Wednesday, September 14, 2011

JOSHUA: Chapter 11

Chapter 11
Summary:When King Jabin of Hazor had heard of these events, he sent word out to King Jobab of Madon; as well as the kings of Shimron, Achshaph, and the kings north of the mountains; the kings of the plains south of Chinneroth; the kings in the valley; the kingdoms that border the west of Dor; the Canaanites to the east and to the west; the Amorites, the Hitites, the Perizzites, and the Jebusites in the mountains; and the Hivites under King Hermon in the land of Mizpeh.

They gathered forces, together with as many people as there are grains of sand upon the seashore, along with multitudes of horses and chariots, and encamped along the waters of Merom to fight against the people of Israel.

God tells Joshua not to fear, stating to him that by this time tomorrow he will deliver them all, slain, over to the people of Israel, and that they are to subsequently cripple their horses by hamstringing them and burn their chariots.

Joshua arrived with his armies by the waters of Merom and attacked his enemies. God delivered them into the hands of the Israelites, who smote them and pursued them toward greater Zidon, to Misrephothmaim, and east toward the valley of Mizpeh. The Israelites continues to smite them until none survived. Joshua then did as God had commanded him - he hamstringed their horses and burnt their chariots.

Joshua then turned back, took the kingdom of Hazor and slew King Jabin*, for the kingdom of Hazor was the leader of the kingdoms that had joined forces against the Israelites. The Israelites slaughtered all of the people in the city at swordpoint, utterly destroying them, sparing none that breathed, and Joshua burnt the city of Hazor with fire.

Joshua took all of the cities belonging to those kings, executed the kings at sword point, and destroyed their cities, just as Moses, God's servant, had commanded. But the Israelites burned none of these cities - except Hazor, which Joshua had burnt. The Israelites looted the spoils of these cities and took the livestock for themselves, but every person was slaughtered by the edge of their swords, until they destroyed them all, leaving none left to breathe.

As God had commanded Moses, so did Moses command Joshua, and so Joshua did, leaving nothing undone that God had commanded Moses.

Joshua took all the land: the hills, all the south country, all the land of Goshen, the valley, the plains, the mountain of Israel and the valley below. From Mount Halak, going up to Seir, to Baalgad in the valley of Lebanon under mount Hermon. All of their kingdoms he took, and their kings he smote and slew them.

Joshua waged war for a long time against those kings, and there was not a city that made peace with the Israelites, except for the Hivites that inhabited the city of Gibeon, all others were defeated in battle. It was God who had hardened their hearts so that they would come against the Israelites in battle, so that he might destroy them utterly without favor, as God had commanded Moses.

At that time Joshua had cut off the Anakims from the mountains, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, from the mountains of Judah, and the mountains of Israel. Joshua had destroyed them completely along with their cities. There we none of the Anakims left in the land seized by the Israelites, and they remained only in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod.

Joshua took the entirety of the land, according to what God had laid out to Moses, and Joshua distributed it as an inheritance unto the Israelites according to their divisions by their tribes. The land then rested from war.
Notes:1.) The slaying of King Jabin by Joshua seemingly appears to contradict Judges 4:24 which depicts the slaying of King Jabin occurring 120 years after Joshua's death. While it's possible that perhaps these could be two distinctly different kings that happened to have coincidentally shared the same name and ruled over the same kingdom, the possibility that the latter king could have been descended from the former seems unlikely due to the following verse of this chapter that reads:
11:11 - "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."
Thoughts:The chapter begins with King Jabin, the king of the city of Hazor, forming a military alliance with the kings of well over a dozen other cities in order to attempt to thwart the impending invasion by the Israelites. While the kingdoms amass a massive army, horses, and chariots camped along the waters of Merom, God reassures Joshua that he has nothing to fear, stating that by the same time the following morning, they will all be slain. He adds after which the Israelites are to "hamstring" the horses and burn the chariots of their enemies

.Joshua arrived with his army in a surprise attack by the waters of Mermom and he chased the enemy forces, smiting them until none were left surviving, burning their chariots, and hamstringing their horses.

After conquering the kingdom of Hazor and executing King Jabin, Joshua slaughtered all of the inhabitants sparing no one, and burnt the city to the ground.

Similarly he conquered the rest of the cities, slaughtered the inhabitants, but did not burn them to the ground. Instead, the Israelites looted the city and took the livestock for themselves, while leaving no survivors.

The chapter makes sure to make note that these conquests were commanded by God to Moses, and in turn Moses had commanded Joshua, and that Joshua had followed these commandments decreed by God to the letter - leaving nothing undone. It's made important to understand that these violent, ghastly, and merciless conquests were not Joshua acting on his own volition, but that he was actually acting precisely upon God's commands. In fact, the bible states that once again God hardened the hearts of the enemy kings to ensure that they would engage the Israelites in battle, and that they wouldn't attempt to flee or make peace with the Israelites like the Gibeonites did, opting for enslavement as an act of self preservation.

This is yet another example that is inconsistent with the claims that the god of the bible is somehow "merciful". There is simply no way you can describe a being with the quality of "merciful" that robs his enemies of free will and provokes them into attacking in order to justify an excessive retribution. Instead it actually becomes more difficult to view the Israelites' enemies as wholly "evil" if God has removed, hampered, or otherwise interfered with their ability to flee, surrender, or subject themselves to enslavement as the Gibeonites had done. In fact, God would share culpability and blame for any "evil" committed by his enemies by preventing them from acting any other way.

The chapter wraps up by stating that Joshua had now taken all of the land he was commanded to, slew their inhabitants as commanded to, and had annihilated the Anakims from the land he took, leaving them only to dwell in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod. After dividing up the conquests of lands amongst the Israelites by their tribes, war had ceased in the land.

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