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Scripture reading – Joshua 11
With confidence in the Lord’s help, Joshua’s military campaign in the southern hills of Canaan was finished. Israel had “utterly destroyed all [the kings of the south] that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded” (10:40). He had been victorious “because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel” (10:42).
An Enemy Offensive (11:1-5)
The focus of Joshua 11 is upon the kings of northern Canaan (11:1-5). The news of Joshua’s military successes had reached Jabin, king of Hazor (which appears to be a great fortified city). He was determined to form a coalition of kings and their city-states to face Israel’s inevitable invasion of the northern country (11:1-3). Rather than wait for Israel to invade the north, the alliance of kings took the offensive and “came and pitched together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel” (11:5).
The LORD’s Assurance (11:6-9)
Though Joshua had proved himself a warrior and leader, the size of the armies arrayed against Israel was no doubt disconcerting (11:4). The LORD came to Joshua and assured him, “Be not afraid because of them: for to morrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel: thou shalt hough [hamstring] their horses, and burn their chariots with fire” (11:6).
True to his character, Joshua wasted no time in obeying the LORD and facing the enemy (11:7). He assembled “all the people of war with him, against them by the waters of Merom suddenly; and they fell upon them” (11:7). With the LORD on Israel’s side, the armies of the alliance fell, and their kings fled from before Israel (11:8-9).
A Glorious Victory (11:10-14)
The king of Hazor was particularly noted in the record, for he had formed an alliance against Israel (11:10). In obedience, Joshua burned Hazor to the ground (11:11), and he killed the kings of the alliance as commanded (11:12). Except for Hazor, the other cities in north Canaan were spared destruction (11:13). “All the spoil of [those] cities, and the cattle, the children of Israel took for a prey unto themselves; but every man they smote with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, neither left they any to breathe” (11:14).
What manner of man was Joshua? (11:15-23)
In my estimation, he was a giant among men! Joshua was a man of faith. He was obedient and dedicated to the task for which God had called him. He proved he was disciplined and strong. Joshua’s fighting spirit was indomitable, and he did not rest until he finished the battle. I suggest he is a model for husbands, fathers, and sons who aspire to greatness in the eyes of the LORD. Of Joshua, we read:
Joshua 11:15b–18 – “[Joshua] left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses. 16So Joshua took all that land, the hills, and all the south country…17b and all their kings he took, and smote them, and slew them. 18Joshua made war a long time with all those kings.”
Some critics have assailed the Scriptures, the LORD, and Israel’s conquest of Canaan, as proof that the God of the Bible is violent, threatening, merciless, and irrepressible. I assure you; such is not the case. The LORD is just, holy, forgiving, and compassionate. He is sovereign and omniscient. He knows the wickedness of men’s hearts and providentially works through them to accomplish His purpose for His people.
In His mercy, the LORD honored Israel’s treaty with Gibeon and spared them (11:19). However, because He knew the bent of the nations, the LORD allowed them to “harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly” (11:20).
The Canaanite kings and their cities were utterly destroyed because their hearts opposed the LORD and His people.
Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith
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