Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 11:6

Then the Lord said to Joshua, "Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow at this time I will deliver all of them slain before Israel; you shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Canaanites;   Horse;   Houghing;   Jabin;   Merom;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Chariots;   Protection;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Hazor;   Horses;   Hough;   Jabin;   Merom;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Amorites;   Joshua the son of nun;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Fire;   Hough;   Jabin;   Merom;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Barak;   Harosheth of the Gentiles;   Jabin;   Joshua, the Book of;   Syria;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Amorites;   Conquest of Canaan;   Hamstring;   Hazor;   Hough;   Joshua, the Book of;   Merom;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Hough;   Israel;   Jabin;   Joshua;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Hazor ;   Horse;   Hough, to;   Jabin ;   Merom, Waters of (See Also Jordan, Lake of Huleh);   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Journeyings of israel from egypt to canaan;   Obsolete or obscure words in the english av bible;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Ja'bin;   Law of Moses;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Chariot;   Hock;   Jabin;   Joshua, Book of;   Palestine;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Be not afraid - of them - To meet such a formidable host so well equipped, in their own country, furnished with all that was necessary to supply a numerous army, required more than ordinary encouragement in Joshua's circumstances. This communication from God was highly necessary, in order to prevent the people from desponding on the eve of a conflict, in which their all was at stake.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 11:6". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/joshua-11.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Hough their horses - i. e. cut the sinews of the hinder hoofs. This sinew once severed cannot be healed, and the horses would thus be irreparably lamed. This is the first appearance of horses in the wars with the Canaanites (Deuteronomy 17:16 and note).

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Joshua 11:6". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/joshua-11.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"And Jehovah said unto Joshua, Be not afraid because of them; for tomorrow at this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel. Thou shalt hock their horses, and burn their chariots with fire. So Joshua came, and all the people of war with him, against them by the waters of Merom suddenly, and fell upon them. And Jehovah delivered them into the hand of Israel, and they smote them, and chased them unto Great Sidon; and unto Misrephothmaim, and unto the valley of Mizpah eastward; and they smote them, until they left them none remaining. And Joshua did unto them as Jehovah bade him: he hocked their horses, and burned their chariots with fire."

The only providential assistance that Joshua received in this crucial encounter was the signal when to attack, and the strategy of hocking the horse and burning the chariots. The critics invariably deplore what they call the "brutal mutilation of the captured horses!"[14] These horses were the military equivalent of tanks in modern warfare, and the purpose of the many thousands of horses at this place was to use them in the destruction of God's people. Now, what could possibly have been wrong, inappropriate, or distasteful about killing all those horses? Furthermore, hocking was the merciful and decent way to kill horses. "The Hebrew word here indicates that the act of hocking the horses was not only an act by which the horses were rendered useless, but an act that destroyed them."[15] "Hocking the horses was done by cutting the sinews and arteries of their hind legs, so that they were not only hopelessly lamed but promptly bled to death."[16] Freedman, as quoted by Woudstra, stated that, "The purpose of hocking was to make the horse unsuitable for war, and employable only for domestic purposes."[17] That, of course, would refer to a very partial kind of "hocking," which it is certain the soldiers of Joshua would not have done. The same blow with a sword that severed the key tendon would also have severed the artery. The other kind of hocking would have required much more time and patience.

It was this hocking of the horses that deprived the enemy of their chance to escape. They fled on foot and were no match whatever for the hardened soldiers of Joshua.

There certainly appears to be more than one reason why God commanded Joshua to destroy the horses and chariots. The necessity of doing so from the military viewpoint is quite evident, but there was also the further reason that God did NOT wish Israel to own any horses and chariots. Deuteronomy 17:16 plainly warned Israel and their rulers NOT to go into the horse business, despite the fact of horses being in that period a prime element of military strength. When Solomon multiplied horses (having forty thousand of them), it was displeasing to God.

"Chased them unto Great Sidon ..." This was the city some 20 miles north of Tyre on the coast of the Mediterranean, but there is nothing unreasonable about a chase that extended that far. Holmes missed it completely when he asserted that, "The statement that Israel pursued the enemy that far is the result of the writer's ignorance of the distance between the battlefield and that city."[18] The writer who was ignorant, however, in such a comment was not the writer of Joshua. By consulting the map provided by Boling, it is clear that the distance between Sidon and the battlefield was only about thirty miles, which is well within the distance that a well-conditioned soldier could have traversed in much less than a whole day.[19] (It was DOWNHILL all the way!). We also appreciate Boling's comment here that, "Only Divine encouragement could account for Joshua's move against such odds."[20]

"`Misrephothmain,' although not as far as Sidon, was itself on the seacoast not far from Tyre."[21]

Woudstra pointed out that Joshua 12:21 lists Taanach and Megiddo as being among the cities captured by Joshua, showing that, "A number of military operations carried on by Joshua must have been passed over here in silence."[22]

The great victory which God gave Joshua in this chapter should not be attributed merely to the skill and efficiency of Joshua.

"The natural man attributes victory to human skill. The spiritual man acknowledges the truth that, "There is no restraint to the Lord, to save by many or by few" (1 Samuel 14:6). The issue of every battle is in God's hands."[23]

Therefore the success of Joshua was due to his prompt and faithful obedience to the things that God commanded. "And Joshus did unto them as Jehovah bade him ... (Joshua 11:9)."

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Joshua 11:6". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/joshua-11.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And the Lord said unto Joshua, be not afraid because of them,.... Of their number, of their horsemen, and of their scythed chariots; which might at first hearing occasion some fear and dread. And according to JosephusF6Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 18. , the multitude of them terrified both Joshua and the Israelites; and therefore the Lord appeared and spoke to him for his encouragement: though what was said was for the sake of the Israelites, and to animate them who might be disheartened, rather than for the sake of Joshua, who was of a bold and courageous spirit. Whether this was said to him at Gilgal, and out of the tabernacle there, quickly after the tidings of the combination of the kings were brought to him, or whether when upon his march towards them, is uncertain:

for tomorrow about this time will I deliver them up slain before Israel; as many were, and others wounded and put to flight, as the word signifies, so as to be as good as dead. If Gilgal was twenty two miles from the waters of Merom, as Bunting saysF7Travels, p. 96. , and supposing this to be said to him before he set out, he must travel all night to reach thither the next day; and if it was sixty miles, as some say, this must be said to him when on his march, and within a day's march of the enemy; for Josephus saysF8Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 18.) it was on the fifth day that he came up with them, and fell upon them:

thou shalt hough their horses; cut their nerves under their hams, or hamstring them, so that they might be useless hereafter; for the kings of Israel were not to multiply horses; and Joshua, as their chief ruler, was to have no advantage of them by their falling into his hands:

and burn their chariots with fire; that so they might not be used by the Israelites afterwards, who might be tempted to put their trust and confidence in them, as many did.

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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.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Joshua 11:6". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-11.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

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 d hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire.

(d) That neither they should serve to the use of war, nor the Israelites should put their trust in them.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Joshua 11:6". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/joshua-11.html. 1599-1645.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

I beg the Reader to remark with me on this verse, how gracious the Lord is to his servants, in the repeated communications of his assured love and favor. Joshua had been told by his God, that he would certainly be with him, and that he should certainly conquer all his enemies. But yet you see the merciful and gracious Lord, will again remind him of his promise. Oh, thou dear Lord of thy people, how precious are thy constant communications of grace, and how much do' thy fearful, unbelieving people need them, and to be receiving fresh supplies, upon every fresh occasion, out of thy fulness, and grace for grace. Thus you see, that a life of faith upon our all-precious Jesus, is a receiving life. John 1:16. I hope the spiritual Reader will not fail to observe with me, that Joshua was a type of our Almighty Joshua in his spiritual encounter with his enemies. God the Father promised to support the human nature of Jesus, with suited strength for every emergency. Compare Hebrews 5:7-8, with Psalms 89:19.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Joshua 11:6". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/joshua-11.html. 1828.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

Hough their horses — Cut their hamstrings that they may my be unfit for war. For God forbad them to keep many horses, now especially, that they might not trust to their horses, nor ascribe the conquest of the land to their own strength, but wholly to God, by whose power alone a company of raw and unexperienced footmen were able to subdue so potent a people, who besides their great numbers, and giants, and walled cities, had the advantage of many thousands of horses and chariots.

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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.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 11:6". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-11.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 11:6 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.

Ver. 6. Be not afraid because of them.] Though many, and mighty, and malicious, and combined. Joshua had his fears and frailties; else what needed this encouragement? (a)

I will deliver them.] I am for thee; and how many reckonest thou me at? I am God Almighty; fear not therefore their horses and chariots: I will make thee master of them all.

Thou shalt hough their horses.] And thereby make them unserviceable; that ye may trust in mine aid alone.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 11:6". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-11.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ver. 6. And the Lord said unto Joshua This was spoken in the camp at Gilgal. It is difficult to conceive how this matter could have been literally accomplished; since, from Gilgal to Hazor was sixty or eighty miles; and Josephus says, that Joshua was five days going from Gilgal to the camp of the kings. The word to-morrow, therefore, must be taken in a vague sense, to signify soon, in a day or two; or else we must conclude, that Joshua was already on his march, and near the enemy's camp, when God promised him victory. But for a full discussion of this subject, we refer the reader to an excellent dissertation of Psalmanazar, Essays, p. 215.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Joshua 11:6". 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

Hough their horses, i.e. cut their hamstrings, that they may be unfit for war. For God forbade them to have or keep many horses, Deuteronomy 17:16, now especially, that they might not trust to their horses, as men are apt to do, nor distrust God for want of so necessary a help in battle; nor ascribe the conquest of the land to their own strength, but wholly to God, by whose power alone a company of raw and unexperienced footmen were able to subdue so potent a people, which besides their great numbers, and giants, and walled cities, had the advantage of many thousands of horses and chariots.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 11:6". 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

And YHWH said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow about this time I will deliver them up all slain before Israel. You shall hough their horses and burn their chariots with fire.” ’

Joshua again sought the guidance of YHWH in the face of these powerful forces and YHWH assured him that he need fear nothing, for on the next day the whole force would be delivered into Joshua’s hand. And this was so certain that He now gave instructions as to what to do with the horses and chariots after the battle. The hocks of the horses were to be cut rendering them useless for warfare, and the chariots were to be burned with fire. In consequence it would be a long time before they could be replaced and meanwhile the conquest of the land could take place satisfactorily. But Israel were not to try to make use of them (Isaiah 31:1; Psalms 20:7). They must trust in YHWH. These instructions, especially reference to the next day, suggests that Joshua had already brought his army across towards the enemy in a forced march.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Joshua 11:6". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/joshua-11.html. 2013.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

6.Be not afraid — The vast multitude of enemies provided with war chariots, instruments which Joshua had probably never before encountered in battle, would naturally awaken fear in the Hebrew army and its great leader. To allay this the Lord, whose opportunity is man’s extremity, interposes words of cheer and a promise of victory. It is not said that Joshua asked for this, but it was doubtless given in answer to prayer.

Tomorrow about this time — Only the God of battles can foretell the very day and hour of his people’s triumph.

Thou shalt hough their horses — They were to disable their horses by cutting the sinews of their legs. For this barbarous treatment of the horse we have in modern English the verb to hamstring. As the multiplication of horses was forbidden by God, (Deuteronomy 17:16,) they would have been a useless booty.

Burn their chariots — For they also would have been only a cumbrance to the Hebrews.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 11:6". "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 11:6. I will deliver them up all slain — The Seventy translate this τετροπωμενους, put to flight: and it is certain they were not all slain, but many of them fled. The meaning therefore can only be, that they should be so broken and scattered by that time, as to have no more power to resist than dead men. Thou shalt hough their horses — Disable them for war, by cutting the sinews of the ham. They might, however, be still fit for other uses. God forbade them to keep many horses, now especially, that they might not trust to their horses, nor ascribe the conquest of the land to their own strength, but wholly to God, by whose power alone a company of raw and unexperienced footmen were able to subdue so potent a people, who, besides their great numbers, and giants, and walled cities, had the advantage of many thousands of horses and chariots.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 11:6". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/joshua-11.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Hamstring their horses, &c. God so ordained, that his people might not trust in chariots and horses, but in him. (Challoner) --- He mentions the very time, when the victory will be obtained, to inspire the Israelites with greater confidence. Josue had proceeded from Galgal to Meron, about 90 miles; or if he had to go to the Semonite lake, 120 miles. Josephus says he had marched five days.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Joshua 11:6". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/joshua-11.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

the LORD. Hebrew. Jehovah. App-4.

said. See note on Joshua 3:7.

hough = sever the hamstring.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Joshua 11:6". "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 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

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 11:6". "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

(6) Thou shalt hough their horses.—See Note on Joshua 11:9, and observe that the command of Jehovah is the authority for the act.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Joshua 11:6". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/joshua-11.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
Be not
10:8; Psalms 27:1,2; 46:11
tomorrow
3:5; Judges 20:28; 1 Samuel 11:9; 2 Chronicles 20:16
hough
9; 2 Samuel 8:4
horses
Deuteronomy 7:16; Psalms 20:7,8; 46:9; 147:10,11; Proverbs 20:7; Isaiah 30:16; 31:1; Hosea 14:3
Reciprocal: Genesis 41:25 - God;  Joshua 6:2 - I have;  Judges 1:4 - Lord;  Judges 4:7 - deliver;  1 Samuel 30:1 - the Amalekites;  2 Kings 19:6 - Be not afraid;  1 Chronicles 18:4 - David;  2 Chronicles 20:15 - Be not afraid;  Psalm 44:7 - But;  Isaiah 37:6 - Be not;  Ezekiel 39:9 - and shall

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 11:6". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-11.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

6.And the Lord said unto, Joshua, etc The greater the labor and difficulty of destroying an army, so numerous and so well equipped, the more necessary was it to inspire them with new confidence. The Lord, therefore, appears to his servant Joshua, and promises the same success as he had previously given him on several occasions. It is to be carefully observed, that as often as he reiterates his promises men are reminded of their forgetfulness, or their sloth, or their fickleness. For unless new nourishment is every now and then given to faith, they forthwith faint and fall away. (111) And yet such is our perverse fastidiousness, that to hear the same thing twice is usually felt to be irksome. Wherefore let us learn, as often as we are called to engage in new contests, to recall the remembrance of the divine promises, which may correct our languor, or rouse us from our sloth. And especially let us make an application of that which is here said in general, to our daily practice; as the Lord now intimates, that that which he had declared concerning all nations would be specially sure and stable on the present occasion.

We infer from the account of the time employed, that these kings had marched a considerable distance, in order to attack Joshua and the people in Gilgal. For immediately after the divine intimation, mention is made of the expedition used by Joshua. (112) He is promised the victory on the following day. Hence they were not far distant. And the lake of Merom, where they had pitched their camp, is contiguous to the Jordan, and much nearer to Gilgal than Gennesaret, from which district some of the enemy had come. (113) It is said that this lake diminishes or increases according to the freezing of the snow on the mountains, or to its melting. Moreover, the command given to Joshua and the people, to cut the legs or thighs of the horses, and to burn the chariots, was undoubtedly intended to prevent them from adopting those more studied modes of warfare which were in use among profane nations. It was indeed necessary that they should serve as soldiers, and fight strenuously with the enemy, but still they were to depend only on the Lord, to consider themselves strong only in his might, and to recline on him alone.

This could scarcely have been the case, if they had been provided with cavalry, and an array of chariots. For we know how such showy equipment dazzles the eye, and intoxicates the mind with overweening confidence. Moreover, a law had been enacted, (Deuteronomy 17:16) that their kings were not to provide themselves with horses and chariots, obviously because they would have been extremely apt to ascribe to their own military discipline that which God claimed for himself. Hence the common saying, (Psalms 20:7)

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”

God wished to deprive them of all stimulants to audacity, in order that they might live quietly contented with their own limits, and not unjustly attack their neighbors. And experience showed, that when a bad ambition had impelled their kings to buy horses, they engaged in wars not less rashly than unsuccessfully. It was necessary, therefore, to render the horses useless for war, by cutting their sinews, and to destroy the chariots, in order that the Israelites might not become accustomed to the practices of the heathen.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Joshua 11:6". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/joshua-11.html. 1840-57.