Bible Commentaries
Joshua 11

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2553. B.C. 1451.

The confederacy of many kings against Israel, Joshua 11:1-5 . God’s encouragement to Joshua, and his conquest of them and their cities, Joshua 11:6-20 . The destruction of the Anakims, Joshua 11:21-23 .

Verse 1

Joshua 11:1. King of Hazor This was the principal city of the northern part of Canaan, Joshua 11:10; and fell to the share of the tribe of Naphtali in the division of the land, Joshua 19:36. Jabin was the name of the king of the Canaanites in this part of the country, in future times, as well as now. 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 among 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

Joshua 11:2. On the north of the mountains Rather, according to the Hebrew, On the north in the mountain. That is, either mount Lebanon, called the mountain by way of eminence, or in the mountainous country. This seems to be the general designation of all the particular places following: they were in the northern parts of Canaan, as those mentioned chap. 10 were in the southern parts. And of the plain, &c. Hebrew, in the plain, southward from Chinneroth, on the lake of Gennesareth. Dor A place upon the coast of the midland sea.

Verse 3

Joshua 11:3. The Canaanites on the east and on the west 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. And to the Amorite, &c. There were other Amorites scattered up and down the country, besides those who were subject to the five kings mentioned in the preceding chapter, Joshua 11:5, who were all now assembled by Jabin, together with the rest of the Hittites and Perizzites, who were in several parts of the country, that they might form as powerful an army as could be raised. The Jebusite in the mountains About Jerusalem, where they kept a strong hold, till the time of David. The Hivite under Hermon On the north of Canaan, whereby they were distinguished from those Hivites who lived in Gibeon. In the land of Mizpeh That Mizpeh which was in the northern part of Gilead. But there were other cities called by that name; for as it signifies a watchtower, or watching-place, it is no wonder that several places of good prospect should be so named.

Verse 5

Joshua 11:5. These kings pitched at the waters of Merom A lake made by the river Jordan in the northern part of it, which was in the territory of the king of Shimron, near Hazor, Jabin’s royal city, and almost in the middle of these confederate kings.

Verse 6

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

Verse 7

Joshua 11:7. Joshua came against them When they least expected him, intending there to refresh, and prepare, and order themselves for the offensive war which they designed.

Verse 8

Joshua 11:8. 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 verses

3 and 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

Joshua 11:10. The king In his royal city, to which he fled out of the battle. Head of those kingdoms Not of all Canaan, but of all those who were confederate with him in this expedition.

Verse 13

Joshua 11:13. In their strength Hebrew, 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 15

Joshua 11:15. As the Lord commanded Moses, &c. See Exodus 34:11,

12; Deuteronomy 31:7. So did Joshua: he left nothing undone This is a demonstration that Moses left in writing what the Lord commanded, as we read in the foregoing books, and that they were not written, as some have pretended, in later times. For it would have been impossible for Joshua to have executed every thing which had been commanded by Moses, unless he had had the book of the law before him for his direction.

Verse 16

Joshua 11:16. 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; Luke 1:65. 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 It is very uncertain whether the mountainous country of Israel, in general, be meant by this expression, or whether a particular place be not rather intended. Many think it probable that Beth-el is meant, where God appeared to Jacob as he went to Padan-Aram, and promised to give him this land, (Genesis 28:11,) and where he dwelt, by God’s direction, after his return; where God appeared to him again, repeated the same promise, and changed his name from Jacob to Israel, Genesis 35:1; Genesis 35:9-10.

Verse 17

Joshua 11:17. That goeth up to Seir That is, to the country of Seir or Edom, namely, to that part of it which was south from Judea. Unto Baal-gad, in the valley of Lebanon, &c. As the preceding words express the bounds of Joshua’s conquest southward, so hither they extended northward. And this seems to be a description of the length of the country which he took from the king of Hazor, and all those who joined with him, as Archbishop Usher understands it.

Verse 18

Joshua 11:18. Joshua made war a long time For divers years together, five or six at least, according to Josephus. 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 despatched in a short time. God would have the land to be conquered gradually, for many weighty reasons; 1st, 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, which is particularly noticed by Moses, Exodus 23:29; Deuteronomy 7:22. 2d, Lest, being done suddenly and easily, it should soon be forgotten and despised. 3d, That by long exercise the Israelites might grow skilful in the art of war. 4th, For the trial and exercise of their patience and courage, and trust in God. 5th, To keep them in awe, and chastise them by these Canaanites when they forsook God; and to oblige them to be more careful to please him, since they saw they still needed his help and protection against their enemies.

Verses 19-20

Joshua 11:19-20. All other they took in battle That is, 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. It was of the Lord to harden their hearts In the same sense in which he hardened the heart of Pharaoh. He did not soften their hearts through the influence of his almighty grace, but gave them up to their own animosity, pride, confidence, and stubbornness; and so ordered things, in the course of his wise and righteous providence, that they were imboldened to fight with the Israelites, notwithstanding they had heard of the wonders that were repeatedly wrought for them. And this he did in order that 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. That he might destroy them utterly, and they might have no favour Which they might have obtained if they had not been so inconsiderate, and self-confident, and rash as to imagine they could withstand those before whom the river Jordan fled back, and the walls of Jericho fell down flat; and so would not hearken to the terms that Joshua offered to them.

Verse 21

Joshua 11:21. At that time That is, in the war before mentioned, and probably toward the conclusion of it; after he had left none to oppose him in other places, but only in those mountainous parts which were of difficult access. Joshua cut off the Anakims “A wild, barbarous, and gigantic people, who were of a different original from that of the Canaanites, and inhabited certain mountains of the country. It would have been dangerous to let them remain, nor were they worthy of such an indulgence. Joshua, therefore, marched against them, and crowned his victories by their utter defeat.” Dodd. From the mountains Hebrew, The mountain; but the singular number seems to be put for the plural. From Hebron, &c. That is, from the territories belonging to these cities. For, as we have often seen in this history, cities are mentioned for the country subject to them. From all the mountains of Judah All the mountainous country that fell afterward by lot to the tribe of Judah. And from all the mountains of Israel The mountainous country that was allotted to the rest of the tribes of Israel, to which mountains these people, it is likely, fled for safety. Joshua destroyed them utterly with their cities But how could Joshua be said to have utterly destroyed either the Anakims or their cities, when Caleb and Othniel destroyed some of them after Joshua’s death? Joshua 14:12;

Judges 1:10-12. This might be either, 1st, Because these places, though in part destroyed, yet, being neglected by the Israelites, were repossessed by the giants, and by them kept until Caleb destroyed them: or rather, 2d, Because this work, though done by the particular valour of Caleb, is ascribed to Joshua as the general of the army, according to the manner of all historians; and therefore it is here attributed to Joshua; though afterward, that Caleb might not lose his deserved honour, the history is more particularly described, and Caleb owned as the great instrument of it.

Verse 22

Joshua 11:22. Only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod These were three cities of the Philistines, into which either some of the Anakims escaped, and there took shelter, or they had been there from ancient time, and the Israelites could not yet expel them. For they did not possess themselves of the country of the Philistines till the time of David, when we find some of these giants still there.

Verse 23

Joshua 11:23. So Joshua took the whole land Which either the Canaanites or the Anakims possessed; that is, subdued it, so that none rose up against him, though many places were not yet in the possession of the Israelites. According to all that the Lord said unto Moses See Deuteronomy 31:7-8. God had promised to drive out the nations before them: and now he had fulfilled his promise. Our successes and enjoyments are then doubly comfortable when we see them flowing to us from God’s faithfulness to his promise. This is according to what the Lord hath said Just as our obedience is the more acceptable when it has an eye to the precept. And if we make conscience of our duty, we need not question the performance of the promise. And the land rested from war None of the lords of the Philistines, nor any others, presumed to give them any disturbance, so that they now became “peaceable possessors of that fine land of promise, and thought only how to divide it among them, as we shall see in chap. 13.

Here begins the seventh year, reckoning from their first seed-time, after the passage over Jordan; the first sabbatical year celebrated by them after Joshua had brought them into rest; that rest which is a type of the eternal rest, which the great Joshua of the new covenant prepares for his people in heaven, Hebrews 4:8-9. &c. From this same epocha we are to reckon the jubilees.” Dodd. See on Leviticus 25:8-10.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 11". Benson's Commentary. 1857.