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Joshua: Chapter 11

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1When King Jabin of Hazor heard of this, he sent to King Jobab of Madon, to the king of Shimron, to the king of Achshaph, 2and to the kings who were in the northern hill country, and in the Arabah south of Chinneroth, and in the lowland, and in Naphoth‐dor on the west, 3to the Canaanites in the east and the west, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, and the Jebusites in the hill country, and the Hivites under Hermon in the land of Mizpah. 4They came out, with all their troops, a great army, in number like the sand on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots. 5All these kings joined their forces, and came and camped together at the waters of Merom, to fight with Israel.

6And the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, for tomorrow at this time I will hand over all of them, slain, to Israel; you shall hamstring their horses, and burn their chariots with fire.” 7So Joshua came suddenly upon them with all his fighting force, by the waters of Merom, and fell upon them. 8And the LORD handed them over to Israel, who attacked them and chased them as far as Great Sidon and Misrephoth‐maim, and eastward as far as the valley of Mizpeh. They struck them down, until they had left no one remaining. 9And Joshua did to them as the LORD commanded him; he hamstrung their horses, and burned their chariots with fire.

10Joshua turned back at that time, and took Hazor, and struck its king down with the sword. Before that time Hazor was the head of all those kingdoms. 11And they put to the sword all who were in it, utterly destroying them; there was no one left who breathed, and he burned Hazor with fire. 12And all the towns of those kings, and all their kings, Joshua took, and struck them with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them, as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded. 13But Israel burned none of the towns that stood on mounds except Hazor, which Joshua did burn. 14All the spoil of these towns, and the livestock, the Israelites took for their booty; but all the people they struck down with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, and they did not leave any who breathed. 15As the LORD had commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did; he left nothing undone of all that the LORD had commanded Moses.

16So Joshua took all that land: the hill country and all the Negeb and all the land of Goshen and the lowland and the Arabah and the hill country of Israel and its lowland, 17from Mount Halak, which rises toward Seir, as far as Baal‐gad in the valley of Lebanon below Mount Hermon. He took all their kings, struck them down, and put them to death. 18Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. 19There was not a town that made peace with the Israelites, except the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon; all were taken in battle. 20For it was the LORD's doing to harden their hearts so that they would come against Israel in battle, in order that they might be utterly destroyed, and might receive no mercy, but be exterminated, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

21At that time Joshua came and wiped out the Anakim from the hill country, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the hill country of Judah, and from all the hill country of Israel; Joshua utterly destroyed them with their towns. 22None of the Anakim was left in the land of the Israelites; some remained only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod. 23So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had spoken to Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments. And the land had rest from war.

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Commentary spanning earlier chapters

9.1–11.15 : The southern and northern campaigns.

The conquests of southern and northern Canaan share the same geographic pattern: center to periphery. However, the account of the southern campaign is a much more developed narrative than that of the northern campaign. This augmentation is observable in the basic components of 9.3–10.43 and 11.1–15 . Thus the region that became Judah's tribal allotment receives the greater emphasis (a pattern also found in chs 13–19 and Judg 1 ).

11.1–15 : Northern campaign.

A literary mirror of 10.1–43 both in general structure and vocabulary, though less developed.

11.1–11 : Defeat of the Canaanite coalition.

A large and powerful Canaanite coalition is organized and headed by Jabin, the king of Hazor. The name Jabin occurs here and in Judg 4 and Ps 83.10 . Scholars generally see Judg 4–5 as the source for this story.

1 :

The final occurrence of the “hearing” motif, see 5.1n. The locations of Madon, Shimron, and Achshaph are not certain.

2 :

The Arabah is the Jordan Valley; Chinneroth, the Sea of Galilee.

3–5 :

This enemy is superior to the Israelite army, both numerically and technologically (they have dreaded horses and chariots). This coalition presents the most significant threat to Israel's success in conquering the land. Hermon, the high mountain in the extreme north of Israel. Merom is a city in Galilee known from extrabiblical sources; its precise location is not certain.

6 :

The LORD's oracle of assurance precedes the victory (cf. 8.1; 10.8 ). Hamstring their horses means cutting a tendon of a rear leg to make them useless (see 2 Sam 8.4 ).

10–11 :

Hazor, the most important northern city, is totally destroyed by burning just like Jericho and Ai (cf. 6.24; 8.8,19 ). Jericho and Hazor frame the “conquest” of the land of Canaan.

11.12–15 : Summary of northern campaign.

The Israelite conquest in the north is summarized by noting several times that “all” was conquered by Joshua, the worthy successor to Moses, who fulfilled the requirements of Deut 20.16–17 .

13 :

Mounds, translating the Hebrew word for “tells,” cf. 8.28n.

11.16–23 : Summary of total conquest.

16–19 :

The word all characterizes these verses, emphasizing the totality of the conquest.

18–20 :

The depiction here somewhat conflicts with the earlier accounts, suggesting that a protracted war was necessary.

20 :

Harden their hearts, this phrase is elsewhere used of Pharaoh in Egypt (Ex 4.21; etc.), and suggests that, for the LORD and for the author, the inhabitants of the land were enemies comparable to the Egyptians.

21 :

The Anakim, a term for pre‐Israelite inhabitants of Canaan renowned for their size and strength (Deut 9.2 ).

23 :

And the land had rest from war, a conclusion formula, moving toward a transition from the conquest to the division of land. This declaration recurs in 14.15 , forming a literary link between the defeat of the Anakim by Joshua (ch 11 ) and their defeat by Caleb (ch 14 ).

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