Joshua 11

Joshua 11

Conquests in Northern Canaan

11 When Jabin, king of Hazor, heard of this, he sent to Jobab king of Madon, and to the king of Shimron, and to the king of Achshaph, and 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, to 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. And they came out with all their troops, a great horde, in number like the sand that is on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots. And all these kings joined their forces and came and encamped together at the waters of Merom to fight against Israel.

And the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, for tomorrow at this time I will give over all of them, slain, to Israel. You shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire.” So Joshua and all his warriors came suddenly against them by the waters of Merom and fell upon them. And the LORD gave them into the hand of Israel, who struck them and chased them as far as Great Sidon and Misrephoth-maim, and eastward as far as the Valley of Mizpeh. And they struck them until he left none remaining. And Joshua did to them just as the LORD said to him: he hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots with fire.

And Joshua turned back at that time and captured Hazor and struck its king with the sword, for Hazor formerly was the head of all those kingdoms. And they struck with the sword all who were in it, devoting them to destruction; there was none left that breathed. And he burned Hazor with fire. And all the cities of those kings, and all their kings, Joshua captured, and struck them with the edge of the sword, devoting them to destruction, just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded. But none of the cities that stood on mounds did Israel burn, except Hazor alone; that Joshua burned. And all the spoil of these cities and the livestock, the people of Israel took for their plunder. But every person they struck with the edge of the sword until they had destroyed them, and they did not leave any who breathed. Just as the LORD had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the LORD had commanded Moses.

So 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 from Mount Halak, which rises toward Seir, as far as Baal-gad in the Valley of Lebanon below Mount Hermon. And he captured all their kings and struck them and put them to death. Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. There was not a city that made peace with the people of Israel except the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon. They took them all in battle. For it was the LORD’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed, just as the LORD commanded Moses.

And Joshua came at that time and cut off 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 devoted them to destruction with their cities. There was none of the Anakim left in the land of the people of Israel. Only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod did some remain. So 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.


Joshua 11 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

Let’s set the backdrop. Joshua has just led Israel in defeating the cities in the south. News travels fast. The northern kings are becoming restless at the dominance of Israel. Specifically, Jabin of Hazor. He seems to be the “alpha male” of the north. So, Jabin begins to assemble his team. His response shows you just how seriously he was taking the Israelite forces. He calls forward his normal crew. But then he summons for backup by inviting those in the hill country, those along the Jordan, and those as far as Mt Hermon to come fight as well (v. 3).

The kings of the north are looking to overwhelm and outnumber Israel.

Meanwhile, back at Israel’s camp, we can see the divine strategy that God is revealing to Joshua. Joshua is an obedient leader, but he’s also human. He needs encouragement. He needs confidence. He needs to know that God is with him. What would have happened if God would not have spoken to Joshua that night?! But He does.

God gives Joshua the assurance he needs to secure the victory, but, there is still a strategy that’s put into place. God wanted Joshua’s full trust, and now that He’s got it, the plan was hatched to shock the enemy with a surprise attack. Joshua and his forces take a good chunk out of Jabin’s backup which leaves Hazor unprotected. Israel conquers the city and Joshua burns it to the ground.

Excavation of Hazor has shown several destructions in the Late Bronze Age, one from about 1400 B.C. that could easily be attributed to Joshua.

Nelson’s New Illustrated Commentary

So Joshua conquers everyone and the chapter is over, right? There is one other detail.

Joshua did to them what the LORD had commanded: he crippled their horses and burned their chariots. 10 Joshua then turned back, captured Hazor and killed its king. (At that time Hazor was the most powerful of all those kingdoms.)

Joshua 11:9-10 GNB

In between beating down his first batch of enemies and heading to the headquarters of Hazor, Joshua, in obedience to God, decides to cripple himself. He cripples perfectly good horses (poor horses). He burns perfectly good chariots. Joshua is about to fight the strongest enemy in the north and he decides to disable himself. Does that make sense?

God had warned Israel before about trusting in horses instead of Him.

Those who go to Egypt for help are doomed! They are relying on Egypt’s vast military strength—horses, chariots, and soldiers. But they do not rely on the LORD, the holy God of Israel, or ask him for help.

Isaiah 31:1 GNB

It takes total trust to cripple yourself when it makes absolutely no sense. What if God is asking you to quit that job you love or stay at that job you hate? What if God is asking you to work less, make less money, or stop saving for retirement? I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with those things. Don’t miss the point.

Obedience to Jesus means we trust Him with everything. We are an open book. We don’t just assume that God agrees with every direction we want to go in life. In fact, sometimes God will ask us to do something that contradicts logic and experience. Every military commander in the world would have taken those horses and chariots and used them. What allowed Joshua to have that kind of trust and faith in God?

Hope. Vision. Victory. God pulled back the curtain and assured Joshua the battle was won. Sound familiar? Jesus has done the same thing for you and I. We have hope, vision, and we share in Christ’s victory. We have the Holy Spirit. That means that we, like Joshua, are able to hear God in the moments that require us to do something that seems crippling. We are given spiritual eyesight as we share a glimpse of the upside-down counter-cultural Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus so often spoke of.

We have hope. We have vision. We have victory.

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These commentaries answered the questions I had yesterday more clearly. In this chapter I came to realize how wicked and unyielding these people had become. God purged the land of it's unbelief to give to Israel as they walked in obedience and courage. Hank touched on something that has been preying on my mind through the night as we had talked about handling our anger. I have come to think that we mirror how we deal with anger from our parents or grandparents and if they have not used God as their guidepost then we don't as well. These behaviors can be unlearned and Gods plan for dealing with such things can be applied to our life challenges promoting a better outcome. Maybe the next time I have an argument with someone I need to stop and think who am I emulating Christ or man.