Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
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,XI.
JOSHUA’S NORTHERN CAMPAIGN.
(1) Jabin king of Hazor seems to have been in northern Palestine what Adonizedec, king of Jerusalem, was in the south. For the strength of this monarchy see the story in Judges 4, 5. From its formidable character when it recovered strength in the days of the judges, we may gather some notion of what it was at first.
Hazor is identified as Jebel Hadîrah, near Kedes, in Upper Galilee.
Madon, perhaps Madîn, west of the Sea of Galilee.
Shimron is identified as Simûnieh, west of Nazareth.
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,(2) Chinneroth—i.e., Ginizer, the Gennesaret of the New Testament.
Dor is identified as Tantûra.
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.(3) The land of Mizpeh is thought to be the plain El-Bukei’a, west of Hermon.
And when all these kings were met together, they came and pitched together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel.(5) The waters of Merom.—The most northerly of the three lakes on the course of the Jordan.
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.(6) Thou shalt hough their horses.—See Note on Joshua 11:9, and observe that the command of Jehovah is the authority for the act.
So Joshua came, and all the people of war with him, against them by the waters of Merom suddenly; and they fell upon them.(7) Suddenly.—On this occasion, as in the former campaign which began at Gibeon, Joshua surprised his adversaries by the rapidity of his movements.
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.(8) Misrephoth-maim is thought to be the same with Zarephath or Sarepta, now Sarafend, near Sidon.
And Joshua did unto them as the LORD bade him: he houghed their horses, and burnt their chariots with fire.(9) He houghed their horses.—In what particular way this was done we are not informed; we cannot, therefore, be certain whether it was done so as to destroy the lives of the horses, or merely to make them useless for purposes of warfare.
But as for the cities that stood still in their strength, Israel burned none of them, save Hazor only; that did Joshua burn.(13) The cities that stood still in their strength.—Literally, that stood on their mounds (“quæerant in collibus et in tumulis sitæ.”—Vulg.). Comp. Joshua 11:20. We may fairly suppose that Jericho and Ai committed themselves to hostile measures against Israel, though they were not able to send forth armies against Joshua before they were attacked. Those who “stood still in their strength” are those who remained absolutely neutral in the war. “The men of Jericho fought against you” (Joshua 24:11).
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.(17) The mount Halak is marked as unknown in Conder’s Biblical Gazetteer. But “the smooth hill which goeth up to Seir,” may very possibly be the salt hill now called Khasur-Usdum, which has a glacier-like appearance, and forms a sufficiently striking object to be mentioned as a boundary-mark.
Baal-gad has by some been identified with Baal-hermon, afterwards Paneas, and Caesarea Philippi. Others think it is still unknown.
Joshua made war a long time with all those kings.(18) A long time.—See Note on Joshua 14:10. The war seems to have lasted seven years, a long time when compared with the desultory incursions and single campaigns which made up the greater part of ancient warfare, when there were no standing armies.
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.(20) It was of the Lord to harden their hearts . . . that he might destroy them.—Or rather to strengthen their heart—i.e., render them obstinate. These words go to prove what has been said elsewhere, that the conquest of Canaan was not intended to be a massacre of the unresisting inhabitants.
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.(21) Anab is identified with Anâb, west of Debir. The death of Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the three sons of Anak, the chiefs of the Anakim, is recorded in Judges 1:10.
There was none of the Anakims left in the land of the children of Israel: only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod, there remained.(22) Only in . . . Gath.-Goliath of Gath and his gigantic relatives (1 Samuel 17 and 2 Samuel 21) seem to have been a part of this remnant.