Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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,
Jos 11:1-9. Divers Kings Overcome at the Waters of Merom.
1-9. And it came to pass, when Jabin king of Hazor had heard those things—The scene of the sacred narrative is here shifted to the north of Canaan, where a still more extensive confederacy was formed among the ruling powers to oppose the further progress of the Israelites. Jabin ("the Intelligent"), which seems to have been a hereditary title (Jud 4:2), took the lead, from Hazor being the capital of the northern region (Jos 11:10). It was situated on the borders of lake Merom. The other cities mentioned must have been in the vicinity though their exact position is unknown.
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. the kings that were on the north of the mountains—the Anti-libanus district.
the plains south of Chinneroth—the northern part of the Arabah, or valley of the Jordan.
the valley—the low and level country, including the plain of Sharon.
borders of Dor on the west—the highlands of Dor, reaching to the town of Dor on the Mediterranean coast, below mount Carmel.
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 Canaanites on the east and on the west—a particular branch of the Canaanitish population who occupied the western bank of the Jordan as far northward as the Sea of Galilee, and also the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea.
under Hermon—now Jebel-es-sheikh. It was the northern boundary of Canaan on the east of the Jordan.
land of Mizpeh—now C�lo-Syria.
And they went out, they and all their hosts with them, much people, even as the sand that is upon the sea shore in multitude, with horses and chariots very many.
4, 5. they went out, … as the sand that is upon the sea-shore in multitude—The chiefs of these several tribes were summoned by Jabin, being all probably tributary to the kingdom of Hazor. Their combined forces, according to Josephus, amounted to three hundred thousand infantry, ten thousand cavalry, and twenty thousand war chariots.
with horses and chariots very many—The war chariots were probably like those of Egypt, made of wood, but nailed and tipped with iron. These appear for the first time in the Canaanite war, to aid this last determined struggle against the invaders; and "it was the use of these which seems to have fixed the place of rendezvous by the lake Merom (now Huleh), along whose level shores they could have full play for their force." A host so formidable in numbers, as well as in military equipments, was sure to alarm and dispirit the Israelites. Joshua, therefore, was favored with a renewal of the divine promise of victory (Jos 11:6), and thus encouraged, he, in the full confidence of faith, set out to face the enemy.
And when all these kings were met together, they came and pitched together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel.
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.
6-8. to-morrow, about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel—As it was impossible to have marched from Gilgal to Merom in one day, we must suppose Joshua already moving northward and within a day's distance of the Canaanite camp, when the Lord gave him this assurance of success. With characteristic energy he made a sudden advance, probably during the night, and fell upon them like a thunderbolt, when scattered along the rising grounds (Septuagint), before they had time to rally on the plain. In the sudden panic "the Lord delivered them into the hand of Israel, who smote them, and chased them." The rout was complete; some went westward, over the mountains, above the gorge of the Leontes, to Sidon and Misrephothmaim ("glass-smelting houses"), in the neighborhood, and others eastward to the plain of Mizpeh.
So Joshua came, and all the people of war with him, against them by the waters of Merom suddenly; and they fell upon them.
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. they left none remaining—of those whom they overtook. All those who fell into their hands alive were slain.
And Joshua did unto them as the LORD bade him: he houghed their horses, and burnt their chariots with fire.
9. Joshua did unto them as the Lord bade him—(See Jos 11:6). Houghing the horses is done by cutting the sinews and arteries of their hinder legs, so that they not only become hopelessly lame, but bleed to death. The reasons for this special command were that the Lord designed to lead the Israelites to trust in Him, not in military resources (Ps 20:7); to show that in the land of promise there was no use of horses; and, finally, to discourage their travelling as they were to be an agricultural, not a trading, people.
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.
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.
11. he burnt Hazor with fire—calmly and deliberately, doubtless, according to divine direction.
And 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 he utterly destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the LORD commanded.
But as for the cities that stood still in their strength, Israel burned none of them, save Hazor only; that did Joshua burn.
13. as for the cities that stood still in their strength—literally, "on their heaps." It was a Ph�nician custom to build cities on heights, natural or artificial [Hengstenberg].
And 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.
As the LORD commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the LORD commanded Moses.
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;
16. So Joshua took all that land—Here follows a general view of the conquest. The division of the country there into five parts; namely, the hills, the land of Goshen, that is, a pastoral land near Gibeon (Jos 10:41); the valley, the plains and the mountains of Israel, i. e., Carmel, rests upon a diversity of geographical positions, which is characteristic of the region.
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. from the mount Halak—Hebrew, "the smooth mountain."
that goeth up to Seir—an irregular line of white naked hills, about eighty feet high, and seven or eight geographical miles in length that cross the whole Ghor, eight miles south of the Dead Sea, probably "the ascent of Akrabbim" [Robinson].
unto Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon—the city or temple of the god of destiny, in Baalbec.
Joshua made war a long time with all those kings.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
23. Joshua took the whole land—The battle of the take of Merom was to the north what the battle of Beth-horon was to the south; more briefly told and less complete in its consequences; but still the decisive conflict by which the whole northern region of Canaan fell into the hands of Israel [Stanley].