Bible Commentaries
Joshua 11

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

Verses 1-14



Joshua 11:1. Hazor] In Joshua 11:11, Hazor is described as “the head” of all the kingdoms named in Joshua 11:1-3. It was in his capacity of principal monarch of North-West Canaan that Jabin summoned the other kings. Hazor was burned by Joshua (Joshua 11:13), but was afterwards rebuilt (Judges 4:2; 1 Samuel 12:9); it was fortified by Solomon (1 Kings 9:15), and its inhabitants, in the time of Pekah, were carried into captivity by Tiglath-Pileser (2 Kings 15:29). Jabin]= “the wise,” “the intelligent.” It is uncertain if Judges 4:2 shews merely a coincidence of names, or whether the recurrence of the word points to the term as a title given to the kings of Hazor. Madon] Only mentioned here and in chap. Joshua 12:19. The site is unknown. Shimron] In chap. Joshua 12:20, called Shimron-Meron; it was probably situated near the Waters of Merom. It became part of the lot of Zebulon (chap. Joshua 19:15). Achshaph] Not identified. It fell to the lot of Asher (chap. Joshua 19:25).

Joshua 11:2. On the north of the mountains] Heb. = “in the north on the mountains;” i.e., on the mountains of Naphtali (cf. chap. Joshua 20:7). The plains south of Chinneroth] Chinneroth may be used here for the Lake of Gennesareth itself (Numbers 34:11; Joshua 12:3); the Arabah, or desert (not “plains”) on the south, indicates the Ghor, or Jordan valley, immediately below the lake. In the valley] Lit. in “the Shephelah,” or lowlands. “Probably the strip bordering the sea between Akko and Sidon, to which the following Naphoth-Dor on the sea directs us (chap. Joshua 12:23).” [Fay.] The lowlands, south of Cape Carmel, situated on the sea coast, may, however, be intended.

Joshua 11:3. Land of Mizpeh] Gesenius traces several places bearing this and the similar name “Mizpah.” Both words signify “a watch-tower,” “a lofty place,” “an outlook.” “The land of Mizpeh (here intended) cannot be any other than the tract of country at the foot of the Jebel-esh-Sheikh between the Jebel Heisch and Nahr Hasbeya, through which a broad arm or line of hills of inconsiderable height runs southwards from the foot of the loftiest part of the Jebel-esh-Sheikh, forming the high land which shuts in Lake Huleh on the east. This tract is called Jebel Heisch according to Burckhardt (cf. Robinson iii. 344).” [Keil.] “Descriptive names are always liable to be duplicated; hence the Newtons and Moretons, the Sandfords and Uptons, the Fairfields and Stokes of our own country.” [Groser.]

Joshua 11:4. Horses and chariots very many] The Israelites were not strangers to the use of war chariots. They had seen them in Egypt. They had been pursued by Pharaoh and his host with this rude kind of cavalry. These were not chariots with scythes. Keil has shewn that these were first introduced by Cyrus, being quite unknown at any earlier period.

Joshua 11:5. Waters of Merom] The only places in which the name Merom occurs in the Scriptures are Joshua 11:5; Joshua 11:7, of this chapter. It has been almost universally identified with the Bahr-el-Hûleh of the modern Arabs, which is called by Josephus, Semechonitis and Samochonitis; but the identification is supported by no documentary evidence, and has been disputed recently by two or three careful expositors.

Joshua 11:6. Thou shalt hough their horses] The LXX. translate by νευροκοπήσεις. To hough means to hamstring, to sever the tendons of the hind legs. It seems by no means certain that this was done on this occasion by Joshua. “The Heb. ‘akar’ is used in 2 Samuel 8:4, and in 1 Chronicles 18:4, of chariots (‘horses’ is inserted in the English version), and in Zephaniah 2:4 it is used (in a paronomasia it is true) of the city of Ekron. In the passage in Genesis 49:6, if we read ‘shur’ instead of ‘shor’ (as is done by some, and as seems to be the most probable reading), the word ‘akar’ is used of a wall. The word seems to be of the same stock with ‘achar’ (compare the roots ‘kanan’ and ‘chanan,’ and many other examples), and the primary idea seems to be ‘to strike’ or ‘to smite.’ Proof is wanting that the ordinary translation of ‘hough’ is a correct one. It would have been a difficult and useless task to hamstring an enemy’s horse in battle, when a blow on the head or body would be easy and efficacious. And, moreover, there would have been a cruelty in it utterly at war with the kindly care enjoined upon the Jews in the law with respect to dumb animals (Deuteronomy 25:4).” [Crosby.]

Joshua 11:8. Great Zidon] Called “the great,” both here and in chap. Joshua 19:28, not to assert its superiority over any other city of the same name, but to indicate its large number of inhabitants, and that it was the chief city of Phœnicia. In the time of David and Solomon, Tyre had become the superior city of the two. Misrephothmaim] Various meanings have been given to the word. The place, though evidently near to Sidon, has not been satisfactorily identified.

Joshua 11:13. Stood still in their strength] Heb.= “stood upon their hill;marg.=“on their heap.” This does not mean that Joshua spared the cities which stood on hills, and destroyed cities which were not on hills. The historian simply points to the fact that the customary situation of the cities of the neighbourhood was upon some eminence. Freely paraphrased, the sense is: “Of the cities which stood each upon its hill, Israel burned,” etc. (Cf. Jeremiah 30:18.)



I. The multiplied number of Joshua’s enemies. The great battle at Gibeon had been against five kings; this was against many kings. It was the largest force that the Israelites had yet encountered. Josephus (Ant. v. 1. 18), in what seems to be merely his own estimate, says: “The number of the whole army was three hundred thousand armed footmen, and ten thousand horsemen, and twenty thousand chariots; so that the multitude of the enemies affrighted both Joshua himself and the Israelites.” While this statement must not be taken as proved, the Scripture reference to “all these kings,” with an army “even as the sand that is upon the sea shore in multitude, with horses and chariots very many,” plainly shews that the force was the largest which had yet confronted the army of Joshua.

God leads His people on to increasingly difficult conflicts:

1. For severer discipline;

2. For greater trust;

3. For higher victories. The path of the just shines more and more, through conflicts which are sterner, through dependence which is humbler, and through victories which are nobler. The number of our foes, when God fights for us, is but the visible pledge of the greatness of our victory.

II. The gracious encouragement given by Jehovah. “Be not afraid,” etc. (Joshua 11:6).

1. This encouragement seems to have been unsolicited. Joshua seems to have been on the march to meet his foes when God spake to him. The distance from Gilgal, a little south of Mount Ebal, was too great for the march to Merom in less than one day, the time intimated by this verse. The spirit of obedience and the spirit of prayer are one, and God reads our plea for all necessary help in the very acts in which we seek to keep His commandments.

2. The encouragement meets the new cause for fear. For the first time in their experience, the Israelites had to encounter horsemen and war chariots. So the promise runs, “Thou shalt hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire.” The promise takes an old form (cf. chap. Joshua 10:8, etc.), but is adapted to the new emergency. God would have us give to His old encouragements such new meanings as our circumstances require.

3. The encouragement is made emphatic by being made definite. “To-morrow about this time,” etc. God speaks to us as a mother might speak to her timid child; He accentuates the tones of His comforting assurances, according to the measure of our necessity and the depth of our fear.

4. The encouragement points to help from God only. “Will I deliver them.” Keil says, “There is a peculiar emphasis intended in the I which precedes the participle.” Similarly Masius wrote, “There is great force in the pronoun I. It is as if God had said, ‘There is no cause for you to estimate the greatness of the present war by comparing it with your own strength. For that which I have so often manifested to you, I will now provide by My invincible power, and My nod, which shakes heaven and earth, shall perform these things.’ ” The Divine promises are generally so framed as to lead every devout man to say to his own soul, Hope thou in God.

5. There was great encouragement in the very neighbourhood in which the battle was fought. Here, it is thought, Abraham defeated Chedorlaomer and the three kings acting with him, and rescued Lot. Dr. Thompson says, in “The Land and the Book”: “Often have I sat and gazed in dreamy delight upon the luxuriant plain of the Hûleh. No wonder the spies exclaimed, ‘We have seen the land, and, behold, it is very good; a place where there is no want of anything that is in the earth’ (Judges 18:9-10). We have spread out before us one of the great battle-fields of the Bible—a vast theatre built by the Architect of the universe; and upon its splendid stage has many a bloody tragedy been played out in downright earnest.” The first of these recorded battles by the waters of Merom was the victory of Abraham. Did Joshua know of and remember this as he proceeded to attack his foes? If so, the very site of the battle must have re-echoed back to him again and again during the conflict the gracious promise of this verse.

III. The complete fulfilment of the Divine assurance (Joshua 11:7-9). The prospect of our conflicts shews the need of God. The hour of our necessity reveals the promise of God. The retrospect of our victories manifests the hand of God. “The Lord delivered them into the hand of Israel,” as He said He would. It was, beyond all doubt, a God-given triumph. Every jot and tittle of the promise was fulfilled. The army was broken up into three great divisions, and the horses were “houghed,” or rather, perhaps, smitten and slain. “Those that have God on their side, need not be disturbed at the number and power of their enemies; ‘more are they that are with us than they that are against us.’ They that have the Lord of hosts engaged for them have also the hosts of the Lord.” [Henry.]

IV. The deep degradation and conspicuous ruin of those who are exalted highest in fighting against Jehovah (Joshua 11:10-14). As the King of Ai (chap. Joshua 8:29), and the five kings at Makkedah (chap. Joshua 10:26-27), were singled out for a peculiar measure of punishment and shame, so also was Jabin the king of Hazor. With many of the Lord’s people, the measure of their present humiliation will prove the measure of their future glory; for “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” With those who are enemies of God, the dignity of the present is but an index of the degradation of the future.


Joshua 11:1-6. TAUGHT OF THE LORD.

About seven centuries after this period in the national history, one of the prophets, portraying the blessings of the Church of the Messiah, made use of this expression: “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord.” Many of the more pious of the Old Testament saints had previously poured forth their praise of Jehovah in similar utterances. It was out of events like these in the conquest of Canaan that the more devout Israelites became so deeply impressed with the beauty of the Divine leading and teaching. Mark the gentleness and care of the Lord in the instruction given, up to this point, as outlined in the previous history of the war.

I. God’s care in teaching His people to rely on His unseen help. At Jericho the hand of Jehovah had been conspicuously manifest; at Ai it was less visible. The conflict at Beth-horon was altogether greater, and more calculated to fill the Israelites with fear; God therefore gave manifest help in the miraculous hail-storm, and in the wonderful extension of the day. In the presence of the mighty host of the five kings, God stilled the fear of His people by revealing His own presence. In the minor conflicts of the south, God more concealed Himself. Still victory was sure. Jehovah was teaching His people to believe that His help was as potent when unseen as when plainly manifest. Then came this second great battle. Israel had to fight this also without manifest miraculous aid. Yet, not to withdraw Himself too fully, God graciously gave the assurance recorded in the sixth verse. Before Jericho, in the first battle, God had given comforting words, an assuring vision, and a miraculous overthrow of the walls. At the smaller battle of Ai there was merely a promise. At Beth-horon, the first really great battle in the land, the sun and moon and the hail, in addition to direct words of assurance, told the people of a present God. Then followed the minor battles in which they had to “walk by faith, and not by sight.” In this second great battle the cheering words were given, but not the manifest works.

God would have us “endure as seeing Him who is invisible.” God ever leads us from the sensuous to the spiritual. It has been so in the history of the Church. The ministry of Christ had many miracles. In the days of the apostles miracles were fewer. In subsequent times miracles were entirely withdrawn. True faith believes when little can be seen. True faith works when success seems small.

II. God’s care in regulating the temptations by which His people are overtaken. This huge battle with “all these kings” does not come at the beginning of the war. The Lord directly claimed to be dealing with the hearts of the Canaanites (Joshua 11:20); He did not suffer Jabin to be moved to this mighty effort till he “heard of those things” which had happened at Beth-horon. Not till Israel had proved the help of God did God suffer them to be confronted by the mighty host of Jabin.

1. God tries His people gradually.

2. God never suffers His people to be tempted beyond that which they are able to bear.

3. God does but try His people that they may prove Him. He prays well, who cries, “Lead us not into temptation.” He believes well, who, when temptation comes, remembers that his Lord is counting upon him as able to endure.

III. God’s care in directly nourishing His people’s faith. (Joshua 11:6.) Faith is the gift of God. It is no less necessary that it should be maintained by God. Calvin aptly says, on this verse: “Unless new nourishment is every now and then given to faith, it forthwith melts and vanishes.”

1. God cultivates in us the rest of faith. “Be not afraid.”

2. God points us to the one object of faith. “I will deliver.”

3. God enables us to confirm our faith. “To-morrow about this time.”

4. God expects from us the obedience of faith. “Thou shalt hough their horses,” etc. That part of the spoil was not to be retained.

IV. God’s care in cultivating His people’s dependence. The horses and chariots were to be destroyed for wise reasons. The Israelites had long before been forbidden to accumulate horses (Deuteronomy 17:16). They were not to make war an art, as did the idolatrous nations around them. They were to deny themselves the facilities for, and thus keep themselves from the temptations to, that offensive warfare which would be likely to result from maintaining a force of cavalry. Above all, God would teach His people to say, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”

1. The choicest spoil from our victories by God is an increased sense of dependence upon God.

2. Some of the incidental spoils in most of our spiritual triumphs have need to be sacrificed for our own spiritual safety.


I. Hearing and not hearing. The tidings of the overthrow of Sihon and Og, and of the fall of Jericho, seem to have made almost no impression on the sleepy king of Hazor.

II. Hearing, but hearing in vain. When Ai fell, there seems to have been a general movement all through Canaan west of Jordan, to combine against Joshua (chap. Joshua 9:1). Before Jabin had gathered the northern legions, southern Canaan had been destroyed.

III. Hearing, and hearing to ruin. When Jabin did exert himself, it was but to arise and proceed straight to destruction. Thus do the wicked delay heedlessly, awaken slowly, and finally bestir themselves to anticipate judgment.


I. Unity is not always strength. (Joshua 11:4.) To bind them together in might that is invincible, numbers need truth.

II. The visible does not always correspond to the actual. The world ever loves to lean upon the host which is manifestly “as the sand that is upon the sea shore in multitude,” and yet, all unwittingly, even upon its own ground of safety, the world ever miscalculates. (Cf. 2 Kings 6:16-17; 2 Chronicles 32:7-8; Psalms 55:18.)

III. To walk “in the light of the eyes” is sometimes to lose the consolation that is of the ears. (Joshua 11:6.) The deaf and the dumb have marvellous intuitive perception. The blind are wonderfully quick in feeling. The loss of power in one physical sense compensated by an increased power in other senses. This emphatically the case in the spiritual world. Constant perception by sight the dulness of faith. Men who are ever depending on what they can see, hear few of the whispers of the Lord. Jabin and his host caught not a word of this heavenly consolation that fell so sweetly upon the open ears of Joshua.

IV. To be strong in evil means presently to be tremendous in ruin. (Joshua 11:7-8.) The height of evil-doers is but the distance of their fall. To be very strong, and yet surely destined to break, is only to break violently. The mighty hosts of Jabin only represented so much additional horror in the moments of his overthrow. Directly the great multitude fled, numbers did but accelerate and aggravate the end. The fear of a single man may be sore; the panic of the multitude, in which the fears of the host are multiplied into and focused upon the soul of the individual, is simply terrible. What will be the horror of that great day in which the infinitely larger host of all the wicked of all time flee away before the presence of the Lord, crying to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?”

Verses 15-23


Joshua 11:17. From the mount Halak] Marg. =“The smooth mountain;” or “the bare” or “bald” mountain: thought by Robinson and others to be a row of white cliffs, from sixty to eighty feet high, a few miles south of the Dead Sea, and supposed to be identical with the “ascent of Akrabbim.” Unto Baal-gad] Schwarz supposes this to be identical with the modern Banias (Cæsarea Philippi). These two extreme points are given to mark the extent, southwards and northwards, of Joshua’s conquest.

Joshua 11:18. A long time] Comparing chap. Joshua 14:7; Joshua 14:10, and the date of sending the spies from Kadesh-Barnea (which Fay seems to forget was between one and two years after the exodus), the war of Joshua with the Canaanites must have lasted between six and seven years. Perhaps about a year was employed in the first general overrunning of the south, the remaining period of somewhat more than five years being spent in subduing the north, and in rendering the southern conquests more complete. Joshua 11:21 obviously points to a return of the campaign to the southern part of the land, and is not to be read as merely a supplementary account of the same conflict recorded in chap. Joshua 10:36-41.

Joshua 11:21. Anab] Mentioned also in chap Joshua 15:50. “It has retained its ancient name, and lies among the hills about ten miles S.S.W. of Hebron, close to Shoco and Eshtemoa (Robinson i. 494).” [Smith’s Bib. Dict.]

Joshua 11:22. Gaza] This was one of the five chief cities of the Philistines. It was the frontier city on the way towards Egypt. It sustained for five months a siege by Alexander the Great, whose character, says Dean Stanley, suffers severely in the history of that event. (Cf. Grote’s “Hist. Greece,” xii. 193.) The coast line from Gaza to Cæsarea is remarkable in connection with the ministry of the apostles. Gath] Another of the five principal cities of Philistia. Mr. Porter concluded that it was situated on the hill now known as Tell-es-Safieh. Goliath, whose home was here, may have been a descendant of the Anakim. Ashdod] Now called Ashdud; the Azotus of Acts 8:40. It was in the lot of Judah (chap. Joshua 15:47), but seems never to have been entirely subdued. It preserved a language distinct from that of the Jews, till after the return from the captivity (Nehemiah 13:23-24). The siege by Psammetichus, the longest on record, lasted twenty-seven years, and is thought to be alluded to in Jeremiah 25:20. It was destroyed by the Maccabees (1Ma. 5:68; 1Ma. 10:84).

Joshua 11:23. And the land rested from war] This marks the close of the first division of the book. In a general sense, it is said that Joshua had taken “the whole land;” in the details given in the second part of the book we learn that this is not to be understood absolutely; thus Jehovah Himself says (chap. Joshua 13:1), “There remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.”



I. True fidelity has regard, not to the commandment, but to God, from whom the commandment comes. Joshua “left nothing undone” which the Lord had bidden. Joshua’s instructions came to him indirectly. He received the Lord’s words through Moses. Joshua was concerned not so much with the stream, or its channel, as with the source from which it issued. He had submitted himself to another will, and like a true servant he set himself to obey. Nor was this implicit obedience either blind or unintelligent. To really trust God is to believe that He cannot do wrong; that He cannot fail in righteousness; that He cannot lack knowledge; that He cannot want love.

1. Some men are faithful only in things which are pleasant. Where God’s commands and their own desires run in parallel lines, they go in the same direction as the commandments. Let not such deceive themselves; they are not in the way of the Lord. It is simply that their own way runs, for a little season, alongside the way of God. “He that offendeth in one point is guilty of all.”

2. Others only obey where they can understand. Unless they can see what they think some adequate reason for obedience, they choose to regard obedience as unimportant. This is really to question the wisdom of God.

3. True fidelity to God finds its controlling influences in God Himself. To a noble-minded man like Joshua, this work of blood and judgment must have been one of pain. Like a true soldier, and a true servant, he had respect to his Commander rather than to the nature of the command.

4. Such fidelity is a trust left to us by faithful predecessors. These commands had been given to Moses. (Cf. Exodus 34:11-14; Numbers 33:50-56; Deuteronomy 20:16-18.) So far as he could, Moses had been obedient to the Divine word (Hebrews 3:5). Had Joshua been disobedient, he would have impaired the faithful work of his predecessor. Each of us is called to continue the faithful service of some who have gone before us. For us to fail is to mar the work on which they so conscientiously laboured.

II. Fidelity that is thorough is also fruitful.

1. The good results of faithful service are foretold (Exodus 23:20-23). We also have exceeding great and precious promises.

2. The good results of faithful service are attested by human experience. Did ever any labour conscientiously for God, and find that he had served in vain?

3. The good results of faithful service are not of man’s efforts, but of God’s grace. This the Israelites themselves cheerfully acknowledged for many centuries after (Psalms 44:1-3).

III. The fruits of fidelity have to be gathered with patience. The war lasted for nearly seven years. (Cf. Joshua 11:18, and Critical Notes.)

1. Patience is essential to faithfulness. Unless men had to wait, there would be no time for testing or shewing fidelity.

2. Patience cultivates faithfulness. To wait well is to discipline ourselves in fidelity.

3. Patience is often necessary for the very prosperity which we seek. God repeatedly told the Israelites that sudden success would be harmful to the very estate which they sought to inherit (Exodus 23:29-30; Deuteronomy 7:22).

4. Patience does not reap less because it reaps slowly. To wait for God never means to wait for nothing. “The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie.”

“Even the weariest river

Winds somewhere safe to sea.”

No man can conscientiously and perseveringly do the will of his Father in heaven, to find, ultimately, that he has laboured in vain. There is no field so fruitful as that which we plough at the bidding of God.

Joshua 11:18-19.

I. The patience of the Lord’s servants.

II. The persistence of the Lord’s enemies.


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.”—[Fay.]

Joshua 11:20.—HARDENED HEARTS.

This cannot mean that God directly influenced the Canaanites to resist Himself and all repentance of their sin. The thought is too dreadful to be entertained even for a moment. It would be God’s active participation in the Canaanites’ guilt. Whether in the time of the Old Testament or in that of the New, “God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man.” On this authority of the Holy Spirit, then, Calvin is simply wrong when be says: “The Lord commanded Moses to destroy the nations whom He had doomed to destruction; and He accordingly opened a way for His own decree when He hardened the reprobate.… God hardens them for this very end, that they may shut themselves out from mercy.” On the other hand, the words mean more than that God permitted the Canaanites to become hardened. God had been permitting the Canaanites to have their way ever since they settled in the land. He had warned them repeatedly; His Spirit had striven with them in those warnings; but God had done nothing to coerce them. To that extent, the Lord always permits everybody to have his own way. Even to the apostles, Jesus Christ says, “Will ye also go away?” They had liberty to depart, if they chose. God ever leaves so much of liberty to every man. Were it not so, saved men would no more be holy than a criminal is holy, who happens to be temporarily redeemed from the actual commission of guilt, and who walks, by a compulsion he cannot resist, the successive rounds of the treadmill. God had always “permitted” these Canaanites, in the sense of not coercing them. We must look for the Divine meaning, then, somewhere between these two positions. The essentially holy God could not influence these men to sin: yet God, who calls nothing holy which does not come from the choice of our hearts, had always permitted these men to sin. When it is said “It was of the Lord to harden their hearts,” if the words are not meaningless, some change is indicated in the Divine attitude towards these Canaanites. This change must lie somewhere between the two positions indicated. What is the change of attitude intended? Perhaps it may be defined, as nearly as we can define it, in some such thoughts as the following:—

I. God’s ordinary way with all men is to actively promote their sanctification. Solemn and cheering providences. Messages of warning, or mercy. Examples and consequences of piety, and wickedness. Perhaps, also, the direct influences of His Spirit on the heart (cf. Genesis 6:3).

II. In the resistance which men offer to God, there is a certain point at which God forsakes those who are determined to transgress. Were this not the case, no man could ever be lost hopelessly. If God were actively working for the lost in perdition itself, there must be hope even there. Nothing can be hopeless that is furthered by the hand of the Infinite. But perdition is without hope. It follows that, at some time or other before perdition, God must refrain from all His ordinary active interference for the salvation of those who are about to enter that state. That cessation of God’s active interference is the time of God’s forsaking.

III. When God so forsakes men, they may be said to be given over by Him to hardness of heart. He does not actively work the hardness. He no longer works to hinder it. True, this may be called “permitting” men to harden their own hearts; but the liberty to sin is so enlarged, it is so removed from all the direct gracious influences of heavenly constraint, that the “permission” must not be confused with that ordinary measure of liberty which God gives to all men. Henceforth, the result is so certain that language like that of the text is at least appropriate. If, in these New Testament times, no man can call Jesus Lord “but by the Holy Ghost,” the issue in those Old Testament times must have been so certain that it was proper to speak of God as having already given the transgressors over to judgment. In fact, when God leaves a man in absolute freedom to sin, to that man the beginnings of judgment have come already.

IV. Past that point at which God gives men up as hopeless, all influences which tend to the shortening of life are merciful rather than otherwise. Sin would be aggravated, indeed, by a prolonged life in such a state of heart. Surely no words ever breathed on earth were more profoundly full of pity than the words of Jesus to Judas, after all the “wooing of the betrayer” at the table had failed: “What thou doest, do quickly.” Mercy had said, “It were good for that man that he had never been born.” The birth and the life, however, were irremediable. The next best thing that Mercy could devise was that the end should come as soon as possible. Hence those words of terribly significant pity: “What thou doest, do quickly.”


The Anakim were a race of people of gigantic stature, descended from Arba (chap. Joshua 14:15; Joshua 15:13). From passages like the former, it has been concluded that the word Anak was not the name of an individual, but of the race. Hebron seems to have been their principal city previous to their destruction by Joshua and Caleb. The chief tribes of this people appear to have been named after Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai.

I. The Anakim as an old occasion of fear and unbelief. The spies saw these giants, and reported, “We were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight” (cf. Numbers 13:22-33). At the time referred to in this passage, the Israelites refused to trust God.

1. They preferred to walk by sight rather than by faith. From Deuteronomy 1:22 it seems that the wish to send spies had originated with the people; and thus Numbers 13:1-3 must be read merely as shewing that God had acceded to this wish, taking the direction of the matter, however, into His own hands. God had declared the land good, and had promised it to the people for an inheritance. They wished to send and see for themselves.

2. When the spies did see, they were less able to believe than before. The cities were walled, and these sons of Anak looked so huge. Seeing made believing harder than ever. This is not an unusual result of trying to walk by sight, where God asks for our trust. He who depends on his intelligence for his faith must not wonder if he soon has cause to question both.

3. The unbelief of the ten spies resulted in the unbelief of nearly all the host. Only Moses, Joshua, and Caleb seem to have escaped the contagion. He who believes well generally leads others also to faith. Unbelief is even more fruitful than faith. No man can doubt to himself.

II. The fear and unbelief of the past becoming victory and joy in the present. The forty years in the wilderness had not been in vain. The Israelites had grown in grace. Where they had once sought to flee, they had now strength to fight. Where of old they had come to shame, they now found victory. Where they had formerly gathered a terrible heritage of pain, they now entered into joy and honour. There are fields of conflict behind most of us which yet wait to be redeemed from shame. The spiritual foes of our past, from whom we have fled in unbelief, should be confronted and conquered at the first opportunity.

III. The fear and unbelief of the past turned into victory and joy only by the grace of God. Divine mercy had led and taught these Israelites till at last they did not fear to attack even the Anakim.

1. God’s patience in training.

2. God’s encouragements through mighty works.

3. God’s perseverance unto the end. It is He who “giveth the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” His love and power, as seen in the past, should make us strong in faith to meet the enemies of the future.

“Even that opposition which seemed invincible was got over. Never let the sons of Anak be a terror to the Israel of God, for even their day to fall will come. Giants are dwarfs to Omnipotence.
“This struggle with the Anakim was reserved for the latter end of the war, when the Israelites were become more expert, and had more experience of the power and goodness of God. 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 girdeth on the harness boast as he that puts it off.’ ” [Henry.]


I. The magnitude of their difficulties should be regarded as only the measure of their victories. “Joshua took the whole land.”

II. Their most signal earthly victories are ever incomplete. The whole land, yet not the whole (cf. chap. Joshua 13:1).

III. The triumphs which they do win are ever the fruit of God’s promises. “According to all that the Lord said unto Moses.” This clause serves also to limit and explain the former. God had specially told Moses that the whole land should not be conquered too suddenly (Exodus 23:29-30).

IV. The inheritance thus given by God should be the inheritance of all God’s people. “Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes.”

V. The rest which they obtain here faintly foreshadows the perfect rest hereafter. “And the land rested from war.”

1. Rest after severe strife.

2. Rest only through faith and obedience.

3. Rest, but rest which still requires that they watch and pray.

4. Rest, which though but an imperfect pattern, should stand for a sure prophecy of the rest which is perfect. If we really enter into the rest of faith, it will be by that Holy Spirit of promise, “which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession.”

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Joshua 11". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.