The Kings Destroyed

Fighting against God brings horrifying consequences.

Joshua 10 (4)

Then Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those five kings to me from the cave.” And they did so, and brought out those five kings to him from the cave: the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, andthe king of Eglon. So it was, when they brought out those kings to Joshua, that Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said to the captains of the men of war who went with him, “Come near, put your feet on the necks of these kings.” And they drew near and put their feet on their necks. Then Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; be strong and of good courage, for thus the LORD will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.” And afterward Joshua struck them and killed them, and hanged them on five trees; and they were hanging on the trees until evening. So it was at the time of the going down of the sun thatJoshua commanded, and they took them down from the trees, cast them into the cave where they had been hidden, and laid large stones against the cave’s mouth, which remain until this very day. Joshua 10.22-27

1.  Three symbolic acts are mentioned here: the feet on the necks, hanging on trees, and a pile of stones. For whom were these symbolic gestures intended? What does each symbolize?

2.  Verse 25 suggests that Joshua is back on track with the Lord’s will. How can you see that?

Think about it.
The brutality of this passage is difficult to receive. But we need to keep it in perspective. 

First, these pagan kings were cruel and violent, and they had set themselves to destroy Israel and it allies. Canaanite kings were typically brutal in victories over their enemies.  The violence to which these kings and their people were subjected was nothing more or other than what they typically visited on one another (cf. Jdgs. 1.3-7). 

Second, Israel was acting as God’s instrument in judgment against these peoples, whose sin had now filled to overflowing. These kings were not merely the losers of a great battle; they were cursed of God (cf. Gen. 15.16; Deut. 21.22, 23). Had Joshua not dispatched these kings in this manner, the message to the remaining kings and peoples of Canaan would have conveyed something less than God intended.

Third, any possibility Israel had of realizing the blessings of God in the land of promise depended, first, on remaining entirely separate from pagan peoples, and, second, on maintaining fear of God and respect for His Law. The treatment accorded these kings and their people would have spoken clearly to Israel about God’s zeal for righteousness and His hatred of sin. 

We should be horrified at such violence, so horrified that we wish no one ever to have to experience it. But the horrors these kings endured are not to be compared with the terrors of hell and eternal condemnation. If we feel pity for these kings, and recoil at the punishment visited upon them, surely we can muster greater concern for our neighbors, friends, and co-workers who are enemies of the Lord and bound for eternal torment.

Meditate and discuss.
1.  Should wanting to rescue people from the terrors of hell be a motive for our bearing witness to them? What would Jude say (Jude 1.22, 23)?

2.  Joshua and Israel now had a third major victory under their belt. The news of this would have reached to all the pagan peoples of Canaan. However, it did not soften their determination to fight against Joshua and the Lord. Why not? How do people become hardened to the Lord and the promise of eternal life?

3.  Joshua spoke to the people of Israel in the same words God had used in speaking to Him in chapter 1. Why? What was Joshua doing here?

“If we understand these things spiritually and manage wars of this type spiritually, and if we drive out all those spiritual iniquities from heaven, then we shall be able at last to receive from Jesus as a share of the inheritance even those places and kingdoms that are the kingdoms of heaven, bestowed by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, ‘to whom is the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen!’” Origen of Alexandria (185-254AD)

You hate sin, Lord, and I must learn to hate it, too. Rid me of everything that defiles me and offends You, and help me to…

Pray Psalm 97.

How does this psalm lead you to fear the Lord? Let it guide you both in hating sin and seeking the light and gladness of the Lord.

Psalm 97 (Darwall: Rejoice, the Lord is King!)
Rejoice, the Lord is King! O earth, lift up your voice. 
Be glad, you islands, shout and sing: Rejoice! Rejoice!
Refrain v. 9
Beyond, above
All gods and nations be exalted, God of love!

His just and righteous throne ‘mid clouds and darkness stands; 
His fiery wrath consumes His foes in every land.

Earth trembles at the sight of Jesus’ holy face; 
The mountains melt before His might and praise His grace.

The heav’ns above declare His glorious righteousness; 
And tribes and peoples everywhere; His Name confess.

While Zion gladly sings, let all be brought to shame
Who to vain idols worship bring and scorn His Name.

All you who love the Lord, despise sin’s wicked ways!
Praise Him Who guides us by His Word through all our days.

T. M. Moore

Where does the book of Joshua fit in the ongoing story of God’s covenant? Our workbook, God’s Covenant, can help you discover the place in God’s work of redemption not only of Joshua but of all the books of the Bible. God’s Covenant is a valuable resource to guide you in all your studies in God’s Word. To order your copy, click hereAnd when you order, we’ll send you a free copy of Bricks and Rungs: Poems on Calling.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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