a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above

The United Kings of Northern Canaan Defeated


When 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.

6 And the L ord 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 L ord 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 L ord commanded him; he hamstrung their horses, and burned their chariots with fire.

10 Joshua 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 L ord 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 L ord had commanded his servant Moses, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did; he left nothing undone of all that the L ord had commanded Moses.

Summary of Joshua’s Conquests

16 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, 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 L ord’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 L ord had commanded Moses.

21 At 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 L ord 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.

19. There was not a city that made peace, etc This sentence appears, at first sight, contradictory to what is everywhere said in the books of Moses, that the Israelites were not to enter into any league with those nations, or make any terms of peace with them, but, on the contrary, to destroy them utterly, and wipe out their race and name. (Exodus 23:32; Deuteronomy 7:2) 117117     The Septuagint, as if influenced by considerations similar to those here mentioned, has evaded the apparent inconsistency, by rendering the 19th verse (Joshua 11:19) as follows, “And there was not a city which Israel did not take: they took all in war.” There is a various reading, however, which correspond almost verbatim with the common rendering. — Ed. Seeing the nations were thus excluded from the means of making any paction, and would in vain have made any proposals for peace, it seems absurd to ascribe the destruction, which they had not even the means of deprecating, to their obstinacy.

For, let us suppose that they had sent ambassadors before them with olive branches in their hands, and had been intent on pacific measures, Joshua would at once have answered that he could not lawfully enter into any negotiation, as the Lord had forbidden it. Wherefore, had they made a hundred attempts to avoid war, they must, nevertheless, have perished. Why, then, are they blamed for not having sought peace, as if they had not been driven by necessity to right, after they saw they had to do with an implacable people? But if it was not free to them to act otherwise, it is unjust to lay any blame upon them when they acted under compulsion in opposing the fury of their enemy.

To this objection, I answer, that the Israelites, though they were forbidden to show them any mercy, were met in a hostile manner, in order that the war might be just. And it was wonderfully arranged by the secret providence of God, that, being doomed to destruction, they should voluntarily offer themselves to it, and by provoking the Israelites be the cause of their own ruin. The Lord, therefore, besides ordering that pardon should be denied them, also incited them to blind fury, that no room might be left for mercy. And it behooved the people not to be too wise or prying in this matter. For while the Lord, on the one hand, interdicted them from entering into any covenant, and, on the other, was unwilling that they should take hostile measures without being provoked, a too anxious discussion of the procedure might have greatly unsettled their minds. Hence the only way of freeing themselves from perplexity was to lay their care on the bosom of God. And he in his incomprehensible wisdom provided that when the time for action arrived, his people should not be impeded in their course by any obstacle. Thus the kings beyond the Jordan, as they had been the first to take up arms, justly suffered the punishment of their temerity. For the Israelites did not assail them with hostile arms until they had been provoked. In the same way, also, the citizens of Jericho, by having shut their gates, were the first to declare war. The case is the same with the others, who, by their obstinacy, furnished the Israelites with a ground for prosecuting the war.

It now appears how perfectly consistent the two things are. The Lord commanded Moses to destroy the nations whom he had doomed to destruction; and he accordingly opened a way for his own decree when he hardened the reprobate. In the first place, then, stands the will of God, which must be regarded as the principal cause. For seeing their iniquity had reached its height, he determined to destroy them. This was the origin of the command given to Moses, a command, however, which would have failed of its effect had not the chosen people been armed to execute the divine judgment, by the perverseness and obstinacy of those who were to be destroyed. God hardens them for this very end, that they may shut themselves out from mercy. 118118     French, “Dieu les endurcit, afin qu’ils se monstrent indigne de toute pitie et compassion qu’on eust peu avoir d’eux;” “God hardens them in order that they may show themselves unworthy of all pity and compassion which might have been felt for them.” — Ed. Hence that hardness is called his work, because it secures the accomplishment of his design. Should any attempt be made to darken so clear a matter by those who imagine that God only looks down from heaven to see what men will be pleased to do, and who cannot bear to think that the hearts of men are curbed by his secret agency, what else do they display than their own presumption? They only allow God a permissive power, and in this way make his counsel dependent on the pleasure of men. But what says the Spirit? That the hardening is from God, who thus precipitates those whom he means to destroy.

VIEWNAME is study