Bible Commentaries
Joshua 11

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-23

5. The Victory over the Northern Canaanites. Capture of their Land. General Retrospect of the Conquest of the Country West of the Jordan

Joshua 11:0

a. The Second League of Canaanite Kings

Joshua 11:1-6

1And it came to pass, when Jabin king of Hazor had [omit: had] heard those things, that he sent to Jobab king of Madon, and to the king of Shimron, and to the king of Achshaph, 2And to the kings that were on [in] the north of [on] the mountains, and of the plains [and in the Jordan valley] south of Cinneroth, and 3in the valley [the low-land], and in the borders [heights] of Dor on the west, 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. 4And they went out, they and all their hosts [camps] with them, much people, even [omit: even] as the sand that is upon the sea-shore in multitude, with [and] horses and chariots very many. 5And when all these kings were met together, they came and pitched [encamped] together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel. 6And the Lord [Jehovah] said unto Joshua, Be not afraid because of them: for to-morrow about this time will I deliver them all up [give them all] slain before Israel: thou shalt hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire.

b. The great Victory at the Waters of Merom

Joshua 11:7-9

7So [And] Joshua came, and all the people of war with him, against them by the waters of Merom suddenly, and they fell upon them. 8And the Lord [Jehovah] delivered them into the hand of Israel, who smote them, and chased them unto great Zidon, and unto Misrephoth-maim, and unto the valley of Mizpeh eastward; and they smote them, until they left them none remaining. 9And Joshua did unto them as the Lord [Jehovah] bade [had said unto] him: he houghed their horses, and burnt their chariots with fire.

c. The Capture of the remaining Portions of Northern Palestine

Joshua 11:10-23

10And 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. 11And they smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying [devoting] them: there was not any left to breathe: and he burnt Hazor with fire. 12And all the cities of those kings, and all the kings of them, did Joshua take, and smote them with the edge of the sword, and [omit: and] he utterly destroyed [devoted] them, as Moses the servant of the Lord commanded 13But as for1 the cities that stood still in their strength [on their hill], Israel burned none of them, save Hazor only; that did Joshua burn. 14And all the spoil of these cities, and the cattle, the children of Israel took for a prey unto themselves: but every man they smote with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, neither left they any to breathe. 15As the Lord [Jehovah] commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua: he left nothing undone of all that the Lord [Jehovah] commanded Moses.

d. General Retrospect of the Conquest of West Palestine

Joshua 11:16-23

16So [And] Joshua took all that land, the hills [mountain], and all the south country, and all the land of Goshen, and the valley [the low-land], and the plain [the Arabah or Jordan-valley], and the mountain of Israel, and the valley [low-land] 17of the same; Even from the mount Halak [the bald mountain], that goeth up to Seir, even unto Baal-gad, in the valley of Lebanon, under mount Hermon: and all their kings he took, and smote them, and slew them. 18Joshua made war a long time [Fay, exactly: many days] with all those kings. 19There was not a city which made peace with [Fay, De Wette: peacefully submitted to] the children [sons] of Israel, save the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon: all other [omit: other] they took in battle. 20For it was of the Lord [Jehovah] to harden [prop. strengthen, LXX.: κατισχῦσαι] their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle [LXX.: συναντᾷν εἰς πόλεμον], that he might destroy them utterly [devote them], and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the Lord [Jehovah] commanded Moses.

21And 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 [devoted them] with their cities. 22There was none of the Anakims left in the land of the children [sons] of Israel: only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod, there remained. 23So [And] Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord [Jehovah] said unto Moses, and Joshua gave it for an inheritance [possession] unto Israel, according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war.


With this chapter we enter upon a new theatre of the conquests of Joshua, the northern part of West Palestine. Just as before Adoni-Zedek, the king of Jerusalem (Joshua 10:1 ff.), had summoned the five kings of the south to resist Joshua, so now Jabin, the king of Hazor, who occupied a prominent position, since his city is designated as the chief city of all the northern kingdoms (Joshua 11:10), collects the military forces of this portion of the country against the conqueror at Gibeon. But the Lord encourages his servant, and now again, as before, exhorts him not to fear them, although they had encamped by the water of Merom, like the sand of the sea for multitude (Joshua 11:1-6), Joshua falls upon them suddenly, before they had fully got together, smites them utterly, pursues them to the seacoast, in the region of Sidon, lames their horses, and burns their chariots with fire. The account which we have in Joshua 11:7-9 is brief but all the more vividly impressive. Next follows a history of the capture of the remaining parts of western Palestine, in the style of the chronicler, as in Joshua 10:28-43. To all this is appended, finally, a general review of the conquest of all Palestine, with a special notice of the extirpation of the Anakim.

a. The Second League of Canaanite Kings, Joshua 11:1-6.—Jabin king of Hazor. Hazor (Joshua 12:19; Joshua 19:36) was an important royal seat of the Canaanites, which Joshua destroyed, according to the statement in this chapter (Joshua 11:13), but which was afterwards rebuilt, and became again a kingly capital (Judges 4:2; Judges 4:17; 1 Samuel 12:9). Here dwelt, in the time of the Judges, another Jabin whose general was Sisera. Solomon fortified the place (1 Kings 9:15), the population of which was carried away by the Assyrians under Tiglath-pileser (2 Kings 15:29). According to Josephus (Antiq. v. 5, 1), ὑπέρκειται τῆς Σεμεχωνίτιδος λίμνης), Hazor lay on the range of hills which stretches itself on the west of the sea of Merom, now the Jebel Safed. Porter (i. 304) found here a place Hafur; Robinson, on the same ridge an hour south of Kedesh, with which Hazor is mentioned both in our Book Joshua 19:36, and in 2 Kings 15:29, found a hill Tel Khureibeh, which he would identify with Hazor. Knobel seeks for it on a hill north of Ramah, south-west of Safed, where a collection of ruins, Huzzur or Hazireh, occurs. This suits his view of the “water of Merom;” see below. But as we cannot share in this, for reasons to be given, we accept the statement of Josephus, which seems to us sufficiently supported by the researches of Porter and Robinson. Such a point was well adapted to the residence of a prominent monarch.

Madon, Joshua 12:19. A city not yet discovered, perhaps to be sought in southern Galilee, more probably, however, like the other cities west of the sea of Merom (Knob.).

Shimron is called, Joshua 12:20, Shimron-Meron, therefore Shimron in the vicinity of Meron = Maron, southwest of Kedesh.

Achshaph (Joshua 12:20) a border city of Asher (Joshua 19:25). According to Robinson (Later Bibl. Res. p. 55), perhaps the present Kesâf, about midway between Tyre and Banias; almost certainly not Akko, as Knobel on Joshua 19:25 conjectures.

Joshua 11:2. On the mountain. The mountain of Naphthali (Joshua 19:32) is meant.

In the plain, south of Cinneroth, i.e., the Ghor of the Jordan, south of the sea of Gennesaret.

In the lowland; here probably the strip bordering the sea between Akko and Sidon, to which the following, Naphoth-Dor on the sea, directs us (Joshua 12:23). This Dor (Joshua 17:11, Joseph. Ant. v. 1, 22) belonged later to Manasseh (Joshua 17:11), by which tribe its Canaanite inhabitants were not driven out (Judges 1:27). From 1 Chronicles 8:29, we learn that children of Joseph dwelt in it. The population was accordingly a mixed one. Under Solomon it was the chief place of a revenue district (1 Kings 4:11); now called Tortura, also Tantura, with forty or fifty dwellings, five hundred Mohammedan inhabitants, and ruins of a Frank castle (von Raumer). נפות דוֹר or נפת דור (Joshua 12:23; 1 Kings 4:11) = heights of Dor. The place was so called because it lay on an elevation, where Van de Velde found the ruins (Mem. p. 307), nine miles north of Cæsarea towards Tyre.

Joshua 11:3. Jabin sent, accordingly, to the Canaanites in the east and west, and to the other tribes, e.g. to the Hivites dwelling in the land of Mizpeh. This region lay, according to the present passage, under Hermon, and was, from Joshua 11:8, a plain, perhaps the level strip south of Hasbeiya, and to the west of Tel el-Kadi. There, on a hill, from which one has a glorious view of the great basin of Hule, lies the place Mutelleh or Metelleh (Robinson, iii. 347, and Later Bibl. Res. 372 f., Van de Velde, Narrative, ii. p. 428). The name signifies “outlook,” and corresponds to the Heb. מִצְפָּה (Knobel). The name Mizpeh occurs in two other places, in Judah (von Raumer, p. 213), and probably twice also in Gilead (von Raumer, p. 265), as a designation of localities; very naturally, since the country abounded in positions affording beautiful and extensive prospects. Compare the similar names to be met with in our mountain regions: Lookout, Fairview, etc.

Joshua 11:4. The Canaanite princes and their tribes obey and march out, much people even as the sand that is on the sea-shore in multitude, with horses and chariots very many. The comparison with the sand by the sea is very often met with in the Book of Genesis 32:13; Genesis 32:31; Genesis 41:49, as an emblem of multitude; as an emblem of weight again, Job 6:3 : Proverbs 27:3. The horses were particularly formidable to the Israelites, who had none. The chariots likewise, of which it is said, Joshua 17:18, that they were iron chariots, i.e. had wheels with iron tires. Comp. Bertheau [and Cassel] on Judges 1:19 : “The scythe-chariots were first introduced by Cyrus,” (Xen. Cyrop. iv. 1, 27, 30), Keil.

Joshua 11:5. And when all these kings were met together they came and pitched together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel.This water of Merom,מי מרוֹם = highest, upper, water is, according to the traditional explanation, the λίμνη Σεμεχωνῖτις of Josephus (Ant. v. 5, 1; Bell. Jud. iii. 9, 7; iv. 1, 1); now called by the Arabs Bahr el-Huleh, or el-Khait. “The sea is two and a half hours long, one hour wide [about three miles in each direction, Grove, Dict. of Bibl. p. 1898], muddy, abounding in fish, its surface forty feet [Van de Velde: 140] above the level of the sea; in summer mostly dried up, full of reeds, in which wild boars and serpents dwell, only its eastern shore is inhabited” (von Raumer). It is mentioned nowhere else in the Bible. The allied kings, judging from Joshua 11:7, had, probably, pitched their camp in a strong position, covered by Hazor and other cities as, e.g. Kedesh, on the Jebel Safed. From thence they might launch forth with their horses and chariots against Joshua, who would be likely to come up through the Jordan valley. But if this were their plan it was frustrated by the truly strategic promptness of the Hebrew commander. Knobel, followed lately by Keil (Bibl. Com. ii. 1, in h. l.) seeks this water of Merom in a little brook flowing in the valley below Safed, and which has its source in the mountain lying two hours northwest of Safed. There lies a place called Meirum or Merun (Rob. iii. 333 f.). A glance at the map shows that this valley was ill suited to be the camp of the multitudinous Canaanites. And when Knobel, to support his peculiar opinion, brings up the circumstance, that “there is no proof that the Bahr el-Huleh was ever called by the ancients the “water of Merom,” we reply, that the Bahr el-Huleh is mentioned at all only in this single passage, so that the only question is, How did the ancients understand this passage? What did they think of the מי מרוֹם? Answer: According to Josephus they thought it to be the Sea Semechonitis, or Samochonitis, the present Bahr el-Huleh, near which the battle was fought. To this traditional view, Hitzig also holds. He briefly remarks (Hist. of People of Isr. i. p. 103): “He (Joshua) conquered, it is said, at the water of Merom (i.e. El Huleh) King Jabin.”

Joshua 11:6. Encouraging appeal of God to Joshua, as Joshua 10:8 and often. We have to conceive of Joshua as already on the march, when this word was addressed to him, since the distance from Gilgal to the sea of Merom was too great for him to reach the latter between one day and the next (“tomorrow about this time”).

Thou shalt hough their horses and burn their chariots with fire. So David does with the horses of Hadad-ezer, king of Zoba (2Sa 8:4; 1 Chronicles 18:4. עִקֵּר = νευροκοπε͂ιν). The tendons of the hind legs were severed (they were hamstrung), and thus they were rendered completely useless.—The burning of the chariots is mentioned also, Psalms 46:10; they were therefore certainly of wood.

b. The great Victory at the Sea of Merom, Joshua 11:7-9.

Joshua 11:7. Suddenly, פִּתְאֹם from פֶּתַּע with the adverbial ending ֹם, as in שִׁלְשֹׁם, and metathesis of א and ע. They said also בְּפִתאֹם, 2 Chronicles 29:36, or בְּפִתַע פִּתְאֹם, Numbers 6:9, or לְפֶתַע פִּתאֹם, Isaiah 29:5, or פִּתְאֹם לְפֶהַע, Isaiah 30:13. Joshua proves himself by his rapidity a true general, as Joshua 10:9.

Joshua 11:8. Pursued them unto great Zidon and unto Misrephoth-maim, and unto the valley of Mizpeh eastward. Joshua followed the enemy partly in a northwestern direction (toward Sidon), and westward (Misrephoth-m.), partly towards the northeast (valley of Mizpeh). Sidon is here as Joshua 19:28, the great (רַבָּה), i.e. the populous (רַבָּה not גְּדֹלָה), and thus is designated as the capital of the land of the Sidonians (Phœnicians). It was older than Tyre, and allotted to the tribe of Asher (Joshua 19:28), but not conquered by it (Judges 1:31). Sidon is repeatedly mentioned by Homer (Il. vi. 289; xxiii. 743; Od. xv. 425). The city, once so powerful, has now not more than 5,000 inhabitants (Rob. iii. 417 ff.). In his prophecy against Tyrus, Isaiah remembers Sidon also (Isaiah 23:2; Isaiah 23:4; Isaiah 23:12). Jeremiah comprehends Sidon with Tyre (Jeremiah 47:4, compared with Joshua 27:3), which is very often done in the N. T. (Matthew 11:21-22; Mark 7:24-31; Matthew 15:21; Luke 10:13; Mark 3:8). A charming description of Sidon is given by Furrer, Wanderungen d. Palest. p. 351.—

Misrephoth-maim. Luther: “warm water”; Gesen.: “perhaps lime-kilns or smelting-furnaces (from שָׂרַף) situated near water;” Knobel, from the Arab.: “water-heights,” among which should be understood the promontories Ras en-Nakura and Ras el-Aibab (Scala Tyriorum). Not both promontories, however, but only one, and not the sea but a spring, is meant, we believe, namely, the southern Ras en-Nakura, which, from a spring lying at the southern foot of the mountain, and a place called Muschairifeh (plainly, as even Knobel admits, the same name as Misrephoth), is called also Ras el-Muschairifeh (Ritter, xvi. 807). Here once stood perhaps furnaces (glass furnaces?) in the vicinity of the spring, and from these it received its name. This view suits excellently with Joshua 13:6, where Misrephoth-maim is mentioned as a known boundary point. Joshua, therefore, cast the Canaanites over the mountain, here precipitously steep, down into the plain by the sea, by which, certainly, thousands were destroyed. But while two divisions of the army thus followed the enemy toward the southwest [N. W.?] and west, another moves at the same time toward the northeast, and chases them into the valley of Mizpeh, called above in Joshua 11:3, Mizpah.

Joshua 11:9. Finally, Joshua does as Jehovah had bidden, houghs the horses, and burns the chariots.

c. The Capture of what remained of Northern Palestine (Joshua 11:10-15). Joshua 11:10-11. First, Hazor, the chief city of these petty northern kingdoms, is taken, and, because of its prominence, more hardly dealt with than the rest. For Joshua purned Hazor with fire (Joshua 11:11; Joshua 11:13).—On the inf. הַחֲרֵם, comp. Deuteronomy 3:6, and הָכֵן Joshua 3:17.

Joshua 11:12-13. Fate of the other cities. The sense of the two verses is that the cities in the plain were totally burned and devoted, while those, on the contrary, which stood on their hill, i.e. the fortified mountain cities, with the sole exception of Hazor, were not burned. The Israelites were content to sack them (Joshua 11:12).

Joshua 11:14. The spoils were not devoted but divided, as at Ai, Joshua 8:2; Joshua 8:27. The men, all that had breath (comp. Joshua 11:11), were destroyed.

Joshua 11:15. This command of God to Moses is found before in Exodus 34:11-16; and again Numbers 33:51-56, strengthened by threatenings; finally, also, Deuteronomy 20:16, where it is said, “Thou shalt save alive nothing that breathes,” as Joshua here actually does. For the transfer of this command to Joshua, compare in general the often-cited passage, Numbers 27:18-23, and particularly Deuteronomy 3:21. The author states emphatically, to show the conscientiousness of Joshua: he left nothing undone of all that Jehovah had commanded Moses, comp. Joshua 11:12, as well as Joshua 1:7-8.

d. General Retrospect of the Conquest of Western Palestine (Joshua 11:16-23).—”Joshua captured the whole land of Canaan, namely, in the south, the portions mentioned Joshua 10:40 ff., together with the Arabah (Joshua 11:2), the mountain of Israel, i.e. Ephraim (Joshua 17:15), and its lowland on the west (Joshua 16:1), and so the land from the Bald Mountain in the south to Baal-gad in the north; the kings he took captive, smote and slew” (Knobel).

Joshua 11:17. From the Mount Halak (smooth, or bald mountain), that goes up to Seir (Joshua 12:7). This smooth mountain can hardly be Mount Madurah, as Knobel thinks (he writes Madara), and hence translates חר חלק by “smooth mountain” (mentioned by Robinson, ii. 589); because this mountain does not go up to Mount Seir, but rather lies on the west side of the Wady el-Fikreh. It is more probably identical with the “ascent of Akrabbim,” mentioned Joshua 15:3, and Numbers 34:4, which Robinson believes he has discovered in the remarkable line of cliffs that run across the entire Ghor, a few miles south of the Dead Sea (ii. 489, 490). This divides the great valley into two parts, both physically and in respect to its names down even to the present day, the northern portion from hence to the sea of Tiberias being called el-Ghor [formerly, the Arabah], the southern, even to Akabah, being called el-Araba (Rob. l.c.) This ridge, consisting of whitish cliffs (Rob. l.c.) goes up in fact to Seir, i.e. towards the mountains of Edom which constitute the eastern boundary of the Arabah, now Jebâl (Gebalene), and lies exactly opposite to Baal-gad which is named as the northern limit. So Keil in l. accepts it. On the map accompanying the last edition of von Raumer’s Palästina, from Stieler’s Hand Atlas (No. 42 b), the points in question are very clearly marked.

Even unto Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon under Mount Hermon. Not Baalbec (Knobel), which lies much too far north, but the later Cæsarea-Philippi, earlier Panias, now Baneas, comp. Joshua 12:7; Joshua 13:5; Judges 3:3; von Raumer, Paläst. p. 245, Gesen. Lexicon. The city was called Baal-gad, because Baal, according to Isaiah 65:11, was worshipped as Baal-Gad (גָּד, fortune) = the God of fortune In Judges 3:3 it is called Baal-hermon. According to Jerome (Onom. s. v. Aermon), a temple of Baal must have stood on Mount Hermon.

Joshua 11:18. Joshua made war with those kings a long time. From Joshua 14:7; Joshua 14:10, at least five years. For Caleb was forty years old when Moses sent him out of Kadesh-barnea as a spy; eighty-five years old was he when, immediately after the conquest of the land, he received his possession from Joshua. Since the former date, accordingly, forty-five years have past, as Caleb also himself says, forty of which belong to the pilgrimage in the Arabah, leaving five for the subjugation of the land; not too long certainly, and yet long enough to be called a long time. Heb.: “many days.” So also Joseph. Ant. v. 1, 19. Comp. Introd. § 4.

Joshua 11:19. Gibeon’s peaceful surrender is mentioned again, Joshua 9:7; Joshua 9:15; Joshua 10:1; Joshua 10:6. The others had all to be taken in battle.

Joshua 11:20. For it was of Jehovah, to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might devote them, and that they might have no favor, but that he might destroy them, as Jehovah had commanded Moses. God dealt with them as He had done with Pharaoh, Exodus 4:21; Exodus 7:3; Exodus 14:4; Romans 9:17; Calvin: In hunc finem illos Deus obdurat, ut a se misericordiam avertant; unde et durities ista vocatur ejus opus, quia effectum consilii ejus stabilit.” See Doctrinal and Ethical below.

Verses 21–23 contain in part a supplementary notice of the extirpation of the Anakim, in the cities of Hebron and Debir, the destruction of which has already (Joshua 10:36 ff.) been reported, and in part a general conclusion substantially as given before in Joshua 11:16. We may observe, however, that here, (1) the division of the land is expressly mentioned, and (2) it is added that the land had rest from war.

Joshua 11:21. Cut off the Anakim. See the Introd. p. 30. Hebron and Debir were mentioned in Joshua 10:36 ff. but not Anab which, and also Eshtemo, is joined with Debir in Joshua 15:50. Robinson found both as neighboring places south of Hebron (ii. 94, 195). Anab wears its ancient name even to the present day; Eshtemo is now called Semua.

Joshua 11:22. Gaza, Joshua 10:41; Joshua 13:3; Joshua 15:47, the well-known city of the Philistines, first mentioned Genesis 10:19, familiar from the history of Samson, Judges 16:0, the utterances of the prophets (Jeremiah 25:20; Jeremiah 47:5; Amos 1:6-7; Zephaniah 2:4; Zechariah 9:5), the eunuch from Ethiopia (Acts 8:26). It stands in a fertile region, and is even now an important town with fifteen thousand inhabitants. These derive great profit from the caravans.

Gath, now lost without a trace discoverable, another city of the Philistines, the home of Goliath and other giants (1Sa 17:4; 1 Chronicles 21:5-8; 2 Samuel 21:19-22) who were not exterminated here; familiar from the history of David (1 Samuel 21:10; 1 Samuel 27:2-4; Psalms 56:0; 2 Samuel 1:20, and often). Already in the time of the prophet Amos, the greatness of Gath had shrunk (Amos 6:2). Robinson (ii. 420 ff.) sought in vain for its site.

Ashdod, now Esdud, between two and three hours from Ashkelon, with 100 or 150 miserable hovels, mentioned in our book Joshua 13:3; Joshua 15:46-47; the city of Dagon, 1 Samuel 5:1-7, against which, as against Gaza, the prophets often direct their denunciations (Jeremiah 25:20; Amos 1:8; Amos 3:9; Zephaniah 2:4; Zechariah 9:6). To this place was Philip the Evangelist snatched away, Acts 8:40. The city is said to have been very strong (Herod. ii. 157).

Joshua 11:23. According to their divisions,כְּמַחְלְקֹתָם, elsewhere used principally of the divisions of the priests and Levites into twenty-four classes (ἐφημερίαι, κλῆροι) 1 Chronicles 27:1 ff.; 2Ch 13:14; 2 Chronicles 31:2; 2 Chronicles 35:4; here, as in Joshua 12:7; Joshua 18:10, of the division of the people into tribes.

And the land had rest from war,i.e. “there were no more warlike disturbances in it (Joshua 14:15; Judges 3:11; Judges 3:30; Judges 5:31; Judges 8:28),” Knobel.


1. Conscientiousness in carrying out the divine commands and in fulfilling God’s will, is a prominent characteristic of the holy men in both the old and the new Testaments. Thus Moses is praised because he in all his house was faithful to him that made him (Hebrews 3:2; Hebrews 3:5). Faithfulness, however, exists only where conscientiousness exists, for the faithless man is always void of conscience also. And so Joshua was faithful, as is intimated in Joshua 11:15 of the chapter before us, since he left nothing undone of all which God had commanded Moses. The highest conscientiousness, which is at the same time perfect fidelity, is found in Jesus Christ, whose meat and drink it is to do the will of Him that sent him, and to finish his work (John 4:34); who seeks to do not his own will but the Father’s will (John 5:30); who therefore loses nothing of all which the father has given him (John 6:38-39); and who could, on the cross, exclaim with satisfaction, “It is finished” (John 19:30).

2. When the hostility of the Canaanites is ascribed to the hardening of their hearts by God (Joshua 11:20), here, as everywhere in Scripture, when such hardening is spoken of, it is carefully to be borne in mind, that this is always inflicted as a judgment on those who have previously, somehow, acted contrary to his will. This is true of Pharaoh (Exodus 4:21; Exodus 7:13; Exodus 10:20; Exodus 11:10; Exodus 14:4; Romans 9:17), of the people of Israel (Isaiah 6:10; Matthew 13:12-14), and here of the Canaanites. They have all transgressed grievously in some way against God: Pharaoh through the oppression of Israel; Israel through impiety; the Canaanites through idolatry; and are therefore now hardened by God, i.e. their understanding is infatuated, their will audacious, so that they blindly run into destruction. That this ruin on their part, again, serves to glorify God’s power (Romans 9:17), is self-evident; only the matter should not be so under stood as it is by Calvin, who, while not denying indeed the guilt of the Canaanites, still leaves in the background the judicial providence of God revealing itself in their hardness of heart, and speaks only of God’s having made a way for his decree by hardening the ungodly (ubi reprobos obduravit). The absolute divine decree stands here also, with Calvin, high above all else. He does not indeed, here or ever, deny the guilt of men, but this guilt itself is not a free act of men, but is rather jointly included in the decree of God, as follows from the close of his explanation of Joshua 11:19-20 : “Nunc si rem adeo dilucidam suis nebulis obscurare conentur, qui Deum e cœlo speculari fingunt, quid hominibus libeat, nec hominum corda arcano ejus instinctu frenari sustinent: quid aliud quam suam impudentiam prodent? Deo tantum concedunt ut permittat: hoc autem modo suspendunt ejus consilium ab hominum placito. Quid autem Spiritus? a Deo esse obdurationem ut prœcipitet quos vult perdere.” The final words in particular are intelligible enough, and remind of the verses of an anonymous Greek Tragic Poet, quoted in a scholium on Sophocles’ “Antigone” Joshua 11:6; Joshua 11:20 :—

’́Οταν δ’ δαίμων�

Τὸν νοῦν ἔβλαψε πρῶτον, ᾧ βουλεύεται;

or of the Latin maxim, probably originating in what has just been quoted, Quos Deus perdere vultdementat prius (comp. Büchmann, p. 117, Geflügelte Wörte).


Although the Lord’s enemies may be like sand by the sea, yet we need not be disheartened, for He gives us confidence, courage, and victory, as He did once to Joshua. As Joshua always followed up his victory, so must we follow up every success on the field of our inner life, to its full results, that we be not cheated of the fruits.—The extirpation of the Canaanites, (1) due to their idolatry and immorality; (2) executed through a divine command; (3) set as a warning example for all times.—They left nothing remaining which had breath! So when a whole people have sinned, the less guilty and the guilty fall together.—Joshua’s conscientiousness.—Moses and Joshua, God’s faithful servants.—Men of God act not according to their own pleasure, but to the command of God.—A glance at Canaan.—A long time fought Joshua with the kings of the Canaanites, ever must we fight with sin, the flesh, the world.—The obduracy of the Canaanites regarded as a divine judgment upon them.—All obduracy is God’s judgment on men, who are sunk in sin and have forfeited their freedom.—Ah, if grace no more “prevented” men, how terrible!—The land ceased from war (sermon on the celebration of peace).

Starke: When it goes against the children of God, the ungodly blow the horn, join forces, and use all their might, Psalms 2:2; Psalms 3:1.—Whom God deserts with his grace that man runs into his own misfortune and destruction, Romans 2:5; Exodus 14:27; Isaiah 6:11.

Cramer: The perverseness of the ungodly! when they hear of God’s wonderful deeds, and should justly be led to repentance thereby, they take the course of crabs, and become only the more obdurate and wicked, until they bring upon themselves utter ruin, Psalms 78:31-32.—If not today, it may be better to-morrow, only wait the little while (Joshua 11:6).—When enemies study and contrive how they may destroy the people of God, then God studies and contrives how they may be retrained and even entirely rooted out.—God’s word and promise cannot delay, and they remain unbound.—God’s hand has a twofold operation, by one He strikes his foes, and by the other He gives his people victory, power, and strength; and this hand is not yet shortened, Isaiah 59:1.—When men become hardened through the instigation of the devil, God draws back his hand and smites them with the most serious penalty of obduracy, appoints this as a punishment of sin and a warning to his elect, and yet becomes not a cause of sin, Psalms 5:5.—Against God no giant even has any strength; Psalms 33:16; Isaiah 49:25.

Bibl. Tub.: In war all depends not on the strength and multitude of the people, but on God, who gives the victory, Psalms 46:10.

Osiander: Those who continue ever in their ungodly life, and think not at all with earnestness of true heart-conversion, those become finally so blinded by God, and are so entirely given up to a perverse heart that, like madmen, they run to meet their own destruction, until they are plunged at length into everlasting hell-fire.—God gives sometimes even to his Church on earth temporal peace, but they must not abuse this to temporal security.

Gerlach: Obduracy of the heart happens here also as a punishment, after grace has been previously offered, Exodus 4:21. This offer of grace lay in the Lord’s great miracles in Egypt, which these people had heard of with astonishment before the coming of the Israelites.

[Matt. Henry: Several nations joined in this confederacy .… of different constitutions, and divided interests among themselves, and yet they here unite against Israel as against a common enemy. Thus are the children of this world more unanimous, and therein wiser than the children of light. The oneness of the Church’s enemies should shame the Church’s friends out of their discords and divisions, and engage them to be one.—Never let the sons of Anak be a terror to the Israel of God, for even their day will come, to fall.—Note: God sometimes reserves the sharpest trials of his people by affliction and temptation for the latter end of their days. Therefore let not him that girds on the harness boast as he that puts it off. Death, that tremendous son of Anak, is the last enemy that is to be encountered, but it is to be destroyed, 1 Corinthians 15:28. Thanks be to God who will give us the victory.—Tr.]


[1][Joshua 11:13. Literally: “Only all the cities which stood on their hill (תֵּל) Israel did not burn them.” In English phrase: “Only [or, yet] Israel burned none of the cities which stood on their hill; except that Hazor alone Joshua burned.” זוּלָתִי seems quite as truly to stand for “except that” here as in the one instance mentioned by Gesenius s. v., in 1 Kings 3:18.—Tr.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Joshua 11". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". 1857-84.