Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 11:4

They came out, they and all their armies with them, as many people as the sand that is on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Armies;   Canaanites;   Chariot;   Confederacies;   Jabin;   Thompson Chain Reference - Chariots;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Armies;   Protection;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Chariots;   Hazor;   Jabin;   Merom;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Amorites;   Animals;   Chariot;   Joshua the son of nun;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Chariot;   Hazor;   Jabin;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Barak;   Hittites;   Jabin;   Syria;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Amorites;   Conquest of Canaan;   Hazor;   Joshua, the Book of;   Merom;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Israel;   Jabin;   Joshua;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Hazor ;   Jabin ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Chariots;   Hazor;   Journeyings of israel from egypt to canaan;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Encampment;   Ja'bin;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Chariots of War;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Horse;   Jabin;   Joshua, Book of;   Palestine;   Sand;   Shore;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Amorites;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Chariot;   Horse;   Judges, Period of;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Much people, even as the sand - This form of speech, by some called a hyperbole, conveys simply the idea of a vast or unusual number - a number of which no regular estimate could be easily formed. Josephus, who seldom finds difficulties in such cases, and makes no scruple of often speaking without book, tells us that the allied armies amounted to 300,000 foot 10,000 horse, and 20,000 chariots of war. Antiq. lib. v., c. 1. That chariots were frequently used in war, all the records of antiquity prove; but it is generally supposed that among the Canaanites they were armed with iron scythes fastened to their poles and to the naves of their wheels. Terrible things are spoken of these, and the havoc made by them when furiously driven among the ranks of infantry. Of what sort the cavalry was, we know not; but from the account here given we may see what great advantages these allies possessed over the Israelites, whose armies consisted of infantry only.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 11:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/joshua-11.html. 1832.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And they went out,.... The several kings and people sent to; these went out from the places they inhabited:

they and all their hosts with them; the kings of those several places, with their armies:

much people, even as the sand that is upon the seashore in multitude; a proverbial expression, to denote an exceeding great number:

with horses and chariots very many; being supplied with horses from Egypt, and their chariots were chariots of iron; see Judges 4:3; JosephusF26Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 18. gives us the number of this great army, and says it consisted of three hundred thousand footmen, ten thousand horse, and thirty thousand chariots; some copies read only twenty thousand; and these chariots were armed with iron hooks or scythes, to cut down men as they drove along, and so were very terrible.

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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 11:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-11.html. 1999.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 11:4 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.

Ver. 4. They and all their hosts.] These were, as one said of Carthage, half destroyed, Morientium ferarum ultimi nixus, et violentiores morsus, the last spruntings and bitings of these dying beasts.

And chariots very many.] Chariots armed with scythes and hooks: concerning which Vegetius saith, that at first they were a terror, and afterwards a scorn.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 11:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-11.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ver. 4. And they went out,—and all their hosts, &c.— Entering the field with so numerous an army, that the sacred writer does not scruple to express it by an hyperbole very familiar in Scripture, even as the sand upon the sea shore in multitude. The allied army was so much the more formidable, in that, as the host of the Israelites was wholly composed of foot-soldiers, in this there were not only cavalry, but armed chariots, in great numbers. Josephus makes it amount to 300,000 infantry, 10,000 horse, and 20,000 chariots. Hist. Jud. l. v. c. 1. Bochart, in his Hieroz. l. ii. c. 9. informs us, that Egypt supplied the Canaanites with all these horses. God forbad his people the use of them in their armies. See on Deuteronomy 17:16; Deuteronomy 20:1. With respect to the chariots of the Canaanites, they were, in all probability, armed with iron, such as were anciently used to break the enemies' battalions, and which, in fact, made the most terrible havoc in armies. They are described by the ancients as follows: "The pole to which the horses were fastened, was armed with spikes, or iron points, which advanced forward; the yokes also of the horses had points, three cubits in length; to the axletree were fixed iron spits, armed at the ends with scythes; the spokes of the wheels were armed with javelins, sticking out, and the very fellies with scythes, which tore to pieces every thing they met with; the axletree was longer, and the wheels stronger than usual, that they might be the better able to bear a shock, and the chariot be less liable so be overturned." The charioteer, who was covered all over with armour, sat in a kind of tower, made of very solid wood, about breast high, and sometimes men well armed were put into the chariot and fought from thence with darts and arrows. Hence we may judge that these machines must have made dreadful slaughter at first, when they met with the enemy's troops: but in time, when men came to find out the way of opposing them, they did not so much execution, and were of course disused. See Diod. Sic. l. ii. c. 93. Q. Curt. l. iv. c. 15. Xenoph. Cyr. l. vi. Lucret. l. vi. ver. 635. 641, &c. God Almighty forbad the Israelites the use of chariots, for the same reasons that he had prohibited that of cavalry; see Isaiah 31:1. Psalms 20:7. Proverbs 21:31. Hosea 1:7.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Joshua 11:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/joshua-11.html. 1801-1803.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

4.Even as the sand that is upon the sea shore — This exaggerated comparison is in perfect keeping with the style of the Oriental writers. It is to be interpreted rhetorically, and not literally. It is to be expected that an inspired writer will employ the style of his country and age. Josephus reckons this army at three hundred thousand foot, ten thousand horse, and twenty thousand chariots. Anciently chariots supplied the place of artillery in modern times, so that among the Egyptians and Syrians the number of these indicated their military power. The Hebrews, having been forbidden to multiply horses, did not to any great extent provide themselves with chariots of war till the reign of David. By reason of this lack of chariots in Joshua’s army the odds were heavily against him, so that there was occasion for the encouragement which the Lord gives in Joshua 11:6.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 11:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/joshua-11.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Shore. The Scripture sometimes uses an hyperbole, as well as the other figures of speech. (St. Augustine, City of God xvi. 21.) Josephus says they had 300,000 foot, 10,000 horse, and 20,000 chariots. These were frequently armed with scythes. The ancient heroes often fought on chariots of a different kind. (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Joshua 11:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/joshua-11.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

they went out, &c. Compare Joshua 11:4 with Revelation 20:8, Revelation 20:9. as, &c. Figure of speech Paroemia. App-6.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Joshua 11:4". "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

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.

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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.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
as the sand
Genesis 22:17; 32:12; Judges 7:12; 1 Samuel 13:5; 2 Samuel 17:11; 1 Kings 4:20
Reciprocal: Deuteronomy 20:1 - horses;  Joshua 8:27 - the cattle;  Joshua 17:18 - for thou shalt;  Psalm 33:16 - no king;  Hebrews 11:12 - as the sand

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 11:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-11.html.