Joshua 11 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Joshua 11)

Verse 1

[1] And it came to pass, when Jabin king of Hazor had heard those things, that he sent to Jobab king of Madon, and to the king of Shimron, and to the king of Achshaph,

Hazor — The chief city of those parts, verse 10.

Had heard — This was a remarkable instance of the wisdom and goodness of Divine Providence, which so governed the minds of the Canaanites, that they were not all united under one king, but divided amongst many petty kings; and next, that these did not all unanimously join their counsels and forces together to oppose the Israelites at their first entrance, but quietly suffered the destruction of their brethren, thereby preparing the way for their own.

Verse 2

[2] And to the kings that were on the north of the mountains, and of the plains south of Chinneroth, and in the valley, and in the borders of Dor on the west,

On the north — The general designation of all the particular places following: they were in the northern parts of Canaan, as those mentioned chap. 10:1-43, were in the southern parts; in the mountain, either in or near the mountain of Lebanon, called the mountain by way of eminency; or in the mountainous country.

Cinneroth — Heb. in the plain lying southward from Cinneroth, or the lake of Genesareth.

Dor — A place upon the coast of the midland-sea.

Verse 3

[3] And to the Canaanite on the east and on the west, and to the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Jebusite in the mountains, and to the Hivite under Hermon in the land of Mizpeh.

The Canaanite — The Canaanites properly so called, lived part of them on the east near Jordan, and part on the west near the sea, and both are here united.

The Hivite — That dwelt under mount Hermon in the north of Canaan, whereby they are differenced from those Hivites who lived in Gibeon.

Mizpeh — That Mizpeh which was in the northern part of Gilead. But there are other cities called by that name, which signifying a watching-place, might be easily applied to several places of good prospect.

Verse 5

[5] And when all these kings were met together, they came and pitched together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel.

Merom — A lake made by the river Jordan in the northern part of it, which was in the territory of the King of Schimron, near Hazor, Jabin's royal city, and almost in the middle of these confederate kings.

Verse 6

[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.

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.

Verse 7

[7] So Joshua came, and all the people of war with him, against them by the waters of Merom suddenly; and they fell upon them.

Suddenly — When they least expected them, intending there to refresh, and prepare, and order themselves for the offensive war which they designed.

Verse 8

[8] And the LORD delivered them into the hand of Israel, who smote them, and chased them unto great Zidon, and unto Misrephothmaim, and unto the valley of Mizpeh eastward; and they smote them, until they left them none remaining.

Great Zidon — A great city in the northwest part of Canaan, upon the sea.

Misrephoth-maim — A place not far from Zidon, supposed to be so called from the salt or glass which they made there.

Valley of Mizpeh — Under mount Hermon, as appears by comparing this with verse 17. where it seems to be called the valley of Lebanon. This lay on the east, as Zidon did on the west; and so it seems they fled several ways, and the Israelites also divided themselves into two bodies, one pursuing east, and the other west.

Verse 10

[10] And Joshua at that time turned back, and took Hazor, and smote the king thereof with the sword: for Hazor beforetime was the head of all those kingdoms.

The king — In his royal city, to which he fled out of the battle.

Head of these kingdoms — Not of all Canaan, but of all those who were confederate with him in this expedition.

Verse 11

[11] And they smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them: there was not any left to breathe: and he burnt Hazor with fire.

Not any left — That is, no human person.

Verse 13

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

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

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

Verse 16

[16] So Joshua took all that land, the hills, and all the south country, and all the land of Goshen, and the valley, and the plain, and the mountain of Israel, and the valley of the same;

All that land — Of Canaan, whose parts here follow.

The hill — Or, the mountain, that is, the mountainous country, namely, of Judea. A considerable part of Judea was called the hilly or the mountainous country, Luke 1:39,65.

The south country — That is, not only the mountainous part, but all the country of Judea, which lay in the southern part of Canaan, and often comes under the name of the south.

The vale — The low countries.

The plain — The fields or campaign grounds.

The mountain of Israel — The mountains or mountainous country of Israel.

Verse 17

[17] Even from the mount Halak, that goeth up to Seir, even unto Baalgad in the valley of Lebanon under mount Hermon: and all their kings he took, and smote them, and slew them.

To Seir — That is, To the country of Seir or Edom; namely, that part of it which was south from Judea, not that which was eastward from it, as appears from hence, that here is mention of the two extreme bounds of the land conquered by Joshua; whereof the other which follows being in the north, this must needs be in the south of the land.

Baal-Gad — A part of mount Lebanon.

Verse 18

[18] Joshua made war a long time with all those kings.

A long time — For divers years together, as is evident by the following history. And this is here expressed, lest it should be thought that as all these wars are here recorded in a short narration, so they were dispatched in a short time. And God would have the land to be conquered gradually, for many weighty reasons; 1. Lest the sudden extirpation of those nations should have made a great part of the land desert, and thereby have increased the number of wild beasts, Deuteronomy 7:22. 2. Lest being done suddenly and easily, it should soon be forgotten and despised, as the nature of man is apt to do in those cases. 3. That by long exercise the Israelites might grow skilful in the art of war. 4. For the trial and exercise of their patience and courage, and trust in God. 5. To oblige them to the greater care to please God, whom they yet need for their help against their enemies.

Verse 19

[19] There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon: all other they took in battle.

All other — Namely, all that were taken by Joshua, were taken by the sword, and therefore it is no wonder that the war was long, when the enemy was so obstinate.

Verse 20

[20] For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses.

To harden their hearts — It was the design of God's providence not to soften their hearts to a compliance with the Israelites, but to give them up to their own animosity, pride, confidence and stubbornness; that so their abominable and incorrigible wickedness might be punished, and that the Israelites might not be mixed with them, but be entire among themselves in the possession of the land.

Verse 21

[21] And at that time came Joshua, and cut off the Anakims from the mountains, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the mountains of Judah, and from all the mountains of Israel: Joshua destroyed them utterly with their cities.

At that time — In that war, but in divers years.

The mountain — Or, mountains, the singular number for the plural; these barbarous and monstrous persons either chose to live in the dens or caves, which were frequent in the mountains of those parts, or else they were driven thither by the arms and success of the Israelites.

From Debir — From the territories belonging to these cities, as we have often seen in this history, cities mentioned for the country subject to them.

The mountains of Israel — It doth not follow from hence, that this book was written by some other person long after Joshua's death, even after the division of the Israelites into two kingdoms. of Israel and Judah; but only that this was one of those clauses which were added by Ezra or some other prophet; though that be not necessary: for since it was evident to Joshua, from Judges 1:12-20.

Verse 23

[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.

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.