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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 11

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verse 1

Jabin - Probably the hereditary and official title of the kings of Hazor (see Judges 4:2). The word means literally “he shall understand,” and is equivalent to “the wise” or “intelligent.”

Hazor - This name, which means “enclosed or “fortified,” belonged also to two other towns in the south of Judah (compare Joshua 15:23, Joshua 15:25). The Hazor here in question, the head of the principalities of Northern Canaan Joshua 11:10 overlooked the lake of Merom, and was afterward assigned to the tribe of Naphtali Joshua 19:36. It doubtless was one of the strongest fortresses in the north, both by nature and art. It is mentioned in Egyptian inscriptions of an early date. Its situation in the midst of a plain, though itself on a hill, rendered it especially suitable as a stronghold for people whose main reliance was on horses and chariots Joshua 11:4; Judges 4:3. Its position on the northern frontier led to its being fortified by Solomon 1 Kings 9:15. Its people were carried away captive, with those of the other cities of Naphtali, by Tiglath-Pileser 2 Kings 15:29. By the “plain of Nasor,” where (1 Macc. 11:67) Jonathan gained a victory over the Syrians, is doubtless to be understood “the plain of Asor” (i. e. Hazor). Hazor is conjecturally identified with the modern Tell Kuraibeh.

Had heard those things - i. e. of the defeat of the southern Canaanites at Beth-horon and of the conquest of their country.

The sites of Madon, Shimron, and of Achshaph, are unknown.

Verse 2

On the north of the mountains - Rather, “northward in the mountains.” The reference is to the mountain district of Galilee, called Joshua 20:7 “mount Naphtali.”

On the plains south of Chinneroth - literally, “in the Arabah south of Chinneroth.” The words describe the northern portion of the “Arabah” (see Deuteronomy 1:1), or depressed tract, which extends along the Jordan from the lake of Gennesaret southward.

Chinneroth - Identical with the later Gennesaret (see Numbers 34:10). The lake derived its name from a town on its banks (compare Joshua 19:35).

In the valley - The northern part of the same flat district mentioned in Joshua 9:1. This “valley” is the level plain adjacent to the sea and extending from Carmel southward.

Borders of Dor - Render “highlands of Dor.” Dor was a royal city, and gave its name to the district around it (compare Joshua 12:23; 1 Kings 4:11). Its importance was derived from its having an excellent and well-sheltered haven, and from the abundance among its rocks of the shellfish which furnished the famous Tyrian purple. The site of Dor is identified by travelers as the modern Tantura or Dandora - a name which is itself only a corruption of the ancient Dor. It lies near the foot of Carmel some six miles north of Caesarea.

Verse 3

Hermon - See Deuteronomy 3:9 note.

The land of Mizpeh - or Mizpah,” the land of the watch-tower” The locality is probably identified as a plain stretching at the foot of Hermon southwestward, from Hasbeya, toward the Bahr el Huleh. In a land abounding in striking points of view like Palestine, the name Mizpah was naturally, like “Belle Vue” among ourselves, bestowed on many places. The Mizpeh here mentioned must not be confounded with the Mizpeh of Gilead (Joshua 13:26, and Judges 11:29); nor with the Mizpeh of Judah Joshua 15:38; nor yet with that of Moab 1 Samuel 22:3.

Verse 5

Waters of Merom - i. e. “the upper waters,” the modern Bahr el Huleh, the lake Semechonitis, or Samochonitis of Josephus. This lake occupies the southern half of the Ard el Huleh, a depressed basin some 15 miles long and 3 or 4 miles wide lying between the hills of Galilee on the west and the lower spurs of Hermon on the east. The size of the lake varies with the season, and the northern side of it ends in a large swamp. The shape of the lake is triangular, the point being at the south, where the Jordan, which enters it on the north, again quits it. There is a considerable space of tableland along the southwestern shore, and here probably the troops of Jabin and his confederates were encamped, preparing to move southward when Joshua and his army fell suddenly upon them.

Verse 6

Hough their horses - i. e. cut the sinews of the hinder hoofs. This sinew once severed cannot be healed, and the horses would thus be irreparably lamed. This is the first appearance of horses in the wars with the Canaanites (Deuteronomy 17:16 and note).

Verse 7

Suddenly - As before, at Gibeon Joshua 10:9, so now Joshua anticipates his enemies. Taken by surprise, and hemmed in between the mountains and the lake, the chariots and horses would have no time to deploy and no room to act effectively; and thus, in all probability, the unwieldy host of the Canaanites fell at once into hopeless confusion.

Verse 8

One portion of the defeated host fled north-westward toward Zidon; the other northeastward up the Ard el Huleh.

Zidon, as the metropolis of various subject towns and territories, appears Joshua 19:28 to have been afterward assigned to Asher, but was not, in fact, conquered by that tribe Judges 1:31. It is mentioned in Egyptian papyri of great antiquity, and by Homer, and was in the most ancient times the capital of Phoenicia. In later times it was eclipsed by Tyre (compare 2 Samuel 5:11). The prophets frequently couple Tyre and Sidon together, as does also the New Testament (Isaiah 23:2, Isaiah 23:4,Isaiah 23:12; Jeremiah 27:3; Jeremiah 47:4; Matthew 11:22; Matthew 15:21, etc.).

Both the site and signification of Misre-photh-maim are uncertain. Some have thought it identical with “Zarephath which belongeth to Zidon” 1 Kings 17:9, the Sarepta of the New Test. The name is explained by some (see the margin) as meaning hot springs; by others as salt pits; i. e. pits where the sea water was evaporated for the sake of its salt; and again by others as “smelting factories near the waters.” Some, tracing the word to quite another root, render it “heights of waters,” or copious springs.

Verse 13

Render: “But the cities standing each on its own hill” (compare Jeremiah 30:18). The meaning is simply that, with the exception of Hazor, Joshua did not burn the cities, but left them standing, each on its former site. This site is spoken of as a hill, because such was the ordinary site chosen for cities in Canaan (compare Matthew 5:14).

Verse 17

The mount Halak - See the margin and reference. The name serves to mark the southern limit of Joshua’s conquests. It suits equally well several of the ranges near the south border of Palestine, and it is uncertain which of them is the one here indicated.

Baal-gad Joshua 12:7; Joshua 13:5 is probably Paneas, the Caesarea Philippi of later times. The name means “troop or city of Baal,” or a place where Baal was worshipped as the giver of “good luck.” Compare Isaiah 65:11. It was probably the same as Baal-Hermon (Jdg 3:3; 1 Chronicles 5:23; and see Deuteronomy 3:9).

Verse 18

A long time - At least five years; according to others, seven years (see Joshua 14:10, and Introduction). This and the preceding chapter contain a very condensed account of the wars of Joshua, giving particulars about leading events only.

Verse 20

See the marginal references.

Verse 21

At that time - i. e. in course of the “long time” mentioned in Joshua 11:18.

The Anakims - See Numbers 13:22. As it was the report of the spies respecting the Anakims which, above all, struck terror into the Israelites in the wilderness, and caused their faithless complaining and revolt, so the sacred writer goes back here in his story to record pointedly the overthrow of this gigantic and formidable race. They had their chief settlements in the mountains around Hebron Joshua 10:3 or Debir. See Joshua 15:15.

Anab was a city in the mountain district of Judah, lying some distance south of Hebron. It still bears its ancient name.

Verse 22

Gaza, Gath, Ashdod - See the Joshua 13:3 note.

Verse 23

These words import that Joshua had overcome all overt resistance. There were, however, many districts by no means thoroughly and finally subdued Joshua 13:1-6.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Joshua 11". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/joshua-11.html. 1870.
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