Divers Kings Overcome at the Waters of
1-9. And it came to pass, when Jabin king of Hazor
had heard those things—The scene of the sacred narrative is
here shifted to the north of Canaan, where a still more extensive
confederacy was formed among the ruling powers to oppose the further
progress of the Israelites. Jabin ("the Intelligent"), which seems to
have been a hereditary title (Jud 4:2), took the lead, from Hazor being the
capital of the northern region (Jos 11:10). It was situated on the borders of lake
Merom. The other cities mentioned must have been in the vicinity though
their exact position is unknown.
2. the kings that were on the north of the
mountains—the Anti-libanus district.
the plains south of Chinneroth—the
northern part of the Arabah, or valley of the Jordan.
the valley—the low and level country,
including the plain of Sharon.
borders of Dor on the west—the
highlands of Dor, reaching to the town of Dor on the Mediterranean
coast, below mount Carmel.
3. the Canaanites on the east and on the
west—a particular branch of the Canaanitish population who
occupied the western bank of the Jordan as far northward as the Sea of
Galilee, and also the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea.
under Hermon—now Jebel-es-sheikh. It
was the northern boundary of Canaan on the east of the Jordan.
land of Mizpeh—now
4, 5. they went out, … as the sand that is
upon the sea-shore in multitude—The chiefs of these several
tribes were summoned by Jabin, being all probably tributary to the
kingdom of Hazor. Their combined forces, according to Josephus, amounted to three hundred thousand
infantry, ten thousand cavalry, and twenty thousand war chariots.
with horses and chariots very many—The
war chariots were probably like those of Egypt, made of wood, but
nailed and tipped with iron. These appear for the first time in the
Canaanite war, to aid this last determined struggle against the
invaders; and "it was the use of these which seems to have fixed the
place of rendezvous by the lake Merom (now Huleh), along whose level
shores they could have full play for their force." A host so formidable
in numbers, as well as in military equipments, was sure to alarm and
dispirit the Israelites. Joshua, therefore, was favored with a renewal
of the divine promise of victory (Jos 11:6), and thus encouraged, he, in the full
confidence of faith, set out to face the enemy.
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.
8. they left none remaining—of those
whom they overtook. All those who fell into their hands alive were
9. Joshua did unto them as the Lord bade
him—(See Jos 11:6).
Houghing the horses is done by cutting the sinews and arteries of their
hinder legs, so that they not only become hopelessly lame, but bleed to
death. The reasons for this special command were that the Lord designed
to lead the Israelites to trust in Him, not in military resources
20:7); to show that in the
land of promise there was no use of horses; and, finally, to discourage
their travelling as they were to be an agricultural, not a trading,
11. he burnt Hazor with fire—calmly and
deliberately, doubtless, according to divine direction.
13. as for the cities that stood still in their
strength—literally, "on their heaps." It was a Phœnician
custom to build cities on heights, natural or artificial [Hengstenberg].
16. So Joshua took all that land—Here
follows a general view of the conquest. The division of the country
there into five parts; namely, the hills, the land of Goshen, that is,
a pastoral land near Gibeon (Jos 10:41); the valley, the plains and the
mountains of Israel, i. e., Carmel, rests upon a diversity
of geographical positions, which is characteristic of the region.
17. from the mount Halak—Hebrew,
"the smooth mountain."
that goeth up to Seir—an irregular
line of white naked hills, about eighty feet high, and seven or eight
geographical miles in length that cross the whole Ghor, eight miles
south of the Dead Sea, probably "the ascent of Akrabbim" [Robinson].
unto Baal-gad in the valley of
Lebanon—the city or temple of the god of destiny, in
23. Joshua took the whole land—The
battle of the take of Merom was to the north what the battle of
Beth-horon was to the south; more briefly told and less complete in its
consequences; but still the decisive conflict by which the whole
northern region of Canaan fell into the hands of Israel [Stanley].