(2) Conquest of Southern Canaan
The fear of the invading Israelites now spreads to “all the kings west of the Jordan….” and they prepare for war against Joshua and the Israelite army. The people of Gibeon (hill or height), one of the four cities of the Hivites (villager, midlander) descendants of Canaan son of Ham were known for their tricks and deceit which was and old and on-going part of their lives ; they “resorted to a ruse” – a trick or scheme – by sending a disguised delegation to Joshua stating “We have come from a distant country; make a treaty with us.” offering themselves as servants (slaves) .
God’s people are constantly being tricked into treaties with the enemy and these deceptions come in many different ways and formats. We are bombarded with various suggestions in the media that encourages us to believe that it is “our right” to do or have certain things in our lives so as to maintain our social standing; we are encouraged to do and accept habits that are based on worldly beliefs because that is the “norm”; and sad to say such things even creep into the Church. Church membership is no longer based on one’s faith and acceptance of Christ but rather based on who or what the individual is in the social realm, they act and speak the language of scripture but do not believe or accept what the Bible teaches. Consequently the believer and Church are ineffective in their Christian lives, witness, and service to God, and very soon the enemy in our midst is exposed, “Three days after they made the treaty with the Gibeonites, the Israelites heard that they were neighbors, living near them.” , all this was due to the fact that Joshua and the Israelites “did not inquire of the LORD” , and the same is the experience in our lives today.
The deception of the Gibeonites having been dealt with Joshua now resumes the task at hand which was to continue the conquest of the “the five kings of the Amorites– the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon” . The Amorites (mountaineers) were warlike and powerful, descendants of Ham through Canaan and lived in the mountains of Judah ; the “mount of the Amorites” was apparently another name for Canaan . They had refused to allow Israel (on their wilderness journey) to pass through their territory and Israel was afraid of them because they were beaten in battle by the Amorites . The Amorites worshipped a variety of gods .
As the ensuing battle was imminent the old fear of the enemy returned, but God gave assurance to Joshua and the Israelites “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.” , it was a great battle for the Israelites as they completely routed the Amorites with the help of their God as He fought for them. Joshua requested that the day be lengthened so that the battle could be completed and the Lord granted the request; “So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies…” ; and so it was that “On the day the LORD gave the Amorites over to Israel..” . The book of Jashar which bears the record of this event is not part of the Scriptures, but is apparently an account of Israel’s wars , since there is no other explanation of this event it must be accepted as a divine intervention so that Israel could complete the defeat of their enemies. The battle closes with the account of the slaying of the five Amorite kings; .
“So Joshua subdued the whole region, including the hill country, the Negev, the western foothills and the mountain slopes, together with all their kings. He left no survivors. He totally destroyed all who breathed, just as the LORD, the God of Israel, had commanded. Joshua subdued them from Kadesh Barnea to Gaza and from the whole region of Goshen to Gibeon. All these kings and their lands Joshua conquered in one campaign, because the LORD, the God of Israel, fought for Israel.”
Why did God command such destruction and death? As was pointed out earlier, these people (nations) were already under the condemnation and judgment of God, Joshua and his army were only the instruments that God used to carry out the sentence of death .