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Commentary On Joshua by Jean Calvin

Joshua 11:1-15

1. And it came to pass, when Jabin king of Hazor had heard those things, that he sent to Jobab king of Madon, and to the king of Shimron, and to the king of Achshaph,

1. Quum autem Jabim rex Hasor, misit ad Jobab regem Madam, et ad regem Simeron, et ad regem Achsaph,

2. And to the kings that were on the north of the mountains, and of the plains south of Chinneroth, and in the valley, and in the borders of Dor on the west,

2. Ad reges quoque qui habitabunt ab aquilone in montanis, et in planitie ad meridiem Cineroth, et in planitie in Naphoth-Dor ab occidente.

3. And to the Canaanite on the east and on the west, and to the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Jebusite in the mountains, and to the Hivite under Hermon in the land of Mizpeh.

3. Ad Chananaeum ab oriente et occidente, et Amorrhaeum, et Hitthaeum, et Pherisaeum, et Jebusaeum in montanis, et Hivaeum sub Hermon in terra Mispath.

4. And they went out, they and all their hosts with them, much people, even as the sand that is upon the sea shore in multitude, with horses and chariots very many.

4. Et egressi sunt ipsi, et omnes exercitus eorum cum ipsis, populus multus tanquam arena quae est juxta littus maris, prae multitudine, et equi, et currus multi valde.

5. And when all these kings were met together, they came and pitched together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel.

5. Congregati sunt omnes reges isti, et venientes castrametati sunt pariter ad aquas Merom, ut pugnarent cum Israele.

6. And the LORD said unto Joshua, Be not afraid because of them: for to morrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel: thou shall hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire.

6. Dixit autem Jehova ad Josuam, Ne timeas a facie eorum: cras enim hoc tempore tradam omnes istos occisos coram Israele, equos eorum subnervabis, et currus eorum combures igni.

7. So Joshua came, and all the people of war with him, against them by the waters of Merom suddenly; and they fell upon them.

7. Venit itaque Josue, et cunctus populus bellator cum eo adversus ipsos ad aquam Merom repente, et irruerunt in eos.

8. And the LORD delivered them into the hand of Israel, who smote them, and chased them unto great Zidon, and unto Misrephothmaim, and unto the valley of Mizpeh eastward; and they smote them, until they left them none remaining.

8. Et tradidit eos Jehova in manum Israelis, percusseruntque eos, et persequuti sunt usque ad Sidonem magnam, et usque ad fervores aquarum, et usque ad campum Mispe ad orientem: ac percusserunt eos donec non reliquerit eis superstitem.

9. And Joshua did unto them as the LORD bade him: he houghed their horses, and burnt their chariots with fire.

9. Fecitque eis Josue quemadmodum dixerat eis Jehova, equos eorum subnervavit, et currus eorum combussit igni.

10. And Joshua at that time turned back, and took Hazor, and smote the king thereof with the sword: for Hazor beforetime was the head of all those kingdoms.

10. Et reversus Josue eodem tempore cepit Hasor, et regem ejus percussit gladio, aHasor enim antea fuerat caput omnium istorum regnorum.

11. And they smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them: there was not any left to breathe: and he burnt Hazor with fire.

11. Percusserunt quoque omnem animam quae illic erat, acie gladii perdendo: non remansit ulla anima: et Hasor combussit igni.

12. And all the cities of those kings, and all the kings of them, did Joshua take, and smote them with the edge of the sword, and he utterly destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the LORD commanded.

12. Omnes urbes regum istorum, et universos reges earum cepit Josue, percussitque eos acie gladii, perdendo eos sicuti praeceperat Moses servus Jehovae.

13. But as for the cities that stood still in their strength, Israel burned none of them, save Hazor only; that did Joshua burn.

13. Tantummodo omnes urbes quae manebant in statu suo non combussit Israel, praeter Hasor solam quam combussit Josue.

14. And all the spoil of these 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.

14. Et omnia spolia urbium istarum, et jumenta praedati sunt sibi filii Israel: veruntamen omnes homines percusserunt acie gladii quousque perderent eos: non reliquerunt ullam animam.

15. As the LORD commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua; he left nothing undone of all that the LORD commanded Moses.

15. Quemadmodum praeceperat Jehova Mosi servo suo: sic praecepit Moses Josue, et Josue sic fecit, ut non omitteret quidquam ex omnibus quae praeceperat Jehova Mosi.

1. And it came to pass when Jabin, etc In this new league also we have a bright manifestation of the more than paternal care of God, in warding off dangers from his people, and also in assisting their weakness by kindness and indulgence. Had Jabin, with the confederates of whom mention is now made, openly declared himself the ally of the neighboring kings, a much more formidable war would have broken out against the Israelites, and greater solicitude and anxiety must have seized their minds. It would, indeed, have been easy for the Lord, as well to put all their forces at once to the rout, as to dissipate all fear and dread of them. He was unwilling, however, to press beyond measure his own people, who were otherwise feeble, lest the excessive numbers of the enemy should strike them with terror, and drive them to despair. He therefore kept the many nations, whose interest it was to have rushed hastily to arms, in a state of lethargy and amazement, until the chosen people had been animated by signal victories, to carry on the wars which still remained. They pillage and devastate a large territory, and leave it destitute of inhabitants and stript of resources. None of the neighboring powers, who were afterwards to act on the offensive, makes the least movement. The Israelites revisit their wives and children in safety. When they had gathered courage, and were ready for a new war, suddenly a very large army appears, composed of different nations, who had hitherto, by remaining quiet, furnished opportunity for victory. Their coming thus forward at a later period, was the same as if they had entered into a truce. Thus God not only fought for his chosen people, but by dividing the enemy, increased their strength manifold.

How formidable must the onset have been, had not the Israelites been gradually trained to confidence in battle, and at the same time experienced the manifest assistance of God? First, their numbers are compared to the sand of the sea, and then they have horses and chariots. As the Israelites were altogether destitute of cavalry, it is strange that they were not terrified at this array. Therefore they were gradually brought forward till they were able to bear it. For, in their former battles, he had only exercised them by a kind of pleasing preludes. It may be added, that the Lord had, by several victories, ever and anon borne testimony to his power, that they might not think more lightly of it than was meet. Had all their enemies been routed at once, they might, indeed, have magnificently celebrated the praises of God, but they might also have easily lost the remembrance of them. It was necessary, therefore, that repeated proofs distinct and apart from each other, should be held forth to their view, lest they might attribute one victory to a stroke of fortune.

6. And the Lord said unto, Joshua, etc The greater the labor and difficulty of destroying an army, so numerous and so well equipped, the more necessary was it to inspire them with new confidence. The Lord, therefore, appears to his servant Joshua, and promises the same success as he had previously given him on several occasions. It is to be carefully observed, that as often as he reiterates his promises men are reminded of their forgetfulness, or their sloth, or their fickleness. For unless new nourishment is every now and then given to faith, they forthwith faint and fall away. And yet such is our perverse fastidiousness, that to hear the same thing twice is usually felt to be irksome. Wherefore let us learn, as often as we are called to engage in new contests, to recall the remembrance of the divine promises, which may correct our languor, or rouse us from our sloth. And especially let us make an application of that which is here said in general, to our daily practice; as the Lord now intimates, that that which he had declared concerning all nations would be specially sure and stable on the present occasion.

We infer from the account of the time employed, that these kings had marched a considerable distance, in order to attack Joshua and the people in Gilgal. For immediately after the divine intimation, mention is made of the expedition used by Joshua. He is promised the victory on the following day. Hence they were not far distant. And the lake of Merom, where they had pitched their camp, is contiguous to the Jordan, and much nearer to Gilgal than Gennesaret, from which district some of the enemy had come. It is said that this lake diminishes or increases according to the freezing of the snow on the mountains, or to its melting. Moreover, the command given to Joshua and the people, to cut the legs or thighs of the horses, and to burn the chariots, was undoubtedly intended to prevent them from adopting those more studied modes of warfare which were in use among profane nations. It was indeed necessary that they should serve as soldiers, and fight strenuously with the enemy, but still they were to depend only on the Lord, to consider themselves strong only in his might, and to recline on him alone.

This could scarcely have been the case, if they had been provided with cavalry, and an array of chariots. For we know how such showy equipment dazzles the eye, and intoxicates the mind with overweening confidence. Moreover, a law had been enacted, (Deuteronomy 17:16) that their kings were not to provide themselves with horses and chariots, obviously because they would have been extremely apt to ascribe to their own military discipline that which God claimed for himself. Hence the common saying, (Psalm 20:7)

|Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.|

God wished to deprive them of all stimulants to audacity, in order that they might live quietly contented with their own limits, and not unjustly attack their neighbors. And experience showed, that when a bad ambition had impelled their kings to buy horses, they engaged in wars not less rashly than unsuccessfully. It was necessary, therefore, to render the horses useless for war, by cutting their sinews, and to destroy the chariots, in order that the Israelites might not become accustomed to the practices of the heathen.

8. And the Lord delivered them, etc The greatness of the overthrow may be inferred from this, that the slaughter continued as far as Sidon, which was far distant from the lake of Merom. Sidon is called great, from its celebrity as a commercial emporium and the great number of its inhabitants. There is no comparison instituted between it and a minor town of same name. The Hebrew noun Mozerephoth, which some retain without change as a proper name, we have preferred to translate |the boiling of the waters,| because it is probable that there were thermal springs there, which boiled. Moreover, as the panic which hurried them away into such a scattered flight, plainly shows that they were driven headlong by the secret terror of the Lord. So it is certain that the Israelites who dared to follow the fugitives through so many dangers were carried to a higher pitch of valor than human by celestial agency.

Praise is bestowed on Joshua as well for his abstinence as for his prompt obedience. Nor would he have submitted so willingly to the loss of so many horses and chariots, had not the fear of God overawed him. For such is our ingenuity in devising pretexts, it would have been plausible to allege, that though he could not fit them for military use, still their value was by no means to be despised. But he thought that he had no right to take anything into consideration but the pleasure of God. Then, as he had succeeded by his own good conduct, in making the people willing and obedient, he, as an individual, justly received the praise of what had been performed generally by all.

12. And all the cities of those kings, etc Having routed the army, they began to plunder and lay waste the country, and to take and demolish the towns. From its being said that the cities which remained entire were not burned, it may be inferred with some probability, that some were taken by force and assault, and so razed. Hazor, alone, after the siege was over, and the heat of the struggle had cooled, was destroyed by fire, because it had held forth the torch which enkindled the war. But in accordance with the explanation already given, it is repeatedly and more clearly stated in this passage, that Joshua did not give loose reins to his passion, when he slew all from the least to the greatest. For there is now a distinct statement of what had not yet been expressed, namely, that Joshua faithfully performed his part, by fulfilling everything which the Lord had enjoined by Moses. It is just as if he had placed his hands at the disposal of God, when he destroyed those nations according to his command. And so ought we to hold that, though the whole world should condemn us, it is sufficient to free us from all blame, that we have the authority of God. Meanwhile, it becomes us prudently to consider what each man's vocation requires, lest any one, by giving license to his zeal, as wishing to imitate Joshua, may be judged cruel and sanguinary, rather than a strict servant of God.

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