Joshua 10:16-28 Just Deserts
Joshua and the mighty men of Israel are in the middle of a battle. They have come to their new ally’s, Gibeon, rescue as five kings have marshaled forces against them. Guess who wins!
We get to go into the battle with Joshua and see a special event that happened while the swords were swinging. The five kings who marshaled their forces against Gibeon came out with them to the battle field. They expected victory over Gibeon. They figured it would happen before Israel got a chance to get there. But their expectations were dashed when Joshua and his might men marched into the fray early on the fourth day.
I don’t know if these kings’ armies were camped around Gibeon in a blockade or if there was actual fighting going on before Israel arrived but once Israel was on the scene things heated up. The kings’ armies were so engaged that they couldn’t spare men to take the kings to safety so these five men went into hiding. Their armies might fall but if their kings survived the kingdoms were considered safe.
We learned earlier that the armies were in confusion, on the run and being pelted by hailstones. It’s possible that the kings sought shelter initially to escape the hailstones. I can almost see the scene. Five men who thought they were undefeatable, running for their lives.
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Adonizedek, king of Jerusalem, Hoham, king of Hebron, Piram, king of Jarmuth, Japhia, king of Lachish, and Debir, king of Eglon are camped together on a hilltop beyond the battlefield. Their armies will again assault the city of Gibeon in a few hours. Dawn is still a little way off but the kings are up and moving about. Their anger is great and they are pushing their men to conclude this battle as quickly as possible. They want the gates down and the city burned by nightfall. It has already been two days since the fighting began.
“Those infidels! They thought making a treaty with that scourge Israel would save them from destruction. Now they are ruing the day they ever erected their gates.” Adonizedek spits on the ground to express the deep hatred of his statement.
Piram chuckles. “It will all be over before Israel even raises a hand in aid.”
The men are readying for another day’s battle. Rations are being distributed, buckles fastened, helmets straightened, and formations taken up. As soon as day breaks the armies will rush forward in what they hope will be their last day of battle. Gibeon is on the brink of disaster.
As the sun makes its appearance in the sky there is a new presence on the battlefield. It is Joshua and the Israelites! “Where did they come from” shouts Hoham. “I didn’t see their campfires last night. It’s too soon for them to be here!”
Like it or not, Joshua and company are here anyway and they are ready for battle. Israel rushes onto the battlefield and begins charging the armies of the kings that are assembling. There is no calling for more time to prepare. Swords are swinging now.
The armies of Jerusalem and Hebron are tripping over each other as they scramble for position. The armies of Lachish and Eglon trample the army of Jarmuth as Israel begins assaulting them. Israel’s army is advancing while the others are all in confusion. Orders are shouted but no one knows who those orders are directed at.
“On the left! Flank left now!”
“Hold that forward line!”
“Don’t let them break through!”
“Tighten up that formation!”
Chaos quickly ensues and the armies begin to scatter. Men are trampled as retreat is sounded.
“Israel, God has given them into you’re ands! Don’t let them enter their walled cities! Strike them down! Pursue them!” These are Joshua’s commands shouted on the battlefield.
Moments later the Heavens open up and hailstones rain down. The armies fleeing before Israel are being pelted with hailstones large enough to fill the palm of a man’s hand. Men are being struck and falling all around. Israel’s swords are swinging but the hailstones are taking out more men than the swords wielded by her might men of valor.
The five kings had attempted to call encouragement down to their troops but when the chaos ensued they too turned from their position and ran. They have no guards to protect them as they run. Their safety is all that matters.
Japhia spots a cave off to the right. “Over here! We can hide in that cave until the fighting passes. Then we can make our way around enemy lines and back to our cities.”
Debir starts to pull away from the group but Japhia grabs his robe. “We have to stick together if we are to have any hope of survival.”
All five quickly enter the cave and move from the mouth of it so they won’t be discovered. The sounds of battle are muffled a little by the walls of the cave but the kings can still hear swords clanging and men’s cries of pain.
After half an hour Horam moves to the mouth of the cave. The sounds of battle appear to have moved on from their location. He wants to know if it is safe yet. As he looks out someone else is looking in. Horam doesn’t notice the soldier but he does recognize it isn’t safe yet so he retreats back into the cave. He quickly tells the others that the fighting is on the next mound away.
“Who is prevailing in the battle” asks Adonizedek.
“Who do you think” spits Debir as he moves to stand face to face with Adonizedek.
“Let’s not fight amongst ourselves” says Japhia.
Meanwhile the soldier who had spotted Horam has moved closer to the cave. He hears the argument going on inside and surmises that all five kings must be inside. He quickly signals for one of his men to join him. Stepping away from the cave he commissions his man to send word back to Joshua about this. He will maintain watch with a few of his men while they await word back.
The conversation in the cave waxes and wanes while the men remain on watch. Finally word arrives from Joshua. His orders are to seal the cave with a stone, post a watch and continue with the battle. It only takes a few minutes to locate a stone hanging from a ledge overhead. A few quick thrusts of the end of three spears are enough to leverage it out of place and drop it in front of the cave opening. After it hits ground the Israel’s men position it right over the mouth of the cave, close enough to prevent anyone entering or exiting.
Inside the cave while this is going on the sounds of soldiers have reached the kings. They have retreated as far back as possible. “Maybe they haven’t discovered us yet” offers Horam in a whisper. “Unless they enter we should be safe.”
All the sudden a loud crack is heard and the light coming from the entrance dims. “What’s happening” cries Adonizedek.
“Quiet” barks Japhia “they may hear you!”
Moments later all light is extinguished inside the cave. Debir rushes toward the mouth and sees that it is covered. Bits of light come in from gaps between the stone and mouth of the cave. Debir begins to yell, “Let me out! Let me out!”
The other kings join him. They try to push the stone away but it has been braced in place. A contingent of Israel’s soldiers stand guard on the other side. “If you attempt to exit we will kill you!”
This silences the kings and they move back into the cave. While they wait they try and plan an escape. “They will have to move the stone to get to us. We need to be ready. As soon as they start moving it we rush it from this side. Hopefully it will topple and take a few of them out in the process. Then we scramble out and scatter. They won’t know which of us to go after first.”
“That sounds like a good plan IF there aren’t very many of them” says Debir. “But what if they send a huge contingent?”
“I don’t care how many of them there are. So long as we take a few of them out I can go to my grave happy” Adonizedek says angrily.
There is no marking of time inside the cave. It seems like weeks have passes since the cave was sealed. No noise has come from the outside since just after the conversation with the soldiers. Finally sounds return to the cave from outside.
“Get ready” whispers Adonizedek. The kings quietly move into position.
A commander’s voice is heard through the gaps. “Open the mouth of the cave and bring those five kings out to me from the cave” (verse 22b).
The kings begin to tremble. It’s not a small contingent. Their commander Joshua is waiting on the other side. All five rush back to the farthest reaches of the cave.
Moments later Israel’s soldiers remove the stone and rush in. They grab all five kings and drag them out. The kings are brought to Joshua and thrown to the ground. Afraid to move they wait, knowing their lives are nearing their end.
Joshua calls his captains over. “Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings.” Men surround them. Ten men, one on each side of each of the kings, place a foot on the necks of the kings. Spears pressed to the chest of each man prevents their struggling.
Joshua addresses them again. “Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous. For thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight” (verse 25b).
A victory cry goes up from the soldiers gathered around. Joshua motions to those holding the spears and they thrust them through the kings’ hearts. “Gather them and hang them each from their own tree.”
The kings hang in the tree until evening when Joshua orders they be taken down. They are then thrown back into the cave where they hid during the battle. Joshua called for the stone to be returned to the mouth of the cave and sealed completely.
Joshua and his men make camp for the night. Everyone is excited for the morning. Israel is going on from here. This is just the beginning of what the Lord has given them to do. Tomorrow another kingdom will fall!
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I cannot imagine the fear going through the kings’ hearts. They knew their days were numbered before they even entered this battle. Why did they think it necessary to attack Gibeon? Didn’t they realize the hornet’s nest they were stirring up? Did they actually think this was a good decision? Satan had them fooled!
Father God, thank You that You are on my side. Actually I’m on Your side. That’s the ONLY side I want to be on. I love reading Your stories. Thank You for letting me take a few liberties with them. Keep me in line with Your story.