Joshua 11:20
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.
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(20) It was of the Lord to harden their hearts . . . that he might destroy them.—Or rather to strengthen their hearti.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.

11:15-23 Never let the sons of Anak be a terror to the Israel of God, for their day to fall will come. The land rested from war. It ended not in a peace with the Canaanites, that was forbidden, but in a peace from them. There is a rest, a rest from war, remaining for the people of God, into which they shall enter, when their warfare is accomplished. That which was now done, is compared with what had been said to Moses. God's word and his works, if viewed together, will be found mutually to set each other forth. If we make conscience of our duty, we need not question the performance of the promise. But the believer must never put off his armour, or expect lasting peace, till he closes his eyes in death; nay, as his strength and usefulness increase, he may expect more heavy trials; yet the Lord will not permit any enemies to assault the believer till he has prepared him for the battle. Christ Jesus ever lives to plead for his people, and their faith shall not fail, however Satan may be permitted to assault them. And however tedious, sharp, and difficult the believer's warfare, his patience in tribulation may be encouraged by the joyfulness of hope; for he will, ere long, rest from sin and from sorrow in the Canaan above.See the marginal references. 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.

It was the design of God’s providence not to soften their hearts to a compliance with the Israelites, but to give them up to their own animosity, pride, confidence, and stubbornness; that so both their abominable and incorrigible wickedness might be severely punished and that the Israelites might not be mixed with them, but be entire among themselves in the possession of the land. Compare Deu 2:30, and for the phrase, Exodus 7:13 9:12 14:17.

For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts,.... As he hardened the hearts of Pharaoh and the Egyptians, that his power might be displayed in their destruction:

that they should come against Israel battle; and so fall in it:

that he might destroy them utterly; for their abominable wickedness, idolatry, incest, &c. they had been guilty of:

and that they might have no favour; which they would have had, had they made peace as the Gibeonites did; or that they might not pray and make supplication, the Lord not giving them a spirit of supplication, but an hard heart, as Gussetius (f) observes the words may be interpreted, though he seems to prefer the former, sense:

but that he might destroy them, as the Lord commanded Moses; Deuteronomy 7:1.

(f) Comment. Ebr. p. 272.

For it was of the LORD to {l} 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.

(l) That is, to give them over to themselves: and therefore they could not but rebel against God and seek their own destruction.

20. For it was of the Lord] “Forsothe the sentence of the Lord it was,” Wyclif. Compare Exodus 4:21, “When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go;” and Exodus 7:3, “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt;” Joshua 14:4; Romans 9:17. Here, as everywhere in Scripture where such hardening is spoken of, it is to be carefully borne in mind, that it is always inflicted as a judgment on those who had previously acted contrary to the Divine will. This is true of

(a)  Pharaoh, who had grievously and cruelly oppressed the Israelites for his own selfish ends;

(b)  The Canaanites, who had persisted in the lowest and most degrading idolatry and sensuality;

(c)  The Israelites, who in spite of warning and example fell away into idolatry in like manner, and forgat the Lord, Who had done such great things for them (Isaiah 6:10; Matthew 13:12-15).

The same is in a measure said of Sihon king of the Amorites (Deuteronomy 2:30); of Samson (Jdg 14:4); of the sons of Eli (1 Samuel 2:25); of Solomon (1 Kings 12:15); of Ahaziah (2 Chronicles 22:7); of Amaziah (2 Chronicles 25:16; 2 Chronicles 25:20). It is expressed also in the Latin proverb, “Quem Deus vult perdere, prius dementat.”

Verse 20. - To harden their hearts (cf. Exodus 4:21; Exodus 7:23). Muller, 'Christian Doctrine of Sin,' 2:412, says that "Scripture never speaks of God's hardening men's hearts, save in connection with His revelations through Moses or Christ." This passage evidently had not occurred to him when writing. His explanation of the difficulty is hardly satisfactory. We are not to suppose that the free will of the Canaanites was in any way interfered with. God no doubt left them to themselves as the due punishment of their iniquities. Sin in general, by God's own appointment, and especially the sensual sins in which the Canaanites were steeped, has a tendency to produce insensibility to moral or even prudential considerations, and to beget a recklessness which urges on the sinner to his ruin. Some have argued that had they all come, like the Gibeonites, as suppliants, they must all have been massacred in cold blood. But this is not likely. Rather we must imagine that God foresaw that they would not believe the signs He would give in favour of the Israelites, and that by meeting them in battle they brought a swift and speedy destruction on themselves. Joshua 11:20Joshua made war with the kings of Canaan a long time; judging from Joshua 14:7, Joshua 14:10, as much as seven years, though Josephus (Ant. v. 1, 19) speaks of five (see at Joshua 14:10). No town submitted peaceably to the Israelites, with the exception of Gibeon: they took the whole in war. "For it was of the Lord" (Joshua 11:20), i.e., God ordered it so that they (the Canaanites) hardened their heart to make war upon Israel, that they might fall under the ban, and be destroyed without mercy. On the hardening of the heart as a work of God, see the remarks upon the hardening of Pharaoh (Exodus 4:21). It cannot be inferred from this, that if the Canaanites had received the Israelites amicably, God would have withdrawn His command to destroy them, and allowed the Israelites to make peace with them; for when they made peace with the Gibeonites, they did not inquire what as the will of the Lord, but acted in opposition to it (see at Joshua 9:14). The remark is made with special reference to this, and has been correctly explained by Augustine (qu. 8 in Jos.) as follows: "Because the Israelites had shown mercy to some of them of their own accord, though in opposition to the command of God, therefore it is stated that they (the Canaanites) made war upon them so that none of them were spared, and the Israelites were not induced to show mercy to the neglect of the commandment of God."
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