Joshua
Introduction 1-5 The Kings of the North 6-9 The Kings and Their Armies Defeated 10-14 Judgment on the Cities 15 Joshua Has Been Obedient in Everything 16-22 Overview of the Conquests 23 The Land Rests from War
Introduction

Joshua 10 and Joshua 11 belong together. They describe the struggle against the kings of the south (Joshua 10) and of the north (Joshua 11). In two great wars Joshua broke the power of all those kings. A difference between the first and the second war is that in the second war, that against the kings of the north, no miracles happen.

After the conquests in the south, it is now the turn of the north. Joshua experiences again that the LORD is with him. He moves on victoriously and leaves nothing alive. On the LORD’s orders everything must be destroyed. It even says that it is of the LORD to harden the hearts of the enemies (verse 2020For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, to meet Israel in battle in order that he might utterly destroy them, that they might receive no mercy, but that he might destroy them, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.).

Does the LORD wish then the destruction of these peoples? It says, “God our Savior, … desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1Tim 2:3b-43This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,4who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.) and “not wishing for any to perish” (2Pet 3:99The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.), isn’t it? Yes, but the judgment only comes when the measure of sin is full and man has not wanted to repent. Then comes the judgment of the hardening and there is no more grace. This is why the following still applies to every human being today: “Today, if you would hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts” (Psa 95:7b-8a7For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.
Today, if you would hear His voice,
8Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
As in the day of Massah in the wilderness,
).


The Kings of the North

1Then it came about, when Jabin king of Hazor heard [of it], that he sent to Jobab king of Madon and to the king of Shimron and to the king of Achshaph, 2and to the kings who were of the north in the hill country, and in the Arabah—south of Chinneroth and in the lowland and on the heights of Dor on the west— 3to the Canaanite on the east and on the west, and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Jebusite in the hill country, and the Hivite at the foot of Hermon in the land of Mizpeh. 4They came out, they and all their armies with them, [as] many people as the sand that is on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots. 5So all of these kings having agreed to meet, came and encamped together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel.

Jabin, that means ‘the wise’ or ‘the intelligent’, the king of Hazor, is not just any king. He rules over the head of all kingdoms (verse 1010Then Joshua turned back at that time, and captured Hazor and struck its king with the sword; for Hazor formerly was the head of all these kingdoms.). He is the king of the most powerful empire. We can therefore see in him a picture of the head of all demons, of satan himself. Satan has many instruments, henchmen, who are subject to him and execute his will. These are the evil powers, the demons, in the heavenly places. With them we have to do, not so much directly with satan himself, but with his angels. In Hazor we meet the capital of all kings, the main stronghold of demons.

Our spiritual struggle is about not only overcoming the demons, but overcoming the head of the enemy, the evil one. John says in his first letter that the young people did so. He says that they have overcome “the evil one” (1Jn 2:14b14I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.).

The power of Hazor lies in his crowd. He comes up with a huge alliance. Here, too, peoples are gathering who are often in conflict with each other, but who are now going up together to fight against God’s people (cf. Lk 23:1212Now Herod and Pilate became friends with one another that very day; for before they had been enemies with each other.). For God’s people it is an opportunity to fight this battle, and precisely because the enemy has gathered in this way to achieve a great victory. When we see the enemy coming to us in great power, it is an opportunity to reveal God’s power.

The hostile armies gather at the waters of Merom. Here too we see a picture of the great battle in the end times, where all the kings of the earth gather to fight against God. In reality it is God who gathers them there to destroy them in one fell: “For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty. (“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.”) And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon” (Rev 16:14-1614for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty.15(“Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.”)16And they gathered them together to the place which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon.). The battle in Har-Magedon will take place in the vicinity of the Merom mentioned here.


The Kings and Their Armies Defeated

6Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow at this time I will deliver all of them slain before Israel; you shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire.” 7So Joshua and all the people of war with him came upon them suddenly by the waters of Merom, and attacked them. 8The LORD delivered them into the hand of Israel, so that they defeated them, and pursued them as far as Great Sidon and Misrephoth-maim and the valley of Mizpeh to the east; and they struck them until no survivor was left to them. 9Joshua did to them as the LORD had told him; he hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots with fire.

The LORD encourages Joshua and says to him that he should not be afraid (verse 66Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid because of them, for tomorrow at this time I will deliver all of them slain before Israel; you shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire.”). Often we are afraid instead of seeing the privilege of facing a large crowd. But God always wants a great victory by a few. He wants us to rely on Him (Psa 20:88They have bowed down and fallen,
But we have risen and stood upright.
) and “striving together for the faith of the gospel” be “in no way alarmed by [the] opponents” (Phil 1:28a28in no way alarmed by [your] opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that [too], from God.). We have to learn this. That is why God allows us to gain such experiences.

The enemy’s means of combat must be disabled and destroyed. That makes reuse impossible, both for the enemy and for Israel. God does not want His people to use the means of the world to achieve victories through which the world can claim the honor of victory. Each victory may only be attributed to Him Who actually gives it.


Judgment on the Cities

10Then Joshua turned back at that time, and captured Hazor and struck its king with the sword; for Hazor formerly was the head of all these kingdoms. 11They struck every person who was in it with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying [them]; there was no one left who breathed. And he burned Hazor with fire. 12Joshua captured all the cities of these kings, and all their kings, and he struck them with the edge of the sword, [and] utterly destroyed them; just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded. 13However, Israel did not burn any cities that stood on their mounds, except Hazor alone, [which] Joshua burned. 14All the spoil of these cities and the cattle, the sons of Israel took as their plunder; but they struck every man with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them. They left no one who breathed.

Hazor is taken. Because it is a mighty city, the human mind might reason that it could be a suitable capital for Israel. But God does not allow the seat of worldly power and influence to become the seat of His people, for His people depend solely on Him. Hazor will not become the new capital of Israel, but will be completely destroyed. God will not leave any trace of the power that has ruled before.

Unfortunately, by the unfaithfulness of God’s people this city is rebuilt. In the time of the judges it appears that this city even rules over God’s people for some time. This happens as a result of the discipline God has to impose on His people because of their unfaithfulness (Jdg 4:1-2a1Then the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, after Ehud died.2And the LORD sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor; and the commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim.). When the people call to Him, He frees them from this enemy by Barak and Deborah. Deborah sings with Barak of that liberation in a song (Jdg 5:11Then Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam sang on that day, saying,
). In that song she mentions the downfall of this enemy (Jdg 5:19-2119“The kings came [and] fought;
Then fought the kings of Canaan
At Taanach near the waters of Megiddo;
They took no plunder in silver.
20“The stars fought from heaven,
From their courses they fought against Sisera.
21“The torrent of Kishon swept them away,
The ancient torrent, the torrent Kishon.
O my soul, march on with strength.
). In Psalm 83 God is called up to do to the great northern collection of armies in the last days what He did with this king (Psa 83:1010Who were destroyed at En-dor,
Who became as dung for the ground.
).

Not all cities are burned. God has promised His people that they will live in cities which they themselves have not built (Deu 6:10-1110“Then it shall come about when the LORD your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build,11and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied,). Not everything should be destroyed. Things that are of use to them must be spared (Deu 20:19-2019“When you besiege a city a long time, to make war against it in order to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by swinging an axe against them; for you may eat from them, and you shall not cut them down. For is the tree of the field a man, that it should be besieged by you?20Only the trees which you know are not fruit trees you shall destroy and cut down, that you may construct siegeworks against the city that is making war with you until it falls.). But all inhabitants are killed, according to the commandment of the LORD (Deu 7:1-61“When the LORD your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and stronger than you,2and when the LORD your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them.3Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons.4For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you and He will quickly destroy you.5But thus you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, and smash their [sacred] pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire.6For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.; 20:16-1816Only in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes.17But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the LORD your God has commanded you,18so that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods, so that you would sin against the LORD your God.). This total extermination should not come as a surprise, as has happened so often, that a loving God commands it. Whoever accuses God of cruelty does not know Him, nor does he know himself.

The God of the Old Testament is no other God than the God of the New Testament, as if we had a God of love there and a God of revenge here. The New Testament God says that also “our God is a consuming fire” (Heb 12:2929for our God is a consuming fire.), while the God of the Old Testament is also a God of love.

Is it unjust that God should have all these people killed? No. There are several reasons to give that make it clear that God is right to do so:
1. God never judges without warning and sufficient time to take the warning to heart. These Canaanites have had a testimony of God in their midst in Melchizedek (Gen 14:1818And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High.). So they cannot say that they have never heard of God. They also know what He did for His people in Egypt and after.
2. The meekness of God waited four hundred years, until the iniquity of the Amorites is full (Gen 15:1616Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”). He waits long, but not endlessly. He waited a hundred and twenty years before he let the flood come (Gen 6:33Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”). He has been waiting in His meekness for almost two thousand years now (2Pet 3:8-98But do not let this one [fact] escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.9The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.) since man has committed the greatest sin ever by killing His Son. But if the wickedness of the Canaanites goes beyond everything, God can only judge them. They do everything a person can think of and do about sins. They deserve the judgment.
3. They know that God is a Judge. They know what He has done in and with Egypt. But none of the cities behave kindly towards the Israelites (verse 1919There was not a city which made peace with the sons of Israel except the Hivites living in Gibeon; they took them all in battle.). That is the result of the hardening of their hearts. That does not undo their guilt. God hardens a heart only if someone has hardened his heart first. Hardening is a judgment from God, after man has refused to submit to God. There is a hardening of the Gentiles (Rom 1:24,26,2824Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.26For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,28And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,), the Jews (Rom 11:2525For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;) and the nominal Christians (2Thes 2:11-1211For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false,12in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.).

The example of Rahab and the Gibeonites makes clear that God is unaltered in His desire to save people (Rom 10:1313for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”). Rahab and also the Gibeonites speak of the threat, of which all inhabitants of Canaan have heard (Jos 2:9-119and said to the men, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you.10For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.11When we heard [it], our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.; 9:9-109They said to him, “Your servants have come from a very far country because of the fame of the LORD your God; for we have heard the report of Him and all that He did in Egypt,10and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon and to Og king of Bashan who was at Ashtaroth.). Yet only they resort to the people of God to escape the judgment, albeit in different ways. There, they both find the salvation against judgment.

God does not assign anyone to hell. It is now still “the acceptable time”, ” behold, now is “the day of salvation”” (2Cor 6:22for He says, “At the acceptable time I listened to you, And on the day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation”—) to escape the judgment of hell. But God does determine the time of the end of that time and that day, while He still makes the call to repentance sound. “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all [people] everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-3130Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all [people] everywhere should repent,31because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”).


Joshua Has Been Obedient in Everything

15Just 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.

At the end of the battle, the writer recalls that victory and blessing are the result of obedience. Joshua did everything as the LORD commanded him by Moses.


Overview of the Conquests

16Thus Joshua took all that land: the hill country and all the Negev, all that land of Goshen, the lowland, the Arabah, the hill country of Israel and its lowland 17from Mount Halak, that rises toward Seir, even as far as Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon at the foot of Mount Hermon. And he captured all their kings and struck them down and put them to death. 18Joshua waged war a long time with all these kings. 19There was not a city which made peace with the sons of Israel except the Hivites living in Gibeon; they took them all in battle. 20For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, to meet Israel in battle in order that he might utterly destroy them, that they might receive no mercy, but that he might destroy them, just as the LORD had commanded Moses. 21Then 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 utterly destroyed them with their cities. 22There were no Anakim left in the land of the sons of Israel; only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod some remained.

The “long time” of war (verse 1818Joshua waged war a long time with all these kings.) is about six to seven years. This can be deducted from the times that Caleb mentions in the review of his life (Jos 14:7,107I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought word back to him as [it was] in my heart.10Now behold, the LORD has let me live, just as He spoke, these forty-five years, from the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, when Israel walked in the wilderness; and now behold, I am eighty-five years old today.). With the “long time” that the conquest has taken, what the LORD has said about expelling the enemies has also been fulfilled: “I will not drive them out before you in a single year, that the land may not become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. I will drive them out before you little by little, until you become fruitful and take possession of the land” (Exo 23:29-3029I will not drive them out before you in a single year, that the land may not become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you.30I will drive them out before you little by little, until you become fruitful and take possession of the land.; cf. Deu 7:2222The LORD your God will clear away these nations before you little by little; you will not be able to put an end to them quickly, for the wild beasts would grow too numerous for you.).

Also the Anakim, the giants for whom they were so afraid (Num 13:3333There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”), are exterminated (verse 2121Then 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 utterly destroyed them with their cities.). Without God we are nothing and we lose to dwarves. With God we can do everything and giants are nothing. Yet there are still a few giants left (verse 2222There were no Anakim left in the land of the sons of Israel; only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod some remained.). One of their descendants will be Goliath. We should not see such individuals as little things. If we leave anything of the enemy behind, it will put us in the greatest trouble. The remaining giants find refuge in some cities of the Philistines, whose influence will soon be felt when the people become unfaithful.


The Land Rests from War

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 divisions by their tribes. Thus the land had rest from war.

After a long time of war there is peace. The tranquility here is the result of faithfulness in battle. This mention of rest in the land appears three times in the book: 1. here in connection with Joshua,
2. in Joshua 14 in connection with Caleb (Jos 14:1515Now the name of Hebron was formerly Kiriath-arba; [for Arba] was the greatest man among the Anakim. Then the land had rest from war.) and
3. in Joshua 21 in connection with the inheritance of the Levites among the people of Israel (Jos 21:4444And the LORD gave them rest on every side, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers, and no one of all their enemies stood before them; the LORD gave all their enemies into their hand.).
You can only enjoy rest if you act faithfully according to what the LORD has said. If through the unfaithfulness of the people not all enemies are eradicated, the rest appears to be of limited duration.

The conquest of the land is complete. This means that there is no external strength left in a hostile power that can exist for them or form another kingdom. Yet there are still many enemies left. If they remain faithful, those enemies will not have to worry them. That is why rest is dangerous, it can so easily lead to laziness. Then it is forgotten that there are still enemies who keep land in their possession. There is always land to conquer.

Rest is good, but it should not lead to carelessness. It is important “having done everything, to stand firm” (Eph 6:13b13Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.). The biggest defeat is often suffered after the biggest victory. Rest is also dangerous for older brothers and sisters. The battle never ends as long as we are still in the body.

Verse 2323So 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 divisions by their tribes. Thus the land had rest from war. concludes the first part of the book, which describes the histories of Joshua’s victories. The next chapter, Joshua 12, is a postscript in which the balance of the previous chapters is, as it were, drawn up. The conquered kings and their territories are listed.


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