and this account is given. Historically, it is given to demonstrate the fulfillment of the command, regardless as to when it actually occurred.

The narrative is highlighting the fulfillment early in the record to show this. But more importantly, it is to close out the typology that has been so carefully revealed in the opening chapters. As for the altar, it is built…

30 (con’t) to the Lord God of Israel

l’Yehovah elohe Yisrael – “to Yehovah, God Israel.” This is just what Deuteronomy 27:5 said, “And there you shall build an altar to the LORD your God.” They are His people, Israel, and He is their God. The altar is built to Him…

30 (con’t) in Mount Ebal,

It is exactingly translated: b’har eval – “in Mount Ebal.” As noted when in Deuteronomy, the name Ebal comes from an unused root meaning to be bald. Probably signifying the bald appearance of the mountain. Thus, it means something like Bare or Heap of Barrenness. The building of the altar, and the location where it is built, as well as the means by which it is built, are just…

31 as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the children of Israel,

ka’asher tsivah Mosheh eved Yehovah eth bene Yisrael – “according to which commanded Moses, servant Yehovah, sons Israel.” This specifically is a reference to the book of Deuteronomy cited above. Moses commanded this to be done, and the fulfillment of the command is now being referred to in Joshua’s accomplishment of the matter. It was…

31 (con’t) as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses:

ka’katuv b’sepher torath Mosheh – “according to written in Torah (the Law) Moses.” The specificity of the words is to show that not only was the matter accomplished, but that it was accomplished exactly as the law itself had demanded. Not a jot or tittle of what was spoken forth by Moses was allowed to fall to the ground. A portion of that law included…

31 (con’t) “an altar of whole stones over which no man has wielded an iron tool.

mizbakh avanim sh’lemot asher lo heniph alehen barzel – “altar stones whole which no moved upon them iron.” That was stated, without the reason for it, in Deuteronomy 27:5 –

“And there you shall build an altar to the Lord your God, an altar of stones; you shall not use an iron tool on them.”

The reason for Moses’ instruction goes back to the first command after the giving of the Ten Commandments. In Exodus 20, it said –

“And if you make Me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stone; for if you use your tool on it, you have profaned it.” Exodus 20:25

Just as the Lord had commanded Moses, and just as Moses had commanded the people, so Joshua complied with the command…

31 (con’t) And they offered on it burnt offerings to the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings.

va’yaalu alav olot l’Yehovah va’yizbekhu shelamim – “And they ascended burnt offerings to Yehovah and sacrificed peace offerings.” Burnt offerings are animals completely burnt on an altar to the Lord. The peace offerings were shared between the Lord and the offeror. The peace offering is one of only two offerings made to the Lord where leavened bread was offered (Leviticus 7:13).

32 And there, in the presence of the children of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written.

The clauses are out of order in the translation. It literally reads: “And wrote (sg.) there upon the stone second Torah Moses which had written (sg.) to face (meaning in the presence of) sons Israel.” In Deuteronomy 27:3, it said, “You (sg.) shall write on them all the words of this law.”

That was written to the people as a whole, and thus it meant “you, Israel.” Now, it is referring to Joshua as noted in verse 1. He represents Israel, and so whether he actually wrote it or not, it is he who is credited with having written it on behalf of Israel.

But what exactly was written out by Israel? In Deuteronomy 27, several options were noted by comentators, such as –

“i.e. all the purely legislative parts of the Mosaic institute.” Cambridge

“i. e. all the laws revealed from God to the people by Moses, regarded by the Jews as 613.” Barnes

“It might be, as some think, the Decalogue; but a greater probability is that it was ‘the blessings and curses,’ which comprised in fact an epitome of the law (Jos 8:34).” JFB

“Not the whole book of Deuteronomy, as some think, at least not the historical part of it, only what concerns the laws of God; and it may be only a summary or abstract of them, and perhaps only the ten commandments.” Gill

“I am fully of opinion that the (תורה torah) law or ordinance in question simply means the blessings and curses mentioned in this and in the following chapter; and indeed these contained a very good epitome of the whole law in all its promises and threatenings, in reference to the whole of its grand moral design.” Clarke

Added to that, Ellicott’s commentary in Joshua says, “Not certainly the whole five books of Moses, for what stones or time would have sufficed for this? but the most weighty parts of the law, and especially the law of the ten commandments.”

Ellicott assumes that the altar is not huge, but recent archeological finds show that it is actually massive. It also assumed the account is chronological, which I argue it is not. There were certainly sufficient stones, and there would have been plenty of time.

As for the word torah, or “Law,” It can be construed in various ways. The Ten Commandments are a short summary of the Law. The term “Book Law Moses was just used in the previous verse. However, “the Law,” is a phrase that includes all five books of Moses at times. This is perfectly evident from Paul’s words –

“Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman.” Galatians 4:21, 22

What Paul refers to is found in Genesis, and yet he calls it “the law.” I would personally favor the meaning to be “The five books of Moses,” but that does not mean this is correct. However, without understanding what is said in Genesis and Exodus, the rest of the law lacks cohesion.

In understanding how sin was introduced, the consequences of a world living in wickedness, the grace of God towards Noah, the call of Abraham, and so on, one can only then begin to understand what the law was intended to do, at least in the short term.

No matter what, it is said that Joshua writes the law upon the stones and that it was Moses who had first written them down.

33 Then all Israel, with their elders and officers and judges,

Here, Israel is referred to as the man from whom the people are identified: v’kal Yisrael u-z’qenav v’shoterim v’shophtav – “And all Israel, and his elders and scribes, and his judges.” It is the nation who is the man and who is comprised of the people that is being referred to here.

33 (con’t) stood on either side of the ark before the priests, the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord,

om’dim mizeh u-mizeh la’aron neged ha’kohanim ha’levim nos’e aron berith Yehovah – “standers from this and from this to the ark facing the priests the Levites bearing ark covenant Yehovah.” The meaning will be more fully expressed in a minute, but the ark of the covenant being borne by the priests is between the people on each side. This includes…

33 (con’t) the stranger as well as he who was born among them.

ka’ger ka’ezrakh – “According to the stranger; according to the native-born.” This doesn’t mean the two were separated as if the strangers were shoved off in a corner. Rather, it means that the two are equally represented before the Lord, whether stranger or native-born. Any who are present are deemed on the same level during this rite, and thus at all times hence. Also…

33 (con’t) Half of them were in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal,

Again, it refers to the man from whom the people find their origin: khetsyo el mul har g’rizim v’ha’khetsyo el mul har eval – “His half toward front Mount Gerizim and his half toward front Mount Ebal.” This is referring to the division of the tribes according to the word of Moses in Deuteronomy 27 –

“And Moses commanded the people on the same day, saying, 12 ‘These shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people, when you have crossed over the Jordan: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin; 13 and these shall stand on Mount Ebal to curse: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.’” Deuteronomy 27:11-13

33 (con’t) as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel.

It does not say, “that they should.” It simply reads: ka’asher tsivah Mosheh eved Yehovah l’barekh eth ha’am Yisrael ba’rishonah – “According to which commanded Moses, servant Yehovah to bless the people Israel in the first.” Moses commanded at first, and now that command is being brought to completion. However, there is a distinct difference in what was said by Moses in Deuteronomy 27 and what is said about the account now –

Deuteronomy: “These shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people…and these shall stand on Mount Ebal to curse.”

Joshua: to bless the people of Israel.

34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings,

It is singular: v’akhare ken qara eth kal divre ha’torah ha’berakha v’ha’q’lalah – “And after, thus, read (sg.) all words the Torah, the blessing and the cursing.” The law in its entirety, with all the blessing and cursing is on full display in what is being presented to the people. The singular indicates that Joshua did the reading. Even if others read, the credit for the action is assigned solely to him.

The rite would have been performed just as was recorded in Deuteronomy, but now it is considered as a blessing upon the people as just noted in the previous verse.

34 (con’t) according to all that is written in the Book of the Law.

The translation is close enough to get the full sense of what is written. Everything was conducted exactly in accord with what is written in the Book of the Torah. That is noted with the words…

35 There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel,

The Hebrew is a bit more precise than the translation: “No there was word from all which had commanded Moses which no read Joshua in front all assembly Israel.” Exactly as he was told to read, so he read.

As it was the Levites who were to call the blessings and the curses which were then responded to with “Amen” by the people, one must wonder what Joshua read. The answer seems to be what is recorded in Deuteronomy 31 –

“So Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel. 10 And Moses commanded them, saying: “At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 12 Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, 13 and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess.” Deuteronomy 31:9-13

If this is so, then it would be a certainty that the account now is not chronological. Rather, this account would be after the land was subdued and the Feast of Tabernacles was proclaimed. At the same time, the law would have been read by Joshua with all Israel in attendance. This certainly seems likely based on the final words of the chapter…

*35 (fin) with the women, the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them.

v’hanashim v’hataph v’ha’ger ha’holekh b’qirbam – “and the women and the little one, and the stranger – the goer in their midst.” In Deuteronomy 27, it does say, “all Israel,” but that often means less than “all Israel.” It can refer to a portion of the nation and the context explains the meaning.

However, in Deuteronomy 27, the only mention beyond that is in verse 14 which says, “And the Levites shall speak with a loud voice and say to all the men of Israel.” As such, there was no requirement explicitly stated for the women, little ones, and others noted there. But the requirement to hear the entire law read is explicit in Deuteronomy 31.

Therefore, to close out the verses, I would suggest that this account is not chronological, that the events occurred after the subduing of the land of Canaan recorded in Joshua 14:15, and that this altar was dedicated at the time of Tabernacles.

As such, the reason for the placement of the verses here now is twofold. First, it is to show obedience to the command early in Joshua, simply to have it recorded and out of the way. But second, it is to complete the typology that has been so carefully and meticulously detailed in the first chapters of the book. That will be seen next.

An altar of stone you shall make for Me
You shall make it according to My word
Large stones and plaster, so shall it be
Follow the instructions just as you have heard

Make it on the mountain of the curse
And set it up just as I have commanded you
Not a point I have stated shall you miss, that would be perverse
Everything I have said, you are certainly to do

The typology must be maintained carefully
So that what it anticipates will be clearly understood
Do just what you have been instructed by Me
And you will have done just as you should

II. Pictures of Christ

As we have seen, and to again understand what is going on in these Joshua sermons, we have been seeing the process of salvation in individual passages, but they all happen at once. *Moses, the law dies. Israel accepts Christ’s fulfillment of the law. *Israel enters the Jordan (Christ); Israel is baptized into Christ’s death (Chapter 3). *Israel, signified by the stones carried to Gilgal and which are then rested there, enters its rest (Chapter 4). *Two sets of stones are set up, signifying the heavenly government of Jews and Gentiles (Chapter 4). *Israel is circumcised; Israel has put off the body of sins of the flesh / The reproach of the past is taken away when believers are circumcised by the Lord (Chapter 5). *Believers partake of Christ as their Passover (Chapter 5). *The Lord is the Leader of the people, and they are brought into “holy ground.” (Chapter 5). *Access to that holy ground is brought about by acceptance of Christ’s work (Chapter 6). *Coming out of the state of anathema (kherem) is realized through the love of Jesus (1 Corinthians 16:22) and pursuing the true gospel of Jesus Christ seen in Galatians 1:8, 9 (Chapter 7). *Christ’s prevailing over the law is highlighted (Chapter 8). And now, Christ, the embodiment and fulfillment of the law is detailed here.

If you remember the sermons from Deuteronomy 27, everything about the construction of the altar anticipated Christ Jesus. The reason for building this altar without any iron tool is because the unhewn stone is something that God created.

If man were to shape the stone, then it would include man’s efforts in it. Thus, it would lead to either idolatry of the altar that man had made in order to fellowship with God, or it would lead to idolatry of self because man had erected the place where God and man fellowshipped.

Either way, that would indicate works-based salvation. It is man attempting to reconcile himself to God by his efforts rather than accepting God’s provision in the process of reconciliation.

Obviously, Israel had to build the altar, or no altar would be built. But not hewing the stones provides the typology – it is God’s work, not man’s effort, that is the basis for the altar.

God made the stones. For man to add his effort into what He had made would then be contrary to the premise of the Bible. Man is saved by grace, not by works.

The erection of the altar itself cannot be equated to a work any more than the compilation of the Bible. God gave the words, man recorded the words, and through the words man meets with God. Likewise, God made the earth and the stones, man simply arranges them into an altar, and God then meets with man.

And more, that altar anticipates Christ in that God made man (the building block of humanity) without any human effort, and humanity has then moved itself around in order to reproduce, eventually leading to Christ. The fact that Israel assembled the stones does not in any way damage the picture of Christ. Rather, it enhances it.

Using even, or stone, provides its own picture of Christ’s humanity. He is the fulfillment of this altar where man comes to fellowship with God. Stone is used to speak of the Lord and of the Messiah in Scripture, such as –

“I will praise You,
For You have answered me,
And have become my salvation.
22 The stone which the builders rejected
Has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This was the Lord’s doing;
It is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:21-24

That is then cited six times in the New Testament when speaking of the Messiah by Jesus, or by Peter when referring to Jesus as the Messiah. In Isaiah 28:16, Isaiah says –

“Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation,
A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation;
Whoever believes will not act hastily.” Isaiah 28:16

That is cited by both Paul and Peter when referring to Christ as well. It is God who fashioned Christ’s humanity. Thus, to shape a stone for this altar would typologically be to fashion a false “christ” of one’s own choosing. This is the reason for the specificity in the command. The earthen altar, or one of stone, pictures Christ who was alone fashioned by God.

To hew the stones would then say that the people were fashioning their own salvation, rejecting the only true Lord who is willing to meet with man. In these verses, the credit is given solely to Joshua as the builder of the altar. It anticipates Christ being the One who is the focal point of fellowshipping with God.

The noting of the altar being built “to the Lord God of Israel” meant that these are His people, and that He is their God. The typology, gives a clear reference to Paul’s words of Romans 11 that “all Israel will be saved.” As he says –

“And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
27 For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.’” Romans 11:26, 27

The people will someday cross through Christ as a nation, and they will be there before Christ, the embodiment of the law, pictured by this altar. It is said to be on Mount Ebal.

As a refresher from Deuteronomy, Ebal is to the north. Or, in reference to the layout of directions in the Bible, Gerizim is to the right, and Ebal is to the left. Thus, it matches the scriptural pattern of the right hand of blessing and the left hand of cursing. For example –

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.” Matthew 25:31-33

Ebal is the mountain of curse, the bald mountain. Thus, there is metaphor being conveyed. The altar pictures Christ, but so does the location and designation of the mountain, just as Paul details in Galatians 3 –

“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.’ 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for ‘the just shall live by faith.’ 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”
13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Galatians 3:10-14

Christ became the curse so that His people could be freed from the curse of the law. The Gentiles got it and have continued to get it for two thousand years. Israel will get it someday, probably not too long from now, as well. With that noted, verse 31 said that everything was done in accord with all that Moses commanded and of the things written in the Book of the Law.

Joshua doing these things is typical of Christ who has completed everything the law details. Exactly as it is written, Jesus accomplished without allowing a jot or tittle of the law to fall to the ground. In Israel’s coming to Christ, the next words concerning Israel offering burnt offerings and sacrificing peace offerings are then fulfilled.

To fully understand these offerings would take a review of Leviticus. But for those who were here during those sermons, every single detail of these pictured Christ. For the whole burnt offering, that can be summed up with Paul’s words of Ephesians –

“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” Ephesians 5:1, 2

As noted, the peace offerings are offerings that are shared between the offeror and God. It is an offering that is accompanied by leavened bread. That signifies God’s acceptance of man, despite his sin because of the sacrifice of Christ. Of this, Paul says –

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:19

Christ is our offering, and He is our sacrifice, and it is through Him that we can now fellowship, or have peace, with God. Together, these two are also seen in Hebrews –

“Therefore, when He came into the world, He said:
‘Sacrifice and offering You did not desire,
But a body You have prepared for Me.
In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin
You had no pleasure.
Then I said, “‘Behold, I have come—
In the volume of the book it is written of Me—
To do Your will, O God.”’” Hebrews 10:5-7

The sacrifices and offerings of the law only anticipated what is perfectly realized in Christ.

The act of Joshua writing the “second Torah Moses” on the stone is an obvious picture of Jesus being the embodiment, the mishneh torath, or second Torah of Moses. The word mishneh signifies a copy, a double, a repetition. The point is that Jesus is the repetition of the law. He gave it to Israel through Moses, and He presented Himself as the fulfillment of it to them –

“For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me.” John 5:46

Just as Joshua wrote the words of the law on the altar “in the presence of the sons of Israel,” Jesus – the embodiment of the law – came to dwell in the presence of the sons of Israel.

In verse 33, it was noted that all Israel with all his elders and scribes, and his judges stood on either side of the ark before the priests, the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord. The priests picture Christ in His priestly duties and the term “ark covenant Yehovah” pictures the sacrifice of Christ that fulfilled the Old and then issued in the New Covenant.

The elders and scribes and judges are the seat of power in Israel. Thus, the words are emblematic of Jesus’ words to Israel concerning Jerusalem, Israel’s seat of power –

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! 35 See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Luke 13:34, 35

Israel will call out to the Lord Jesus, and He will return to them with mercy, grace, and salvation. But more, it also noted in verse 33, that this included the stranger (ger) as well as the native-born (ezrakh).

When Israel comes to Christ, there will be those in the land who are not of Israel, but they will receive the same salvation and blessing as the native-born. Ezekiel explicitly speaks of that day following the tribulation period, meaning the millennium –

“It shall be that you will divide it by lot as an inheritance for yourselves, and for the strangers [ger] who dwell among you and who bear children among you. They shall be to you as native-born [ezrakh] among the children of Israel; they shall have an inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel.” Ezekiel 47:22

With that noted, verse 33 then referred to the people standing half toward Mount Gerizim and half toward Mount Ebal. This comprises the blessings and the curses for or against Israel. Christ is the Source of both for the people, but He was willing to take the curses upon Himself for them. That is certainly why the verse said, “to bless the people Israel in the first.”

In coming to Christ, there is no longer a curse. Rather there is only blessing. The substance of the text in Joshua clearly indicates this. The intent was for Christ to come, fulfill the law, and to bless Israel in their acceptance of that. They rejected Him, and they fell under the curse of the law. However, some great day they will come to Him, and they shall be blessed.

Verse 34 indicated that Joshua read all the words of the law. As noted, that is something only required at the Feast of Tabernacles. Jesus is the fulfillment, embodiment, and ending of the Law of Moses. Joshua’s reading of the law is an anticipation of Israel’s acceptance of Jesus who the law anticipates.

As such, verse 35 noted the complete and total compliance of Joshua in reading the law before all the assembly of Israel. It is an exacting note that Jesus did just what He said needed to be done when speaking to Israel –

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:18-20

The meaning of the “kingdom of heaven” must be determined from the context. In the case of Israel the nation, it is referring to entry into the millennium by coming through Christ’s fulfillment of the law. Until Israel accepts that, they are bound to the law.

But, like each individual today, the nation will someday exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees when they come to Christ and are imputed His righteousness. With this understood, the chapter ended with the words, “with the women, the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them.”

As noted, it is a definite hint that the rite was conducted at the time of the Feast of Tabernacles. That is more certain when understanding that it is the only feast mandated during the millennium. Israel will have Christ Jesus dwelling among them, and they will observe this as a memorial year by year. That is recorded in Zechariah 14, and which we will see before we close today.

The lesson we can learn, once again, from today’s passage is that we need Christ. Be it individually or Israel as a nation, we cannot do without what He offers. One is either under law (whatever law that may be) and he will stand condemned before God, or he is under grace – the grace of God in Christ – and he will stand approved before God.

This is the great and often repeated picture that we are being presented with in Scripture. Hold fast to Jesus, forget the nonsense that people tell you about observing the law, and forget about working your way to heaven.

Christ has done the work. Christ has made the way available. Christ is the Door through which we can enter. Rest in Christ, trust in Christ, and be reconciled to God through the wonderous workings of God in Christ. Amen.

Closing Verse: “And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.” Zechariah 14:16

Next Week: Joshua 9:1-18 It’s plain to all who are observants, yes to everyone… (We are Your Servants, Part I) (18th Joshua Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. It is He who has defeated the enemy and who now offers His people rest. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

All that Moses Had Commanded

Now Joshua built an altar to the LORD God of Israel
———-in Mount Ebal
As Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded
———-the children of Israel (in his Torah school)
As it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses:
“An altar of whole stones over which no man
———-has wielded an iron tool

And they offered on it burnt offerings to the LORD
———-and sacrificed peace offerings
And there, in the presence of the children of Israel
He wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses
Which he had written, according to all Moses did tell

Then all Israel, with their elders and officers and judges
On either side of the ark before the priests, the Levites stood
Who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD
The stranger as well as he who was born among them
———-all lookin’ good

Half of them were in front of Mount Gerizim
And half of them in front of Mount Ebal as well
As Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before
That they should bless the people of Israel

And afterward he read all the words of the law
The blessings and the cursings, according to all that is written
———-in the Book of the Law, as it does tell
There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded
Which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel

With the women, the little ones too
And the strangers who were living among them, so he did do

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 Now Joshua built an altar to the Lord God of Israel in Mount Ebal, 31 as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the Book of the Law of Moses: “an altar of whole stones over which no man has wielded an iron tool.” And they offered on it burnt offerings to the Lord, and sacrificed peace offerings. 32 And there, in the presence of the children of Israel, he wrote on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written. 33 Then all Israel, with their elders and officers and judges, stood on either side of the ark before the priests, the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord, the stranger as well as he who was born among them. Half of them were in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel. 34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and the cursings, according to all that is written in the Book of the Law. 35 There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, with the women, the little ones, and the strangers who were living among them.

 

 

 

 

 

Joshua 8:21-29 (The Fall of Ai, Part II)

Artwork by Doug Kallerson

Joshua 8:21-29
The Fall of Ai, Part II

Israel faced a foe and was beaten back by it. That was because of a transgression of the law by one person. This was at a time when nothing was said of Joshua going out with the troops.

And so what is it that is the great foe of Israel? What is it that will bring them victory or defeat? This is what Chapter 7 and Chapter 8 of Joshua are revealing to us. I will be honest that in these first eight chapters of the book, there are probably a lot of pictures and types that I have gotten wrong.

None of this would have been intentional, but there has been – as you have seen – a lot going on. For sure, the overall message is correct, and the overall typology is as well. We can be certain of that. When I first read this sermon, some weeks after I typed it, I was actually amazed at what is presented. As stupid as that may sound, I type these things and am so tired when I finish that I often cannot even remember what passage I typed, much less the detail in it. I was overjoyed at how things came out when I first came back to it.

What I will present today follows in the same vein. I honestly believe the picture is accurate, and by the time we’re done today, I think you will agree with that. If I am wrong in any of the smaller details, I apologize. I hope that is not the case at all though.

Text Verse: “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19

Apart from the devil, who is obviously our adversary, there is an enemy that has been working against man all along. It is the law. And it isn’t that the law is bad. Rather, it is good (Romans 7:12), but when the first law was introduced, man didn’t have the knowledge to understand that (Genesis 3:5).

Since then, it is man who has been corrupted. And so, despite the law being good, it is we who are bad. Thus, the law stands against us. It is contrary to us (Colossians 2:14). But the law has been given, and so something has to happen in order for us to be freed from its yoke.

Enter Jesus. He is the One who can, and who does, make things right once again. This is the story that we are repeatedly seeing. God has presented it to us in so many ways over the past ten years of sermons that it is incredible to imagine.

And yet, much of the world that sees this precious book remains in bondage to the very law Christ came to remove from us. Let us be wise and discerning and understand that when we work out the law in an attempt to be pleasing to God, we are actually doing exactly the opposite.

Let us rest in Christ’s accomplishment of all things. That is what God finds pleasing. It is a central message to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today, and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. A Heap Forever (verses 21-29)

21 Now when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city

vihoshua v’kal Yis’rael rau ki lakhad ha’orev eth ha’ir – “And Joshua and all Israel see according to had taken the liers in wait the city.” The words here follow after what was last said in the previous sermon –

“Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Stretch out the spear that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.” And Joshua stretched out the spear that was in his hand toward the city. 19 So those in ambush arose quickly out of their place; they ran as soon as he had stretched out his hand, and they entered the city and took it, and hurried to set the city on fire. 20 And when the men of Ai looked behind them, they saw, and behold, the smoke of the city ascended to heaven. So they had no power to flee this way or that way, and the people who had fled to the wilderness turned back on the pursuers.” Joshua 8:18-20

The fighting men of the cities of Bethel and Ai came out after Joshua. The Lord then directed Joshua to stretch out the spear in his hand. With that signal, the liers in wait captured Ai and set it on fire. Once that happened, the fighting men of Ai realized the trap that had been set and lost their will to continue or to even flee.

With that complete, Joshua and the army of Israel saw it had been taken at the same time as those from Ai, because…

21 (con’t) and that the smoke of the city ascended,

v’ki alah ashan ha’ir – “and according to ascended smoke the city.” This was per the instructions of Joshua earlier –

“Then you shall rise from the ambush and seize the city, for the Lord your God will deliver it into your hand. And it will be, when you have taken the city, that you shall set the city on fire. According to the commandment of the Lord you shall do. See, I have commanded you.” Joshua 8:7, 8

This is the purpose of the liers in wait. They had been prepared and waited for the opportune moment to strike. At Joshua’s command, they readied themselves, and at Joshua’s signal, they acted. With the armies of Ai and Bethel brought out, and with the army of Israel seeing that they are hedged in, it next says…

21 (con’t) they turned back and struck down the men of Ai.

va’yashuvu va’yaku eth anshe ha’ay – “And turned back and struck men the Ai.” This is speaking of those who purposefully fled from the battle to draw the men of Ai out –

“And Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness. 16 So all the people who were in Ai were called together to pursue them. And they pursued Joshua and were drawn away from the city.” Joshua 8:15, 16

It is these five thousand that were used to draw the men of Ai out that have turned and have begun to strike the enemy. At the same time…

22 Then the others came out of the city against them;

The words of this verse come in a rapid sequence expecting the hearer to pay attention as the various events are taking place. They show the precision of Israel’s movements even in the chaos of battle. That begins with: v’eleh yaseu min ha’ir liqratam – “And these went out from the city to against them.”

The description is short and brief. Instead of taking time to say, “And the men who attacked the city came out to join the attack,” it simply calls them “these.” The hearer would have to mentally say, “Ok, this is speaking of Israel.” Next, the subject changes…

22 (con’t) so they were caught in the midst of Israel,

va’yihyu l’Yis’rael batavek– “And were to Israel in the midst.” It is speaking of the men of Ai. Those of Israel who were fleeing had turned back. Those of Israel in the city had come out, and Ai was caught smack dab in the middle. With that, the subject returns again to Israel…

22 (con’t) some on this side and some on that side.

eleh mizeh v’eleh mizeh – “these from this and these from this.” It is speaking of Israel hemming in the men of Ai. There was nowhere for them to go because of the rushing onslaught of Israel.

22 (con’t) And they struck them down, so that they let none of them remain or escape.

It is incorrect. The words now speak of Israel and the enemy in the singular – va’yaku otam ad bilti hish’ir lo sarid u-paliyt – “And struck them until none he left to him survivor and escapee.”

There is the enemy, and there is Israel. Each is an entity, and he [Israel] left to him [Ai] no survivor and escapee. The victory over the people of Ai is total.

Here is a new word, paliyt. It signifies a fugitive, refugee, or escapee. It comes from palat, to escape. In this case, there are none who did. The entire army of fighting men was destroyed…

23 But the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua.

A more precise translation would be, “And king the Ai they captured alive, and brought near him unto Joshua.” This would then explain the singular of the previous verse, “none he left to him.” The sides faced off under Joshua and the king of Ai, and Joshua has prevailed.

With that, the king of Ai is the only one of his people left alive at this point and he is then brought before his vanquisher.

24 And it came to pass when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field,

Unlike the brevity and action of verse 22, the words of verse 24 are meticulously detailed, beginning with, “And it came to pass according to finishing Israel to slay all inhabitants the Ai in the field.” It tells us that the battle occurred in an open place where Ai was hemmed in from escaping. That is then further explained as…

24 (con’t) in the wilderness where they pursued them,

ba’midbar asher r’daphum bo – “in the wilderness which pursued them in him.” The “him” is referring to the wilderness. It seems the purpose of adding this is to indicate that they had been drawn quite a distance from Ai.

They would have been tired from the running, caught in the open and far enough from Ai that they could not have easily made it back there to rescue anyone. Instead, they were all destroyed. As it next says…

24 (con’t) and when they all had fallen by the edge of the sword until they were consumed,

va’yip’lu kulam l’pi kherev ad tumam – “And fallen all them to mouth sword until finished.” It is a further explanation of the state of the warriors of Ai. They were, to the last one, finished off.

It should be noted that the kherev, or sword comes from kharav meaning to be dry or dried up. It is identical to the name of the mountain, Horeb (Sinai), where the Law of Moses was received, and which comes from the same root word, kharav.

24 (con’t) that all the Israelites returned to Ai and struck it with the edge of the sword.

va’yashuvu kal Yis’rael ha’ay va’yaku otah l’pi kharev – “and returned all Israel the Ai and struck her to mouth sword.” The warriors of Israel, fighting on behalf of their tribes, are said to all have returned from the battle to Ai. With that, the city is completely emptied of life as the sword consumed all…

25 So it was that all who fell that day, both men and women, were twelve thousand

v’hi kal ha’noph’lim ba’yom ha’hu me’ish v’ad ishah sh’nem asar aleph – “And it was all the fallers in the day the it from men and even to women two ten thousand.” This is the entire number of all in the city. The number, as it is recorded, asks us to consider its meaning.

Twelve thousand would be a multiple of 120 (3×40) and 100 (10×10). Bullinger provides the meaning of 120 saying it “is made up of three forties (3×40=120). Applied to time therefore it signifies a divinely appointed period of probation.” Of the number 10, he says –

“…ten is one of the perfect numbers, and signifies the perfection of Divine order, commencing, as it does, an altogether new series of numbers… Completeness of order, marking the entire round of anything, is, therefore, the ever-present signification of the number ten. It implies that nothing is wanting; that the number and order are perfect; that the whole cycle is complete.”

A time of a divinely appointed period of probation, a part of a cycle that is now complete, is what we can derive from the number provided in regard to the fall of Ai. It is inclusive of…

25 (con’t) —all the people of Ai.

kol anshe ha’ay – “all men the Ai.” The masculine reveals that as the men died, so their families – male and female – are reckoned under them. As it next says…

26 For Joshua did not draw back his hand, with which he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai.

The action of each verb is singular, he – “And Joshua no did draw back his hand which he stretched in the javelin until which he had anathematized all inhabitants the Ai.”

The entire battle is ultimately credited to Joshua. In typology then, Israel in the battle is being used as a type of Jesus in accomplishing the deeds which are being credited to Jesus. In other words, everything is picturing Him and what He has done.

27 Only the livestock and the spoil of that city Israel took as booty for themselves,

This is what was allowed concerning the cities of Canaan unless there was a specific command or reason for not doing so. Every human was to be destroyed, but the spoil could be taken. Jericho was an exception as everything from it was to be wholly devoted to the Lord. The Lord determined the extent of the destruction and Israel was to comply.

For example, an exception concerning Amalek is found in 1 Samuel –

“Samuel also said to Saul, ‘The Lord sent me to anoint you king over His people, over Israel. Now therefore, heed the voice of the words of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts: “I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.”’” 1 Samuel 15:1-3

For Ai, the spoil could be taken…

27 (con’t) according to the word of the Lord which He had commanded Joshua.

This word was specifically given at the beginning of the chapter –

Now the Lord said to Joshua: ‘Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. And you shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king. Only its spoil and its cattle you shall take as booty for yourselves. Lay an ambush for the city behind it.’” Joshua 8:1, 2

The Lord allowed Joshua to keep and divide the spoil among the warriors of the battle, and this now confirms that took place. Once the spoil was taken, it next says…

28 So Joshua burned Ai and made it a heap forever, a desolation to this day.

The name Ai is certainly derived from the battle and destruction, maybe even from this verse: v’yish’roph Yehoshua eth ha’ay vay’simeha tel olam sh’mamah ad ha’yom ha’zeh – “And burned Joshua the Ai and set her heap forever; desolation to the day the this.” Britannica says of the location –

“Biblical references agree in locating Ai (Hebrew: ha-ʿAy, “The Ruin”) just east of Bethel (modern Baytīn in the West Bank). This would make it identical with the large early Bronze Age site now called At-Tall.”

It is ha’ay, the Ruins, and it is simply a ruins: “the Tel.” There are many tells in Israel, some of them have other names assigned to them, such as Tel Aviv. However, as Canon Williams wrote, “the site of Ai has no other name ‘unto this day.’ It is simply et-Tel = the Heap, ‘par excellence.’”

It is further defined as “a desolation to this day.” The idea is that this city, whatever it was actually named, was given its name because of its state after the battle and it remained in a state of desolation from that time on.

In Nehemiah, a city called Ayyah is noted, and some believe it to be this same location. However, no article precedes it and the spelling, though having the same meaning, is different. With that noted, it next says…

29 And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until evening.

The words are specific: v’eth melekh ha’ay talah al ha’ets ad eth ha’arev – “And king the Ai hanged upon the tree until the evening.” It doesn’t say “a tree,” but “the tree.” Also, it does not say how he died. It could have been from hanging, it could have been from the sword and then being hanged, and so on. The point of the words is to highlight his hanging on a specific tree…

29 (con’t) And as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his corpse down from the tree,

It reads, “And according to going the sun commanded Joshua and they take down his corpse from the tree.” This is specifically required according to the law –

“If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God.” Deuteronomy 21:22, 23

When that was evaluated, the explanation was that the person died in sin, a moral issue. It isn’t the physical body that is being referred to, even though defilement does come to one who touches a dead body. And it is not a ceremonial defilement that is being referred to. It is a moral issue being addressed.

And more, this does not mean that the person who is hanged is accursed in the sense of not being saved. That would mean that any saved person who was hanged on a tree could not be saved. That is not the issue. What this means is that the person becomes a curse when hanged on a tree. Why?

Because sin is in all people. Anyone who is publicly displayed on a tree is dead. Death is the final penalty for sin. It is not the physical body, but the sin that is being focused on. Sin hangs on the tree and that sin is accursed of God.

Therefore, the hanging is a sign of being accursed. In leaving the body up overnight, the corpse would defile the land. Hence, Joshua complied with the precept of the law and…

29 (con’t) cast it at the entrance of the gate of the city,

va’yashliku otah el petakh shaar ha’ir – “And cast it to door gate the city.” The spot where the gate of the city opened was to be blocked by the corpse of the king. The gate is the place of judgment. Access is denied or granted at that point. Placing the body there means the way is blocked.

29 (con’t) and raise over it a great heap of stones that remains to this day.

It is masculine: va’yaqimu alav gal abanim gadol ad ha’yam ha’zeh – “And raised over him heap stones great until the day, the this.” Also, the word translated as “corpse” is feminine. Hence, it is speaking of the person and not the corpse.

Also, the word translated as “heap” is a different one than used earlier. That was tel, a heap of ruin. This is gal, something rolled. Hence it is stones they cast on top of him forming a round mound over him.

Who can defeat us with Christ as our Head?
We have nothing to fear as we continue on
Our sins are forgiven, placed on Him instead
He who knew no sin has taken them; they are long gone

Because of this, we have a new hope in us
The enemy cannot stand against us any longer
We have won the victory because of Jesus
Against Him, no foe can stand; He is stronger

Thank God for His wonderful workings for us
Praises to Him for all that He has done
He has restored us to Himself through Jesus
His only begotten Son

II. Pictures of Christ

The same concept is seen again in this chapter as has been seen throughout Joshua so far. It is all pointing to what God in Christ has done. It is the same process for Jews and for Gentiles, but the Joshua sermons have shown that these things will finally be realized in Israel the nation someday as well.

As for this section of the typology, it is the final account recorded before the building of the altar and writing the law upon it on Mount Gerizim, and then reading it to the people. The law is clearly the focus of what is being dealt with in this passage about Ai before that happens.

In other words, to understand what is going on in these Joshua sermons we have been seeing the process of salvation in individual passages, but they all happen at once. *Moses, the law dies. Israel accepts Christ’s fulfillment of the law. *Israel enters the Jordan (Christ); Israel is baptized into Christ’s death (Chapter 3). *Israel, signified by the stones carried to Gilgal and which are then rested there, enters its rest (Chapter 4). *Two sets of stones are set up, signifying the heavenly government of Jews and Gentiles (Chapter 4). *Israel is circumcised; Israel has put off the body of sins of the flesh / The reproach of the past is taken away when believers are circumcised by the Lord (Chapter 5). *Believers partake of Christ as their Passover (Chapter 5). *The Lord is the Leader of the people, and they are brought into “holy ground.” (Chapter 5). *Access to that holy ground is brought about by acceptance of Christ’s work (Chapter 6). *Coming out of the state of anathema (kherem) is realized through the love of Jesus (1 Corinthians 16:22) and pursuing the true gospel of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:8, 9) (Chapter 7). And now, *Christ’s prevailing over the law is highlighted in this passage (Chapter 8). In Chapter 1, Joshua was given the charge –

“Only be strong and very courageous, that you (sg) may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you (sg).” Joshua 1:7

It is Joshua who is encouraged in verse 1 of this chapter with the words, “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed.” He, typical of Jesus, is given the charge. In this case, it is to take, ha’ay, “the Ruins.” The Lord promises Joshua that it shall be given into his hand.

The name of the city is certainly given based on what took place in the account. Whatever its name was, it is now “the Ruins.” Like Ai, the Law of Moses is the obstacle barring entry into a restored relationship with God.

As Ai is said to be east of Bethel (House of God), and east is the place of exile, it is a picture of being exiled from the House of God, meaning from His presence. In verse 2, it is noted that the city is a single entity, and it is also a feminine word in Hebrew. Hence it noted “to Ai and her king” and “to Jericho and her king.” The symbolism will be explained in a bit.

The city was to be ambushed or have a “lying in wait” behind it. This consisted of a force of thirty thousand. As noted, the number thirty thousand is a multiple of thirty.

Thirty in the Bible “denotes in a higher degree the perfection of Divine order, as marking the right moment” (Bullinger). There is a divinely appointed right moment when the city, the Ruins, will be overrun. This comes from God and is well explained by Paul in Galatians 4 –

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4, 5

On the other side would be another force that would seemingly flee from the city during the attack. In this, they would “tear away,” nathaq, the warriors, leaving the city defenseless. It is at that time that the right moment comes.

As for verse 9, if you remember, it is a hard verse to pin down. Either this force of thirty thousand was said to be between Bethel and Ai (the House of God and the Ruins), or it is Joshua who spent the night in that location. I would go with the latter. Either way, as Ai is east of Bethel, being between the two means east of Bethel and west of Ai.

In verse 11, the main army of Israel camped on the north side of Ai with a valley between them. The north, tsaphon, is the dark side, coming from a word signifying hidden. In the northern hemisphere, the north receives the light later and less than the south. The word used to describe the valley, gai, comes from gevah, signifying pride or exaltation.

This group is not noted as being a part of the battle. Rather, Joshua and his two forces, all picturing Jesus, engage the battle. Israel is as a spectator who will be exalted if Joshua (Jesus) prevails.

In verse 12, Joshua went with the group of five thousand and set them between Bethel and Ai, west of Ai. Five thousand is a multiple of fifty, and thus it signifies jubilee or deliverance. It … “points to deliverance and rest following on as the result of the perfect consummation of time” (Bullinger).

The battle is one that will occur according to the Divine order of the right moment (thirty thousand) and it will be one that brings about deliverance for the people (five thousand). The law is the obstacle, meaning that in Christ’s fulfillment of the law, the people will receive their deliverance.

From there, it curiously mentioned that Joshua spent the night in the midst of the valley, using a different word, emeq, or depth. That comes from amoq, it is a word that gives the sense of great depth and also to seek deeply. The BDB Lexicon includes the note to “implore (earnestly; ‘from bottom of one’s soul’).” I would suggest that this anticipates Christ’s final night before the cross where it says –

“And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, ‘Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.’ 43 Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Luke 22:41-44

In verse 14, it noted the king of Ai coming out against Israel to an appointed place liphne ha’aravah, or “before the plain.” The word aravah is from verb arav which means to grow dark or become evening.

It is identical with the verb arav signifying to give in pledge. Therefore, typologically, this would read “at an appointed place before the pledge.” In type, the battle must be engaged at a particular time and place in order for the pledge of the Spirit to be given (Ephesians 1:13, 14).

It was at that time that Joshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten, fleeing by way of the wilderness with the army of Ai pursuing Joshua. The focus of the narrative was on him. They were just as planned, torn away from the city, leaving it totally exposed.

Jesus appeared defeated even as He was going to His cross. But the apparent defeat became the greatest of victories. It was then that the Lord told Joshua to stretch out the kidon, the javelin in his hand.

That comes from a word signifying destruction or calamity. Joshua did, and he remained with outstretched arm until the battle was complete. With the javelin stretched out, the liers in wait, the thirty thousand, entered the city and took it. The divinely perfect “right moment” had come.

The city was set on fire, the soldiers of Ai saw what had taken place, and they lost all power to continue. The strength of the law had been taken away. Paul speaks of this in 1 Corinthians 15 –

“The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:56, 57

It is at this time that the five thousand turned. The time of jubilee and deliverance had come. With that, last week’s sermon ended and today’s began.

With the city burning and the smoke rising, the five thousand met up with the thirty thousand catching the men of Ai in the middle. At that time, the words went to the singular, “And struck them until none he left to him survivor and escapee.”

There was the enemy, and there was Israel under Joshua. Each is an entity, and he [Israel] left to him [Ai] no survivor and escapee. The victory over the people of Ai was total.

Despite this, the king of Ai was taken alive and brought to Joshua. Apart from him, it noted that every single one of the enemy fell by the mouth of the kherev, or sword. Ai has been a picture of the enemy, the one that stands against Israel, meaning the law.

It is the law that stands against grace. One cannot enter heaven by works of the law and the entire law must be fulfilled. As Jesus said to Israel –

“For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” Matthew 5:19

As long as heaven and earth stand, the law stands. Every single precept of the law is as an enemy that must be battled against. And man will always fail in the challenge. But Christ Jesus, who is God, could fulfill it and He did. Only through His fulfillment of the law can man then receive His grace.

Jesus was able to overcome the law given at Horeb (חרב), pictured by eliminating every foe with the sword, kherev (חרב). The law is dry and harsh, but grace is a water of life. In overcoming the law (that which is dried up), the grace can be offered.

Once the soldiers were eliminated, the city itself was destroyed to the last person, totaling twelve thousand. As noted, the number is derived from 120 and 100, “a divinely appointed period of probation,” and “that nothing is wanting; that the number and order are perfect; that the whole cycle is complete.”

The time of the law is a period of probation. In its fulfillment nothing is wanting and the whole cycle is complete. That it is completed was seen in verse 26 where the entire campaign against Ai is credited to Joshua – “And Joshua no did draw back his hand which he stretched in the javelin until which he had anathematized all inhabitants the Ai.”

Think of Jesus in that and remember the meaning of the word translated as “javelin.” It comes from a root signifying destruction: “And Jesus no did draw back His hand which He stretched in the destruction until which He anathematized all of the law!”

The entire law was devoted to God through the work of Christ. As for the city itself, it was seen that it is noted as a female entity “her.” The city of Ai is being equated to the law. Paul explains the symbolism in Galatians –

“Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— 26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.” Galatians 4:21-26

In the taking and destruction of Ai, that which destroyed Israel in Chapter 7 (when Joshua was not present with the army), is taken and destroyed. In Christ’s work, the law is ended. With that understood, it then said, “Only the livestock and the spoil [shalal] of that city Israel took as booty for themselves.”

Christ did the work, but His people share in the spoils. That is precisely reflected in Isaiah 53 where the same word is used –

Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, [shalal]
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors. Isaiah 53:12

With that understood, it next said that Joshua burned Ai and set her as a heap forever, a desolation to this day. Again, the credit is given to Joshua as a type of Christ. The law is so set according to Hebrews. It is annulled (Hebrews 7:18), obsolete (Hebrews 8:13), and set aside (Hebrews 10:9).

In Christ, and because of Him, the law is a desolation to this day. With that noted, it then went to the hanging of the king of Ai. Like Joshua, who is a type of Christ, and like the armies under him, also typical of Christ, so this king becomes a type of Christ. Christ is the King of the law. He and no other. And He was talah, hung on a tree, becoming a curse for us. Paul explains that in Galatians as well –

“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’).” Galatians 3:13

The law, Horeb/Ai, is defeated but the curse of the law stands without this part of Christ’s work. The King of Ai, picturing the work of Christ, became a curse.

Sin is a moral, not a physical or ceremonial, issue. Sin infects all people. Christ became a curse under the law. He paid the final penalty for sin. Our sin, in His fulfillment and ending of the law, hung on the tree, becoming that curse of the law.

In His death, He was taken down from there and interred. The corpse of the king of Ai was taken down and it was “cast to door gate the city.” Christ is the Door. Those under law must come through him. Christ is the Judge, signified by the gate, the place of judgment.

Those under law cannot pass through. Those freed from the law can no longer be judged by the law. That was seen in our text verse today where 2 Corinthians 5:19 says that in Christ God is not imputing our sins to us. The law is how sin is reckoned. When one is in Christ, sin is no longer imputed.

The death (the dead body) of Jesus goes in two directions. It keeps those under law from entering through the Door. It keeps those no longer under law from being returned to the law. This is seen in Colossians 2:13-15 –

“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”

The heaping up of stones over the corpse at the door of the gate of Ai pictures this. The corpse (noun fem.) of the dead king pictures the law (noun fem.) One must come through the risen Christ, Jesus, in order to find salvation. It does no good to call on a dead person. Without the resurrection, there is no hope. Paul says –

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

That is the first half of the equation. Christ died in fulfillment of the law, and He died bearing our sin. But He came out of that grave as well. If nothing else shows us the concept of potential atonement and actual atonement, this picture of the king of Ai buried at the door of the gate certainly does.

Christ died for all potentially, but He only died for some actually. The sin of all men was placed upon Jesus, but there is no passing His dead body and coming to the Father if He stayed in the grave. Rather, it is faith in the death, the burial, and the resurrection that brings believers all the way through.

Finally, this all occurred in Ai, east of Bethel. Access to the House of God is from the east. The meaning is obvious. Access to the House of God is only possible through the law, but that can only be accomplished through its fulfillment. As only Christ can fulfill the law, no man can enter the House of God apart from Jesus Christ.

This is the final part of the pictures from Joshua that began in Chapter 1. Each chapter has been a part of the series that is intended to reveal to us what God did for the people of the world, including the nation of Israel as a whole.

The final verses of this chapter, which we will look at next week, confirm that this is the end of this series of pictures. For now, think on everything that has been given since Chapter 1. It has been an amazing journey of typology and wonder – all pointing to the marvelous work of God in Christ.

The point of it all is that God has brought glory to Himself through the coming of Christ. He has revealed His love for the people of the world, He has demonstrated His faithfulness to His covenants, and we are shown that His word is both trustworthy and it is demanding.

When I say demanding, I mean He expects us to respond to it. The choice is ours, we can ignore it, we can misuse it, or we can rightly apply it. But there is no getting around what it says.

Let us learn the lesson of the law and place our trust and our hope in Christ’s fulfillment of it. Anything else will lead to an unhappy end. Let us trust in Christ, rest in Christ, and be confident in what God has done in and through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Closing Verse: “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” Colossians 2:13-15

Next Week: Joshua 8:30-35 It is what God had from the law demanded… (All that Moses Had Commanded) (17th Joshua Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. It is He who has defeated the enemy and who now offers His people rest. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Fall of Ai, Part II

Now when Joshua and all Israel saw
That the ambush had taken the city, when that caught their eye
And that the smoke of the city ascended
They turned back and struck down the men of Ai

Then the others came out of the city against them
So they were caught in the midst of Israel, some on this side
———-and some on that side
And they struck them down without haw or hem
So Israel let none of them remain or escape; all of Ai died

But the king of Ai they took alive – ooh yah!
And brought him to Joshua

And it came to pass when Israel had made an end
Of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field
———-where death had bloomed
In the wilderness where they pursued them
And the people of Ai fell by the edge of the sword
———-until they were consumed

That all the Israelites returned to Ai
And struck it with the edge of the sword, every last girl and guy

So it was that all who fell that day, both men and women
———-(girl and guy)
Were twelve thousand—all the people of Ai

For Joshua did not draw back his hand
With which the spear he stretched out
Until he had utterly destroyed
All the inhabitants of Ai; it was a total rout

Only the livestock and the spoil of that city
Israel took as booty for themselves – hoorah!
According to the word of the LORD
Which He had commanded Joshua

So Joshua burned Ai and made it a heap forever – it is that way
A desolation to this day

And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until evening
And as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded
———–so he did say
That they should take his corpse down from the tree, cast it
———-at the entrance of the gate of the city
And raise over it a great heap of stones that remains to this day.

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21 Now when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city and that the smoke of the city ascended, they turned back and struck down the men of Ai. 22 Then the others came out of the city against them; so they were caught in the midst of Israel, some on this side and some on that side. And they struck them down, so that they let none of them remain or escape. 23 But the king of Ai they took alive, and brought him to Joshua.

24 And it came to pass when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, in the wilderness where they pursued them, and when they all had fallen by the edge of the sword until they were consumed, that all the Israelites returned to Ai and struck it with the edge of the sword. 25 So it was that all who fell that day, both men and women, were twelve thousand—all the people of Ai. 26 For Joshua did not draw back his hand, with which he stretched out the spear, until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. 27 Only the livestock and the spoil of that city Israel took as booty for themselves, according to the word of the Lord which He had commanded Joshua. 28 So Joshua burned Ai and made it a heap forever, a desolation to this day. 29 And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until evening. And as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his corpse down from the tree, cast it at the entrance of the gate of the city, and raise over it a great heap of stones that remains to this day.