For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2000 James Melough

This chapter records some of the events of the final stages of the initial campaign in which the northern part of Canaan was subdued, thus completing Israel’s potential subjugation of the whole land.  Little will be gained from the study of this historical record, however, unless we recognize that every detail is intended to teach us truth relative to our conflict with the Satanic forces opposing our efforts to take possession of that spiritual inheritance procured for us by the Lord’s death.

Since the general area of this conflict was in the north, the first thing we learn is that the spiritual foe represented by this Canaanite coalition is worldly wisdom, for as we have noted in earlier studies, compass directions have spiritual implications: the south represents the realm of faith; the east, departure from God; the west, approach to God; and the north, mere intellectual knowledge, or worldly wisdom, in regard to which Scripture has little good to say, see e.g., 1 Cor 1:17-2:14 and Jas 3:13-18.  The reader is urged to examine these two passages before continuing with this study, for unless we grasp God’s estimate of the world’s wisdom, the teaching of Joshua 11 will lose much of its significance.

With this brief introduction, then, we will begin our verse-by-verse study of the chapter.

11:1.  “And it came to pass, when Jabin he will understand king of Hazor to trumpet: enclosure had heard those things, that he sent to Jobab he will cause crying (shouting) king of Madon strife, and to the king of Shimron a guardian, and to the king of Achshaph I shall be bewitched,”

11:2.  “And to the kings that were on the north of the mountains, and of the plains south of Chinneroth harps, and in the valley, and in the borders of Dor generation: dwelling on the west”

11:3.  “And to the Canaanite a trafficker on the east and on the west, and to the Amorite a sayer, and the Hittite terror, and the Perizzite rustic: squatter, and the Jebusite he will be trodden down in the mountains, and to the Hivite showers of life: livers under Hermon devoted: banned in the land of Mizpeh a watch-tower.”

As the kings of the south (the Biblical realm of faith) banded together in a confederation to oppose Joshua and Israel, so also do the kings of the north (the Biblical realm of mere natural intelligence or understanding) form a confederation for the same purpose, and the first lesson God would have us learn from this is that when Satan fails to keep men from entering the realm of faith, he will then exert every effort to keep them from acquiring spiritual knowledge, and the extent to which he has been successful may be guaged from the abysmal spiritual ignorance that marks not only Christendom, but true believers as well.  Since this confederation represents the activity of Satan in trying to keep believers from acquiring spiritual understanding, it isn’t surprising that its head should be Jabin, meaning he will understand.  Nor is it difficult to see in him a figure of Satan, the source of all opposition to God and His people.  F. W. Grant in The Numerical Bible, p.68, very rightly points out that “Jabin was the Sihon on this side of Jordan,” for we are to remember that Israel’s experiences east of Jordan are designed to teach us truth relative to life in the midst of every-day living, while those on the western side instruct us relative to what pertains more to purely spiritual experience.

His city Hazor, meaning to trumpet: enclosure, reminds us that the realm of the world’s wisdom is an exclusive enclosure which trumpets the superiority of worldly wisdom over faith which it despises, and would seek by every means in its power to eradicate.

The parallel with the activity of Adoni-zedek in chapter 10 is readily apparent, and would teach the lesson that every activity on the part of faith produces a corresponding measure of opposition from Satan.

Jobab means he will cause crying (shouting); and his city, Madon, strife. No better comment on this can be found than that furnished by James 3:13-17, “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge...let him show out of a good conversation (manner of life) his works with meekness of wisdom.  But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.  This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.  For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.  (There are the crying or shouting,  and strife associated with the meanings of Jobab and Madon).  But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”

Jabin’s next two confederates are the king of Shimron a guardian, and the king of Achshaph bewitched.  The absence of the names of the kings of these two cities may be to remind us that the earthly rulers are of little consequence: the real ruler of this world is Satan; kings are but his pawns.  It may be also to focus attention on the cities themselves, in which case we must determine what they represent.  Others, noting the Galatians’ preoccupation with law-keeping, which evoked Paul’s question, “Who hath bewitched you,” (the meaning of Achshaph), have suggested that Shimron (a guardian) may represent the fact that worldly wisdom is the self-appointed guardian and champion of legalistic morality.  The world’s wisdom condemns or justifies a man on its estimate of his conformity to the moral code devised by that same earthly wisdom.  Grant’s comment in connection with this is worth noting, “The rational spirit is one from which in all time - never, perhaps, more than now - Christians have suffered, and by which they have been deprived of much of the good land God has called them to possess,” (Numerical Bible - Joshua, p.68).

Summoned also by Jabin were “...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.”  The mention of the north continues to emphasize that the lesson of this section has to do with earthly wisdom in opposition to faith; and since the mountain represents both a king and/or kingdom, and also the place where the believer, lifted in spirit above the things of earth, enjoys communion with God -  the warning is that earthly wisdom will seek to intrude into the sphere of God’s government of His own, as well as into their communion with Him.  Since God governs His own through His Word, the ploy of Satan is to attempt to use worldly wisdom to discredit Scripture; and since communion is maintained by the study of Scripture, Satan will make every effort to keep us from such study.

Chinneroth means harps (symbolic of the praise of the redeemed), so the presence of the enemy in “the plains south (direction of faith) of Chinneroth,” reminds us that the realm of the believer’s worship is also vulnerable to the attack of human wisdom.  In no sphere of Christian activity, in fact, is there to be found clearer evidence of the work of mere worldly wisdom.  In most gatherings of professing Christians it has displaced God’s order to such an extent that what passes for worship is such a departure from the Scriptural pattern as to be totally unrecognizable.

“... and in the valley.”  We have noted already that the valley represents the sphere of labor or service, so that the presence of the enemy in the valley warns us that this is another area of the believer’s life into which mere human wisdom will intrude, and again the state of Christendom attests the success the enemy has achieved in subverting the Divine order.  Scripture knows nothing of committees and organizations to direct the service of Christian workers, the Divine order being that the Holy Spirit alone is the One to assign each man his task, nor has He delegated that authority to any man, not even elders.  We do not read of His working by any other method than through individuals whom He has equipped and called.  But human wisdom has usurped His prerogative, and today essentially all Christian service is directed by committees or organizations.  The enemy has enjoyed virtually total success in controlling “the valley.”

A clue to the spiritual significance of Dor generation: dwelling is furnished in its being “on the west,” for the west speaks of approach to God.  Generation is related to the idea of birth, and believers are they, who having had a new birth, dwell spiritually “in the west.”  They dwell “in the secret place of the Most High” Ps 91:1.  This present section warns that Satan will use worldly wisdom to try to keep the believer out of “the west,” out of that “secret place” of security and peace.  He will try to persuade us that time spent in prayer and study of Scripture would be better employed in the acquisition of secular knowledge.  How successful the attack has been may be measured not only by the widespread neglect of Scripture and prayer, but also by ignorance of how to study and pray.  A plea, never more needed, yet seldom heard today, is that recorded in Lk 11:1, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”  If the disciples needed to be taught how to pray, how much more do believers of this present age need that instruction!  But confidence in mere human wisdom has dispelled both the knowledge of our own ignorance, and of the power of “effective fervent prayer.”  It is apparent that in many a Christian life the enemy has never been expelled from “the borders of Dor on the west.”  Worldly wisdom rules where prayer and Bible study should control the life.

Jabin summoned also “the Canaanite on the east and on the west.”  As we have learned in other studies, the Canaanite trafficker represents one who uses spiritual things for his own aggrandizement.  Since the west represents approach to God; and the east, departure from Him, the presence of the Canaanite in both places tells us that worldly wisdom may make a “Canaanite” out of the believer who is spiritually “in the west,” (i.e., on the narrow way that leads to heaven), as well as of the unbeliever who is spiritually “east” of God (i.e., on the broad way that leads to hell).  There are several ways in which the believer may traffick in spiritual things, e.g., he may study Scripture, not to edify others, but to get glory for himself by displaying his knowledge. The evangelist may become so obsessed by numbers that he becomes more concerned about mere professions than genuine conversions. 

The believer, however, has no monoply on spiritual trafficking.  The pulpits of Christendom are filled with “Canaanites” - men (and women also) who have never been born again, and whose use of the Word is simply to earn a salary.

Since the spiritual significance of the other Canaanites mentioned here has been discussed already in our study of chapter 9:1, we won’t repeat it, except to note that the Jebusite is described as being “in the mountains,” while the Hivites are located “under Hermon in the land of Mizpeh.”  Since the mountain represents a king an/or kingdom, and also the place of separation from the world, the presence of the Jebusite in the mountains declares symbolically that the world’s wisdom will seek to replace the government of God in the believer’s life, and to influence his thinking in regard to the need to live in separation from “this present evil world.”

Since the Hivite, meaning showers of life: livers, represents one who professes to show others how to live so as to enter heaven, we see in him here a picture of the man of the world masquerading as a believer, and attempting the seduction of others by the substitution of man’s wisdom for the Word of God.  His being “under Hermon,” meaning devoted: banned, in the land of Mizpeh a watch-tower reminds us that such a man is under the ban of the Almighty, and is devoted to destruction; for the reference to the watch-tower assures us that God watches over the affairs of believer and unbeliever alike, and in His own good time will recompense each according to his deeds.

11:4.  “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.”

If the universal appeal of worldly wisdom is dramatically depicted in this vast army, the power of that same wisdom is no less dramatically portrayed in “the horses and chariots very many,” for in Scripture, horses are symbolic of strength, e.g., “He (God) delighteth not in the strength of the horse” Ps 147:10.  Israel, however, viewed this massed might of the enemy with the complacent courage that rested on the Divine assurance given through Moses, “When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the Lord thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.... For the Lord your God is He that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you” Dt. 20:1-4.  The believer today, confronted with the might and power of the world’s wisdom, has the same assurance.  Read again 1 Co.1:17 - 2:1-16 where the wisdom of God and the wisdom of the world are set in contrast.

11:5.  “And when all these kings were met together, they came and pitched together at the waters of Merom the lifting up, to fight against Israel.”

11:6.  “And the Lord said unto Joshua, Be not afraid because of them; to tomorrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel: thou shalt hough their horses and burn their chariots with fire.”

This confederation represents the might of the world’s wisdom arrayed against God and His people, and it is interesting to note that the place where they assembled was “at the waters of Merom.”  Those waters flowed copiously out of numerous springs in the vicinity of the town of Merom, uniting to form a stream that flowed into the Sea of Galilee.  But springs and running water are Biblical symbols of the Word of God, so that the spiritual picture presented by the gathering of the enemy at the waters of Merom, is of the world’s wisdom united in opposition to that Word, and for the destruction of God’s people.  The meaning of Merom, however, assures us that obedience to God’s Word always produces the same result: the lifting up of the man who obeys God.

God’s assurance that the morrow would see the enemy slain, comes as encouragement to the believer today who finds himself under the attack of the world’s wisdom.  The “tomorrow” that will end all such conflict isn’t far off.  As the waters of Merom witnessed the battle in which the enemy was utterly destroyed, so will that soon-coming day of the Lord’s return in power and glory see all of God’s enemies destroyed, and His Word and His people vindicated

Since the horses and chariots represent mere natural strength (and in this case, the strength of the world’s wisdom), the command to Joshua to hough (hamstring or destroy) the horses, and burn the chariots, becomes the spiritual instruction to believers to place no confidence in that wisdom.  The Word of God alone is to direct the lives of His people.  

11:7.  “So Joshua came, and all the people of war with him, against them by the waters of Merom suddenly; and they fell upon them.”

There is a valuable practical lesson to be learnt from Israel’s coming against them “suddenly.”  Joshua didn’t wait for the enemy to begin the attack: he took the initiative and attacked them.  The lesson God would teach in this is that the best way to overcome the attack of the world’s wisdom is to attack first by presenting truth before the enemy has an opportunity to present his error.  This is particularly true in regard to the battle for the minds of our children.  Truth implanted in the young minds first, makes it more difficult for the world to implant its false wisdom.  The same principle applies to the church.  New converts should be taught sound doctrine before the enemy has opportunity to teach lies.  There is probably no greater evil in the church today than the substitution of the schemes of worldly wisdom for the truth taught in the Scriptures.  Failure to teach sound doctrine has greatly facilitated the enemy’s work, for it is the untaught believer who falls victim to this ploy of Satan.

11:8.  “And the Lord delivered them into the hand of Israel, who smote them, and chased them unto great Zidon, and unto Misrephoth-maim, and unto the valley of Mizpeh eastward; and they smote them until they left them none remaining.”

11:9.  “And Joshua did unto them as the Lord bade him: he houghed their horses, and burnt their chariots with fire.”

The rout of the enemy was utter: Israel “left them none remaining.”  There can be no dallying with the enemy.  Saul spared an Amalakite, and it was an Amalakite who eventually slew him.  Acceptance of even a little of the world’s wisdom in the spiritual realm soon leads to acceptance of more.  But with God there are no shady areas: with Him everything is either black or white.  We are for Him, or against Him.  His truth may not be mixed with the world’s wisdom.

It is instructive to note also that God’s delivering the enemy into the hand of Israel didn’t exempt His people from the necessity of doing the actual fighting.  The lesson being taught is that all the power of God is at our disposal, but each individual must use that power.  This, like virtually every circumstance of life, is designed to test whether we will be obedient, for God will not bless disobedience.  The principle of blessing is the same for us as for Israel.  They would possess as much of Canaan as they had faith to take; and we will possess as much blessing as we have faith to appropriate.

The three places mentioned in connection with the rout of the enemy have also something to teach us.  Zidon has two meanings a hunting: fishery.  Significantly, it was on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, that sea representing the great sea of unconverted humanity, see Isa 57:20.  Zidon represents the world as the place in which Satan hunts for the souls of men to destroy them; but where believers, as the Lord’s fishermen (Mk 1:17), are to go out with the Gospel and fish for men’s souls so that they might be saved.  It is here in the world represented by Zidon that worldly wisdom aids the cause of Satan, and seeks to frustrate the purposes of God for the salvation of men.  Israel’s chasing the enemy all the way to Zidon tells us that the world’s wisdom has no place in that great work of spiritual fishing.  Neither the Gospel itself, nor the method of its proclamation, is to be mixed with the world’s wisdom.  It is to be preached in fellowship with God, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, the results of that sowing being left with Him.

Misrephoth-maim meaning burnings of waters, in the context of its association with Merom seems to speak of the judgment that will eventually overtake those who live by the world’s wisdom, for as we have noted already the waters of Merom represent the Word of God, and the Lord Himself, speaking of the day of judgment, declared, “And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.  He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” Jn 12:47-48.  That very same Word which is living water to the believer, will be “burnings” for the unbeliever.

While Mizpeh means a watch-tower, and in a good context speaks of the watchfulness of God over His own, the context here is clearly evil, an interpretation reinforced by the word “eastward,” the direction invariably associated with sin and departure from God.  He not only watches over His own, but also over the activity of the unbeliever, and as the work of the believer will have an eternal recompense to be enjoyed in heaven, so will the work of the unbeliever also have an eternal recompense to be endured in the lake of fire.  He who lives by the world’s wisdom makes himself an heir of judgment rather than blessing.

“... and they smote them until they left them none remaining.”  In this extirpation of the enemy we read the symbolic announcement of the truth that the world’s wisdom has no place in the spiritual realm.

11:9.  “And Joshua did unto them as the Lord bade him: he houghed their horses, and burnt their chariots with fire.”

We too will be blessed as we follow Joshua’s example and do all that the Lord commands.  The houghing of the horses and burning of the chariots declare symbolically that the resources of an unbelieving world, and the imagined power of its wisdom, are not to be used by faith.  The obedient believer relies on God, not on the world’s wisdom.  And the frequent references to the sword as the implement of destruction (verses 10-12), tell us that the Word of God (He 4:12) is the instrument by which the world’s wisdom is nullified.

11:10.  “And Joshua at that time turned back, and took Hazor to trumpet: enclosure, and smote the king thereof with the sword:”

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

Prophetically this points to that day of the Lord’s return when the type will be fulfilled and this evil world system, of which Hazor is a type, will be destroyed; and Satan, of whom Jabin is a type, will be cast into the abyss prior to his brief release at the end of the Millennium, following which he will be cast into the eternal torment of the lake of fire.  The world’s wisdom will have no place in the millennial kingdom, nor is it to have any place in the lives of believers today.  The fact that “there was not any left to breathe” warns us that absolutely nothing of the world’s wisdom is to be given a place in our lives, individually or corporately.  The extent to which God’s command has been rejected is disclosed by the extent to which the professing church is governed by the world’s wisdom.

11:12.  “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.”

The emphasis is upon the fact that nothing of the enemy was spared: all the cities, all the kings, were utterly destroyed, and the lesson God would have us learn is that nothing of the world’s wisdom or ways is to have a place in our lives.  And again it is emphasized that the implement of destruction was the sword - symbol of the written Word.  The Word obeyed will give us victory over everything that is represented by the Canaanite cities and kings which Joshua and Israel destroyed.

11:13.  “But as for the cities that stood still in their strength, Israel burned none of them, save Hazor only; that did Joshua burn.”

It may seem strange that any cities were spared, but the explanation is found in other Scriptures.  In Ex 23:29-30 the Lord had said, “I will not drive them (the Canaanites) out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee.  By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land.”  Again in Dt 7:22 Moses declared, “And the Lord thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee.”  But in Judges we read of an additional and  very different reason.  Following the passing of Joshua and his generation, Israel began to rebel against the Lord, so that we read of Him saying, “Ye have not obeyed my voice.... Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you” Jg 2:2-3; and in vv 20-23 we read, “And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel; and he said, Because that this people hath transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto my voice; I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died: that through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the Lord to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not.  Therefore the Lord left those nations, without driving them out hastily; neither delivered he them into the hand of Joshua.”

He Who knows the end from the beginning, and Who knows the wickedness of man’s heart, foreknew what would follow the passing of that first obedient generation, and He acted accordingly.  In connection with the verse we are now considering, the implication seems to be that God had forbidden Israel to destroy any cities other than those whose destruction is recorded.  One of the lessons God would have us learn from this is that every circumstance of life - the seeming good as well as the seeming bad - is like those undestroyed cities: it is sent to test our obedience, and if we learned to view each circumstance as such, it is possible that there might be more in our lives worthy of commendation at the Bema.  How often does seeming adversity cause us to complain; while seeming blessing - riches, for example - causes us to forget God!

11:14.  “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.”

Israel appropriated for their own use only the booty of the captured cities, but nothing of the uncaptured, and in this God would teach us that there are some things of the world which we may use for His glory and our own good.  An education, for example, may enable us to better serve God.  It is due to the work of educated men that the Scriptures have been translated and made available to millions in a multitude of languages.  Doctors, teachers, and many other professionals, have contributed much to the blessing of mankind.  Wealth too may be used for God’s glory, for it is not money in itself that is evil, but rather, the misuse made of it.

The utter extermination of the inhabitants of the captured cities, however, declares in unequivocal language that the natural man has nothing to contribute to the glory of God or the blessing of His people.  1 Cor 7:31, “... and they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away,” indicates that some of the things of the world may be legitimately used by the believer.  The great need is to use them no more than is permitted by God, and to recognize that they have absolutely no place in the spiritual realm.  The danger comes in when the wisdom of the world is allowed to replace the Word of God.

11:15.  “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.”

Moses is a type of Christ leading us out of bondage; and Joshua, of Christ in resurrection, the Captain of our salvation, leading us into the enjoyment of our spiritual inheritance, so that the emphasis here upon the obedience of both, points to the perfect obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ.  When He said, “It is finished,” there was nothing left undone of all that His Father had commanded.  By that death at Calvary all God’s righteous claims were fully met; the price of our redemption fully paid.

As we have noted already, Joshua’s conquest of the land, which was completed with his defeat of the northern confederation, gave Israel potential control of the whole of Canaan, and is a foreshadowing of Christ’s victory at Calvary, which gives the believer potential victory over every foe.  In Israel’s failure to make full use of Joshua’s victory, however, we see foreshadowed our own failure to take full advantage of Christ’s victory at Calvary.

11:16.  “So Joshua took all that land, the hills, and all the south country, and all the land of Goshen, and the valley, and the plain, and the mountain of Israel, and the valley of the same;”

Since each part of the land has a spiritual counterpart, Joshua’s subjugation of them all is meant to teach us that there is no sphere of life in which we may not live victoriously through the Lord’s finished work at Calvary.  Every foe has been placed under our power, so that the enemy can have no more power over us than we permit.  Sadly, we see our failure prewritten in Israel’s later failure to take the remaining cities and towns.

Since a mountain or hill is the Biblical symbol of a king and/or kingdom, and also the symbol of the place where the believer can draw aside from the ordinary business and distractions of the day, to enjoy communion with God through prayer and study of the Word, Joshua’s taking the hills is the symbolic announcement of the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ has given us control over the things represented by the hills.  The things of earth have no more power over us than we are willing to give them.  That being so, there is no excuse for a believer’s failing to reserve time each day for at least an hour of uninterrupted communion with God.

“... and all the south country.”  The south is the Biblical symbol of the realm of faith, so that Joshua’s taking the south country translates into the assurance that apart from our permission the things of the world can’t intrude into the realm of our faith.  We should remember this when we are tempted to doubt the truth of Ro 8:28, “All things (even the seeming adversities) work together for good to them that love God.”  There is no area of our lives, no circumstance in which we may ever find ourselves, where we may not live by faith, as we read in Ga 2:20, “...the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

“...and all the land of Goshen drawing near.”  As noted already this isn’t the Goshen in Egypt, but rather, a region in southern Palestine.  Through the finished work of Christ, the believer may draw near to God at any time, for our great High Priest sits at the Father’s right hand in resurrection glory as our Representative and Intercessor.  Because He abides in the Father’s presence as our Representative, we too are welcomed there.  Through Him we may draw near to God at any time, and in all circumstances. 

“... and the valley.”  The valley represents the sphere of service and fruitbearing, so that Joshua’s taking the valley becomes the assurance to us that whereas we were once the servants of sin, it is now our privilege to serve the living God, and produce fruit for His glory and our own eternal gain, the fruit being in at least two forms: (1) spiritual children begotten through the Gospel, and (2) the fruits of the Spirit as listed in Ga 5:22-23.

“... and the plain.”  The word that is translated “plain” means literally a desert, particularly the (generally) barren Jordan valley.  Since the desert in which Israel wandered for forty years is a picture of what the world is spiritually to the believer, Joshua’s taking the plain, or desert, reminds us that the Lord Jesus Christ has overcome the world, Jn 16:33, “These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world.”

“...and the mountain of Israel,” is literally the mountainous area of the central highlands.  Having regard to the typological significance of “mountain,” Joshua’s capture of this region is the symbolic announcement of the fact that the true Joshua, the Lord Jesus Christ, has vanquished Satan the prince of this world, so that while believers are to obey earthly governors (but not where that obedience requires disobedience of God), and to pray for them, they are not to become involved in the world’s politics, but are to pass through this scene as pilgrims and strangers whose citizenship is in heaven, not on earth, see Php 3:20, “For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” to take us to heaven, and then return with us seven years later to reign, God’s promise being that on that day when Christ reigns, we shall reign with Him, 2 Tim 2:12, “If we suffer (endure), we shall also reign with him.”

“... and the valley of the same.”  Since the valley represents the sphere of service and fruit-bearing, this “valley of Israel” reminds us that the service which it is our privilege to render here on earth, is not that of unwilling slaves, but the joyful service of those who are God’s princes because we are His sons.

11:17.  “Even from the mount Halak, that goeth up to Seir, even unto Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon under mount Hermon: and all their kings he took, and smote them, and slew them."

Halak means smooth; Seir shaggy: hairy: goat-like; Baal-gad, lord of a troop;  Lebanon, whiteness”; and Hermon, devoted: banned.

Halak and Baal-Gad are in the extreme south and north of Palestine respectively, but there are more southerly and northerly points than these, so it is obvious that God had a special purpose in selecting these two.  Since the south is the Scriptural symbol of faith; and the north, of reason or intelligence, the first truth being declared is that the whole of the believer’s life lying between the poles of faith and reason has been placed under his own control as a result of the Lord’s work at Calvary.  We have not only the responsibility, but also the privilege and power to live that life for Christ.  The enemy, whether it be the world, the flesh, or the devil, has no longer any control over us, except what we ourselves may permit.  Christ has overcome the world as Joshua overcame Canaan.  We have the same responsibility as did Israel to make good for ourselves the result of that victory.  We are to live as overcomers.  That we have the power to do so is assured in Php 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengtheneth me.”

There is, however, a further lesson taught in the meaning of the names of these places.  Since a mountain represents a king and/or kingdom, Halak, the “smooth” (bare or barren) mountain in the south, represents the world as God sees it, and as He wants faith to see it.  This world in which a mortally wounded Satan rules only for a little while by God’s permission, is a spiritually barren place.  There is nothing in it for faith.  Connected with its meaning of being bare or barren, however, is also the thought of deceit or flattery, reminding us that this spiritullay barren world is also a place where believers may be deceived and flattered into disobedience of God.  We are never to relax our vigilance towards the world represented by Halak.

In its being described as “the mount Halak that goeth up to Seir,” we learn a further lesson.  Everything about Seir speaks of sin.  It was the territory of the godless Esau, who represents the flesh; and the goat was the animal frequently used for the sin offering.  Every activity of the evil world represented by this barren mountain in the vicinity of Seir is contaminated by sin, and believers may very easily also become contaminated in the course of their journey through it.

The spiritual lesson of the northern border point “Baal-Gad in the valley of Lebanon under mount Hermon,” is also easily read. Satan rules over the multitudes (troops) who are spiritually in the valley (place of service) of Lebanon (whiteness, symbol of righteousness), that is, those who have been deluded into believing that their good works, their righteous deeds, will take them into heaven.  But Baal-Gad is “under mount Hermon” devoted: banned.  All such self-effort is devoted to judgment, it is under the ban of God, for it is synonymous with rejection of the finished work of Christ.

“... and all their kings he took, and smote them, and slew them.”  In the death of all these opposing kings we see in symbol the completeness of Christ’s victory at Calvary.  The power of Satan has been shattered.  Having received his death wound at the cross, the evil prince of this world rules now for a little while by God’s permission; but he has no more power over us than we ourselves accord him.  He might as well be dead.  We therefore ought to live in the light of that knowledge, making good in practice what is ours by divine imputation.

11:18.  “And Joshua made war a long time with all those kings.” 

From Jos 14:7,10 it would appear that this conquest of Canaan under Joshua took seven years (number of perfection).  That period represents not only the Lord’s earthly life during which He also warred against the evil forces of darkness, but it represents also the time of the believer’s earthly experience.  The warfare between the flesh and the Spirit is lifelong, but our encouragement rests in the fact that at the end of that long conflict, Joshua emerged as the victor, his victory being itself a type of the Lord’s, revealed in His resurrection, it being in resurrection that we too will be revealed as the victors.  The Lord’s assurance to His own is recorded in Jn 16:33, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” and again in 1 Jn 4:4, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world,” and again in 1 Jn 5:4-5, “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.  Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God.”

11:19.  “There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon: all other they took in battle.”

This is an OT foreshadowing of the truth declared by the Lord relative to the number saved as compared with those who reject salvation.  In response to the question, “Lord, are there few that be saved?” He replied, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” Lk 13:23-24.

11:20.  “For it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favor, but that he might destroy them, as the Lord commanded Moses.”

It is a wrong interpretation of verse 20 that sees the Canaanites as the hapless victims of God’s having arbitrarily predestinated them to destruction.  With them, as with Pharaoh, the Divine hardening of their hearts was imposed after they themselves had hardened those hearts.  Verses like this are to be interpreted in the light of 2 Pe 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  God has predestinated that unbelievers will be in the lake of fire eternally, and believers in heaven eternally, but He has not predestinated some to be believers, and others unbelievers.  Man is given a choice as to where he will spend eternity.  The time to make that choice, however, remains within the realm of Divine sovereignty.  The Canaanites had exhausted that time.  They had sinned away their day of grace.  The opportunity to repent was gone.  The hardening induced by their continued sinning was now irrevocably fixed by the God Whose patience they had exhausted.  So will it be with all who refuse to be saved in God’s time, as it is written, “My Spirit shall not always strive with man” Ge 6:3; “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” Pr 29:1.

11:21.  “And at that time came Joshua, and cut off the Anakims from the mountains, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the mountains of Judah, and from all the mountains of Israel: Joshua destroyed them utterly with their cities.”

Anakim means neck-chain: long-necked, meanings which indicate that they are to be viewed as the representatives of pride, for in Isa 3:16 we read that the daughters of Zion were, “... haughty, and walk with stretched forth neck.”  A further significance related to their being giants is that pride heads the list of the seven things which God hates, Pr 6:16-17, and it is to be remembered that it was pride that brought about the downfall of Lucifer, and that brought death upon the human race.  We tend to view  murder as the greatest sin, but in God’s sight pride is an “Anakim,” a giant - it heads the list of sins.

It is instructive also that the cities which appear to have been their strongholds were in the territory of Judah which means he shall be praised.  One lesson to be learnt from their extermination from Judah’s territory is that pride and praise (worship) can’t dwell together.

We may learn something also from the meanings of the three cities from which they were cut off.  Hebron means communion.  Where there is pride there can be no communion with God.  Debir meaning an oracle, represents the Word of God.  The destruction of the Anakims in Debir therefore would teach the lesson that pride has no place in the life of the man who would live in obedience to the precepts of Scripture.

Anab means grape-ish: grape-dom, and is related to the idea of fruit-bearing, particularly grapes and the production of wine.  But wine is the Biblical symbol of joy, and it need hardly be stated that spiritual fruitfulness and joy go hand-in-hand, so the lesson beng taught in the extermination of the Anakims from Anab is that  pride and the enjoyment of spiritual things cannot coexist.

11:22.  “There was none of the Anakims left in the land of the children of Israel: only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod,there remained.”

The complete extermination of the Anakims from the “land of the children of Israel” emphasizes the truth that pride is to have no place in the lives of God’s people.  But it is very significant that they remained in the Philistine cities, for the Philistine represents apostasy, and one has but to look at the apostate Israel of Christ’s day, to see the extent to which the Anakim dwelt there; and at equally apostate Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, to see the extent to which the Anakim dwells there also.

In connection with the Philistine as the representative of apostasy, it is instructive to consider that the land which God had given to Israel has come to be named after the Philistines, for Palestine is a derivative of Philistine; and as the Philistines have given their name to the land that belongs to Israel, so has the great false church, apostate Christendom, come to be viewed by men as the true Church.  The survival therefore of the Anakims in the land of the Philistines is the symbolic announcement of the truth that pride dwells in the midst of the great apostate system that has usurped the place of the true Church on the earth today.

The meanings of the names of the cities where they survived confirm that they represent the power and pride of apostate Christendom, for Gaza means she was strong.  No one will deny the power of apostate Christendom as represented by both its Protestant and Roman Catholic forms.  Gath means wine-press, and since wine is the Biblical symbol of joy, this would remind us that the apostate church offers her votaries, not the wine of spiritual joy, but of sensual pleasure.  The meaning of Ashdod I will spoil needs little comment.  The apostate church is the great spoiler, for her influence is such that men refuse the truth and accept instead her false interpretation of Scripture, thereby dooming their own souls.

11:23.  “So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord had said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes.  And the land rested from war.”

This is a virtual repetition of verse 16 which we have seen to be a foreshadowing of Christ’s victory at Calvary.  God never tires of dwelling upon that work that glorified Him, and made it possible for Him to forgive sin on a perfectly just basis.

“... according to all that the Lord said unto Moses.”  As the conquest of the land had been foretold by Moses, Nu 34:2, so was Christ’s great conquest foretold by Moses and all the prophets.  And as Joshua gave the land to Israel for an inheritance, so has Christ given to spiritual Israel, the Church, a greater inheritance.  And as the land rested from war so will the whole earth in a soon-coming day enjoy the rest of Christ’s millennial reign, a rest which is itself a foreshadowing of the eternal rest to be enjoyed by those redeemed as a result of the Lord’s great victory at Calvary.

[Joshua 12]



     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough