Understanding the Old Testament

The Northern Campaign

(All quotations are from the New American Standard Bible translation)

Like the kings in southern Canaan, the kings in the north banded together to try to stop the Israelites. These included, among others, the kings of Hazor, Madon, Shimron, and Achshaph. (Joshua 11:1-2) A vast army was assembled, made even more formidable by the presence of horses and chariots—military technology which the Israelites lacked. (Joshua 11:3-4)

Once again the Lord gave Joshua assurance of victory, but this time He gave Joshua further instructions: after the battle he was to burn the chariots and hamstring the horses—making them useless for war, and probably anything else. (Joshua 11:6)

The northern alliance armies were camped at the “waters of Merom.” (Joshua 11:5) Merom was located northwest of the Sea of Galilee, which was then known as the Sea of Chinneroth (or Chinnereth). Joshua launched another surprise attack and destroyed his enemies. (Joshua 11:7) Those soldiers who didn’t flee were killed. (Joshua 11:8) Joshua then easily captured the cities that remained, which were virtually defenseless, killing the inhabitants and taking their possessions as booty. (Joshua 11:10-14) However, he burned the city of Hazor, which had been the leader of the other cities. (Joshua 11:10)

Thus, Joshua completed the conquest of Canaan, except for some isolated pockets of resistance, which are listed in Joshua 17:11-12 and Judges 1:27-34.

So after five years, “the land had rest from war.” (Joshua 11:23)

We know that the Israelites had been fighting for about five years because of Joshua 14:6-10, which says that Caleb was forty years old when Moses sent him and eleven other Israelites to spy out the land of Canaan. Caleb was eighty-five at the end of these wars. (Joshua 14:10) Since the Israelites spent forty years in the wilderness, the wars against the Amorites and the Canaanites took about five years.

Question to ponder or discuss: The Wycliffe Bible Commentary points out that the Canaanite horses and chariots would have been useless to the Israelites without a professional army trained to use them, which the Israelites did not then possess. What other reason(s) might God have had in mind for requiring the Israelites to destroy the chariots and maim the horses?

.Copyright 2018 by Don Davidson

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