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Victory in northern Canaan (11:1-15)
Alarmed by Israel’s victories in the south, the kings of the north organized the largest, strongest and best equipped army that Israel had yet faced (11:1-5). Again God encouraged Joshua, and again Joshua launched a devastating surprise attack. He defeated the combined northern forces, making sure that he destroyed all their horses and chariots. This was apparently to prevent the Israelites from being tempted to use the horses and chariots themselves instead of trusting wholly upon God (6-9). Joshua captured all the key cities and destroyed the chief city, Hazor. All of northern Canaan was soon in the hands of Israel (10-15).
Summary of Israel’s conquests (11:16-12:24)
Now that Israel controlled all the territory that was to become its homeland, the writer summarizes the entire conquest. First he summarizes Joshua’s conquest of all the area west of Jordan (i.e. Canaan itself), where nine and a half tribes were to receive their inheritance (16-23). Then he summarizes the former conquest in the time of Moses, when Israel gained control of the territory east of Jordan, where two and a half tribes had already been allotted their inheritance (12:1-6; cf. Numbers 21:21-35; Numbers 32:33). Finally he lists the kings of the Canaanite city-states whom the Israelites had defeated (7-24).
The record of Joshua’s conquest of Canaan is now complete. It has dealt only with the main events and has emphasized the decisiveness of Israel’s victory. Actually the war lasted a long time, at least five years (cf. 11:18; 14:7,10).
Once Israel had won control of the land as a whole, Israel’s leaders began the task of dividing it among the tribes. Throughout the country, however, there were many areas that the Canaanites still occupied, usually because they had either escaped the Israelites or proved too difficult to conquer. Many of these areas were in valleys or plains, where the Canaanites maintained control because of their large forces of chariots (cf. 17:16-18). The individual Israelite tribes were now to clear the Canaanites out of these areas and so enjoy full possession of their inheritance (see 13:1; 14:12). But the people were tired of battle, and the Canaanites whom they failed to destroy later became a source of much trouble to Israel (cf. 15:63; 16:10; 17:12). This is well demonstrated in the book of Judges.
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Joshua 11". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
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