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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Joshua 11

 

 

Verse 1

And it came to pass, when Jabin king of Hazor had heard those things, that he sent to Jobab king of Madon, and to the king of Shimron, and to the king of Achshaph,

And it came to pass, when Jabin king of Hazor had heard those things. The scene of the sacred narrative is here shifted to the north of Canaan, where a still more extensive confederacy was formed among the ruling powers, to oppose the further progress of the Israelites. Jabin ('the intelligent'), which seems to have been a hereditary title (Judges 4:2), took the lead, from Hazor being the capital of the northern region (Joshua 11:10). It was situated on the borders of lake Merom. The ether cities mentioned must have been in the vicinity, though their exact position is unknown.

Madon , [Septuagint, Maroon = Merom (Joshua 11:5).] Shimron - called Shimron-meron, Joshua 12:20.

Achshaph - Ecdippa, near the Phoenician coast (Joshua 19:25).


Verse 2

And to the kings that were on the north of the mountains, and of the plains south of Chinneroth, and in the valley, and in the borders of Dor on the west,

The kings ... on the ... mountains - the Antilibanus district.

The plains south of Chinneroth - The northern part of the Arabah, or valley of the Jordan.

The valley , [ sh


Verse 3

And to the Canaanite on the east and on the west, and to the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Jebusite in the mountains, and to the Hivite under Hermon in the land of Mizpeh.

The Canaanite on the east and on the west - a particular branch of the Canaanite population who occupied the western bank of the Jordan as far northward as the sea of Galilee, and also the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea.

Under Hermon - now Jebel-es-sheikh. It was the modern boundary of Canaan on the went of the Jordan.

Land of Mizpeh - now Coele-Syria.


Verse 4

And they went out, they and all their hosts with them, much people, even as the sand that is upon the sea shore in multitude, with horses and chariots very many.

They went out ... as the sand ... upon the seashore in multitude. The chiefs of these several tribes were summoned by Jabin, being all probably tributary to the kingdom of Hazor, or at least all who had not fallen before the victorious arms of Joshua; and their combined forces, according to Josephus, amounted to 300,000 infantry, 10,000 cavalry, and 20,000 war-chariots.

With horses and chariots very many. The war-chariots were probably, like those of Egypt and Assyria (Nehemiah 11:13), made of wood (see the note at Exodus 14:6-7 : cf. 2 Kings 23:11; Psalms 46:9, with Joshua 17:16; Judges 1:19; Judges 4:3; Judges 4:13), but nailed and tipped with iron, and armed with iron scythes affixed to the poles. (For a description of the war-chariots then in use see Wilkinson's 'Ancient Egyptians,' 1:, p. 335-337; also Layard's 'Nineveh,' 2:, p. 349: cf. Homer's 'Iliad,' 4:, 1. 552; 5:, 807, 945; AEschylus, supplices, 50). These appear for the first time in the Canaanite war, to aid this last determined struggle against the invaders; and 'it was the use of these which seems to have fixed the place of rendezvous by the lake Merom, or Samachon (Josephus, 'Antiquities,' b. 5:, ch. 5:, sec. 1; 'Jewish Wars,' b. 3:, ch. 10:, sec. 7), the high lake, now Bahret-el-Huleh, along whose level shores they could have full play for their force.' 'This little triangular lake, about three miles long, on its northern border is contracted to a southern angle pointing toward the lake of Tiberias, from which it is about ten miles distant, and connected with it by the Jordan' (Osborn's 'Palestine, Past and Present,' p. 108).

Josephus makes no mention, of the lake in this connection (as he does, 'Antiquities,' b. 5:, ch. 5:, sec. 1), but says that the Canaanite forces encamped at Beeroth - i:e., wells, near Kedesh Naphtali ('Antiquities,' b. 5:, ch.

i., sec. 18). In reference to this statement of the Jewish historian, Stanley remarks that 'the expression "waters" (Joshua 11:7) is never used elsewhere for a lake;' and looking both to the words of Josephus and of the sacred narrative, he judges it 'safer to consider it as an open question whether the fight actually took place on the shores of the lake, or by a spring or well on the upland plain which overhangs it' ('lectures on the Jewish Church,' p. 258). An army so formidable in numbers, as well as in military equipments, was sure to alarm and dispirit the Israelites; and, according to Josephus ('Antiquities,' b. 5:, ch. 1:, sec. 18), they were overwhelmed with so great terror as to be 'superstitiously timorous.' Joshua, therefore, was favoured with a renewal of the divine promise of victory (Joshua 11:6); and, thus encouraged, he, in the full confidence of faith, set out to face the enemy.


Verse 5

And when all these kings were met together, they came and pitched together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 6

And the LORD said unto Joshua, Be not afraid because of them: for to morrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel: thou shalt hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire.

Tomorrow, about this time. Since it was impossible to have marched from Gilgal to Merom in one day (Josephus says, 'it was a five days' march'), we must suppose Joshua already moving northward, and within a day's distance of the Canaanite camp, when the Lord gave him this assurance of success. With characteristic energy he made a sudden advance, probably during the night, and 'on the morrow fell' [yap


Verse 7

So Joshua came, and all the people of war with him, against them by the waters of Merom suddenly; and they fell upon them.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 8

And the LORD delivered them into the hand of Israel, who smote them, and chased them unto great Zidon, and unto Misrephothmaim, and unto the valley of Mizpeh eastward; and they smote them, until they left them none remaining.

They left them none remaining - of those whom they overtook. All those who fell into their hands alive were slain.


Verse 9

And Joshua did unto them as the LORD bade him: he houghed their horses, and burnt their chariots with fire.

Joshua did ... as the Lord (Joshua 11:6) bade him. Houghing the horses is done by cutting the sinews and arteries of their hinder legs, so that they not only become hopelessly lame, but bleed to death. The reasons for this special command were, that the Lord designed to lead the Israelites to trust in Him, not in military resources (Psalms 20:7), to show that in the land of promise there was no use of horses; and, finally, to discourage their traveling, as they were to be an agricultural, not a trading people.


Verse 10

And Joshua at that time turned back, and took Hazor, and smote the king thereof with the sword: for Hazor beforetime was the head of all those kingdoms.

Joshua ... turned back and (re-crossing the Leontes) took Hazor ... the head of all those kingdoms. The ruins of a city called Hazur, on Tell Harah are now supposed to be the long-sought-for Hazor (Stanley, 'Sinai and Palestine,' p. 390; also 'Lectures on the Jewish Church,' p. 256). This, however, is not the opinion of Dr. Robinson ('Biblical Researches,' 3:, p. 356), nor of Professor Porter, (see the notes at Judges 3:1-31).

Smote the king thereof with the sword. His death by beheading, and not by the ignominious gallows, was probably owing to his dignified position as suzerain of the whole northern districts of Palestine.


Verse 11

And they smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them: there was not any left to breathe: and he burnt Hazor with fire.

He burnt Hazor with fire - calmly and deliberately; doubtless, according to divine direction, as being the Canaanite metropolis of the north; because its destruction was an exception to the usual treatment of the conquered cities of Canaan.


Verse 12

And all the cities of those kings, and all the kings of them, did Joshua take, and smote them with the edge of the sword, and he utterly destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the LORD commanded.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 13

But as for the cities that stood still in their strength, Israel burned none of them, save Hazor only; that did Joshua burn.

As for the cities that stood still in their strength [ `al (Hebrew #5921) tilaam (Hebrew #8510)] - 'on their mounds.' It was a Phoenician custom to build cities on heights, natural or artificial (Hengstenberg).


Verse 14-15

And all the spoil of these cities, and the cattle, the children of Israel took for a prey unto themselves; but every man they smote with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, neither left they any to breathe.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 16

So Joshua took all that land, the hills, and all the south country, and all the land of Goshen, and the valley, and the plain, and the mountain of Israel, and the valley of the same;

So Joshua took all that land. Here follows a general view of the conquest. The division of the country there into five parts-namely, the hills, the land of Goshen - i:e., a pastoral land near Gibeon (Joshua 10:41) - the valley, the plains, the mountains of Israel - i:e. Carmel,-rests upon a diversity of geographical positions which is characteristic of the region.


Verse 17

Even from the mount Halak, that goeth up to Seir, even unto Baalgad in the valley of Lebanon under mount Hermon: and all their kings he took, and smote them, and slew them.

From the mount Halak (Hebrew, the smooth mountain), that goeth up to Seir - an irregular line of white naked hills, about 80 feet high, and 7 or 8 geographical miles in length, that cross the whole Ghor, 8 miles south of the Dead Sea; probably 'the ascent of Akrabbim' (Robinson).

Unto Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon - the city or temple of the god of Fortune or Destiny, in Baalbec. [ B


Verse 18

Joshua made war a long time with all those kings.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 19

There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon: all other they took in battle.

There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon. It is implied in this statement that if any of the tribes or people of Canaan had repented, and forsaken their idolatry, they would not only have been spared, but, like Rahab, have been incorporated with the chosen nation of Israel. But notwithstanding the over-whelming evidences of divine agency accompanying the progress of the Israelites, the Canaanites, with one solitary exception, refused to acknowledge the wonderful works of God; and, instead of making any overtures of peace, or signifying a desire for it, they formed a united phalanx of armed opposition to the entrance of the Israelites. In consequence of this combined and unyielding hostility, the invaders destroyed them all. All other they took in battle. This statement does not conflict with that contained in Joshua 15:63 (see the note at that passage).


Verse 20

For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses.

For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts ... The Canaanite kings, with their people, although they had been informed of the miraculous passage through the Red Sea, and afterward through the Jordan, as well as of the sudden demolition of the walls of Jericho, were still determined to resist the progress of the God-favoured people. Greater obduracy or more inveterate enmity can hardly be conceived. Thus they were ripened for destruction.

That they should come against Israel in battle, that he (i:e., Israel) might destroy them. Their destruction is here distinctly ascribed to their obduracy. The reason assigned for their resistance is, that "it was of the Lord to harden their hearts ... that they might have no favour, but that he (Israel) might destroy them" - that is, God, in righteous judgment, gave them up to hardness of heart, as a punishment of their former guilt, and as a preparation for a still greater punishment (see Jamieson's 'Sacred History,' 2:, p; 163).


Verse 21-22

And at that time came Joshua, and cut off the Anakims from the mountains, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the mountains of Judah, and from all the mountains of Israel: Joshua destroyed them utterly with their cities.

No JFB commentary on these verses.


Verse 23

So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war. Joshua took the whole land. 'The battle of the lake of Merom was to the north what the battle of Beth-heron had been to the south: more briefly told, less complete in its consequences, but still the decisive conflict by which the whole northern region of Canaan fell into the hands of Israel' (Stanley, 'Sinai and Palestine, p. 385).

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 11:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/joshua-11.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, October 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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