Joshua 11:23
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.
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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.

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.These words import that Joshua had overcome all overt resistance. There were, however, many districts by no means thoroughly and finally subdued Joshua 13:1-6. 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]. The whole land, synecdochically, i.e. the greatest and the best part of it, for some parts and places are expressly excepted in the following history.

From war; from actual war; so far that they could now quietly survey, and distribute, and possess the land.

So Joshua took the whole land,.... Of Canaan, the far greater and better part of it, all before described; all that he went against, he failed not in any of his attempts; no place stood out against him that he besieged or summoned, all yielded to him:

according to all that the Lord said unto Moses: in Deuteronomy 11:23,

and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel, according to their divisions by their tribes; as is after related in this book:

and the land rested from war; there were no combinations of any of the dispersed Canaanites, or insurrections made by them, nor any annoyance given to Israel by the Philistines, who inhabited five principal cities, with what belonged to them; nor did Joshua attempt anything more in a warlike manner: and so it became a land of rest, as the heavenly Canaan will be to the spiritual Israel and church of God, after their militant state is ended, in which they now are; being engaged with many spiritual enemies, the Canaanites that are in the land, but then their warfare will be ended.

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. And the land rested from war] But this does not denote a permanent cessation. It rather implies that the Israelites no longer needed to war unitedly against the Canaanites. There was yet much land to be possessed, but the time had arrived for the occupation of the country by the different tribes, and the completion of the work of conquest was now to be left to the separate action of each.

Verse 23. - Joshua took the whole land. The word must not be pressed to mean that every Canaanitish stronghold was razed or appropriated. The word כֹל, as has been before remarked, has a very loose signification in Hebrew. What is meant is simply this. Joshua had established an unquestioned military preponderance in Palestine. He had broken down all resistance; but before he completed his conquests to their full extent, he had to provide for the peaceable settlement of the tribes in the territory he had seized. The complete extermination of the Canaanites formed no part of his commission or his plan (Deuteronomy 7:22; cf. Exodus 23:29, 30). To have effected it would have been to throw the land out of cultivation, and to expose its possessors to the usual inconveniences of depopulated districts. Therefore it was Joshua's policy to leave the Canaanites to be extirpated by degrees, and to encourage the Israelites to cultivate the arts both of war and of peace; to nourish a martial spirit by remembering that numerous and active enemies still dwelt in their midst, while yet they were not neglectful of the importance of a settled and civilised, an agricultural and pastoral life. See also Judges 3:1, 2. This purpose was defeated, not only by the usual effects of civilisation upon hardy or savage tribes, but also by the Israelites becoming addicted to the pleasant but enfeebling vices of the races they had supplanted. We see in the Israelitish history the best exemplification of St. Paul's theory that the "law worketh wrath," although it is "holy, just, and good." The excellence of the moral precepts delivered by Moses did but serve to manifest more clearly the inherent depravity of our nature (Romans 3:20; Romans 5:20; Romans 7:7, 8), and its need of a Saviour, who should render obedience possible by the gift of regeneration, and the infusion of His own Spirit. According to their divisions. Literally, their divisions by lot, the word being derived from the same root as the word Halak in ver. 7, because a smooth stone was usually employed in casting lots. Hence it came to mean any authoritative division or distribution, as the courses of the Levites (1 Chronicles 23:6), the classification for purposes of enlistment (1 Chronicles 27:1) and the like. And the land rested from war. That is to say, the Canaanites were so thoroughly cowed and dispirited that they dared offer no further resistance to the Israelites in their task of portioning out the land. They were quite contented to be allowed to live in peace in such of their cities which remained, and had no disposition to court an overthrow such as took place at the battles of Gibeon and Merom, with its inevitable results of the absolute extermination, not only of every one who took up arms, but of every human being in the city to which they belonged. Thus the Israelites were able to give their whole attention to the survey and apportionment of the territory according to the relative size and importance of the tribes.

Joshua 11:23In Joshua 11:21, Joshua 11:22, the destruction of the Anakites upon the mountains of Judah and Israel is introduced in a supplementary form, which completes the history of the subjugation and extermination of the Canaanites in the south of the land (Joshua 10). This supplement is not to be regarded either as a fragment interpolated by a different hand, or as a passage borrowed from another source. On the contrary, the author himself thought it necessary, having special regard to Numbers 13:28, Numbers 13:31., to mention expressly that Joshua also rooted out from their settlements the sons of Anak, whom the spies in the time of Moses had described as terrible giants, and drove them into the Philistine cities of Gaza, Bath, and Ashdod. "At that time" points back to the "long time," mentioned in Joshua 11:18, during which Joshua was making war upon the Canaanites. The words "cut off," etc., are explained correctly by Clericus: "Those who fell into his hands he slew, the rest he put to flight, though, as we learn from Joshua 15:14, they afterwards returned." (On the Anakim, see at Numbers 13:22.) They had their principal settlement upon the mountains in Hebron (el Khulil, see Joshua 10:3), Debir (see at Joshua 10:38), and Anab. The last place (Anab), upon the mountains of Judah (Joshua 15:50), has been preserved along with the old name in the village of Anb, four or five hours to the south of Hebron, on the eastern side of the great Wady el Khulil, which runs from Hebron down to Beersheba (Rob. Pal. ii. p. 193). "And from all (the rest of) the mountains of Judah, and all the mountains of Israel:" the latter are called the mountains of Ephraim in Joshua 17:15. The two together form the real basis of the land of Canaan, and are separated from one another by the large Wady Beit Hanina (see Rob. Pal. ii. p. 333). They received their respective names from the fact that the southern portion of the mountain land of Canaan fell to the tribe of Judah as its inheritance, and the northern part to the tribe of Ephraim and other tribes of Israel.

(Note: The distinction here made may be explained without difficulty even from the circumstances of Joshua's own time. Judah and the double tribe of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) received their inheritance by lot before any of the others. But whilst the tribe of Judah proceeded into the territory allotted to them in the south, all the other tribes still remained in Gilgal; and even at a later period, when Ephraim and Manasseh were in their possessions, all Israel, with the exception of Judah, were still encamped at Shiloh. Moreover, the two parts of the nation were now separated by the territory which was afterwards assigned to the tribe of Benjamin, but had no owner at this time; and in addition to this, the altar, tabernacle, and ark of the covenant were in the midst of Joseph and the other tribes that were still assembled at Shiloh. Under such circumstances, then, would not the idea of a distinction between Judah, on the one hand, and the rest of Israel, in which the double tribe of Joseph and then the single tribe of Ephraim acquired such peculiar prominence, on the other, shape itself more and more in the mind, and what already existed in the germ begin to attain maturity even here? And what could be more natural than that the mountains in which the "children of Judah" had their settlements should be called the mountains of Judah; and the mountains where all the rest of Israel was encamped, where the "children of Israel" were gathered together, be called the mountains of Israel, and, as that particular district really belonged to the tribe of Ephraim, the mountains of Ephraim also? (Joshua 19:50; Joshua 20:7; also Joshua 24:30.))

Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod were towns of the Philistines; of these Gaza and Ashdod were allotted to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:47), but were never taken possession of by the Israelites, although the Philistines were sometimes subject to the Israelites (see at Joshua 13:3). - With Joshua 11:23, "thus Joshua took the whole land" etc., the history of the conquest of Canaan by Joshua is brought to a close; and Joshua 11:23, "and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel," forms a kind of introduction to the second part of the book. The list of the conquered kings in Joshua 12 is simply an appendix to the first part.

The taking of the whole land does not imply that all the towns and villages to the very last had been conquered, or that all the Canaanites were rooted out from every corner of the land, but simply that the conquest was of such a character that the power of the Canaanites was broken, their dominion overthrown, and their whole land so thoroughly given into the hands of the Israelites, that those who still remained here and there were crushed into powerless fugitives, who could neither offer any further opposition to the Israelites, nor dispute the possession of the land with them, if they would only strive to fulfil the commandments of their God and persevere in the gradual extermination of the scattered remnants. Moreover, Israel had received the strongest pledge, in the powerful help which it had received from the Lord in the conquests thus far obtained, that the faithful covenant God would continue His help in the conflicts which still remained, and secure for it a complete victory and the full possession of the promised land. Looking, therefore, at the existing state of things from this point of view, Joshua had taken possession of the whole land, and could now proceed to finish the work entrusted to him by the Lord, by dividing the land among the tribes of Israel. Joshua had really done all that the Lord had said to Moses. For the Lord had not only promised to Moses the complete extermination of the Canaanites, but had also told him that He would not drive out the Canaanites at once, or "in one year," but only little by little, until Israel multiplied and took the land (Exodus 23:28-30; cf. Deuteronomy 7:22). Looking at this promised, therefore, the author of the book could say with perfect justice, that "Joshua took the whole land according to all that (precisely in the manner in which) the Lord had said to Moses." But this did not preclude the fact, that a great deal still remained to be done before all the Canaanites could be utterly exterminated from every part of the land. Consequently, the enumeration of towns and districts that were not yet conquered, and of Canaanites who still remained, which we find in Joshua 13:1-6; Joshua 17:14., Joshua 18:3; Joshua 23:5, Joshua 23:12, forms no discrepancy with the statements in the verses before us, so as to warrant us in adopting any critical hypotheses or conclusions as to the composition of the book by different authors. The Israelites could easily have taken such portions of the land as were still unconquered, and could have exterminated all the Canaanites who remained, without any severe or wearisome conflicts; if they had but persevered in fidelity to their God and in the fulfilment of His commandments. If, therefore, the complete conquest of the whole land was not secured in the next few years, but, on the contrary, the Canaanites repeatedly gained the upper hand over the Israelites; we must seek for the explanation, not in the fact that Joshua had not completely taken and conquered the land, but simply in the fact that the Lord had withdrawn His help from His people because of their apostasy from Him, and had given them up to the power of their enemies to chastise them for their sins. - The distribution of the land for an inheritance to the Israelites took place "according to their divisions by their tribes." מחלקות denote the division of the twelve tribes of Israel into families, fathers' houses, and households; and is so used not only here, but in Joshua 12:7 and Joshua 18:10. Compare with this 1 Chronicles 23:6; 1 Chronicles 24:1, etc., where it is applied to the different orders of priests and Levites. "And the land rested from war:" i.e., the war was ended, so that the peaceable task of distributing the land by lot could now be proceeded with (vid., Joshua 14:15; Judges 3:11, Judges 3:30; Judges 5:31).

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