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1. Hazor - The chief city of those parts, ver. 10. Had heard - This was a remarkable instance of the wisdom and goodness of Divine Providence, which so governed the minds of the Canaanites, that they were not 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, but quietly suffered the destruction of their brethren, thereby preparing the way for their own.
2. On the north - The general designation of all the particular places following: they were in the northern parts of Canaan, as those mentioned chap. x, 1-43, were in the southern parts; in the mountain, either in or near the mountain of Lebanon, called the mountain by way of eminency; or in the mountainous country. Cinneroth - Hebrew. in the plain lying southward from Cinneroth, or the lake of Genesareth. Dor - A place upon the coast of the midland-sea.
3. The Canaanite - 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 - That dwelt under mount Hermon in the north of Canaan, whereby they are differenced from those Hivites who lived in Gibeon. Mizpeh - That Mizpeh which was in the northern part of Gilead. But there are other cities called by that name, which signifying a watching-place, might be easily applied to several places of good prospect.
5. Merom - A lake made by the river Jordan in the northern part of it, which was in the territory of the King of Schimron, near Hazor, Jabin's royal city, and almost in the middle of these confederate kings.
6. Hough their horses - Cut their hamstrings that they may my be unfit for war. For God forbad them to keep many horses, now especially, that they might not trust to their horses, 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, who besides their great numbers, and giants, and walled cities, had the advantage of many thousands of horses and chariots.
7. Suddenly - When they least expected them, intending there to refresh, and prepare, and order themselves for the offensive war which they designed.
8. Great Zidon - A great city in the northwest part of Canaan, 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. Valley of Mizpeh - Under mount Hermon, as appears by comparing this with ver. 3, and 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.
10. The king - In his royal city, to which he fled out of the battle. Head of these kingdoms - Not of all Canaan, but of all those who were confederate with him in this expedition.
11. Not any left - That is, no human person.
13. In their strength - Hebrew. with their fence, walls or bulwarks, that is, which were not ruined with their walls in taking them. Save Hazor - 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: which in fact they did, and settled there, under a king of the same name, Judg. iv, 2.
16. All that land - Of Canaan, whose parts here follow. The hill - Or, the mountain, that is, the mountainous country, namely, of Judea. A considerable part of Judea was called the hilly or the mountainous country, Luke i, 39, 65. The south country - That is, not only the mountainous part, but all the country of Judea, which lay in the southern part of Canaan, and often comes under the name of the south. The vale - The low countries. The plain - The fields or campaign grounds. The mountain of Israel - The mountains or mountainous country of Israel.
17. To Seir - That is, To the country of Seir or Edom; namely, that part of it which was south from Judea, not that which was eastward from it, as appears from hence, that here 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.
18. A long time - For divers years together, as is evident by the following history. 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 dispatched 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 number of wild beasts, Deut. vii, 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.
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 God, whom they yet need for their help against their enemies.
19. All other - Namely, 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.
20. To harden their hearts - 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 their abominable and incorrigible wickedness might be punished, and that the Israelites might not be mixed with them, but be entire among themselves in the possession of the land.
21. At that time - In that war, but in divers years. 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 - From the territories belonging to these cities, as we have often seen in this history, cities mentioned for the country subject to them. The mountains of Israel - It doth not follow from hence, 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 by Ezra or some other prophet; though that be not necessary: for since it was evident to Joshua, from Gen. xlix, 10, &c. that the tribe of Judah was to be the chief of all these tribes, and some dawnings of its eminency appeared in that time, in their having the first lot in the land of Canaan, chap. xv, 1, and the largest inheritance, chap. xix, 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. But how could Joshua utterly destroy these, when Caleb and Othniel destroyed some of them after Joshua's death? chap. xiv, 12Judg. i, 10-12. This might be, either
1. Because these places being in part destroyed and neglected by the Israelites, were repossessed by the giants, and by them kept 'till Caleb destroyed them. Or rather
2. Because this work, though done by the particular valour 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 of it, chap. xiv, 6-15 and Judg. i, 12-20.
23. The whole land - That is, the greatest and best part of it, for some parts are expressly excepted in the following history. All that the Lord said unto Moses - God had promised to drive out the nations before them. And now the promise was fulfilled. Our successes and enjoyments are then doubly comfortable, when we see them flowing to us from the promise. This is according to what the Lord hath said: our obedience is acceptable, when it has an eye to the precept. And if we make a conscience of our duty, we need not question the performance of the promise.
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