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The fatal catastrophe of Jericho and Ai alarmed all the neighbouring kingdoms, and induced most of their sovereigns to form an alliance against the common enemy. The people of Gibeon, however, thought proper to elude the impending danger by stratagem, and accordingly sent ambassadors to Joshua, desiring his friendship, and deprecating that wrath which had been already so severely felt in Canaan. These men, having received their instructions, arrived at the Israelitish camp with tattered garments, old clouted shoes, and mouldy bread; and affirmed that they had come from a distant country to pay their homage to, and request a league of amity with the people whom God had blessed in so extraordinary a manner. These professions, together with their wretched appearance, convinced Joshua that they were really natives of a distant land, and, under that idea, he concluded a league with them, without asking counsel of the Lord. However, at the expiration of three days, the artifice was discovered; and the deceitful Gibeonites, though secured from extirpation, were sentenced to become hewers of wood and drawers of water to their new allies.

Adonizedek, king of Jerusalem, was no sooner apprised of this circumstance, than he resolved to make an example of the cowardly Gibeonites, and accordingly led his forces, with those of four other kings, against their capital city, which was both stronger and more considerable than Ai, but which could not be supposed to resist so formidable a host of besiegers. In this exigence, therefore, the inhabitants applied for succour to Joshua, who generously hastened to their relief, and compelled the royal confederates to retire with precipitation. As they were fleeing in the utmost disorder,

and had almost reached Beth-Horon, there fell a shower of hail-stones of such an enormous size, that they did greater execution than the swords of the Hebrews. As, however, it was probable that many might escape in the general dispersion, Joshua commanded the sun to stand still upon Gibeon, and the moon in the valley of Ajalon, till the victory should be complete, and God vouchsafed to prolong the light of the day for that purpose *.

The success which attended Israel, and the miracle which God wrought for the destruction of his enemies, effectually destroyed the hopes of the five kings, and induced them to take refuge in a solitary cave near the city of Makkedah: but their retreat being discovered, the mouth of their cave was stopped up till the victors returned from the pursuit, when they were dragged out and trodden under foot by the chiefs of Israel: they were, afterward, put to death, and hung upon five trees, till the setting of the sun, when their bodies were again thrown into the cave, and several large stones were collected on the spot, as a monument of their tragical end.

The destruction of these confederates, together with that of Makkedah, Libnah, Lachish, Eglon, Hebron and Debir, and the fate of Horam king of Gezer, who had attempted to defend Lachish, induced Jabin, king of

It must be observed, that the Israelites were totally ignarant of astronomy, and therefore the inspired historian adapted this relation to their ideas. And it may be further remarked, that if such a circumstance occurred in England, the only mode of explaining it to the commonalty would be that which is here adopted; as but few out of the multitude would have any conception of the earth being stopped in a rotation which they never perceived.

Azor, to make a bold attempt against Israel, with the assistance of all the Canaanitish forces. Accordingly he sent to the kings of Madon, Shimron, and Achshaph; to the princes on the north of the mountains; to those in the southern plains near Cinneroth, and in the valley, and on the frontiers of Dor on the west; to the Canaanites, peculiarly so called, on the east; and to the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, and Jebusites, all of whom confederated together, against Israel, and composed an army which the inspired historian compares, in point of numbers, to the sand on the sea-shore. But, whilst they were encamped by the waters of Merom, they were suddenly attacked by Joshua, and thrown into such confusion, that they evacuated their tents with the utmost precipitation, and fled towards Zidon the Great, Miruphoth-Maim, and the valley of Mizpeh, whither they were pursued and cut to pieces by the Israelites. Their horses also were disabled, their chariots of war burnt, and Hazor itself, which had been reckoned the head of the kingdoms, was, soon afterward, taken and burnt to the ground. The rest of the cities belonging to the confederate princes were permitted to stand, but their inhabitants were involved in a general destruction.

After the Canaanites had been successively defeated and dispersed by the victorious tribes of Israel, Joshua led his valiant followers against a fierce and barbarous race, called Anakims, who inhabited the mountainous parts of the country, and who have been described, by Josephus, as men of a dreadful aspect and gigantic stature. The arms of Israel, however, were crowned with the usual success, and the sons of Anak were vanquished with such dreadful slaughter, that they were

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entirely cut off from Hebron, Debir, Anab, and all the adjacent mountains, and none of them remained in the land except in the cities of Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod.

Thus, after an obstinate conflict of near seven years; was Canaan reduced by the Israelites, according to the promise of the Almighty; Joshua divided the new inheritance, by lot, among the twelve tribes, în compliance with the injunctions of his pious predecessor; and, in the words of the inspired penman, "the land rested from

war."

113

CHAP. V.

From the Conquest of Canaan, by the Israelites, to the Commencement of their monarchical Government.

THE interval of peace which followed the distri

bution of the recent conquests was employed by Joshua in appointing the cities of refuge, which he had been commanded to set apart for the priests and Levites, and for the protection of such persons as had accidentally, or without an evil design, embrued their hands in the blood of a fellow creature. He also caused the two tribes and a half, which had received an inheritance on the other side Jordan, but had kindly assisted their brethren in the reduction of Canaan, to be honourably dismissed by the chiefs of the congrega

tion.

These Israelites, previously to their crossing the river, erected an altar of an extraordinary size, in token of their relationship to the other tribes, and as a monument of the wonders that God had wrought during their abode in Canaan. Their design, however, was so grossly mistaken by Joshua and his followers, that they held an assembly at Shiloh on the occasion, and, after some consideration, resolved to commence a sanguinary war against them for their imaginary crime of apostacy : but on the remonstances of Phinehas and several other chiefs, whom the general sent to investigate the business, an answer was returned which obviated this intention, and gave universal satisfaction.

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