Matthew Poole's 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,The other kings and cities of Canaan gather themselves together to fight against Israel, Joshua 11:1-5. God encourages Joshua, promising him victory, Joshua 11:6. The Canaanites destroyed; their cities taken; Hazor burnt; the Anakims cut off, Joshua 11:7-21; those in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod excepted, Joshua 11:22,23.
Hazor, the chief city of all those parts, Joshua 11:10.
Had heard those things: this was a remarkable instance of the wisdom and goodness of Divine Providence, which so governed the minds and hearts of the Canaanites, that they were not at all united under one king, but divided amongst many petty kings; and next, that these did not all unanimously join their counsels and forces together to oppose the Israelites at their first entrance, which their own wisdom and interest obliged them to do; but quietly suffered the destruction of their brethren, thereby preparing the way for their own.
Shimron, called Shimron-meron, Joshua 12:20.
Achshaph, a place in the tribe of Asher, the furthest part of the land toward the north and west.
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,On the north of the mountains, Heb. on the north (which may be the general designation of all the particular places following, that they were in the northern parts of Canaan, as those mentioned Jos 10, were in the southern parts) in the mountain; either in or near the famous mountain of Lebanon, called the mountain by way of eminency; or in the mountainous country. South of Chinneroth, Heb. in the plain lying southward from Chinneroth, or the lake of Gennesaret. See Deu 3:17 Luke 5:1.
Dor; a place upon the coast of the midland sea.
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.The Canaanites properly so called lived part of them on the east near Jordan, and part on the west near the sea, and both are here united.
The Hivite under Hermon; that dwelt under Mount Hermon in the north of Canaan, whereby they are differenced from those Hivites who lived in Gibeon; of which before.
Mizpeh; that Mizpeh which was in the northern part of Gilead; of which Genesis 31:49 Judges 11:29. But there were other cities called by that name, which signifying a watching-place, might be easily applied to several places of good prospect. Besides this, there is one Mizpeh of Judah, Joshua 15:38; another of Benjamin, Joshua 18:26; a third in Moab, 1 Samuel 22:3.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
And when all these kings were met together, they came and pitched together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel.The waters of Merom; a lake made by the river Jordan in the northern part of it, which was in the territory of the king of Shimron, or Shimron-meron, and near Hazor, Jabin’s royal city, and almost in the middle of these confederate kings.
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.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.
So Joshua came, and all the people of war with him, against them by the waters of Merom suddenly; and they fell upon them.When they least expected them, intending there to refresh, and prepare, and order themselves for the offensive war which they designed.
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.Zidon, a great and famous city in the north-west part of Canaan, and upon the sea.
Misrephoth-maim, a place not far from Zidon, supposed to be so called from the salt or glass which they made there. The valley of Mizpeh, under Mount Hermon, as appears by comparing this with Joshua 11:3,17, where it seems to be called the valley of Lebanon. This lay on the east, as Zidon did on the west; and so it seems they fled several ways, and the Israelites also divided themselves into two bodies, one pursuing east, and the other west.
And Joshua did unto them as the LORD bade him: he houghed their horses, and burnt their chariots with fire.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Smote the king thereof; either in the former battle, though it be mentioned here; or rather in his royal city, to which he fled out of the battle.
The head of all those kingdoms; not of all Canaan, but of all those who were confederate with him in this expedition.
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.There was not any, i.e. no human person.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
But as for the cities that stood still in their strength, Israel burned none of them, save Hazor only; that did Joshua burn.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.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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;All that land, of Cannaan, whose parts here follow. The hill, or, the mountain, i.e. the mountainous country, to wit, of Judea, as may seem,
1. Because in the following enumeration he begins in the south parts, where there was an eminent mountain, Numbers 13:17.
2. Because a considerable part of Judea was called the hilly or the mountainous country, Luke 1:39,65, which is not likely to be omitted in this particular description of the land; the rather because Hebron, one of the places taken by Joshua, Joshua 10:36,37 was in the mountain of Judah, Joshua 20:7.
3. Because this is here distinguished from the mountain of Israel, and therefore most likely to be the mountain of Judah, especially if you compare this with Joshua 10:21, where having mentioned the mountain in general, from which Joshua cut off the Anakims, he comes to particularize, and names only two, all the mountain of Judah, and all the mountain of Israel. All the south country, i.e. not only the mountainous part, but all the country of Judea, which lay in the southern part of Canaan, and oft comes under the name of the south, as Numbers 13:22,29 21:1 Joshua 10:40 18:5, &c. the land of Goshen; of which see Joshua 10:41. The vale; the low countries.
The plain; the fields or champaign grounds.
The mountain of Israel; either,
1. Some one particular and eminent mountain, possibly the hill of Samaria, mentioned 1 Kings 16:24; or rather,
2. The mountains or mountainous country of Israel. See the second note on this verse. The vale of the same, i.e. of Israel.
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.That goeth up to Seir i.e. to the country of Seir or Edom, to wit, that part of it which was south from Judea, not that which was eastward from it, as appears from hence, that here, as also Joshua 12:7, is mention of the two extreme bounds of the land conquered by Joshua; whereof the other which follows being in the north, this must needs be in the south of the land.
Baal-gad; a part of Mount Lebanon.
Joshua made war a long time with all those kings.For divers years together, as is evident by the following history, and by comparing Deu 2:14 with Joshua 14:7, &c. And this is here expressed, lest it should be thought that as all these wars are here recorded in a short narration, so they were despatched in a short time. And God would have the land to be conquered gradually, for many weighty reasons:
1. Lest the sudden extirpation of those nations should have made a great part of the land desert, and thereby have increased the numbers of wild beasts, Deu 7:22.
2. Lest being done suddenly and easily, it should soon be forgotten and despised, as the nature of man is apt to do in those cases.
3. That by long exercise the Israelites might grow skilful in the art of war, which was very useful and needful for them in that land.
4. For the trial and exercise of their patience, and courage, and trust in God.
5. To oblige them to the greater care to please and obey God, whom they yet needed for their help against their enemies.
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.To wit, all that were taken by Joshua, were taken by the sword, and therefore it is no wonder that the war was long, when the enemy was so obstinate.
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.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.
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.At that time, i.e. in that war; for it cannot be meant of any particular and short time, because the work here related was done in divers times and years.
The Anakims; a race of giants, of which see Numbers 13:33.
From the mountain, or, mountains, the singular number for the plural: these barbarous and monstrous persons either chose to live in the dens or caves, which were frequent in the mountains of those parts; or else they were driven thither by the arms and success of the Israelites.
From Debir; either,
1. From the territories belonging to these cities, as we have oft seen in this history, cities mentioned for the country subject to them; for the cities were taken before by Joshua, Joshua 10:36-38. Or,
2. From the cities themselves; and so either the cities were retaken by the giants, which it is not probable that God would permit in Joshua’s time; or he speaks here of that time when he took those places mentioned here and Jos 10, which history he here in part repeats and enlargeth with this memorable circumstance, that, together with the rest, he destroyed also the giants which were in those places.
Anab; a place in the tribe of Judah, Joshua 15:50.
From all the mountains of Judah, and from all the mountains of Israel: it doth not follow from hence, which some conclude, that this book was written by some other person long after Joshua’s death, even after the division of the Israelites into two kingdoms, of Israel and Judah; but only that this was one of those clauses which were added or altered and suited to the style of the present times by Ezra, or some other prophet, though that be not necessary; for since it was evident to Joshua, from Genesis 49:9, &c., that the tribe of Judah was to be the chief of all the tribes, and some dawnings of its eminency appeared in that time, in their having the first lot in the land of Canaan, Joshua 15:1, and the largest inheritance, Joshua 19:9, it is no wonder that it is mentioned apart, and distinguished from the rest of the tribes of Israel, though that also be one of them; even as the daughter of Pharaoh is distinguished from the strange women, 1 Kings 11:1, and Saul from all David’s enemies, Psalm 18:1, and Peter from the disciples, Mark 6:7, though they were each of the same nature and quality with the rest. Joshua destroyed them utterly with their cities.
Quest. How could Joshua utterly destroy these, when Caleb and Othniel destroyed some of them after Joshua’s death, Joshua 14:12 Judges 1:10-13.
Answ. This might be, either,
1. Because these places being in part destroyed and neglected by the Israelites, might be repossessed by the giants, either in Joshua’s time, or after his death, and by them kept till Caleb dispossessed and destroyed them. Or rather,
2. Because this work, though done by the particular valour and industry of Caleb, is ascribed to Joshua as the general of the army, according to the manner of all historians; and therefore it is here attributed to Joshua, though afterwards, that Caleb might not lose his deserved honour, the history is more particularly described, and Caleb owned as the great instrument in the achievement of it, Jos 14 Jud 1.
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.Three cities of the Philistines, to which they retired, and where we find some of them afterwards, 1 Samuel 17:4 2 Samuel 21:16; which may be one reason why the Israelites durst not make an attempt upon these places, though they were a part of their possession.
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.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.