Joshua 11:6
And the LORD said to Joshua, Be not afraid because of them: for to morrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel: you shall hamstring their horses, and burn their chariots with fire.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(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.

Joshua 11:6. I will deliver them up all slain — The Seventy translate this τετροπωμενους, put to flight: and it is certain they were not all slain, but many of them fled. The meaning therefore can only be, that they should be so broken and scattered by that time, as to have no more power to resist than dead men. Thou shalt hough their horses — Disable them for war, by cutting the sinews of the ham. They might, however, be still fit for other uses. God forbade them to keep many horses, now especially, that they might not trust to their horses, nor ascribe the conquest of the land to their own strength, but wholly to God, by whose power alone a company of raw and unexperienced footmen were able to subdue so potent a people, who, besides their great numbers, and giants, and walled cities, had the advantage of many thousands of horses and chariots.11:1-9 The wonders God wrought for the Israelites were to encourage them to act vigorously themselves. Thus the war against Satan's kingdom, carried on by preaching the gospel, was at first forwarded by miracles; but being fully proved to be of God, we are now left to the Divine grace in the usual course, in the use of the sword of the Spirit. God encouraged Joshua. Fresh dangers and difficulties make it necessary to seek fresh supports from the word of God, which we have nigh unto us for use in every time of need. God proportions our trials to our strength, and our strength to our trials. Joshua's obedience in destroying the horses and chariots, shows his self-denial in compliance with God's command. The possession of things on which the carnal heart is prone to depend, is hurtful to the life of faith, and the walk with God; therefore it is better to be without worldly advantages, than to have the soul endangered by them.Hough their horses - i. e. cut the sinews of the hinder hoofs. This sinew once severed cannot be healed, and the horses would thus be irreparably lamed. This is the first appearance of horses in the wars with the Canaanites (Deuteronomy 17:16 and note). 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. Hough their horses, i.e. cut their hamstrings, that they may be unfit for war. For God forbade them to have or keep many horses, Deu 17:16, now especially, that they might not trust to their horses, as men are apt to do, nor distrust God for want of so necessary a help in battle; nor ascribe the conquest of the land to their own strength, but wholly to God, by whose power alone a company of raw and unexperienced footmen were able to subdue so potent a people, which besides their great numbers, and giants, and walled cities, had the advantage of many thousands of horses and chariots. And the Lord said unto Joshua, be not afraid because of them,.... Of their number, of their horsemen, and of their scythed chariots; which might at first hearing occasion some fear and dread. And according to Josephus (f), the multitude of them terrified both Joshua and the Israelites; and therefore the Lord appeared and spoke to him for his encouragement: though what was said was for the sake of the Israelites, and to animate them who might be disheartened, rather than for the sake of Joshua, who was of a bold and courageous spirit. Whether this was said to him at Gilgal, and out of the tabernacle there, quickly after the tidings of the combination of the kings were brought to him, or whether when upon his march towards them, is uncertain:

for tomorrow about this time will I deliver them up slain before Israel; as many were, and others wounded and put to flight, as the word signifies, so as to be as good as dead. If Gilgal was twenty two miles from the waters of Merom, as Bunting says (g), and supposing this to be said to him before he set out, he must travel all night to reach thither the next day; and if it was sixty miles, as some say, this must be said to him when on his march, and within a day's march of the enemy; for Josephus says (h) it was on the fifth day that he came up with them, and fell upon them:

thou shalt hough their horses; cut their nerves under their hams, or hamstring them, so that they might be useless hereafter; for the kings of Israel were not to multiply horses; and Joshua, as their chief ruler, was to have no advantage of them by their falling into his hands:

and burn their chariots with fire; that so they might not be used by the Israelites afterwards, who might be tempted to put their trust and confidence in them, as many did.

(f) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 18. (g) Travels, p. 96. (h) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 18.)

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 {d} hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire.

(d) That neither they should serve to the use of war, nor the Israelites should put their trust in them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. And the Lord said] We may believe that Joshua was already some way on the march when these encouraging words were addressed to him. The distance from his encampment to the waters of Merom was too great for him to reach the latter place between one day and the next.

thou shalt hough their horses] So especially formidable to the Israelites, who had none. The word “hough” also occurs in 2 Samuel 8:4, where we read that David “houghed all the chariot horses.” It comes from the A. S. hoh, and means to cut the ham-strings or back sinews of cattle, so as to disable them and render them utterly unfit for use, since the sinew, once severed, can never be healed again, and as a rule the arteries are cut at the same time, so that the horses bleed to death. In the late version of Wyclif the verse is rendered, “Thou shalt hoxe the horsis of hem,” while in the earlier version it runs, “The hors of hem thow shalt kut of the synewis at the knees” “Hox” is the form found in Shakespeare,

“If thou inclin’st that way, thou art a coward;

Which hoxes honesty behind, restraining

From course requir’d”. Winter’s Tale, 1. 2. 243.

The Scotch hoch is used in the same way.

and burn their chariots] of which it is said (Joshua 17:18) that they were iron chariots, i.e. had wheels with iron tires. Scythe-chariots were first introduced by Cyrus: Xen. Cyrop. VI. 1. 30.Verse 6. - And the Lord said unto Joshua. The encouragement was not unnecessary. The task before Joshua was harder than any that had yet befallen him. The enemy was far more numerous and better equipped. And it is a well known fact that men of tried courage are often daunted by unaccustomed dangers. Therefore all Joshua's strength of mind was required to inspirit even men who had experienced God's wonderful support at the passing of the Jordan, at the siege of Jericho, at the battle before Gibeon, now that they were face to face with the unwonted spectacle of a vast host, furnished with all the best munitions of war known to that age. The Israelites had nothing to depend upon but their own tried valour, and the reliance they felt upon God's support. "Unequal in arms and tactics," says Ewald ('Hist. Israel.,' 2:2. C.), "they could oppose to the Canaanites only courage and confidence." Tomorrow about this time. The promise was made on the eve of the encounter, but not, of course, as some have supposed, while Joshua was still at Gilgal. We are not told how long Joshua was on the march. Probably (as in ch. 2.) he had sent scouts forward, who brought him intelligence on the day before the battle of the vastness of the host, and the formidable nature of its equipment. The martial spirit Joshua had infused into the host, and the spirit of faith in God begotten of His recent acts of favour, contrast remarkably with the conduct of the Israelites described in Numbers 14. To each servant of God His own special gift is vouchsafed. Moses was the man to inspire the Israelites with a reverence for law. Joshua had the special aptitudes for the leader in a campaign. It is a confirmation of this view that, in the one successful engagement recorded during the forty years' wandering in the desert, Joshua, not Moses, was the leader of the troops, while the aged law giver remained at a distance, encouraging them by his prayers (see Exodus 17:8-13). But while we thus regard the secondary influences of individual character, we must not forget that the Israelites were also sustained at this moment by the assurances of Divine protection given at Jericho, at Ai, at Beth-horon, which had not been vouchsafed to them while under Moses's leadership in the wilderness. Will I deliver up. The "I" in the original is emphatic. And the use of the present participle in the Hebrew adds vividness to the promise. Slain. LXX. and Vulg., wounded.. Thou shalt hough their horses. To hough (or hoxe, Wiclif) is to hamstring, νευροκοπεῖν, LXX., to cut the sinews behind the hoofs, the hocks, as they are called. This rendered the horse useless, for the sinew could not reunite. The effects of the horses and chariots upon the mind of Joshua and his host, who had neither, is here traceable. "Those very horses and chariots, which seem to you so formidable, will I, the Lord of hosts, be tomorrow at this time delivering into your hand. The horses shall be forever useless to your enemies, and the dreaded chariots shall cease to be." Why should Joshua have destroyed the horses? Perhaps (as Keil, following Calvin, suggests) in order that the Israelites should not put their trust in chariots or in horses (Psalm 20:7; Psalm 147:10), but in God alone (cf. Deuteronomy 17:16). But more obvious considerations of policy may have dictated the measure. God never (see Matthew 4:1-7) makes use of supernatural means when natural ones are sufficient. Now the Israelites were unacquainted with the use of horses in warfare, while their enemies were not. To retain the horses while the country was as yet unsubdued would have been a double burden to them, for they would have had not only to keep them themselves, but to prevent the enemy from regaining them. On the same principle in modern warfare do we spike guns we cannot carry off, and destroy provisions we cannot convert to our own use. All these kings and their country Joshua took "once," i.e., in one campaign, which lasted, however, a considerable time (cf. Joshua 11:18). He was able to accomplish this, because Jehovah the God of Israel fought for Israel (see Joshua 10:14). After this he returned with the army to the camp at Gilgal (Jiljilia; cf. Joshua 10:15).
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