Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 11:13

However, Israel did not burn any cities that stood on their mounds, except Hazor alone, which Joshua burned.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Canaanites;   Hazor;   Jabin;   War;   Thompson Chain Reference - Conflagrations;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Hazor;   Jabin;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Joshua the son of nun;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Fenced Cities;   Fire;   Jabin;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Syria;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Amorites;   Conquest of Canaan;   Hazor;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Barak;   City;   Joshua;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Hazor ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Journeyings of israel from egypt to canaan;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Ja'bin;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - City;   Criticism (the Graf-Wellhausen Hypothesis);   Hazor;   Joshua, Book of;   Palestine;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Ban;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The cities that stood still in their strength - The word תלם tillam, which we translate their strength, and the margin, their heap, has been understood two ways.

  1. As signifying those cities which had made peace with the Israelites, when conditions of peace were offered according to the command of the law; and consequently were not destroyed. Such as the cities of the Hivites; see Joshua 11:19.
2. The cities which were situated upon hills and mountains, which, when taken, might be retained with little difficulty. In this sense the place is understood by the Vulgate, as pointing out the cities quae erant in collibus et tumulis sitae, "which were situated on hills and eminences." As the cities of the plain might be easily attacked and carried, Joshua destroyed them; but as those on mountains, hills, or other eminences, might be retained with little trouble, prudence would dictate their preservation, as places of refuge in any insurrection of the people, or invasion of their adversaries. The passage in Jeremiah, Jeremiah 30:18, Jerusalem shall be builded on her own heap, תלה tillah, if understood as above, conveys an easy and clear sense: Jerusalem shall be re-established on her Own Hill.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 11:13". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/joshua-11.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

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).

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Joshua 11:13". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/joshua-11.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

But as for the cities that stood still in their strength,.... Whose walls were not demolished when taken, as Kimchi and Jarchi interpret it, or that "stood upon their heaps"F25על תלם "super tumulum eorum", Montanus; "quae erant in collibus et in tamulis sitae", V. L. ; upon an eminence, being built on hills and mountains:

Israel burned none of them; but reserved them for their own habitations, being well fortified, and having no need of new walls being built to them, or being in a very agreeable situation:

save Hazor only, that did Joshua burn; because it was the chief city where the scheme was formed, and the combination against Israel was made, and was the rendezvous of the confederate forces against them: the Jews have a traditionF26Bereshit Rabba, sect. 81. fol. 71. 1. , that God said to Moses, and Moses said to Joshua, that he should burn it, and that only.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Joshua 11:13". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-11.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

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

(g) Which were strong by situation and not hurt by war.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Joshua 11:13". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/joshua-11.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

as for the cities that stood still in their strength — literally, “on their heaps.” It was a Phoenician custom to build cities on heights, natural or artificial [Hengstenberg].

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 11:13". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/joshua-11.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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

In their strength — Heb. with their fence, walls or bulwarks, that is, which were not ruined with their walls in taking them.

Save Hazor — Because this city began the war, and being the chief and royal city, might renew the war. If the Canaanites should ever seize upon it: which in fact they did, and settled there, under a king of the same name, Judges 4:2.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 11:13". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-11.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 11:13 But [as for] the cities that stood still in their strength, Israel burned none of them, save Hazor only; [that] did Joshua burn.

Ver. 13. That stood still in their strength.] Heb., On their heap: i.e., that prepared to have stood out a siege, but yet repented and did not; or that had not their walls and bulwarks yet rased and dismantled in the fury of war.

That did Joshua burn.] For example’s sake to the rest; and for that the king thereof was the author of that war. [Joshua 11:1]

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 11:13". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-11.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ver. 13. But as for the cities that stood still in their strength, &c.— The Hebrew is תלם על al tillam, which may signify a foot, or standing; and then the sense would be, that Joshua preserved all those cities which had yielded, without having obliged him to besiege them, to make breaches in their walls, or to demolish their fortifications. This sense is preserved by the LXX, Onkelos, ours, and the French version, and by several interpreters; but nothing hinders us from translating, with the Vulgate, and Joshua burned none of the cities, which were situated on high places; or, as our margin renders it, on their heap. Bochart, who prefers this exposition, thinks that Thelassar, 2 Kings 19:12 and Thelabib, Ezekiel 3:15 two cities well known, took their name from the word תל tel, thus understood. See his Canaan, lib. 1: cap. 29. We should also conceive, that instead of translating Jeremiah 30:18 thus, Jerusalem shall be built on her own heap, the Hebrew might be very well rendered, shall be rebuilt upon her height, or high hill. It was certainly easier for Joshua to keep cities which were situate on high places, and well-defended spots, than the cities of the plain.

Note; (1.) God is just in all his judgments. (2.) It becomes us to give no more quarter to the least of our sins than did the Israelites to the infant Canaanite.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Joshua 11:13". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/joshua-11.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

In their strength, Heb. with (for so this preposition is oft used, as Exodus 35:12 Leviticus 2:2 Ezekiel 16:37, &c.) their fence or fences, walls or bulwarks, i.e. which were not utterly ruined together with their walls in the taking of them.

Save Hazor only; which though taken by the Israelites, was not so much destroyed as other places were.

That did Joshua burn, because this city began the war; and being the chief and royal city, might renew the war, if the Canaanites should ever seize upon it.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 11:13". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/joshua-11.html. 1685.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

But as for the cities that stood on their tells, Israel did not burn any of them except Hazor only. That Joshua did burn.’

The saving of all these cities, as he had saved the others in the South, was probably in the hope that when Israel eventually occupied them they would find cities in good condition for living in as YHWH had promised (Deuteronomy 6:10). Joshua was an idealist. He could not believe that Israel would finally disobey God and that these cities would therefore be turned against them. Some suggest that the writer was saying that he took all the cities of the kings apart from the ones that stood on their tells and were thus walled, inaccessible, heavily defended and would require long sieges to take them. This is not, however, what the surrounding picture suggests, and it would surely have said that he did not ‘take’ them.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Joshua 11:13". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/joshua-11.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

13.The cities that stood still in their strength, that is, on mounds or eminences, (Hebrews על תלם, on their hill, ) were retained, since they could be easily defended, while the cities on the plains were razed. But Hazor, the head of the confederacy, though in a strong position, must fall, as a penalty for the past and a security for the future.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 11:13". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/joshua-11.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Joshua 11:13. In their strength — Hebrew, with their fence, walls, or bulwarks, that is, which were not ruined with their walls in taking them. Save Hazor — Because this city began the war, and, being the chief and royal city, might renew the war, if the Canaanites should ever seize upon it: which in fact they did, and settled there, under a king of the same name, 4:2.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 11:13". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/joshua-11.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Fire. Several towns built on eminences, were reserved to keep the country in subjection. But it was thought proper to destroy Asor. Hebrew may be, "He burnt not the towns which remained standing, with their fortifications," &c., or such as had opened their gates to the Israelites. (Chaldean; Septuagint; &c.)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Joshua 11:13". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/joshua-11.html. 1859.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 11:13". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/joshua-11.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(13) The cities that stood still in their strength.—Literally, that stood on their mounds (“quæerant in collibus et in tumulis sitæ.”—Vulg.). Comp. Joshua 11:20. We may fairly suppose that Jericho and Ai committed themselves to hostile measures against Israel, though they were not able to send forth armies against Joshua before they were attacked. Those who “stood still in their strength” are those who remained absolutely neutral in the war. “The men of Jericho fought against you” (Joshua 24:11).

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Joshua 11:13". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/joshua-11.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

But as for the cities that stood still in their strength, Israel burned none of them, save Hazor only; that did Joshua burn.
in their
Heb. on their heap. The Vulgate, Syriac, Onkelos and Waterland render âl tillom, "on their hills." As the cities of the plain might be easily attacked and carried, Joshua destroyed them; but as those on mountains, hills, or other eminences, might be retained by him with little trouble, prudence would dictate their preservation.
Jeremiah 30:18
Reciprocal: Joshua 24:13 - cities;  2 Kings 15:29 - Hazor

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 11:13". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-11.html.