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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 11

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-9

Joshua - Chapter 11

Battle In the North, vs. 1-9

The scene of Israel’s conquest of Canaan now shifts from south to north. An interval of considerable time probably has ensued since the entry into Canaan and conquest of the south. There is no way to be certain just how long Israel has been in the land. Passages like Joshua 13:1 indicate a period of several years was likely consumed in all the conquest.

Jabin, king of Hazor, formed an alliance of the northern kings similar to that of Adonizedec of Jerusalem in the south (Joshua 10:1). Hazor was located northwest of the Sea of Galilee (called Chinneroth in this context, v. 2), about midway between the Jordan valley and the Mediterranean Sea.

Madon lay to the south about half way from Chinneroth to the sea; Shimron was still farther to the south, while Achsphaph was in the far north, very near the mountains of Lebanon. These four cities were almost aligned from north to south in the central mountains. They were joined by the kings from the mountains stretching away to the north, the plains south of Chinneroth, the valleys westward to Dor on the seacoast south of Mt Carmel, and the Canaanite kings of all the area.

All these kings were able to field an immense army, likened to sand on the seashore, well equipped with cavalry and war chariots. They chose the battle ground in the level plains around the waters of Merom, a small lake and marshy area of the Jordan valley between Mt Hermon and the sea of Galilee (Chinneroth).

The Lord informed Joshua he was not to fear this huge army, (Hebrews 13:6). He is called on to exercise faith, but is promised victory within twenty-four hours. Joshua will overcome and slay this host and capture their horses and chariots. The horses are to be houghed, or hamstrung, to render them unfit for further warfare, and the chariots are to be burned with fire.

Joshua made a surprise attack on the allies and speedily smote them and routed them. The people fled to Zidon, one of the chief cities of the Phoenicians on the Mediterranean seacoast; to Misrephoth-maim, which is likely the name of salt pits, or a smelting area, going to the valley of Mizpeh east of the Jordan The scriptures say Joshua "left them none remaining" (v. 8), and did as bidden in destroying the horses and chariots.

Verses 10-20

The Fatal Mistake, vs. 10-20

After Joshua had totally vanquished the allied pagan army he fell back on Hazor, Jabin’s city, and the head of all the others, slew all the, inhabitants, and burned the city to ashes. The cities of the other kings involved in the affray were likewise put to the sword in keeping with the instructions Joshua had from Moses, who had them from God.

However, only Hazor was burned. The other cities were saved for the subsequent occupancy of the Israelites who would receive them in the tribal allotment. This is also in keeping with the Lord’s word, whereby He had said He would drive out the pagan inhabitants little by little until Israel increased in number to occupy the land, and that the land might not be overrun with wild and dangerous beasts (Exodus 23:30; Deuteronomy 7:22).

The people of Israel continued to enjoy the spoil of their battles, showing how liberally the Lord supplies His people after the first has been given Him (Joshua 6:17-19; 1 Corinthians 16:2; Philippians 4:19).

A very commendable thing is said about Joshua (v. 15); he faithfully followed the instructions of Moses, leaving "nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses."

Because of this the Lord blessed him and gave to Israel all the area of Canaan from mount Halak, near Seir, in the extreme south, to Baal-gad, in the valley of Lebanon at the base of mount Hermon, in the extreme north.

Another indication of the passage of a considerable period of time is found in verse 18. This was the result of a fatal mistake on the part of the Canaanites. They had enjoyed the longsuffering of God from the days of the patriarchs (Genesis 15:16) and had made no change.

None of the numerous cities and kings of Canaan, save Gibeon of the Hivites, had sought peace with Israel. God did not arbitrarily harden their hearts, but allowed them to continue to the hardening of their own hearts, when they had refused to leave off their iniquity.

In the end God got Him honor and glory from their hardened hearts by bringing judgment upon them by the hand of Joshua and Israel. Favor was no longer possible for they had closed mercy’s door, (Romans 9:22 -­23).

Verses 21-23

Canaan Conquered, vs. 21-23

The Anakim (correctly written without the "s", "im" being the plural Hebrew ending) were the giants, of whom the ten unfaithful spies had been so afraid (Numbers 13:33). Caleb had a special interest in the decimation of this pagan race, and the particular account of his conquest of the area, with Joshua’s blessing, is found in chapters 14, 15; Judges 1:8-20. A few of the giants escaped and went to live with the Philistines who were moving into the coastal cities of Canaan. It is once again emphasized that Joshua did all that the Lord had commanded through Moses. The conquest over, the inheritances are now to be apportioned. There are no more wars to fight, (1 Peter 1:3-4).

Lessons to be learned from this chapter include: 1) When more formidable enemies arise, we are strengthened by remembering how the Lord has delivered us in lesser situation, and should be assured that He will do so again; 2) when our victories are won we are to destroy the vestiges of sin that remain; 3) all that the Lord has promised will surely come to pass, and it is good if our part in it can be commended as was Joshua’s; 4) the world’s fatal mistake lies in neglect and refusal of the longsuffering of the Lord and trying to overcome without Him ( Romans 2:4).

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Joshua 11". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/joshua-11.html. 1985.
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