SynopsisIn the last passage, the Gibeonites tricked the Israelites into enslaving them, instead of destroying them. But this makes the Gibeonites allies of the Israelites, which worries the other kings in the area; they know that Gibeon is an important city, and that its men are good fighters, so they don’t want the Gibeonites allied with their enemies, the Israelites. So a number of kings of the surrounding area join forces, and march out to defeat the Gibeonites. (One might call this a “preemptive strike.”)
At this point, the Gibeonites put their alliance with the Israelites to the test; they send word to Joshua of what is happening, and ask for help. The Israelites are good to their word, and march out to the aid of the Gibeonites. The LORD tells Joshua not to be afraid of the kings he’s about to fight, because the LORD will deliver them into Joshua’s hands. He explicitly says that, “[n]ot one of them will be able to withstand” the Israelites (verse 8).
So the Israelites march through the night, and take their enemies by surprise. God throws them into confusion, and the Israelites defeat them in battle; when they realize they’re losing the battle, the enemies flee, and then God sends down hailstones. In fact, verse 11 tells us that more of them die from the hailstones than from the battle with the Israelites.
During this battle, the LORD does something miraculous; Joshua asks the sun and moon to stand still, and the LORD does as he asks, and stops the sun in the middle of the sky, where it stays for a full day, so that the Israelites can finish defeating their enemies. Verse 14 tells us that:
There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the LORD listened to a man. Surely the LORD was fighting for Israel! (verse 14)