Page images

the standing still of the sun. Its rising yet higher would indicate, and falsely, too, the approach of night; while the stopping of this luminary in its progress up the eastern sky, in connection with that of the sun in its descent below the horizon in the west, would add to the fearful strangeness of the prodigy. It would serve to increase the overwhelming amazement of the Canaanites, and to disarm them of all power of resisting their pursuers, whose God was giving such tokens of his might, and of the aid which he could furnish, in this miraculous way, to Joshua and his army. The moon still shed its faint beams upon the vale of Ajalon ; while the sun cast eastward its strong and slanting light over Gibeon and the surrounding region, and, in this way, obeyed the mandate of Joshua, to stand still upon that city; thus enabling the Israelites to continue the

pursuit of their enemies, and complete the work of destruction.

The five confederate kings, however, contrived to make their escape. They fled towards Makkedah, and hid themselves in a cave near that city. Joshua, being informed of the place of their concealment, went there with his army, and commanded some of the men to roll a number of huge stones against the entrance, so as to prevent their escape. As an additional security, he stationed a party of soldiers to watch it, and

then directed a detachment to pursue after the rear-guard of the enemy, and not to suffer them to enter into their fortified cities, lest they might rally with renewed strength, and not be so easily overcome.

His orders were immediately obeyed. The remaining Canaanites were overtaken and slain, with the exception of a few who succeeded, after all, in reaching the cities, and obtaining there a temporary protection.

This being done, the detachment sent on the excursion returned to Joshua, who, with the main body of the army, was encamped at Makkedah. None were missing. All came back unhurt; and on their way, as they marched victorious near the towns and villages of the Canaanites, not one dared to move his tongue against them, in reproach or insult, so terrified were the inhabitants at what had happened.

The fate of the king of Jerusalem and his four associates, was now near at hand. Their punishment was a severe one; inflicted not with the malicious spirit of revenge, but in accordance with the injunctions of Jehovah, who, while making the Israelites the executioners of his justice, did but treat these wicked men as they deserved.

At the command of Joshua, the mouth of the cave was opened, and the five monarchs were brought forth. They stood in silence before him, and in the presence of the army, to await their doom. He called for the distinguished officers who had led the Israelites to the scene of their late triumph, and directed them to come near, and put their feet upon the necks of the kings, who bowed prostrate on the earth for this purpose. It was done, not in the way of taunt or insult, but as a symbolical transaction, with which the Eastern customs abound, to show, in a visible and striking manner, the complete victory which the Israelites had obtained, and the future, entire conquest, which they would achieve over all who should oppose them.

While this was taking place, Joshua thus addressed the officers: "Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage ; for thus shall the Lord do to all your enemies against whom ye fight.”

After this, at the command of Joshua, the five kings were slain, and hung on as many trees, where their dead bodies remained till the close of the day. They were then taken down and cast into the cave where they had been hid; against the mouth of which great stones were piled up, as a memorial of what had taken place.

The destruction of these kings and of their armies was immediately followed by still further victories on the part of the Israelites. Makke

dah was taken ; and its king and all the inhabit. ants of the city were put to death. Such, too, was the fate of Libnah, a city in the neighborhood, and of Lachish, the late residence of one of the five kings who were executed. Horam, king of Gezer, who had come up to the assistance of Lachish, was also destroyed with all his people. Then followed, in quick succession, the taking of Eglon, of Hebron, and of Debir, and the utter extermination of those who dwelt in these cities." So Joshua,” we are told, "smote all the country of the hills, and of the south, and of the vale, and of the springs, and all their kings : he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel had commanded. And Joshua smote them from Kadesh-barnea even unto Gaza, and all the country of Goshen, even unto Gibeon. And all these kings and their land did Joshua take at one time; because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel.”

In obedience to the commands of God, confiding in his promises, and relying on his aid, did Joshua accomplish these things. Without the interposition of Omnipotence, such rapid and astonishing victories would never have been achieved. The Lord God of Israel fought for Israel ;" and, therefore, they triumphed over their enemies.

My young friend, you have now formidable and numerous enemies to contend with-your own sinful thoughts, desires, and purposes, the seductions of a world lying in wickedness, and the wiles of the adversary of souls. Your eternal safety depends on their utter extermination from your breast; on your complete triumph over them. How will you cope with them, with any hope of success? You have but one hope of

It is the strength of Jesus. Take hold of his almighty arm. Go to him, heart-broken for sin, and feeling your own weakness. Implore his aid. Rely on it; and you shall surely be victorious.



The Israelites return to Gilgal. A northern confederacy

against them. They are again victorious, and their wars for the present cease.

After subduing, as we have seen, the southern parts of Canaan, Joshua and his army returned to the encampment at Gilgal. The news which

« PreviousContinue »