Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 24:12

Then I sent the hornet before you and it drove out the two kings of the Amorites from before you, but not by your sword or your bow.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Amorites;   Animals;   Hornet;   Shechem;   Thompson Chain Reference - Amorites;   Hornets;   Insects;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Shechem;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Covenant;   War, Holy War;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Hornet;   Shechem;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Og;   Pillars;   Shechem (1);   Holman Bible Dictionary - Arms and Armor;   Confessions and Credos;   Covenant;   Ebal;   Forerunner;   Insects;   Joshua;   Joshua, the Book of;   Mission(s);   Shechem;   Temple of Jerusalem;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Hornet;   Shechem;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Hornet;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Flies;   Hornet;   Plagues of Egypt;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Conquest of Canaan;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Hornet;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Bow;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Elohist;   Insects;   Pharaoh;   Shechem;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

I sent the hornet before you - See the note on Exodus 23:28.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 24:12". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/joshua-24.html. 1832.

The Biblical Illustrator

Joshua 24:12

Not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.

Not with sword or bow

A very necessary reminder, applicable to both the hour of conflict and victory. Both seasons have their own dangers. There is no final conflict or victory in this life; only when death has finished our course should we be hopeless or exultant. Each contest is but a single event of a series, and the one, though leading to others, does not of necessity determine the character of them all. Defeat to-day does not mean defeat to-morrow, any more than success to-day means the same in the next encounter with the hidden powers of darkness. No man is safe on this side the grave. So for each, for all, these words may be for encouragement and direction. The cause of failure may be discovered, and the remedy be pointed out, or the way which shall lead to entire possession of the fulness of God’s blessedness may be known, as each and all shall remember that “it is not by thy sword or thy bow.”

I. Life’s conflict must be met by human effort and energy. The promise of the land as an inheritance to the people of Israel is most distinct. Everywhere God said He would give it. Was there not some reason, then, in the expectation that they should have the land without any very special trouble? Is there so much to be wondered at in the disappointment of the spies when they saw they had to fight? One would have thought that the people would have walked in at one side while the inhabitants walked out at the other. God could have done it without the intervention of human effort at all. But this is not the point. What God did, as we learn from the history of this period, was, He used the sword and the bow of the people to secure to them the promise He had given to their fathers. And though no such stipulation is anywhere directly stated, yet universally we find that the human effort and skill are needful to the attainment of the gift of God. And it is just so with all that has to do with God. He has endowed us with certain powers which He calls upon us to exercise. When, then, on the one hand we sit down quietly and say, “God has promised and will perform--there is nothing for me to do,” or when we refuse to do anything because of our great weakness, or when we fail to call upon our powers of mind and heart to rise against the inroads of our spiritual enemies, or quietly submit when we are taken captive in the snares of the devil, we are just putting ourselves outside the pale of the directions which God has given us. So, too, when we ask God to work for us, and make supplication to Him to remove trouble or give us light and peace, if we say, “God can and will work,” and we do nothing ourselves, then we are forgetting this part of God’s ways. It is not by longing, wishing, desiring, however ardent, that God fulfils His loving purposes towards us; but by prayer, girding up our minds, and resolute, undaunted courage, that we must meet our foe--“with thy sword and with thy bow.” But what is the energy and activity here indicated? You will observe that God has not endowed man with any natural modes of offence or defence. The smallest insect is apparently better equipped for the dangers of its life than we are. But God has given man a stronger force than all. Will--moral force--the power of doing--are his; so that though unarmed he is more fully equipped against the multifarious dangers of his way. Nothing can assault him, but he can adopt such means as shall protect--such measures as shall totally defeat the foe. He has the sword and the bow. Moral dangers must be met by moral means, e.g., conscience must be kept clear, its voice must be listened to, and when heard the will must without hesitation obey. Spiritual blessings must be obtained by spiritual effort. God has promised them, He will give; but you must overcome the obstacles. Will you have the promise? then adopt the means needful. If you would scale the mountains, you look for a guide, and take provisions, and put on suitable dress. “Put on the whole armour of God.” Just as the poor shipwrecked one lays hold of the floating spar for very life, so you must lay hold of God, and laying hold of Him, do what He tells you. Cannot! No such word ought to be used. “I can, I will!” these are your sword and bow, and if you would extract blessing out of everything it must be by their use, and only thus will you gain the end you desire. But then it must be “thy” sword and “thy” bow. There is a speciality here. It is the act of the individual, the perseverance of the man.

II. Life’s conflict is not won by the human effort and energy. The greatest effort cannot obtain the victory; the most stupendous energy cannot save from defeat. It is one thing to meet the foe, it is another thing to win the day. And so our text tells us that it is not by thy sword nor by thy bow. You must fight, but God gives the victory. It is not won by your fighting, but by God’s aid. It is not secured by your prowess, but by God’s strength. It is all God, not you. (H. W. Butcher.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Joshua 24:12". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/joshua-24.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And I sent the hornet before you,.... Of which See Gill on Exodus 23:28,

which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; who were Sihon and Og, and not only them, and the Amorites under them, but the other nations, Hivites, Hittites, &c.

but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow; but by insects of the Lord's sending to them, which, as Kimchi says, so blinded their eyes, that they could not see to fight, and so Israel came upon them, and slew them; in which the hand of the Lord was manifestly seen, and to whose power, and not, their own, the destruction of their enemies was to be ascribed.

Copyright Statement
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 24:12". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-24.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

I sent the hornet before you — a particular species of wasp which swarms in warm countries and sometimes assumes the scourging character of a plague; or, as many think, it is a figurative expression for uncontrollable terror (see on Exodus 23:28).

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 24:12". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/joshua-24.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.

Sent the hornet — When they were actually engaged in battle with the Canaanites. These dreadful swarms which first appeared in their war with Sihon and Og, tormented them with their stings and terrified them with their noise, so that they became an easy prey to Israel. God had promised to do this for them, Exodus 23:27,28, and here Joshua observes the fulfilling the promise.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 24:12". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-24.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 24:12 And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, [even] the two kings of the Amorites; [but] not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.

Ver. 12. And I sent the hornet before you.] Crabrones, sive muscam venenatam: Metaphorice de terrore illis incusso, saith Piscator; It is to be metaphorically taken for stinging terrors, struck into the hearts of these Canaanites. But why not literally rather?

But not with thy sword.] But with my hornets.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 24:12". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-24.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

The hornet; either,

1. Figuratively, i.e. terrors and plagues, or other destroying judgments. Or,

2. Properly so called. See Poole "Exodus 23:28". And this being done before Joshua’s entrance into Canaan, it is not strange if it be not mentioned in this book or record of Joshua’s actions.

Not with thy sword, nor with thy bow; for though thou didst fight with them, and prevail against them in battle, yet this was not because thou hadst more force or courage than they; but because by my hornet, which I sent like a harbinger before thee, I had both broken their spirits, and greatly diminished their numbers, and particularly cut off those giants or others who were like to give time most trouble and difficulty; whence it comes to pass that we read of so few giants in that land,

which was called the land of giants, Deuteronomy 3:3.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 24:12". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/joshua-24.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

12.And I sent the hornet before you — The figurative interpretation of the hornet makes it a vivid metaphor for enemies armed with fearful weapons, or for pungent and stinging terrors. But we are inclined to the literal interpretation, which was evidently held by the author of the Wisdom of Solomon, (Joshua 12:8,) that a species of wasp, which swarms in warm climates, became an intolerable plague, and drove many of the Canaanites from their land. The ancient historians Pliny, Justin, and AElian recount instances in which whole tribes have been driven away by frogs, mice, wasps, and other small animals.

Not with thy sword — Not with weapons only, but with divine help. The purpose of this review of providential interpositions in behalf of the Hebrews is to awaken emotions of gratitude, and to secure perfect holiness and obedience to the divine law. This duty the dying chieftain now proceeds to enforce.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 24:12". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/joshua-24.html. 1874-1909.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

And I sent the hornet before you, who drove them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites, not with your sword, nor with your bow.’

The ‘two kings of the Amorites’ may be specific, or the word ‘two’ may be used as meaning ‘a few’ as it often does. Compare the ‘two sticks’ of the widow of Zarepath (1 Kings 17:12). These were probably not Sihon and Og but two (or ‘a few’) kings whom they were called on to fight on the west side of the Jordan. We do not know which ones. (‘Amorites’ rather than ‘Canaanites’ is found throughout the speech - Joshua 24:15; Joshua 24:18). Perhaps there is in mind here some striking incident that the people would remember. The point is made that it was achieved without fighting. (LXX has twelve kings but that was probably to remove the seeming difficulty caused by assuming that the two kings were Og and Sihon when such use of numbers was forgotten. But there were a number of kings of the Amorites, and as mentioned above the Canaanites were called Amorites throughout the speech - Joshua 24:15; Joshua 24:18, with those Beyond Jordan eastward being specifically distinguished - Joshua 24:8).

Whether this was a literal attack of hornets on the leaders of an Amorite army that caused them to have to flee, possibly forcing them out of ambush when a hornets’ nest was disturbed, or an attack by insects on their chariot horses which panicked them and had a similar effect, or some other factor that accomplished the same, we will never know. But the reference to sword and bow is from Genesis 48:22. However, the point here is that Israel were more favoured for they did not need sword or bow.

The reference to hornets recalls Exodus 23:28; Deuteronomy 7:20. It does not mean that the hornets literally went in front of the Israelite army, but that God had prepared them to do this work beforehand. These two references probably have in mind the hornet of fear and anxiety (Exodus 23:27-28) caused by hearing stories of what YHWH had done for Israel, but Joshua here may well have associated them with a particular striking incident of help gained from swarms of insects. Some have connected sir‘ah (hornet) with Assyrian siru (serpent) and have associated it with the sacred serpent on the crown of Pharaoh, with the idea that a preceding Egyptian invasion had prepared the way for Israel’s successes, but this seems less likely. However the meaning of sir‘ah is not certain for it appears only in these contexts.

Some do see it as referring to the Og and Sihon, who are elsewhere called ‘two kings of the Amorites’ (Joshua 2:10; Joshua 9:10; Deuteronomy 3:8; Deuteronomy 4:47), recognising that they might have come into his mind as a result of his mention of Amorites, and that the emphasis here is on the hornet YHWH sent rather than on the kings, with YHWH seeing them as simply part of the whole campaign.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Joshua 24:12". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/joshua-24.html. 2013.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Hornets. St. Augustine explains this of the rumours, or devils, which terrified the people of the country. But it is generally understood literally, Wisdom xii. 8. (Menochius) (Exodus xxiii. 28.) (Calmet) --- The two, &c., not only the nations on the west, but also those on the east side of the Jordan, who fell, not so much by the valour of the Israelites, as by the terror and judgments of God. (Haydock) --- The resistance which they made was hardly worth mentioning.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Joshua 24:12". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/joshua-24.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

two kings. Promise began to be fulfilled here. See Exodus 23:28. Deuteronomy 7:20.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Joshua 24:12". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/joshua-24.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.

Sent the hornet - a particular species of wasp which swarms in warm countries, and sometimes assumes the scourging character of a plague (Kirby's 'Bridgewater Treatise,' 2: pp. 336, 337; also 'Tent and Khan,' p. 390); or, as many think, it is a figurative expression for uncontrollable terror (Exodus 23:27-28; Deuteronomy 7:20).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 24:12". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/joshua-24.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(12) The hornet.—There appears no reason for taking this word in any other than a literal sense. The possibility of what is recorded here has been abundantly illustrated by events reported in our own times.

The two kings of the Amorites.—Apparently, but not necessarily, Sihon and Og are intended. There were kings of the Amorites on both sides of Jordan.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Joshua 24:12". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/joshua-24.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.
I sent
Exodus 23:28; Deuteronomy 7:20
not
Psalms 44:3-6
Reciprocal: Joshua 11:21 - Joshua destroyed;  2 Kings 6:22 - thy sword;  1 Chronicles 17:21 - by driving;  Psalm 44:2 - how thou didst afflict;  Psalm 80:9 - preparedst;  Isaiah 7:18 - fly

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 24:12". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-24.html.