Bible Battle #13 – C. 1406 BC
When you commit yourself to something God advised against, He will, nevertheless, instruct you to stand by your word. God functions by words, by promises, by covenants. He takes His word seriously and He wants his children to follow the example.
The account of the Battle of Gibeon goes on to describe the whole Central Campaign of the invasion of Canaan where Joshua completely destroyed the Five Amorite Kings of the region. However, Joshua and the Gibeonites were the catalyst for this conflict and it was the night battle around the City of Gibeon which served as the decisive early blow in this campaign.
ANCIENT HISTORY before the Battle of GIBEON
History of the Bible – JOSHUA’S TREATY with the GIBEONITES
While in the Southern Campaign the army advanced fighting through the mountainous region of Canaan, in other parts much of the land was taken over by treaties. Such was the case at Shechem, in the Centre of the land and in Gibeon, where their people offered Joshua a treaty under false pretences at his camp in Gilgal. The deception was that they falsely introduced themselves as far away travellers presenting themselves as too weak, non-battle-worthy, thus deceiving the invaders into allying with them instead of fighting them. By feigning origin outside of the boundaries that God had established for Israel these people qualified not to be destroyed.
This treaty gave Joshua a clear path into coastal Philistia. However the Israelites soon learned that the Gibeonites were not from far away but inhabited that very region. The Army passed by the cities of Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth and Kiriath Jearim but did not attack them due to the treaty they had just made. Joshua honoured the treaty but made the Gibeonites servants of Israel.
NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN
The Oslo Accords of September 1993 were designed to open up a new era of peace between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). It allowed a degree of self-government for the Palestinians inside Israel’
s borders but, as the years pass this may complicate the matters more than a clean break would have. Well-intentioned, this was nevertheless a compromise which may reap grave circumstances in the end times.
Ancient History – The GIBEONITES at HOME
Most Canaanites were farmers living in fortified settlements. The rivalry within their people, however, left them divided against foreign invaders. Most of these cities, such as Jericho and Ai, had a population of about 1000.
The news of the battles of Jericho and Ai spread, and all the kings in the area joined to destroy the Hebrews. All together their forces were an overwhelming, frightening foe. There were many Canaanite kings in these central highlands, and the fact that the Gibeonites had allied themselves with the Hebrews was just as severe a blow as the loss of the Ai fortress.
Archaeology finds that Gibeon was a valuable commercial prize with a rich wine economy and a modern water system as well as the near impregnable high altitude fortress that it was.
CONFLICT BACKGROUND leading to the Battle of GIBEON
Military History – The FIVE AMORITE KINGS MOBILIZE
King Zedek of Jerusalem regarded this alliance as a betrayal from the Gibeonites who chose to ally with the invader instead of fighting him, despite the fact that they were more significant than Jericho and Ai and had seasoned fighters. Zedek summoned Five Amorite Kings to march on Gibeon.
Joshua’s new elusive ally asked for help and received it.
In a calculated pre-emptive move the day before the battle, Joshua sent out a vanguard force from Gilgal during the night to eliminate any forward positions of the Amorite Kings in the area south of Gibeon.
After marching 15 miles on a downward slant of over 1900 feet, his troops arrived near Gibeon undetected and took cover in the wooded area in the rear of the Amorites. Gibeon was built upon a low hill with ridges around it.
Military Strategy – JOSHUA and the GIBEONITES JOIN FORCES
The Amorite Kings’ units were probably encamped together near one of the water springs in the area and would most likely move to encircle Gibeon soon. They should have sent out scouts but failed to do so and were thus in a very precarious position.
Joshua’s troops remained undetected, and he was able to evaluate the position and decided that a night attack was best. The Gibeonites would be deployed close by.
MILITARY HISTORY of the Battle of GIBEON
1. When the Hebrews charged against the Amorite Kings, they had the advantage of moving slightly downhill, giving them added momentum and penetrating power.
2. The Gibeonites, of course, joined in the fighting Having their enemy therefore in the middle of a vice.
3. The forces of the Amorite Kings broke easily at the Battle of Gibeon and fled from the battlefield. Being cut off from their initial approach route to the south and with the highlands to the north and south, their rout was bottlenecked into the valley to the northwest along the Beth Horon Ascent. Joshua’s forces followed in close pursuit.
The real strategic military prowess of Joshua comes through after the battle had turned. Although we do not have more detail about the battle itself, it is well documented that the Hebrews pursued and continued engaging the beaten foe until no regrouping was possible. Joshua knew that if he did not eliminate the Amorites ultimately, that his tactical victory on the field would not count for much in the long strategic run.
4. The fight went on while the moon was still visible in the west, meaning, they moved in the direction of the valley of Ajalon for another 11 miles. If they succeeded in running, by daybreak, the Amorite Kings would reach the Beth-Horon pass and escape the geographic confines they were in. Joshua, therefore, stopped the bulk of the Amorite fighting force before this junction.
The Hebrews knew they had to finish the enemy off before dawn broke because darkness was best for them to fight in due to the lack of armour they had in comparison to their enemy. This disproportion is why despite reaching the threshold of their endurance Joshua decided that to keep the momentum going was better than to fight another day.
5. The Hebrews kept the fighting advance through Ajalon;
6. Continued as far as the Canaanite strongholds of Azekah and
7. Makkedah by which point the Gibeonites had joined the harassment.
The Battle Belongs to the Lord – GOD JOINS the BATTLE AGAINST the AMORITES
Scripture mentions large stones from Heaven. These may have been boulders that the Joshua and the Gibeonites pushed down the ravines, crushing many of the enemy fighters. On the other hand, this may have been a hailstorm. Either way, both would have been severe obstacles to the safe escape for the Amorite Kings.
In the end, the Hebrews had marched an impressive 30 miles in 2 days, most of which they did while embattled. Joshua concluded the Central Campaign in Canaan successfully.
PRAISE & WORSHIP
“Mighty God, in whose power it is to create and release both hailstones and volcanic boulders and to cause the earth to spew molten lava and wind-blown ash to the demise of many, holy and mighty you are. But, our comfort rests in your ability to still tempests, lengthen our days and multiply our bread baskets, Lord. In your power to roll back the advance of your enemies like a cloud in a storm, we take refuge, my God.” . 1
BIBLE HISTORY AFTERMATH of the Battle of GIBEON
The Army of God – JOSHUA and the FIVE AMORITE KINGS
The five Amorite Kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon were brought out of the cave they were hiding in and had them killed. The summary executions marked the transition from the Central Campaign into the Southern Campaign in the continuation of a virtually uninterrupted “blitzkrieg”.
During the brief period of resting and regrouping Joshua egged his leaders not to hold back, to be firm and confident, reminding them that once God had delivered victory, he was to show no mercy towards the enemy.
A remnant of the Amorites lasted for a few centuries until their enslavement under King Solomon.
The combat in the southern theatre initiated a counterattack mounted by Horam, King of Gezer, mounted a counterattack southward to relieve Lachish but was destroyed. Joshua proceeded to capture Lachish, Eglon, Debir and Hebron (all the cities of the defeated coalition) in a bloody campaign of annihilation with no survivors. He also gained control of the region of Negev, Kadesh Barnea, Gaza, Goshen and finally Gibeon, where it all had begun. At the end of the campaigned he returned to Gilgal with his army having covered a full circle of conquest in the Southern Campaign.
Ancient History – EVIDENCE of JOSHUA’S WARS
The find serves as a significant rebuttal to those insisting, particular Muslim extremists, that all of this period is a fabrication.
This stone is there today completely unrecognized even by the Israeli government for what it is because they and the majority of people put Joshua there much later and there is no evidence.
Path to War in the Middle East – JERUSALEM as ISRAEL’s CAPITAL
In AD 2018, Israel found itself under the same predicament. President Donald Trump, like Harry S Truman, has been put in a league not far from King Cyrus II (Cyrus the Great) based on the recognition of Jerusalem as he pushed through the long-awaited official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, though he started as a militant defender of Israel’s sovereign territory in the 1990s, he has since compromised with today’s “Gibeonites”: the Arabs of Samaria and Jordan. The talk of the day seems to be land for peace, once again. The probable imminent reconstruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, which is coupled with this false peace, will undoubtedly be the beginning stages of End Times tribulation proper.
SPIRITUAL WARFARE in the Battle of GIBEON
Prayer Warrior – DENYING the ENEMY a FOOTHOLD
Joshua wanted a total elimination of the enemy. We are taught to resist the Devil, and he will flee. Nonetheless, the Devil always comes back. Sometimes by one route, sometimes by another. The point is that if we do not prepare ourselves for the next time, we are wide open for defeat. We must annihilate the enemy after he is fleeing. In spiritual warfare, this is not analogous to “pursuing” the Devil (as Joshua did with the Amorite kings) but it does mean not stopping the resistance to his attacks. In other words, we must not be content with our tactical victory of the day and ensure that the enemy does not have favourable conditions to hurt us again.
We must take care of not being in habitual sin by, for example (to name the most common), not holding on to grudges, not being offended or anything else that would help Satan’s counterattack. We eliminate these areas in our walk just as Joshua eliminated the fleeing enemy. Satan is proud and when he is defeated he wants to attack back as quickly and as hard as he can.
NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN
On June 4, 1942, the US Navy handed the Japanese Navy an incredible, unexpected brutal defeat. They sank three out of their four aircraft carriers in the sea near Midway. The Japanese turned around and abandoned their offensive. Admiral Nimitz knew that this had been a massive stroke of luck. The Japanese grossly outnumbered the Americans in this battle which had been designed by Japanese Admiral Yamamoto as a trap to destroy what remained of the American fleet. For the USN, holding on to their fingertips up to that point and being able even just to stop Japan – let alone sink most of their capital force – was already a great victory. Logic dictated that they should not risk themselves further and be content with the outcome. Nevertheless, Admiral Nimitz ordered Admiral Spruance to pursue the last Japanese carrier and attack it before sundown. He did and sent it to the bottom.
The Sun Stood Still – ASTRONOMY 101
We know that the Earth goes around the Sun. It was the Earth that stood still, not the Sun. Joshua’s words may not have been perfect, but God accepted and honoured his faith nevertheless. Scripture states that there has never been a day like this when God listened to a human being.
There is faith, but then there is, more specifically, the gift of faith. Christians may have his faith stored up, but when the gift of faith hits him, he feels especially anointed, unusually capable, extraordinarily bold to pray for something; a God kind of faith.
Mark 11:22-23.  And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.  For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
This great faith is what was upon Joshua that day. Only that can account for his command for the Sun to stand still. Indeed God Himself stated that there was no greater miracle – not even Moses parting the Red Sea – before or after.
Of course, the Sun does not move. It is the Earth that moves. God is not legalistic. He understood the vernacular word spoken by Joshua and honoured the essence of Joshua’s message. In other words, God is no respecter of peoples Acts 10:34. God respects faith; in this case words.
Herodotus and some civilizations including the Incas record an unexplained day that lasted nearly twice as long. Yale Prof. Totten proved his whole miracle!
God reserved the greatest miracle ever for a time when a people were taking the Promised Land. The most magnificent miracles are waiting to happen for the last day great revival still ahead of us.
You need only to be still – INQUIRING of GOD
Proverbs 20:18 Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.
The Battle of Gibeon is a clear example of following circumstances instead of the leading of the spirit. Sometimes we have something that seems just right. We have heard countless stories of a couple that wanted to purchase a house that seemed perfect, and the price was even meagre. We have heard of single men or women who met someone, and everything seemed right with that person; they were good looking, smart, had a lot in common. We have heard of people who were tired of their job and along came an opportunity which seemed perfect, with a much better salary.
Sometimes, if people did not pray it turned out that, for example, the house they bought was a money pit with hidden repairs needed that they had not seen. The relationship with the person that seemed to be the future spouse turned out to be hell on Earth instead of Heaven. The dream job turned out to be horrible long hours with a tyrant for a boss. If only the people had consulted the Holy Spirit, they would have spared themselves years of anguish.
With the Gibeonites, Joshua paid the price for not having inquired of God if the Gibeonites were “kosher” or if there was something behind it. Yes if they had asked, God would have answered.
James 1:5 ESV. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
God Will Fight for You – DANGEROUS TREATIES
The treaty between Joshua and the Gibeonites was contrary to God’s instructions to Joshua. The people focused on the natural and not on the spiritual when the Gibeonites appearance guided them. The text specifically mentions that the people did not inquire of God and based their appraisal on what they saw. Had they asked the Father He would have alerted them to the trap.
Joshua no doubted regretted having agreed to this, but he honoured it nevertheless. To his credit, he sent the best men he had in aid of the Gibeonites. He was honouring not his former enemy but the Lord God by keeping his end of the bargain. In this, the Israelites showed themselves to be a better ally to the Gibeonites than the other way around.
The Battle of Gibeon is a clear testament to God’s integrity. For even though these people were inside the borders and predestined for total destruction, the fact that Joshua had to honour the promises he made.
BIBLE BATTLE on LOCATION around the Battle of GIBEON
WORLD HISTORY TIMELINE at the Battle of GIBEON
Events in History
Below is a history of the World timeline pertaining to the Ancient Middle East joined with the history of the Bible.
This world history timeline shows ancient calendars dates prior to 664 BC based on Rohl’s New Chronology. For a detailed explanation on the coherence of the Bible history timeline with other ancient history events please refer to our chapter “Chronological Discrepancies” for clarification.