Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 11:23

So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord had spoken to Moses, and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. Thus the land had rest from war.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Joshua;   War;   Thompson Chain Reference - Ancient Heroes;   Battle of Life;   Conquests;   Heroes, Ancient;   Israel;   Nation;   Peace Invoked;   War-Peace;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Types of Christ;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Jabin;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Joshua;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Joshua, the Book of;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Kings, 1 and 2;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Joshua;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Canaan (2);   Journeyings of israel from egypt to canaan;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Criticism (the Graf-Wellhausen Hypothesis);   Division;   Joshua (2);   Joshua, Book of;   Rest;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

So Joshua took the whole land - All the country described here and in the preceding chapter. Besides the multitudes that perished in this war, many of the Canaanites took refuge in the confines of the land, and in the neighboring nations. Some suppose that a party of these fugitive Canaanites made themselves masters of Lower Egypt, and founded a dynasty there known by the name of the shepherd kings; but it is more probable that the shepherds occupied Egypt long before the time that Jacob went thither to sojourn. It is said they founded Tingris or Tangier, where, according to Procopius, they erected two white pillars with an inscription in the Phoenician language, of which this is the translation: We Are the Persons Who Have Fled from the Face of Joshua the Plunderer, the Son of Nave or Nun. See Bochart, Phaleg and Canaan, lib. i., c. xxiv., col. 476. Many, no doubt, settled in different parts of Africa, in Asia Minor, in Greece, and in the different islands of the Aegean and Mediterranean Sea: it is supposed also that colonies of this people were spread over different parts of Germany and Sclavonia, etc., but their descendants are now so confounded with the nations of the earth, as no longer to retain their original names, or to be discernible.

And Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel - He claimed no peculiar jurisdiction over it; his own family had no peculiar share of it, and himself only the ruined city of Timnath-serah, in the tribe of Ephraim, which he was obliged to rebuild. See Joshua 19:49, Joshua 19:50, and see his character at the end of the book, Joshua 24:33; (note).

And the land rested from war - The whole territory being now conquered, which God designed the Israelites should possess at this time. According to the apostle, Hebrews 4:8, etc., Joshua himself was a type of Christ; the promised land, of the kingdom of heaven, the victories which he gained, of the victory and triumph of Christ; and the rest he procured for Israel, of the state of blessedness, at the right hand of God. In this light we should view the whole history, in order to derive those advantages from it which, as a portion of the revelation of God, it was intended to convey. Those who finally reign with Christ are they who, through his grace, conquer the world, the devil, and the flesh; for it is only of those who thus overcome that he says, "They shall sit with me on my throne, as I have overcome, and am set down with the Father on the Father's throne;" Revelation 3:21. Reader, art thou a conqueror?

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 11:23". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/joshua-11.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

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.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Joshua 11:23". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/joshua-11.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Joshua 11:23

The land rested from war.

The fight from which they rested

Though the records of this war are short, we know that “Joshua made war a long time with all these kings.” Only the most striking and salient features are recorded, and these are such as are well fitted for correction and instruction. The campaign in all probability lasted for six years. God, had He so chosen, could have brought all the Canaanites together and crushed them at one blow. He did not do so, and He gives us the reason why He did not. So far as His people were concerned it was for their spiritual training. Had He wrought such a wonder, they might have magnificently celebrated His praises as at the Red Sea, but as easily forgotten His mercies as at Marah. Jehovah sought to teach them and us by the continuance of this conflict, that His heritage is our portion only through faith in Him and faithfulness to His word. Yet there is an opposite error that must be guarded against. If we are not to expect one great and decisive victory, much less are we to expect a series of disastrous defeats. If too great a triumph might have led to presumption on the part of Israel, too great a trial might have induced despair. Accordingly, God neither gave the one nor did He permit the other, but always tempered both to the necessities of His people. Is not this a true picture of spiritual experience, full of instruction and encouragement? How often does the young convert feel himself walking in a land of miracle? “Old things have passed away, all things have become new.” The chains of iron and the fetters of steel fall from his limbs. The bars of brass are broken, and he quits the prison house of Satan and walks abroad in abounding liberty and glorious triumph. Sometimes, indeed, in the buoyancy of his soul, he indulges in strange talk, shakes his head with precocious wisdom, and assumes unconscious airs of superiority in the presence of such as do not share his happy experience. But by and by he encounters some gross and humiliating defeat like that which befel Israel at Ai. He is humbled in the dust. With chastened spirit he begins to join trembling with his mirth, and he finds out, more and more every day, the need of constant trust and unquestioning obedience. He wakes up to the fact that in this fight of faith, as in that, the conditions of success are trustful courage, wise purpose, sleepless energy, scrupulous obedience, and hard blows. It will be interesting to notice the last foes encountered in this fight. We read in the immediately pre ceding verses: “At that time came Joshua, and cut off the Anakims.” These Anakim were the first to fill the hearts of the Israelites with fear, and they were the last to be faced. Compared with them the Israelites felt themselves grass hoppers, and it was well that their giant strength was not braved at the beginning of the campaign, but reserved to its close. Israel did not face these giants till it had been trained in the war of the Lord; till it knew how invincible was the man who puts his trust in Jehovah; till it knew from its own experience how one could chase a thousand--till, in short, it was able to measure the strength of the Anakim not against its own, but against the omnipotence of Jehovah. The opposition, which was once deemed invincible, now shrinks into insignificance. How often is it thus in the experience of God’s people. I have sometimes asked young converts why they had been so long in coming forward to confess Christ. And their reply has often been, “I saw what was required and expected of a Christian. I felt the many and great difficulties that lay in the way of confessing Christ. I knew some thing of the temptations and troubles that would come upon me if I became a Christian, and as I looked at these things I felt afraid, and shrank back conscious of my own weakness.” Exactly! Before these difficulties, that would come upon you by confessing Christ, you feel as grasshoppers. Does that express your present position? You are like Israel at Kadesh-Barnea. You are standing on the very borders of the land, with all its beauty spread before you. Yea, you also are spying it out. You are considering the promises and blessings of Christ for time and eternity. You cannot but confess that it is a goodly heritage, a pleasant land flowing with milk and honey. Even though you have not entered the good land, you know that you are refreshed by its blessed fruits. Then why not enter in? It is free for you. No walls rise up between you and it to shut you out. No deep river rolls to prevent your entrance. Ah! you are afraid. There are giants there, and strong cities walled to the sky. If I confess Christ I shall have mighty temptations and troubles to face and overcome. Are such your difficulties? Well, I do not say you are strong. I do not say that there are no Anakim in the land. But I do say that you utterly misunderstand the meaning of the situation. The instant you go forward you enlist on your side the strength of Jehovah, and there is no sin, no temptation, no trouble, however gigantic, over which He cannot cause you to triumph. But there are lessons here for the Christian veteran as well as for the Christian recruit. He has left Moses behind, as a leader who can give no rest, he has put himself under the flag of Joshua, he has entered into the inheritance and fought the good fight of faith, with encouraging measure of success. Yet still there remain some temptations, some sins, some sorrows, some bereavements, which look very dreadful. They are like gigantic Anakim, before which you quail. Do not measure your might with theirs. Pit them against the omnipotence of your Father God. Any temptation, any sin, any trial, is too much for us in our own strength; but strengthened with His might the meanest can face and over come the greatest of them all. Notice, again, that the fighting does not grow less severe as we go onwards. The Anakim were left to the last. So often the greatest burdens, sharpest trials, severest afflictions, fiercest temptations, come at the end. No man can ever rest here in fancied security. (A. B. Mackay.)

The rest for which they fought

The rest for which Israel fought had been promised more than four hundred years before (Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 12:6-7, &c.). This promise, so old, so solemn, so wide, so definite, so clear, and so often repeated, was the formative and governing principle in the lives of all the patriarchs. This it was that made them Faith’s Pilgrim Fathers. They believed these promises, their hearts embraced them, said they confessed that they were pilgrims and strangers in the earth. But the promise was sure, though held long in abeyance for wise and loving purposes. The vision may tarry, but come it must; because God’s gifts and calling are without repentance, unconditioned by aught in the creature; and because God’s power and wisdom are without limit. He is the God of truth and of infinite resources. Through strange scenes, hard discipline, and varying experiences the seed of Abraham may pass, but all the time God is leading them to His promised rest. What a lesson in patience have we here! What encouragement to wait for the end of the Lord! Surely, as we consider them thus at the end of their toils and in the enjoyment of that great promise, we may exclaim, “Happy is the people whose God is the Lord.” Is there anything as good in store for us? There is better. God’s basket of bounty is not empty. God’s act gave this promise first of all. After He created all things He rested from His works. He had gone out of Himself to work; He returned to Himself to rest. As certainly as the old creation, through ages of convulsion and astounding changes, attained its crown and climax in God’s rest, so surely the new creation, by whatever mysteries and conflicts its development is characterised, shall usher in the glorious Sabbath of redemption. As surely as Joshua gave rest to those who followed him, so surely does Jesus give rest to all who put their trust in Him. The innumerable company of the redeemed have found in this promise a power sufficient to govern all their lives, a solace for every woe. But if the rest for which Israel fought was a rest long promised, it was also a rest which for a time was forfeited. “They could not enter in because of unbelief. Thou standest by faith. Therefore be not high-minded, but fear.” Let us fear with that fear which has strong confidence, with which we work out our salvation, which mingles with holy mirth, which lasts through all the time of our sojourn here, and which is our safety. “Blessed is the man that feareth alway.” Further, the rest for which Israel fought was imperfect. It was only a comparative rest. The land as a whole was taken. It was so far in their hands that they could with safety partition it among the several tribes, allowing each to perfect the work of conquest within his allotted territory. The Canaanites were unable to put an army in the field. Their united power was for the time utterly broken. Yet still they had cities here and there in their possession. They were to remain for a time, to prevent the land from lapsing into an irreclaimable waste, to exercise the people in war, and to be a test of Israel’s faithfulness. We have therefore here a master-sketch of Christian experience. The believer enters into life by a miracle of grace and power. He is buried with Christ by baptism into His death. He is raised with Him and seated with Him in heavenly places. He finds his Gilgal at Golgotha, where the reproach of sin is rolled away, and he receives nourishment for his soul. Here, also, he learns the mystery of the Divine leadership of Him who has said, “Lo, I am with you alway.” He takes Him as Prophet, Priest, and King. Then he learns the might of faith in casting down the walls which human pride and strength and skill have reared. He is also taught, it may be by humiliating defeat, the weakness of unbelief and disobedience, as was Israel at Ai. He is convinced that if he is not to make shipwreck he must hold fast “faith and a good conscience.” Then with bitter sorrow he learns the value of self-judgment and confession of sin. The dark and dreadful valley of Achor becomes the only door of hope. Then with deeper intelligence he repeats with restored soul the Amen of allegiance, deliberately takes the law of God for his guide, and depends on the Cross for power of communion. The camps at Ebal and Gerizim, in the very centre of the blessed inheritance, surrounded by its fairest scenes, when his heart knows the meaning of these words, “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Then, from new consecration, rejoicing in Christ Jesus, and having no confidence in the flesh, he passes on to higher acts of faith and to nobler victories. Things in heaven as well as things on earth reveal faith’s power. Be can put his foot on the neck of tyrant sins, and laugh to scorn the horses and chariots of human might. Sometimes there are periods of desperate fighting, in which every fibre is strained to its utmost tension, Sometimes there are periods of comparative repose, a welcome lull, when the land rests from war. And in these happy days all the work may seem done, and perfect victory gained. Old and tough sins are conquered. Those that remain hide their diminished heads. Still they lurk in the dark recesses of the heart, ready to spring out and pounce upon us if for a moment we are off our guard. Therefore there is constant need of watchfulness. Lastly, the rest for which Israel fought was prospective. From the very fact of its imperfections it pointed forward to a better. (A. B. Mackay.)

Rest from war

Interesting period! What so much the anticipation of the heart in conflict? As long as the land remained unsubdued rest could not be enjoyed. Besides, had there been nothing else to annoy peace and disturb the inheritance of the Church, whose heart could have rested in his lot, and been free from distress, amidst the judgments of heaven upon guilty idolaters, and upon whom Divine authority made it an imperious necessity in Israel to execute a sentence of extermination? Sweet to the expectation and welcome of hope, a period when, in the perfect and undisturbed rest of heaven, war will cease for ever, and sighs of woe be eternally removed. The peace of heaven will be lasting as sweet. There no Canaanites will be left to dispute their right, or remnants of broken powers ever rise to assert, and attempt to restore their long forfeited claim. That land shall have rest from war, as long as the destroyer of sin and conqueror of death shall live. Joyous prospect! Soon the armour of light will be exchanged for robes of incorruptible glory, and the helmet of salvation for the conqueror’s crown. As under the dominion of the Prince of peace, and themselves the subjects of its reigning influence, Christians will rest from war; as commanded, they will cease from anger and forsake strife. Nor will they ever embroil themselves in the contentions of others, unless as peace-speakers and peace-makers. (W. Seaton.)
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Joshua 11:23". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/joshua-11.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

So Joshua took the whole land,.... Of Canaan, the far greater and better part of it, all before described; all that he went against, he failed not in any of his attempts; no place stood out against him that he besieged or summoned, all yielded to him:

according to all that the Lord said unto Moses: in Deuteronomy 11:23,

and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel, according to their divisions by their tribes; as is after related in this book:

and the land rested from war; there were no combinations of any of the dispersed Canaanites, or insurrections made by them, nor any annoyance given to Israel by the Philistines, who inhabited five principal cities, with what belonged to them; nor did Joshua attempt anything more in a warlike manner: and so it became a land of rest, as the heavenly Canaan will be to the spiritual Israel and church of God, after their militant state is ended, in which they now are; being engaged with many spiritual enemies, the Canaanites that are in the land, but then their warfare will be ended.

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Gill, John. "Commentary on Joshua 11:23". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-11.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Joshua took the whole land — The battle of the take of Merom was to the north what the battle of Beth-horon was to the south; more briefly told and 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].

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 11:23". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/joshua-11.html. 1871-8.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

REFLECTIONS

BEHOLD, my soul, in those wars of Joshua, the lively similitude of the victories thy Joshua hath accomplished, in the attainment of the heavenly Canaan. How did Jesus wade through difficulties, and contend with principalities and powers, in the accomplishment of thy salvation! Oh! thou great Captain of the Lord's host, may I look beyond the Joshua of the camp of Israel, to behold thee to whom Joshua ministered, and of whom he was but the type; and view thee shadowed out, by all, that he accomplished, in thy victories, resurrection, and glory. Thou, thou art the standard and ensign thy Father lifted up for his people 's conquest, in all ages of thy church. This was the holy war, which thou didst maintain in thy Father's name, with hell, death, and the grave. And now, having triumphed openly over them all, and nailed them to thy cross, thou art our everlasting banner, by whom we triumph, and in whose name we are more than conquerors, and shall finally inherit the heavenly Canaan. Dearest Jesus, may this be my confidence when, like the Hazor kings, all my foes join in confederacy against me, that thou wilt go before me and subdue all things to thyself: and not only break down the force of the enemies from without, but break down within all the strong holds of sin, and the lusts of the flesh; and make my soul strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Joshua 11:23". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/joshua-11.html. 1828.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

The whole land — That is, the greatest and best part of it, for some parts are expressly excepted in the following history.

All that the Lord said unto Moses — God had promised to drive out the nations before them. And now the promise was fulfilled. Our successes and enjoyments are then doubly comfortable, when we see them flowing to us from the promise. This is according to what the Lord hath said: our obedience is acceptable, when it has an eye to the precept. And if we make a conscience of our duty, we need not question the performance of the promise.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 11:23". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-11.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 11:23 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.

Ver. 23. And the land rested.] Peace is the daughter of war; a fair and happy daughter of an ugly and direful mother, as the Romans said of Pompey the Great, εχθορον πατρος φιλτατον τεκνον.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 11:23". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-11.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

Joshua 11:23

This text is said to be directly at issue with other statements in the Book of Joshua. Thus the fifteenth chapter ends with these words: "As for the Jebusites, the children of Jerusalem could not drive them out," and in Joshua's dying exhortation he foretells that "a remnant of these nations shall remain among them." From this the conclusion is drawn that the Book of Joshua was not cast at a single jet; that it is a thing of shreds and fragments; that it is made up of two pieces, one Jehovistic, the other Elohistic, patched together by a stupid, not to say dishonest, chronicler. To this we answer: (1) It is only right to notice the qualification in the text. "Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord had said unto Moses." But the promise to Moses was that it should be taken "by little and little." (2) Viewed geographically and statistically, there were exceptions to be made to the statement contained in the text, and these are fully and fairly related in the sequel. But there was another point of view from which the map of Joshua's conquests might be studied. The Canaanites might still lurk in the mountain fastnesses, in the depth of the primeval forest. But there were haunting voices that hung about the national heart. There were strange, mysterious lights that seemed to stream down from a deep sunset heaven, which touched the old stem of their history, and opened long lanes into the dark vistas of the future. Strengthened by the promises of God, cheered by the declarations of prophecy, animated by the miracles which had led the Israelites across the Jordan and caused the walls of Jericho to fall before the trumpet blast, Joshua, or whoever was the author of this book, wrote down—it was a venture of faith—"So Joshua took the whole land."

Bishop Alexander, Sermon Preached in St. Paul's Cathedral, July 2nd, 1873.

References: 11—Parker, vol. v., pp. 211, 279. 12, 13—Ibid., p. 220. Joshua 13:1.—T. Guthrie, The Way to Life, p. 297; Parker, vol. v., p. 279. Joshua 13:22.—Expositor, 2nd series, vol. v., p. 413. Joshua 13:33.—Parker, vol. V., p. 280. 14—Ibid., p. 228. Joshua 15:15.—W. Lindsay Alexander, Sunday Magazine, 1865, p. 594; Parker, vol. v., p. 281. 15-19.—Ibid., pp. 237, 244. Joshua 17:14.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxii., No. 1882. Joshua 19:47.—Expositor, 3rd series, vol. v., p. 59. Joshua 19:49.—Parker, vol. v., p. 282. Joshua 20:2.—Ibid. Joshua 20:3.—Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 35. Joshua 20:5.—Parker, vol. v., p. 283. Joshua 20:7.—Ibid., p. 284. 20-24.—Ibid., p. 254. Joshua 21:2.—Ibid., p. 285. Joshua 21:43, Joshua 21:45.—Ibid. Joshua 21:45.—Ibid., p. 286. Joshua 22:16.—Ibid., p. 287. Joshua 22:20. -G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 412.



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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Joshua 11:23". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/joshua-11.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ver. 23. So Joshua took the whole land All that belonged to the Amoritish kings eastward of Jordan. Innumerable Canaanites perished in this war; others, in some places, saved themselves: God did not permit the country to be too much depopulated, as it might thereby have been exposed to wild beasts; Exodus 23:29 and on other accounts which the reader will find in Judges 1:4. Lastly, others left their country, went and settled in Africa, and in their flight having, according to some authors, made themselves masters of Lower Egypt, they there erected a monarchy, which subsisted under several of their kings, known in history by the name of the shepherd kings; till at length, not having forces sufficient to defend them, they were compelled to retire further on into the western parts of Africa. See Sir Isaac Newton's Chronol. p. 9. Procopius mentions two white columns, reared by them in the city of Tingis, now Tangier, a city of their founding, and capital of the province of Tingitania, on which was an inscription in the Phoenician language and character, to this purpose; "We are fugitives, who fled to save ourselves from the great robber, Joshua, the son of Nun." St. Augustin farther assures us, that the Africans boasted themselves to be descended from the ancient Canaanites, and preserved their old Phoenician language, the Punick being generally allowed to be very near the Hebrew and Phoenician. They are likewise supposed by the learned to have come in colonies into Greece, Cilicia, and Lesser Asia, and most of the islands of the AEgean and Mediterranean sea, quite to Cadiz in Spain. Arrian likewise tells us, that among the many ambassadors who waited upon Alexander the Great at Babylon, some came from Africa, who were of the Canaanitish race; and the Babylonish Gemara adds, that they came to beg of him to reinstate them in their ancient seats, whence the Israelites had driven them. See Psalmanazar's 3rd Essay.

According to their divisions by their tribes See Numbers 26:53; Numbers 33:54.

And the land rested from war All the potentates and nations of the land of Canaan being subdued, the Israelites, now become peaceable possessors of that fine Land of Promise, thought only how to divide it, as we shall see in chap. 13: Here begins the 7th year, reckoning from their first seed-time, after the passage over Jordan; the first sabbatical year celebrated by them after Joshua had brought them into rest; that rest which is a type of the eternal rest which the great Joshua of the New Covenant prepares for his people in heaven. Hebrews 4:8-9; Hebrews 4:16. From this same epocha we are to reckon the jubilees: see on Leviticus 25:8-10.

REFLECTIONS.—The history of this war concludes, happily for Israel, in the conquest of the whole land, north and south. Far from being warned by their neighbours' calamities, no city but Gibeon sought for peace, but, hardened as Pharaoh by the Divine judgment, came out to war with Israel, and rushed upon their own destruction. Thus still, hardness of heart drives sinners furiously to pursue those ways of sin which must end in their eternal perdition. The conquest is now completed: these dreaded foes of Israel no longer make them afraid, but fall before the devouring sword of the conquering Joshua. Note; We must not be weary of our spiritual warfare, nor count the time long; we shall finally reap, if we faint not.

The people now begin to taste the sweets of repose, and disperse themselves over the conquered country: for Joshua, as an obedient servant, had faithfully accomplished his business; and God, as a faithful God, had fulfilled to them his promises, which he spake by his servant Moses. Note; (1.) Obedience to the command, is the way to obtain the fulfilment of the promise. (2.) They who go forth with a dependance on God, shall find that they are not disappointed in their hopes.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Joshua 11:23". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/joshua-11.html. 1801-1803.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

DISCOURSE: 254

THE CONQUEST AND PARTITION OF CANAAN

Joshua 11:23. 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.

THE promises of God, though often slow in their accomplishment, are sure to be fulfilled in due season. Abraham waited twenty years for the promised child, till, according to the course of nature, there was no hope that Sarah should ever become a mother; yet Isaac was born to him in due time. God promised to give to him and to his posterity the land of Canaan; yet it was four hundred and thirty years before his posterity were brought out of Egypt; and forty more before they entered into Canaan; and even then it was six more years before they obtained a quiet possession of it. Still however, the promise could not fail, nor did it fail in any particular. The accomplishment of that event is recorded in the words we have just read; which will naturally lead us to contemplate the conquest and partition of the promised land.

I. The conquest of the land—

Beautiful is the analogy between the warfare of the Israelites, and that which is maintained by every true Christian. We have had repeated occasion for this remark before; but the illustration of it admits of endless diversity.

Mark their warfare in its various stages—

[Behold its commencement: it began with wonderful interpositions of the divine power in their behalf. The river Jordan opened to them a passage, as on dry land, at a time that it had overflowed all its banks: and the walls of Jericho fell down at the sound of rams’ horns, and the people’s shout: and thus a footing for them was gained in a way that gave all possible encouragement to their future efforts. In its progress they were left more to their own personal exertions. Great combinations were formed against them; and they had sometimes to contend with powers, which seemed likely to overwhelm them [Note: Joshua 10:5; Joshua 11:4.]: at other seasons they enjoyed comparative rest; yet were they never without some enemies to combat, and some conflicts to maintain. God had told them, that he would “not drive out the Canaanites before them in one year, but by little and little;” that the beasts of the field should not multiply against them, and that their population might so increase as to enable them to occupy the land [Note: Exodus 23:29-30.]. Hence, long after the inhabitants of the south were subdued, their northern enemies remained unbroken: and some of their fiercest conflicts were reserved for a period when they had expected nothing but easy and progressive triumphs. their last trials even seemed to be the greatest; for the Anakims, who were of such gigantic stature, and whose strong-holds were so impregnable as to intimidate all the spies that Moses had sent forty years before to search out the land, maintained themselves to the last, and were never conquered till all the other powers had been rooted out [Note: ver. 21.]. With the exception of Gibeon, there was not so much as one city that sought peace with Joshua; all of them being given over to judicial blindness, that they might suffer the full punishment of their iniquities [Note: ver. 19, 20.]. At last, however, came the completion of their warfare, when every enemy being subdued, they rested from all their perils and fatigues, and took possession of the whole land. Then they reaped the fruits of all their labours; they occupied all the cities, enjoyed all the spoils, and sat down in peace and safety, none making them afraid [Note: ver. 13, 14.].]

And now contemplate the Christian’s warfare—

[In its commencement, the power of God is not less displayed than in the history before us. The transition which a person experiences in conversion, is justly represented in the Scripture as a coming “from darkness into marvellous light [Note: 1 Peter 2:9.];” or rather, as “a passage from death to life [Note: 1 John 3:14.].” What human power is sufficient for a change like this? St. Paul represents the power displayed in it as equal to that which was exhibited by Almighty God in raising his Son Jesus Christ from the dead, and in setting him at his own right hand in heaven, above all the principalities and powers, whether of heaven or hell [Note: Ephesians 1:18-22.]. The remembrance of this is an encouragement to the Christian in all his future conflicts. He knows assuredly who it is that “hath begun the good work within him:” he is constrained to say, “I have laboured, yet not I, but the grace of God that was within me: by the grace of God I am what I am [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:10.].” In its progress the work is carried forward more apparently by his own exertions. He has the armour given him; but he is called forth to use it. His whole life is to be a state of warfare; and it is by fighting that he is to obtain the victory. He will not find any one enemy that will submit to him, till smitten by the sword of the Spirit, and constrained by the holy violence of faith and prayer. The world, the flesh, and the devil, will combine their forces to destroy him. There will be some seasons of more than ordinary temptation, when he will need peculiar succour from on high: and there will be other seasons of comparative rest: but, if Satan at any time depart from him, it will only be for a season, as he departed from Christ himself [Note: Luke 4:13.]. As it is with the Church at large, which has times of persecution and times of peace [Note: Acts 9:1; Acts 9:31.], so is it, in a greater or less degree, with all the individuals that compose the Church: and not unfrequently has the Christian his sorest trials, either when he is most expecting peace [Note: Job 1:10; 2 Corinthians 12:2; 2 Corinthians 12:7.], or when his last enemy, even death itself, is about to be swallowed up in everlasting victory [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:54.]. At last the completion of his warfare will arrive: O blessed season, when every enemy shall be finally subdued! Then the almost invincible Anakims shall be rooted out; and Satan, that great adversary, by whom all the rest are concentrated, and led on to battle, shall be bruised under his feet; and he shall enjoy the fruit of his victories in everlasting rest.]

The same resemblance as we have traced in reference to the conquest of Canaan, may yet further be discovered in,

II. The partition of it—

The land, when conquered, was divided to the tribes by lot; God having reserved to himself the whole disposal of it: his it was from the beginning; and his it continued to be; and they must all receive it as a gift from him. Mark here the order of events;

1. The grant—

[God gave the land to Abraham, whom of his own sovereign will he had called out from an idolatrous people, and to whom for his own glory’s sake he had revealed his will. To him, I say, God gave the land: not for any merit that was in him, either seen or foreseen, but, “for the manifestation of his own glory.” And whence is it that man is taken, in preference to the fallen angels? or whence are Christians selected from the whole world, which lieth under Pagan darkness or Mahometan delusion? or whence are some “recovered out of the snare of the devil, by whom they have been led captive at his will,” whilst others are left still in bondage to him, wallowing in their lusts, and enemies of all righteousness? Will any man presume to say that he “made himself to differ [Note: 1 Corinthians 4:7.],” or that God chose him for his own superior goodness, either seen or foreseen [Note: Deuteronomy 9:4-6. Even such a thought is reprobated; and how much more such an assertion!]? Let not that man ever speak of pride; for wherein could Lucifer himself exceed such presumption as this? No: we must affirm with the Apostle, that “God hath chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world; and that, not because we were holy, or because he foresaw we would be holy, but that we might be holy, and without blame before him in love [Note: Ephesians 1:4.].” He, of his own sovereign will, gave his Son to us, and us to him [Note: John 17:6; John 17:9-10.]; yea, he “predestinated us also unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved [Note: Ephesians 1:5-6. It is not expedient to be always harping upon this subject; but we must not be ashamed of it, or afraid on proper occasions to confess it.].”]

2. The acquisition—

[This, though a gift, was yet attained by means of their own exertions. The common objection against the doctrines of predestination and election is, that it encourages men to sit down supinely, expecting God to do every thing, whilst they themselves do nothing. But did Joshua and Caleb argue so; or was there found one single person in the whole kingdom of Israel that argued so? No; they all knew that the gift of Canaan did not supersede the necessity of their exertions, nor did the efforts they used prevent it from being a gift. They knew that it was a gift; and that very consideration encouraged them to fight for it; and they laboured cheerfully, because they “knew that their labour would not be in vain in the Lord.” Thus then it must be with us. “The covenant whereby heaven is made over to us, is ordered in all things and sure:” yet we must “fight the good fight of faith” and “quit ourselves like men,” if ever we would enjoy any one of its blessings. It is “to those who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, that eternal life will be given [Note: Romans 2:7.]:” nor is there one single hour on this side eternity when we are at liberty to put off our armour: we must “be faithful unto death, if ever we would obtain the crown of life.” The will of God is made known to us: every assistance is offered for the performance of it: in obeying it we must find our present happiness, and ensure that which is to come. This order of things is absolutely irreversible: “we have need of patience therefore, that, after we have done the will of God, we may receive the promise [Note: Hebrews 10:36.].”]

3. The enjoyment—

[This, though long delayed, they attained at last; and doubtless considered themselves as well repaid for all their labours. But what was their rest in comparison of that which God has reserved for us? Of ours David speaks, when he represents God as swearing that the impenitent and unbelieving shall never enter into it: and in the Epistle to the Hebrews, this declaration of David’s is brought to prove, that there must be some other, and better, rest than ever was enjoyed in this world. The rest which Joshua promised and gave to Israel in the land of Canaan, was only a type and shadow of that which God has prepared for us: “If Joshua had given them rest,” says the Apostle, “David would not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God [Note: Hebrews 4:7-9. In ver. 8 the name “Jesus” should be translated “Joshua.” They are both the same word in the Greek.].” Now here the whole parallelism which we have illustrated, is marked by God himself. Their Captain has the very same name with ours, and was a most illustrious type of him: and the rest of Canaan which he gave them after all their conflicts, was a distinguished type of heaven; to the everlasting possession of which we shall be advanced, when, under the direction, and by the aid of Jesus, we have subdued our spiritual enemies. Then all difficulties, temptations, trials, conflicts, will be for ever banished; and rest in the bosom of our God will be our everlasting portion.]

Let us learn then from hence the issue,

1. Of the world’s impieties—

[God beareth long with sinners; and because his judgments against their evil works are not executed speedily, their hearts are the more fully, and more securely, set in them to do evil. But “God is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness.” He has fixed a period beyond which his forbearance shall be exercised no longer: and then the most secure shall be visited, and the most powerful brought down. “Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not be unpunished.” O that the secure and thoughtless would reflect on this, ere it be too late! Hostility to Jesus and his people, whatever men may imagine, can never terminate, but in the destruction of those who indulge it. Beware then, Brethren, of hardening yourselves against God: for “who ever hardened himself against him and prospered?” His hand will surely find out all his enemies; and every refuge of lies shall be swept away with the besom of destruction.]

2. Of the saint’s conflicts—

[Victory may in some cases be long held in suspense: and the most courageous veteran may need peculiar comforts from above. But the weakest shall triumph in due time; and be made “more than conquerors through Him that loved them.” We readily grant, that, as the Israelites had to contend with “nations that were greater and mightier than they,” so it is with us: but the issue of our conflicts shall be like theirs also. It is said on different occasions, that “God delivered their enemies into their hands;” and from thence the victory became certain. The same promise has he made to us; and it shall be fulfilled to every one of us in its season. Let not any then give way to unnecessary alarms. Appearances may be awful and alarming: but our consolation is, that “greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world:” and, if at any time we be tempted to say, “O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me?” let us instantly reply with the holy Apostle, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”]

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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Joshua 11:23". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/joshua-11.html. 1832.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

The whole land, synecdochically, i.e. the greatest and the best part of it, for some parts and places are expressly excepted in the following history.

From war; from actual war; so far that they could now quietly survey, and distribute, and possess the land.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 11:23". 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

So Joshua took the whole land, in accordance with all that YHWH said to Moses, and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel, according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land had rest from war.’

Having accomplished what he had after five or so years of warfare (see Joshua 14:7; Joshua 14:10), Joshua returned to the camp at Gilgal. It was now time to begin spreading out and taking possession of the land. Thus began the allocating of the land between the tribes. This would take some time and plenty of negotiation, and while this was in process there was no fighting. ‘The land had rest from war.’ No one any longer sought to attack them. But the weakened and devastated cities were re-establishing themselves, and the remnants of peoples were recuperating, and would await the next assaults by Israel. This was in accordance with the words of Moses in Exodus 23:28-33.

“The whole land” is a slight exaggeration, and may refer to ‘the land of the children of Israel’ (Joshua 11:22), that is the hill country of Israel and Judah. There were important parts that had not been reduced. But his conquests had reached from the far north of the land down to the far south, and none had been able to resist him, so that it was a justifiable statement, and now the land would be divided among the tribes. Yet the process of possession, while initially fairly rapid, would soon slow down, and some tribes would be reluctant to go about it as the Book of Judges reveals. They would be content to stay where they were in the hill country and the Arabah.

Life was hard in the hill country, but secure. They overlooked the fact that if there were too many of them when the rains failed, their position would be especially precarious. This reluctance was true even in Joshua's lifetime. Note the remarks in Joshua 18:2-3 where Joshua rebuked the reluctant tribes, and the frustrated and half-hearted efforts recorded elsewhere (Joshua 15:63; Joshua 16:10; Joshua 17:12; Joshua 17:16). But it was one thing to follow a brilliant and successful general like Joshua. It was quite another when called on to do it on their own.

“Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel, according to their divisions (Joshua 12:7) by their tribes.” This brief summary prepares for what is to come in the following chapters. It sums up what was in fact to be a huge task. The outlining of the allocations would in itself require great effort (they had no maps in front of them except such as they had prepared) although Joshua, as a capable leader and administrator, had no doubt made arrangements for suitable men to keep records and notes as they went about the country. Such a summary, followed by its fulfilment in detail, is typical of ancient narratives.

And what lessons can we take from all this? They are that if God be for us we need not be afraid, whatever the opposition. Though evil forces band against us we need fear nothing while we are living lives in obedience to God. But we must ensure that we trust Him, do not trifle with sin but drive it from our lives, and obey Him in all His commandments. Then we will have success, and then we will receive the spiritual inheritance that He has promised to us.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Joshua 11:23". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/joshua-11.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

[23. Joshua took the whole land — This verse and Joshua 21:43-45, seem at first sight not to agree with Joshua 13:1, and Joshua 18:3, and there have not been wanting critics to urge that these passages are irreconcilably discrepant. But the discrepancy is only apparent. The key to a proper interpretation is furnished in Joshua 23:1-5, where in one and the same passage it is assumed that all the Canaanitish enemies are subdued, and yet some nations are to be expelled and their land possessed by Israel. Plainly the author never meant to say that every Canaanite and every city and hamlet in all Palestine was destroyed by the sword of Joshua. The land was thoroughly subdued, and the Canaanitish power and dominion were utterly broken; but the Lord had expressly declared that he would not utterly expel the Canaanites at once, but gradually, lest the beasts of the field multiply against them. The possession by the enemy of a number of isolated cities and districts was not therefore inconsistent with the broad statement of this passage. Compare also notes on Joshua 21:43-45.

The land rested from war — A concluding statement of the historical portion of the book, repeated at Joshua 14:15, and used for the same purpose as here, namely, to form a transition from the history of the wars of the conquest to the more peaceful work of distributing the subjugated land among the several tribes.]

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 11:23". "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 11:23. So Joshua took the whole land — Which either the Canaanites or the Anakims possessed; that is, subdued it, so that none rose up against him, though many places were not yet in the possession of the Israelites. According to all that the Lord said unto Moses — See Deuteronomy 31:7-8. God had promised to drive out the nations before them: and now he had fulfilled his promise. Our successes and enjoyments are then doubly comfortable when we see them flowing to us from God’s faithfulness to his promise. This is according to what the Lord hath said — Just as our obedience is the more acceptable when it has an eye to the precept. And if we make conscience of our duty, we need not question the performance of the promise. And the land rested from war — None of the lords of the Philistines, nor any others, presumed to give them any disturbance, so that they now became “peaceable possessors of that fine land of promise, and thought only how to divide it among them, as we shall see in chap. 13.

Here begins the seventh year, reckoning from their first seed-time, after the passage over Jordan; the first sabbatical year celebrated by them after Joshua had brought them into rest; that rest which is a type of the eternal rest, which the great Joshua of the new covenant prepares for his people in heaven, Hebrews 4:8-9. &c. From this same epocha we are to reckon the jubilees.” — Dodd. See on Leviticus 25:8-10.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 11:23". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/joshua-11.html. 1857.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

according to.Compare Numbers 26:53. But some codices, with seven early printed editions, Septuagint, and Syriac, read "in their portions".

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Joshua 11:23". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/joshua-11.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 11:23". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/joshua-11.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
according to all
Exodus 23:27-31; 34:11; Numbers 34:2-13; Deuteronomy 11:23-25
according to their
14:1-19; Numbers 26:52-55
And the land
18; 14:15; 21:44,45; 22:4; 23:1; Psalms 46:9; 2 Timothy 4:7,8; Hebrews 4:8,9 Reciprocal: Numbers 26:53 - GeneralNumbers 26:55 - by lot;  Numbers 32:22 - land;  Joshua 12:7 - Joshua gave;  Joshua 24:11 - the men;  Judges 3:11 - the land;  Nehemiah 9:8 - hast performed;  Nehemiah 9:22 - divide;  Psalm 44:2 - drive out;  Psalm 105:44 - gave;  Psalm 135:12 - gave their;  Proverbs 19:14 - the inheritance;  Ecclesiastes 3:8 - a time of war;  Jeremiah 21:2 - according;  Ezekiel 45:8 - according

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 11:23". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-11.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

23.So Joshua took the whole land, (120) etc Although it was far from being true that Joshua had actually acquired the whole land, yet he is truly said to have obtained it as God had declared to Moses, the latter clause restricting the meaning of the general sentence. For it had been expressly added that the conquest which God had promised would be made gradually, lest it should afterwards become necessary to war with the ferocious wild beasts of the woods, if they pressed forward into a desert waste. Therefore, we are at liberty to say, that though the Lord had not yet placed his people in possession of the promised land, yet he had virtually performed what he had agreed to do, inasmuch as he gave a commodious habitation, and one which was sufficient for the present time. And the words used imply that other district, which had not yet come into their full and actual possession, are included; for it is said that that which they had acquired was distributed according to families. And, in short, we afterwards see in the division that the lands were divided into lots which were not actually subdued by the people till Joshua was dead, nay, till many ages after. (121) The meaning of the words, which is now plain, is simply this, that while Joshua was still alive, a certain specimen of the promise was exhibited, making him feel perfectly secure in dividing the land by lot. (122)

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Joshua 11:23". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/joshua-11.html. 1840-57.