MAKKEDAH (măk-kē'da, Heb. maqqēdhâh, a place of shepherds). A town near Libnah and Azekah conquered by Joshua. Five kings hid in a cave in this town and were killed and buried there (Josh.10.16ff.). The city was assigned to Judah (Josh.15.41).
E. G. Kraeling, Bible Atlas (1956), 138; D. Baly, Geographical Companion to the Bible (1963), 175.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
A Canaanite royal city which Joshua captured, utterly destroying the inhabitants, and doing to the king as he had done unto the king of Jericho (Jos 10:28; 12:16). It lay in the Shephelah of Judah (Jos 15:41). It was brought into prominence by the flight thither of the 5 kings of the Amorites who, having united their forces for the destruction of Gibeon, were themselves defeated and pursued by Joshua (chapter 10). Seeing their danger, the men of Gibeon sent to the camp at Gilgal beseeching Joshua to save and help them. That energetic commander marched all night with his full strength, fell upon the allies at Gibeon, slew them with a great slaughter, chased the fugitives down the valley by way of Beth-horon, and smote them unto Azekah and unto Makkedah. It was during this memorable pursuit that in response to Joshua’s appeal:
"Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon;
And thou, Moon, in the valley of Aijalon," the sun stayed in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down a whole day, until the nation had avenged themselves of their enemies.
The 5 kings sought refuge in the cave at Makkedah, where, by Joshua’s orders, they were blocked in with great stones, until the slaughter of the fugitives should be completed. Then the royal prisoners were brought out, and, after the chiefs of Israel had set their feet upon their necks, Joshua slew them and hanged them on five trees until sunset. This is an illustration of the old practice of impaling enemies after death. The bodies were then cast into the cave where they had sought to hide, and great stones were rolled against the entrance.
The flight of the allies was past Beth-boron and Azekah to Makkedah. Azekah is not identified, but it is named with Gederoth, Beth-dagon, and Naamah (Jos 15:41). These are probably represented by Qatrah, Dajan and Na`aneh, so that in this district Makkedah may be sought. The officers of the Palestine Exploration Fund agree in suggesting el-Mughdr, "the cave," on the northern bank of Wady es-Surar, about 4 miles from the sand dunes on the shore. There are traces of old quarrying and many rock-cut tombs with loculi. "The village stands on a sort of promontory stretching into the valley .... divided into three plateaus; on the lower of these to the South is the modern village, el-Mughar, built in front of the caves which are cut out of the sandstone" (Warren). In no other place in the neighborhood are caves found. The narrative, however, speaks not of caves, but of "the cave," as of one which was notable. On the other hand the events narrated may have lent distinction to some particular cave among the many. "The cave" would therefore be that associated with the fate of the 5 kings. No certainty is possible.