The Word Made Fresh
1When king Jabin of Hazor heard what Israel had done, he sent messengers to king Jobab of Madron, the king of Shimron, the king of Achshaph, 2the kings in the hill country up north and in the Arabah to the south of Chinneroth, to those in the lowlands, in Naphoth-Dor on the west, 3to the Canaanites both east and west, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, and the Jebusites in the hill country, and to the Hivites below Hermon in Mizpah. 4They all joined their forces together into a huge army, as numerous as the sand on the seashore, with many horses and chariots. 5They joined forces and camped together around the waters near Merom and made plans to attack Israel.
6The LORD said to Joshua, “Don’t worry about them. This time tomorrow I will hand over their dead bodies to Israel, and you will hamstring their horses and set their chariots ablaze.” 7So, Joshua attacked them suddenly and engaged them with all his men by the waters of Merom. 8The LORD handed them over to Israel. They chased them all the way to Great Sidon and Misrephoth-Maim, and as far as the valley of Mizpah in the east. They killed their enemies until there were none left. 9Joshua hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots as the LORD had ordered.
10Then Joshua turned and took Hazor and cut down their king with the sword. Up until then, Hazor was the chief of all those kingdoms. 11They killed everyone in it. They didn’t leave a single soul alive. They burned Hazor to the ground, 12and then they took all the little towns with their kings and cut them down until none were left, just as Moses the servant of the LORD had said they should do. 13But Hazor was the only town Joshua burned. 14The Israelites looted the other towns and took all the animals, but they killed all the people; not a single breathing soul was left. 15The LORD told Moses what to do, and Moses passed it on to Joshua, and Joshua did everything the LORD had said.
16So, Joshua took all the land: the hill country, the Negeb, Goshen and its lowlands, the Arabah including the hills and the lowlands, 17then from Mt. Halak toward Seir, and as far as Baal-Gad in the Lebanon valley below Mt. Hermon. He had all their kings put to death. 18The wars with all those kings took a long time. None of the towns wanted peace with Israel except the Hivites in Gibeon. All the others were conquered. 20The LORD had hardened their hearts so they would attack Israel and be completely destroyed without mercy. That was what the LORD had ordered Moses to do.
21Then Joshua wiped out the Anakim from Hebron, Debir, and Anab, and from the hill country of Judah and then from Israel. He completely destroyed their enemies and their towns. 22None of the Anakim were left in all the land, although there were still some left in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod. 23Joshua took the whole land, as the LORD had told Moses, and gave it to Israel as the inheritance for their tribes. And the land at last had rest from war.
1-23: Once again, Israel’s conquest is depicted as a defensive move. Another alliance is formed, this time of kings in the northern part of Canaan — a much larger alliance than before. Still, Joshua has no trouble in defeating them. After these victories, Joshua proceeds to subdue all of the surrounding territory.
If you have a Bible Atlas, it could be helpful in reading this chapter. Alternatively, Google the names of some of the places captured by Joshua to get a picture of the way in which he engineered the conquest of the land of Canaan.
Although the chapter reads as if a swift and sweeping conquest of the whole land has taken place, verse 18 makes it clear that it took a very long time (see Joshua 23:1). The mention of Judah and Israel in verse 21 is a reference to the future kingdoms — Judah in the south and Israel to the north — after the time of King Solomon. Once again, take comfort that Joshua greatly exaggerates their success. The Book of Judges provides a historical balance to the boasting in the book of Joshua.