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Chapter  11

Previous Section - Chapter 10 

Next Section - Chapter 12 to 22 

Northern Kings Defeated (ch. 11:1 - 23)  

Chapter 11 now begins the northern portion of Israel's attack intoCanaan.  Prior to this, the battles took place in the south.

We see in the first five verses there is another coalition of kings who have joined together to fight Israel .  At this point, Israel is gaining in so much popularity, it takes a coalition of these small nations to fight Israel.  Josephus states that there were probably 300,000 men in this army and 20,000 chariots.  In this chapter we first see the mention of chariots and horses in the battles that have taken place.

Concerning horses, In Deuteronomy 17:16 the Lord tells Moses and Israel that they are not to accumulate horses.  In Deuteronomy 20:1 God tells Israel ahead of time that they will encounter large armies with horses.  They are to trust in the Lord in the midst of such horrific armies, since Israel does not have horses.  Over the years Israel eventually gained in wealth which includes horses.  King Solomon is one example of having lots of horses.

Throughout Old Testament, and especially in the Psalms, (Psalm 20) the Lord tells Israel not to trust in chariots and horses, but to trust in the Lord.  The accumulation of horses would cause them to trust in them and not the Lord.  There is something else here concerning horses.   Canaanites also tended to worship horses, and the Lord didn't want Israel to be caught up in such worship.

In verse 5 you see the Waters of  Merom, which is a gorge.  In the region, which is Galilee, it was a gateway to the north, so to speak.  Many roads converged here and so if you could conquer this spot, you would be well on your way to the north.

As in every other battle, and as in so many places in the Bible, God tells His people not to be afraid of the enemy, even if they or he, seems larger than life, as was the case here.  God told Joshua not to fear because by the next day He would deliver the enemy into their hands, and he would slay them.  Of course, the army of Israel had to go out and fight for this to happen.  So once again, we are involved when it comes to receiving the promises of God.  We, like Joshua, had a part to play before the Lord delivers any promise to us.

Also in verse 6 the Lord says to "hamstring" the enemy's horses and burn their chariots.  In English, the verb "hamstring" means to render as disabled in any fashion, but to be precise, means to cut the tendons in one's legs in order to prevent the one from walking.  The Hebrew word here that is translated as "hamstring" simply means "to cut out or to pull out".   Just what kind of cutting out is involved here is debatable among scholars.  It could mean to cut the tendons in the horses legs, or it could even mean to cut out the testicles of the mail horse.  Whatever the case, the point is to render these horses as useless.   Israel did this, along with winning the battle, as seen in verses 7 to the end of the chapter.

Notice the word "sudden" in verse 7.  Many scholars and military men see the word "sudden" as a fast paced and unexpected attack by the Israeli army, just another brilliant performance by Joshua, one of Israel 's greatest military generals of all time.

In verse 18 the text states that Joshua and the army of Israel took a long time to battle these nations.  Many scholars believe this was seven years.  They say this because of certain comments made about Caleb.  In Joshua 14 he dies at the age of 85.  He was called by God at the age of 40.  Israel spent 38 years in the desert, leaving 7 years.

Note in verse 20 that it was the Lord Himself who hardened the kings hearts as He did with Pharaoh's heart back in Egypt .  Note also the reason why He hardened their harts.  It was so He could destroy them.  As I noted  before in my commentary on Exodus, Pharaoh's heart was already hard.  God simply provided the outward circumstances for Pharaoh to make his own heart harder.  Something similar would have happened here.  The kings would have had hard hearts concerning Israel, and when they actually saw them, they would have hardened their hearts even more.  When the Bible speaks of God hardening someone's heart, it does not mean that He made that person do something against his will.  God only provides the circumstance so the person could make the decision to harden his own heart.  He will do the same at the end of this age.  The kings and national leaders of all nations will harden their hearts against Israel, and they will do this by God providing the circumstance to make it easy for them.  And, like in Joshua's day, the reason why God hardens national leaders hearts at the end of this age is the same, so He can destroy the nations of the world in the battlefield of Israel.

Notice the Anakites in verses 21 and 22.  They were all killed in the north, but not the south, not in what is modern day Gaza.  Annakites show up in Deuteronomy 9:1 to 3 and are tall people.  In 1 Samuel 17 we see Goliath.  He was an Anakite.   We see later in Israeli history that the Anakite descendents come back to haunt Israel.

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