By now the Israelites have demonstrated a pattern of military success. Jericho and Ai were conquered. They entered into a treaty with five Gibeonite cities. Why was the Canaanite king Adoni Zadek so upset with the Gibeonite treaty (v2)? The security of his city was being threatened. Strategically the Israelites controlled a swath of land through the center of the Canaan, splitting the land in two .
Adoni Zadek seeks to quell his fury by attacking the Gibeonites. He talks four other Canaanite kings into leaving their fortified cities and camp out in the open to fight against the Gibeonites (v7). Rather than let the Gibeonites pay for their earlier deception, Joshua honors the treaty and marches his troops all night over difficult terrain to engage the Canaanites in battle (v9). The Israelites and the Gibeonites fight all five northern kings in open terrain rather than in secure fortified cities.
God is the warrior here. He proclaims he has given the enemy into Joshua’s hands. God throws the enemy into a panic when the battle begins and then sends great stones from heaven down upon the fleeing armies (10, 11).
The miracle of prayer – Joshua prays with great faith asking God to cause the sun and moon to stand still. It should be noted that the sun and moon were principle deities of the Canaanites and any disturbance in their orbits or times would cause fear and panic among them. God listens to Joshua’s prayer and fights for Israel. The extended day enables the five northern kings to be completely defeated (v13, 14).
Lest we consider the account of the long day of Joshua to be a fable, one has to consider that the Inca’s, Aztec’s, Babylonian’s, Persian’s, Chinese and other ancient cultures make mention of singular long day event. Did the earth stop spinning? No. More likely the earth was tilted several degrees on it’s axis making one day longer than all the others.
The Israelite army marches south and six more towns (v28). When Joshua and his army return home to Gilgal, they have effectively quelled any major threats from the surrounding countryside but they have yet to completely occupy all the land of Canaan (see Judges chapter 1).
After reading this account in Joshua chapter 10, one has to be puzzled as to why a loving God would instruct his people to kill all the Canaanites in their battles. It’s certainly not because the Israelites were faultless or more spiritual than the Canaanites, they were far from perfect. They did worship the living God. When the Israelites turned their backs on Him they often paid of severe price, even. This very land would be taken from them many centuries later. On the other hand, the Canaanite pagan worship practices were very dark. Their worship demeaned and degraded human life, which included child sacrifice and sexual exploitation of older children.
Today, Jesus Christ is the advocate of those who follow his teaching. I am reminded of a saying I once heard, “God and you are always a majority” no matter what the odds are.
[For] If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31