We are here informed how Joshua improved the late glorious victory he had obtained and the advantages he had gained by it, and to do this well is a general’s praise.
I. Here is a particular account of the several cities which he immediately made himself master of. 1. The cities of three of the kings whom he had conquered in the field he went and took possession of, Lachish (Josh. 10:31, 32), Eglon (Josh. 10:34, 35), and Hebron, Josh. 10:36, 37. The other two, Jerusalem and Jarmuth, were not taken at this time; perhaps his forces were either so much fatigued with what they had done or so well content with what they had got that they had no mind to attack those places, and so they let slip the fairest opportunity they could ever expect of reducing them with ease, which afterwards was not done without difficulty, Jdg. 1:8; 2 Sam. 5:6. 2. Three other cities, and royal cities too, he took: Makkedah, into the neighbourhood of which the five kings had fled, which brought Joshua and his forces thither in pursuit of them, and so hastened its ruin (Josh. 10:28), Libnah (Josh. 10:29, 30), and Debir, Josh. 10:38, 39. 3. One king that brought in his forces for the relief of Lachish, that had lost its king, proved to meddle to his own hurt; it was Horam king of Gezer, who, either in friendship to his neighbours or for his own security, offered to stop the progress of Joshua’s arms, and was cut off with all his forces, Josh. 10:33. Thus wicked men are often snared in their counsels, and, by opposing God in the way of his judgments, bring them the sooner on their own heads.
II. A general account of the country which was hereby reduced and brought into Israel’s hands (Josh. 10:40-42), that part of the land of Canaan of which they first got possession, which lay south of Jerusalem, and afterwards fell, for the most part, to the lot of the tribe of Judah. Observe in this narrative,
1. The great speed Joshua made in taking these cities, which, some think, is intimated in the manner of relating it, which is quick and concise. He flew like lightning from place to place; and though they all stood it out to the last extremity, and none of these cities opened their gates to him, yet in a little time he got them all into his hands, summoned them, and seized them, the same day (Josh. 10:28), or in two days, Josh. 10:32. Now that they were struck with fear, by the defeat of their armies and the death of their kings, Joshua prudently followed his blow. See what a great deal of work may be done in a little time, if we will but be busy and improve our opportunities.
2. The great severity Joshua used towards those he conquered. He gave no quarter to man, woman, nor child, put to the sword all the souls (Josh. 10:28, 30, 32, 35), utterly destroyed all that breathed (Josh. 10:40), and left none remaining. Nothing could justify this military execution but that herein they did as the Lord God of Israel commanded (Josh. 10:40), which was sufficient not only to bear them out, and save them for the imputation of cruelty, but to sanctify what they did, and make it an acceptable piece of service to his justice. God would hereby, (1.) Manifest his hatred of the idolatries and other abominations which the Canaanites had been guilty of, and leave us to judge how great the provocation was which they had given him by the greatness of the destruction which was brought upon them when the measure of their iniquity was full. (2.) He would hereby magnify his love to his people Israel, in giving so many men for them, and people for their life, Isa. 43:4. When the heathen are to be cast out to make room for this vine (Ps. 80:8) divine justice appears more prodigal than ever of human blood, that the Israelites might find themselves for ever obliged to spend their lives to the glory of that God who had sacrificed so many of the lives of his creatures to their interest. (3.) Hereby was typified the final and eternal destruction of all the impenitent implacable enemies of the Lord Jesus, who, having slighted the riches of his grace, must for ever feel the weight of his wrath, and shall have judgment without mercy. Nations that forget God shall be turned into hell, and no reproach at all to God’s infinite goodness.
3. The great success of this expedition. The spoil of these cities was now divided among the men of war that plundered them; and the cities themselves, with the land about them, were shortly to be divided among the tribes, for the Lord fought for Israel, Josh. 10:42. They could not have gotten the victory if God had not undertaken the battle; then we conquer when God fights for us; and, if he be for us, who can be against us?