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And in the morning he himself went up with a body of men, and appeared before the city; and he set another body of men, to the number of five thousand, to lie in ambush, or concealed, near where the first body was hidden.
And Joshua retired into a neighbouring valley. And when the king of Ai saw the number of his men which he exposed, and was not aware that any were hidden, he marched boldly out to attack them. Joshua and those that were with him then ran away, and the king of Ai supposing that they did so in earnest, pursued them, and all the men of Ai joined the
and thought that now they should ruin Israel for ever.
Joshua having drawn them all out of the city, made a sign with his spear which was known to those that were concealed, and as the gates of the city were left open, they rushed in and set some of it on fire.
The men of Ai happening to look behind, saw the smoke, and they were so frightened that they knew not which way to run. Then Joshua turned upon them; and those in the city ran out and attacked them on the other side, and they “let none of them remair or escape.” So that day there fell full twelve thousand, even all the men and women of Ai.
And Joshua finished the burning of Ai after taking the cattle and the spoil, and the king of Ai ho hanged on a tree till the evening, when the body was taken down, according to the custom of the Jews, and was thrown on the ground at the entrance to the city, and a great heap of stones raised over it, in memory of the event.
“ Then Joshua built an altar unto the God of Israel in Mount Ebal," and there the people offered burnt-offerings and peace offerings unto the Lord, in thankfulness to him for the good land into which he had brought them.
The Gibeonites saved by Craft.
Alarmed at the successes of Joshua against Jericho and Ai, all the kings of Canaan now joined together to fight him.
But the inhabitants of Gibeon, which was supposed to have been the capital of the Hittites, thought it better to try and make friends with a people that they might vainly hope to withstand. But what were they to do? They, no doubt, understood that the Israelites gave no quarter to the Canaanites, so they resolved to go to them as strangers from a very far country. Some think it would have been better if they had honestly thrown themselves on their mercy, than have practised deceit. However, of this we know nothing. They tried a trick, and it, in part, succeeded. They lived only about twenty-four miles off from where the tents of the Israelites were pitched, and must soon have fallen a prey to their sword. So they dressed up men like ambassadors from a far country, and they took with them old sacks, to make the Israelites believe that they had carried a deal of provision with them for a long journey; and wine bottles, which were made of goat-skins, and not of glass as ours are, and these were old, and rent, and bound up," as if they had tried every method to make them hold their liquor to the last; and old shoes or sandals for the soles of the feet, which they had patched, to make it appear that they had walked very far in them by the side of their asses ; and old garments worn as by long travelling; and lastly, mouldy bread.
And as soon as they arrived at the camp of Israel, they saw Joshua, and they told him they had come a great way, and wanted him to make a league with them, that is, an agreement to be friends. The men of Israel seemed rather to suspect them, and hinted that they probably dwelt near, and then how could they make a league with them, for they knew that God had said (Deut. vii. 2), “ Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them."
Being challenged as Canaanites, they made no answer, but turned to Joshua, whom they found out to be the chief, and they said, We are thy servants."
Joshua then asked, “Who are ye? and whence come ye?” And they told Joshua that they had heard of all the fame of the God of Israel, and what he had done in Egypt, and to the kings Sihon and Og, cunningly saying nothing about Jericho and Ai, as if they knew nothing about Canaan. And they added, that their people being desirous of uniting with them, had ordered them to undertake the long journey to get their consent. And then they showed Joshua the old rubbish they had got with them, and, to deceive him, they said, * This, our bread, we took hot for our provision, out of our houses, on the day we came forth to go unto you; but now, behold, it is dry, and it is mouldy. And these bottles of wine which we filled were new; and, behold, they be rent; and these our garments and our shoes are become old, by reason of the very long journey."
So the Israelites then “ took of their victuals," which was an act of friendship, and it is so considered among the people of Asia to this day, and those who eat even salt together, feel themselves bound by a perpetual covenant or engagement, to be faithful to each other. In doing this they placed themselves in a great difficulty; for, Joshua having made peace with the Gibeonites, and the princes of the congregation having taken their oath that they should live—if they had put them to death, they would have broken their oath, and this would have been very wicked; and yet, in sparing them, they had spared a people whom God had appointed to destruction, and Israel were to be his executioners. However there was this excuse for them, that they did not spare them as Canaanites, as they thought that they were of another country.
In three days only, the Israelites found out that the Gibeonites had cheated them, and that they lived close by them. Liars will, sooner or later, be detected. But as the Israelites had promised to spare their lives, the princes or chiefs did so; and when they came to the four cities which belonged to their people, “they smote them not, because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel.”
The congregation murmured at this, for they were not all engaged in the matter, and it is feared that some of them were displeased that they could not get the plunder. However, the chiefs quieted the people, and punished the Gibeonites by making slaves of them all the days of their lives.
They were obliged to be hewers of wood and drawers of water, which was reckoned a very degrading employment. So they hewed wood and drew water for the use of the people, and particularly for the service of the Tabernacle.
The Five Kings defeated and executed— The Sun and Moon
stand still for Joshua.
JOSHUA X. 1-27. After the people of Gibeon had united with Israel, Adonizedek, who was the king of Jerusalem, "sent to Hoham, king of Hebron, and unto Piram, king of Jarmuth, and unto Japhia, king of Lachish, and unto Debir, king of Eglon, saying, Come up unto me and help me, that we may smite Gibeon ; for it hath made peace with Joshua, and with the children of Israel."
So the kings united with Adonizedek, and marched against Gibeon. And when the people saw so great an army against them, they were again in a fright, and they sent off to Joshua with all speed, saying, “Come up to us. quickly, and save us, and help us.”
Now, as Joshua had given his word, he would not kill the Gibeonites; and he would not, if he could help it, let others kill them. So he marched all night to Gibeon, with all his army, and God told him to fear nothing. And he fell upon the five kings, and they being surprised, fled on every side, and Joshua pursued them. And God made it hail, and the storm fell upon them, and the stones were so large and came down with such a force that "they were more which died with hailstones, than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.”
The battle, probably, began very early in the morning, and Joshua chased the five kings till the evening. And, now the sun and moon were both in sight : the sun was setting and the moon rising. But Joshua had not destroyed all his enemies, and he spoke to the Lord before Israel, that the sun might stand still upon Gibeon, and the moon in the valley of Ajalon, over which they both seemed to shine, and so, by the day and the light holding out longer, he might completely defeat his foes. “And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies."
Thus was Joshua highly honoured before all the people; and God showed to the heathen how foolish they were to worship the sun and moon, which they did, when He who made them could do as he pleased with them against themselves, and was alone worthy to be adored.
The five kings being entirely beaten, went to hide themselves in a cave, where the Israelites found them out, and they told Joshua, saying, “The five kings are found hid in a cave at Makkedah.” And Joshua said, “Roll great stones upon the mouth of the cave," so as to make them prisoners, “and set men by it for to keep them. And stay you not, but pursue after your enemies, and smite the hindmost of them; suffer them not to enter into their cities, for the Lord your God hath delivered them into your hand. And it came to pass when Joshua and the children of Israel had made an end of slaying them with a very great slaughter till they were consumed," so that none but stragglers were left here and there, and ņo army remained, " that the rest which remained of them entered into fenced cities."
The people now returned to the camp, and Joshua ordered the kings to be brought out of the cave. And he desired his captains to come and put their feet upon the necks of the kings, which was an encouragement to them to show them that these were but the beginnings of victory, and that so they should trample under feet all the wicked idolaters of Canaan, till they had got the whole land for a possession as God had promised.
And then Joshua smote them and slew them, " and hanged them on five trees ;” and in the evening they were taken down and put into the cave in which they had hid, and great stones were put before the cave, and there the bodies remained when the Book of Joshua was written.
The Land divided by Joshua among the Tribes.
The whole land was not yet conquered; for God said to Joshua, “Thou art old and stricken,” or grown, “in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed."
Now, as Joshua was old, he was not required to fight any more, but to leave others to do this, and he was only to divide the lots or portions among the people of Israel, and so there could be no quarrelling amongst themselves after his death, about what parts they should have.
Among the portions, he was to give land that was not yet conquered; but what God promises he always performs, and the children of Israel were to take his word, as though the thing were done.
Caleb was one of the twelve spies, and he contradicted the timid spies that would have made the people afraid of taking Canaan.
In the fourteenth chapter we find him asking Joshua for a particular portion which Moses had granted to him for his pious confidence in God. For Moses had said, “Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden, shall be thine inheritance and thy children's for ever, because thou hast wholly followed the Lord my God.” Caleb, with gratitude, said that God had preserved him to enjoy that lot, and though he had come to be eighty-five years old, yet he was still ready to fight in his righteous cause, and God had made him strong enough to drive out the enemy, though the land he desired was inhabited by some of the most mighty.
And Joshua blessed him for his faith in God, and gave him Hebron, as he desired, for an inheritance.
And afterwards we read that Caleb conquered Hebron, and“ drove thence the three sons of Anak."
Then he had to take Debir, or Kirjath-sepher. And he offered a reward to the captain who should take it, which reward was the gift of his daughter as a wife. This was a great honour. Supposing a great nobleman were to say that he would allow any person of lower rank to marry his daughter, on condition of his doing something that he wished him : it would just be the same kind of privilege as Culeb here offered ; for Caleb was the chief prince