Joshua 11:13
But as for the cities that stood still in their strength, Israel burned none of them, save Hazor only; that did Joshua burn.
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(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).

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, Jdg 4:2.11:10-14 The Canaanites filled up the measure of their iniquity, and were, as a judgment, left to the pride, obstinacy, and enmity of their hearts, and to the power of Satan; all restraints being withdrawn, while the dispensations of Providence tended to drive them to despair. They brought on themselves the vengeance they justly merited, of which the Israelites were to be executioners, by the command the Lord gave to Moses.Render: "But the cities standing each on its own hill" (compare Jeremiah 30:18). The meaning is simply that, with the exception of Hazor, Joshua did not burn the cities, but left them standing, each on its former site. This site is spoken of as a hill, because such was the ordinary site chosen for cities in Canaan (compare Matthew 5:14). 13. as for the cities that stood still in their strength—literally, "on their heaps." It was a Phœnician custom to build cities on heights, natural or artificial [Hengstenberg]. In their strength, Heb. with (for so this preposition is oft used, as Exodus 35:12 Leviticus 2:2 Ezekiel 16:37, &c.) their fence or fences, walls or bulwarks, i.e. which were not utterly ruined together with their walls in the taking of them.

Save Hazor only; which though taken by the Israelites, was not so much destroyed as other places were.

That did Joshua burn, 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. But as for the cities that stood still in their strength,.... Whose walls were not demolished when taken, as Kimchi and Jarchi interpret it, or that "stood upon their heaps" (y); upon an eminence, being built on hills and mountains:

Israel burned none of them; but reserved them for their own habitations, being well fortified, and having no need of new walls being built to them, or being in a very agreeable situation:

save Hazor only, that did Joshua burn; because it was the chief city where the scheme was formed, and the combination against Israel was made, and was the rendezvous of the confederate forces against them: the Jews have a tradition (z), that God said to Moses, and Moses said to Joshua, that he should burn it, and that only.

(y) "super tumulum eorum", Montanus; "quae erant in collibus et in tamulis sitae", V. L. (z) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 81. fol. 71. 1.

But as for the cities that stood still in their {g} strength, Israel burned none of them, save Hazor only; that did Joshua burn.

(g) Which were strong by situation and not hurt by war.

13. the cities that stood still in their strength] Rather, the cities which stood each on its own hill, or mound, “the citees that weren in the hillis, and in the hillockis set,” Wyclif. Comp. Jeremiah 30:18, “and the city shall be builded upon her own heap” (“little hill” margin). With the exception of Hazor, Joshua did not burn the cities, but left them standing, each on its own hill, the ordinary site for cities in Canaan. Comp. Matthew 5:14.Verse 13. - The cities that stood still in their strength. This is the rendering of the Chaldee version. The LXX. has κεχωματισμένας, heaped up, i.e., defended with mounds. Rather, on their hill ("in collibus et in tumulis sitae," Vulg.). As many of the towns in Italy, and the castles in Germany in the middle ages, so these Phoenician cities were placed upon hills, that they might be more easily defended. The various tribes of Palestine were no doubt continually at war, and, as regards these northern tribes at least, were not accustomed to subsist by commerce. Therefore each of these cities stood (the Hebrew עמד surely implies situation here) on its own hill, a detail possibly obtained from an eyewitness, who was probably struck by this feature of the district, a feature he had not observed before. The expression is used, however, as Masius observes, by Jeremiah (Joshua 30:18). Knobel observes that all the early versions have no suffix here. What he calls the "free translation," however, of the LXX. (which has αὐτῶν) requires the suffix, though the Vulgate requires none. We must not adopt the very plausible explanation of Knobel and others that Joshua burnt the cities in the valleys, but spared the cities on the hills, because they could be more easily defended (see Joshua 17:16; Judges 1:19, 34), since we read that Hazor alone was burnt. The word here translated hill (Tell, Arabic) is one with which we are familiar in the modern name of places in Palestine (see note on Joshua 8:28). With this to inspirit them, the Israelites fell upon the enemy and smote them, chasing them towards the north-west to Sidon, and westwards as far as Misrephothmaim, and into the plain of Mizpah on the east. Sidon is called the great (as in Joshua 19:28), because at that time it was the metropolis of Phoenicia; whereas even by the time of David it had lost its ancient splendour, and was outstripped by its daughter city Tyre. It is still to be seen in the town of Saida, a town of five or six thousand inhabitants, with many large and well-built houses (see Rob. Pal. iii. p. 415, and Movers, Phnizier, ii. 1, pp. 86ff.). Misrephothmaim (mentioned also at Joshua 13:6), which the Greek translators have taken as a proper name, though the Rabbins and some Christian commentators render it in different ways, such as salt-pits, smelting-huts, or glass-huts (see Ges. Thes. p. 1341), is a collection of springs, called Ain Mesherfi, at the foot of the promontory to which with its steep pass the name of Ras el Nakhra is given, the scala Tyriorum or Passepoulain of the Crusaders (see V. de Velde, Mem. p. 335, and Ritter, Erdk. xvi. p. 807). מצפּה בּקעת (Eng. Ver. "the valley of Mizpeh") is probably the basin of the Huleh lake and of Nahr Hasbany, on the western side of which lay the land of Mizpah (Joshua 11:3).
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