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[Yehoshua 11 Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)]

A Northern Confederacy Formed

1 And it came to pass, when Jabin king of Hazor [Yavin Melech Chatzor] had heard those things, that he sent to Jobab king [Yovav Melech] of Madon, and to the king of Shimron [Melech], and to the king [Melech] of Achshaph,

Jabin searched far and wide for allies. In taking this initiative, it is probable that he appreciated the extent of the crisis facing the northern Canaanites, more than other leaders in his region. Madon was five miles west of what was later to become the city of Tiberias.Shimron, it has been suggested, was 19 miles west of the southern tip of the Sea of Galilee. Achshaph was situated two miles from the coast, five miles north of Acca.

...With a firm hold upon the centre of the Promised Land, and having summarily defeated the combined forces of the southern Canaanites, it followed that the Israelites would now turn their attention towards conquering the northern part of the land. Again, any action which Joshua may have contemplated was preempted by the aggressive tactics initiated by the Canaanites.

Action eventuated because Joshua's hand was forced. But obviously the Hand of Providence was at work, developing a series of circumstances which would provide Israel with the victory they so clearly needed.

As Adoni-zedek of Jerusalem had been a key figure in the southern debacle, so a similar personality came to the fore in the north. He was Jabin, king of Hazor. His name or title means "the wise". Hazor means "castle". Jabin therefore typifies the "wisdom" of the flesh, belligerently entrenched, prepared to oppose the things of God (cp. 1 Cor. 1:19; 3:19).

Hazor was eight miles north of Capernaum, near Lake Huleh. It was the most powerful fortress-city in upper Galilee - hence, perhaps, the meaning of its name. Again, news had travelled fast. Jabin had "heard those things" concerning the astonishing victories which had brought Israel overwhelming supremacy throughout the southern regions of the land.

Jabin was stunned to learn that virtually all organised opposition against Israel had been crushed, from Jericho to Beth-horon, from the valley of Ajalon to Kadesh-barnea, and from Hebron to Gaza. Israel had swept all before them. *

2 And to the kings [melachim] that were on the north of the mountains [har], and of the plains [Aravah] south of Chinneroth [Kinnarot], and in the valley [Shefelah], and in the borders [ regions ] of Dor on the west,

Dor was on the coast, 15 miles west of Megiddo. *

3 And to the Canaanite [Kena'ani] on the east and on the west, and to the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Jebusite in the mountains [Emori, and the Chitti, and the Perizzi, and the Yevusi in the har], and to the Hivite under Hermon in the land of Mizpeh [Chivi at the base of Chermon in Eretz HaMitzpah].

In other words, the call to arms went out from Hazor to every major city and to every town from which able-bodied men might be rallied to the cause, under the leadership of their respective kings. *

4 And they went out, they and all their hosts [machanot] with them, much people [am rav], even as the sand that is upon the sea shore in multitude, with horses [susim] and chariots very many [rav me'od].

The summons from Jabin went forth to those dwelling in an area of three hundred square miles. From this confederacy, according to Josephus, an awesome army was assembled. There were, claims the historian, 300,000 infantry, 10,000 cavalry and 20,000 chariots. Almost certainly, such an army presented the most formidable opposition the Israelites had encountered. *

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

What would happen to the northern Canaanites? There was only one thing to be done: they must organise their forces and make ready for war. Like Adoni-zedek, Jabin "sent" word to the kings throughout northern Canaan. His intention was to unite all those whom he considered would agree to become confederate with him. This alliance typifies the

coalition of nations which will come from "the uttermost parts of the north" against the Greater Joshua, at Armageddon (Ezek. 38:6, R.V.).

...The impending battle would present a great trial to the faith of Joshua and his men, yet events were to prove that their courage and their faith was more than a match for the armed strength of the Canaanites. The lack of wise organisation among the Canaanites - both in the south and the north - is indicative of the divisive nature of life among these people.

Lacking any pre-arranged cohesion, it would have been extremely difficult to arrange logistics and the marshalling of the armies to the best advantage. Needless to say, such a lack of coordination among the Canaanites gave the Israelites certain invaluable advantages.

It will be observed that in all his major campaigns Joshua struck against the enemy as quickly as possible, before the Canaanites had opportunity to plan effective, clear-cut strategy.*


19 There was not a city [ir] that made peace [terms of shalom] with the children of Israel [Bnei Yisroel], save the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon [Chivi the inhabitants of Giv'on]: all other they took in battle [milchamah].

20 For it was of Yahweh to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel [Yisroel] in battle [milchamah], that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour [techinnah (mercy plea)], but that he might destroy them, as Yahweh commanded Moses [Moshe].

Harden their hearts.

This, however, would not be obviously miraculous. The nations would simply exhibit that disposition of reckless disregard, which is by no means an uncommon spectacle among mankind. There would, nevertheless, be a difference. The common indiscretions of men are due to what they are in themselves, while this would be generated by divine influence operating upon them, as came to pass in the case of Israel themselves afterwards in later ages, when, as Josephus testifies, the Jews seemed to act under a divine fury, impelling them to such wild attitudes and courses towards the Romans, as brought on their complete destruction.

Visible Hand of God

In prosecuting the campaign after the fall of Jericho, Joshua showed a disposition in some instances to treat amicably with the hostile inhabitants. Had they met his advances in a reasonable way, it would probably have resulted that some of them, at least, would have been spared the destruction that came upon them. But this would have been contrary to the divine purpose and intent. It was effectually prevented by God's incitement of the Canaanites to oppose.

Ways of Providence ch 12.