Warrior Prophets Chapter 11
The Battle of Gibeon, Part 2
I’m going to die, was Boaz’s first thought, as he saw the metal stars twirl rapidly at him. His body moved of its own accord. Time slowed to a crawl. He could see the stars approaching his head and neck. He could see the wiry young Philistine flicking star after star at him from atop the rampart of Gibeon. Six stars now intended his death. That furry animal still clutched the boy’s shoulder gleefully. Impossibly, Caleb intercepted four of the stars with his sword. One passed Boaz harmlessly. In his slow motion world, Boaz had the presence of mind to catch one of the stars in his sling. With the star’s own momentum, Boaz slung the weapon back at its thrower. The Philistine boy ducked quickly, but not before the star hit the animal on the shoulder.
“Well done!” Shakra, the young Gibeonite leader, complemented Boaz.
“Shakra, quick. Lift me up. I need to stop the Philistine. We may not be so lucky next time.”
Shakra, understanding Boaz’s intent, threw the light ten-year old Boaz over the heads of the Canaanite troops. Boaz started running on the top of the heads and shoulders of the Canaanite army as he neared the Philistine. The Philistine flung another barrage of deadly stars at Boaz. Boaz’s body once again took over. Boaz followed his Instincts and blessed his ancestor Judah for passing on such a life-saving trait to him. He twirled and somersaulted midair. The stars passed him by, embedding themselves in the backs of the Canaanites below him. More purposely, Boaz caught a star mid-air and slung it back with violent speed at the Philistine’s throwing hand.
Boaz, pleased to see the star hit his adversary’s hand, saw him cry out in pain and run. Boaz reached the rampart, intending to pursue the Philistine. A large Canaanite commander intercepted Boaz and thrust a long sword at Boaz. Boaz pulled out a short sword from his side and parried the Canaanite sword.
“You are the wonder boy?” the Canaanite asked, smashing his sword on to Boaz’s short weapon. “You have chosen your opponent poorly. I am Margun, commander of all the troops of Lachish.”
“I did not choose my opponents and I do not care who you are,” Boaz replied as he rolled under the blow and stabbed Margun under his guard. Caleb reached Boaz at the rampart, clearing the swordsmen and archers with long swipes of his sword.
“Warn me next time you attempt something so foolhardy,” Caleb saluted Boaz.
“There was no time. I was following the Instincts you’ve been telling me to listen to,” Boaz answered.
“Remind me to teach you the trait of Diligence of Yissachar. Your Instinct does not make you invulnerable.”
Caleb and Boaz watched as Canaanites at the gate of Gibeon fell to the Israelite onslaught. Gibeonites who had retreated rejoined the fray. Joshua and Shakra joined Caleb and Boaz on the rampart over the gate. Shakra noticed Gibeonites fighting Israelites. The Israelites killed every Gibeonite that attacked them. But no Israelite fell, whether by Gibeonite or Canaanite sword.
“You are killing my people, too!” Shakra shouted at Joshua.
“That’s terrible!” Joshua stated. “But there are three armies here. How do we tell foe from allies who’ve never met?” Joshua asked.
Boaz held the fringes on the side of his garment and showed them to Shakra. Seven long white strings with one deep blue one rested in Boaz’s hand. He had fringes on each corner of his garment.
“Shakra, tell your people that the Israelites are all wearing fringes,” Boaz urged. “And tell your people to rip the idols off their necks. That way our armies can recognize each other.”
Shakra nodded, took Boaz’s fringed garment off of him, and stood on the top of the rampart.
“Gibeonites! The Israelites are the soldiers with the fringes on their garments!” He waved Boaz’s garment in the air, the fringes flying as a flag for all the Gibeonites to see. “Take your idols off your necks! Otherwise, the Israelites will kill you! Pass it on!”
Gibeonites viciously removed the telltale idols from around their necks. Israelite soldiers examined their combatants’ necks, while the Gibeonites focused their gaze upon their opponents’ waists. The Canaanites looked at both waists and necks, wondering in morbid fascination the nationality of who was killing them.
The Canaanites remaining within the walls of Gibeon were quickly dispatched by the joint Israelite/Gibeonite attack. The Israelite army outside the walls engaged the bulk of the Canaanite troops surrounding the city. The Canaanites fled from the unrelenting Israelite onslaught. They fell, as before a wild bull in a vegetable patch, leaving discarded husks of fringeless bodies with their cold idols still adorning their necks.
The Canaanite troops of the five kings retreated from Gibeon.
“Chase them!” Joshua ordered from the ramparts of the city. “We must destroy their armies today. Do not let them leave unhindered.”
Joshua, Caleb, Boaz and Shakra descended from the ramparts.
Shakra, finding one of the Gibeonite commanders, called him.
“Lurus, order our troops to secure the city. There may be some Canaanites hiding about. And tend to the wounded. It looks like the Israelites can handle the Canaanites without us.” Shakra looked meaningfully at Joshua.
“Yes,” Joshua agreed. “Our Lord is with us and you shall see how He deals with those who cross us. You are welcome to come along Shakra, to see for yourself.”
Shakra gulped and nodded. Together, they joined the Israelite army in pursuit of the Canaanites.
The Israelites hammered and hacked at the Canaanite rearguard all the way up the mountain pass eastward to the village of Beit Horon. At Beit Horon, the Canaanite commanders attempted to hold the Israelites, but to no avail. The Israelites cut through their defenses as the scythe cuts through wheat.
The Canaanites retreated southeast, down from Beit Horon towards the fortress city Azekah. The downhill terrain allowed the fleeing Canaanites to put some distance between themselves and the Israelites. Suddenly, the clear afternoon sky darkened. Thick clouds formed over the moving Canaanites, following their retreat. With a blast of thunder, hailstones fell on the Canaanites. Hailstones the size of human skulls rained down on them. The stones killed or maimed every Canaanite they hit. The Canaanites halted under the fatal barrage. The Israelites kept their distance, allowing the divine downpour to do its dirty work. Shakra looked aghast at the carnage. Canaanites fell in waves. Hundreds and thousands of Canaanites crumpled to the ground, more than the Israelites had killed by the sword. They lay as freshly slaughtered quail, littering the mountain with their corpses.
Just as suddenly as the hail had started, it stopped. The dark cloud disappeared, revealing the setting sun and the remains of the Canaanite troops continuing towards the sanctuary of Azekah. Boaz could see the sun glinting on the walls of Gibeon and the summer moon starting to rise from the valley of Ayalon.
The Israelites closed in again on the retreating Canaanites with Joshua, Caleb, Boaz and Shakra in the lead, together with the other Israelite generals and princes. The Canaanites, noting Joshua at the front, redoubled their attack. Archers shot their arrows at the leader of Israel, only to watch him deflect them with his sword.
“If we don’t finish them soon,” Boaz remarked to Joshua, “we will be forced to stop, or fight them in the dark in their territory.”
“The child is right,” Joshua agreed. “We have never been in these areas and we must destroy their troops while we retain the advantage.”
Joshua climbed onto a nearby ridge.
“Caleb, protect me,” Joshua requested. “I need to concentrate.”
Joshua faced the Canaanites, closed his eyes tightly and raised his arms heavenward.
A volley of arrows sped towards the unmoving Joshua. Caleb slashed through the arrows, stopping them mid-flight.
“Sun!” Joshua commanded in a booming voice, heard throughout the mountain and beyond. Joshua’s voice seemed to echo of the very sky. “Stand thou still over Gibeon. And thou, Moon! In the valley of Ayalon.”
The response was utter silence. The entire world seemed to stand still at the sight of a mortal commanding the heavens. Boaz was not certain, but thought he heard a deep rumbling or groaning sound, as if the movement of some giant mass was being held in check.
Israelites and Canaanites both looked from the moon to the sun. Over the course of long moments they did not notice any movement of the celestial bodies. All looked in awe at Joshua standing on the ridge until he commanded: “Attack!”
The sun and moon did not move from their places in the sky for the length of an entire day. It was sufficient for the Israelites to annihilate the remains of the Canaanite armies of the five kings. Very few Canaanite soldiers ever made it to the town of Azekah.
Far behind the Israelite troops, a lone thin figure hugged a tree. He whimpered at the raw display of power. Akavish, the young Philistine, still clutched his wounded right hand. Risto, with a makeshift bandage on his furry little arm, sat on Akavish’s shoulder dejectedly. I must go back to my people, Akavish concluded. I cannot fight them alone.
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Biblical Source: Joshua Chapter 10
8 And the Lord said unto Joshua: ‘Fear them not; for I have delivered them into thy hand; there shall not a man of them stand against thee.’ 9 Joshua therefore came upon them suddenly; for he went up from Gilgal all the night. 10 And the Lord discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon; and they chased them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah. 11 And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, while they were at the descent of Beth-horon, that the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died; they were more who died with the hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword. 12 Then spoke Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel; and he said in the sight of Israel: ‘Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ayalon.’ 13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the nation had avenged themselves of their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Yashar? And the sun stayed in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. 14 And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel.