Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Jabin, “the intelligent,” was perhaps the common name of the kings of Asor, the most powerful city in the northern parts of the country, (ver. 10.; Calmet) not far from the Cęsarea, (Menochius) which was built by Philip, where Lais stood before. (Haydock) — Josue burnt Asor to the ground; but it was rebuilt by the Chanaanites, and a powerful king reigned here, and subjugated the Israelites, about 130 years after the death of Josue, Judges iv. 1. (Calmet) — Being the most interested in this warfare, Jabin assembled all the petty kings of the country as far as Dor, to resist the common enemy. (Haydock) — He was the generalissimo, (Grotius) and went to stop the progress of Josue, who had conquered the southern parts, and was making ready to march against the north.
Ver. 2. Ceneroth, or having the lake Genesareth on the south. They city of Cineroth, or of Tiberias, was situated on the southern borders of the lake. (St. Jerome) — Side. Dor lay on the Mediterranean, the last of the cities of Phœnicia. All below was in a manner subdued. The Philistines did not enter into this league, nor were they invited, as they bore a certain antipathy to the people of Chanaan.
Ver. 3. Chanaanite. Some lived near the Jordan, others upon the Mediterranean. — Maspha. Probably where Laban and Jacob had met, Genesis xxxi. 48. Hermon lay to the east of Libanus. (Calmet) — There was another Hermon near the torrent of Cisson. (Menochius)
Ver. 4. Shore. The Scripture sometimes uses an hyperbole, as well as the other figures of speech. (St. Augustine, City of God xvi. 21.) Josephus says they had 300,000 foot, 10,000 horse, and 20,000 chariots. These were frequently armed with scythes. The ancient heroes often fought on chariots of a different kind. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. Merom, or the lake of Semechon, according to most interpreters; though it is more probable, that the confederates would advance to meet Josue near the lake of Cisson, to the important pass 12 miles north of Samaria, in the canton of Meron, or Merone, Judges iv. 10., and v. 18. This place was famous for the victory of Barac, and for the defeat of king Josias.
Ver. 6. Hamstring their horses, &c. God so ordained, that his people might not trust in chariots and horses, but in him. (Challoner) — He mentions the very time, when the victory will be obtained, to inspire the Israelites with greater confidence. Josue had proceeded from Galgal to Meron, about 90 miles; or if he had to go to the Semonite lake, 120 miles. Josephus says he had marched five days.
Ver. 8. Thereof. Josue divided his forces, and sent some to pursue the fugitives to Sidon and Sarepta, and others he dispatched to the east side of the Jordan. — Sihon was famous for its commerce, and for its glass works. (Pliny, [Natural History?] v. 19.)
Ver. 10. King. Jabin had thrown himself into the city, or perhaps a new king had been appointed, according to the custom of Persia, &c., when the former went to battle. Hence we find so many kings of Israel were chosen very young and while their fathers were living.
Ver. 12. Him. (Deuteronomy vii. 22.) All the Chanaanites in arms, are ordered to be slain. (Calmet) — Josue took the greatest part of the strong cities, and indeed all which he attacked. (Menochius)
Ver. 13. Fire. Several towns built on eminences, were reserved to keep the country in subjection. But it was thought proper to destroy Asor. Hebrew may be, “He burnt not the towns which remained standing, with their fortifications,” &c., or such as had opened their gates to the Israelites. (Chaldean; Septuagint; &c.)
Ver. 14. Spoil, excepting what was found on the idols, which was burnt, Deuteronomy vii. 25. (Calmet)
Ver. 15. Moses. It is not to be doubted but that the lawgiver would communicate many instructions, by word of mouth, to his successor. He would also tell him, in general, to observe whatever laws had been given to regulate the conduct of the leader, (Calmet) as they were given not only to Moses, but to all who should afterwards occupy his post. (Haydock)
Ver. 16. So. Here follows a recapitulation of the victories of Josue. — Israel, or of Ephraim, which was the chief tribe of the kingdom of Israel: after the commencement of which, this seems to have been inserted; (Calmet) or having designated the southern parts by the name of Juda, (ver. 21,) the more northern countries are called the mountain of Israel, which refers particularly to Samaria, or Bethel, which might receive the appellation of Israel, among his descendants, from the vision of the ladder, with which that patriarch was favoured. (Haydock)
Ver. 17. And part. Hebrew, “from Mount Halak, (Haydock; or the bald mountain, destitute of wood) going up to Seir, (which is very shady; that is, from the southern parts of Chanaan, by Seir) as far as Baalgad,” on the east side of the Jordan, perhaps unto Cœlosyria. (Calmet)
Ver. 18. A long time. Seven years, as appears from chap. xiv. 10., (Challoner) where Caleb informs us that he was 85 years old. He was 40 when he went to explore the country, and 38 years were spent in the wilderness. God was pleased to allow the Chanaanites time to repent, and he would not render the country desolate all at once, lest wild beasts should overrun it, Exodus xxiii. 19., and Wisdom xii. 10. (Calmet)
Ver. 20. Hardened. This hardening of their hearts, was their having no thought of yielding or submitting: which was a sentence or judgment of God upon them, in punishment of their enormous crimes. (Challoner) — God might indeed by his all-powerful grace have changed their hearts, but their crimes caused him to withhold that grace; and thus they were suffered to shut their eyes to their true interest. (Calmet) — They alone therefore were the cause of their own obduracy, which God only did not prevent, Exodus vii. (Worthington)
Ver. 21. Time. Among his other conquests, after the victory of Gabaon, Josue defeated the Enacim at Hebron, &c. Many of them fled into the country of the Philistines, and afterwards seized an opportunity of re-establishing themselves, so that Caleb had to drive them out afresh, chap. xv. 14. — Cities, or inhabitants. We have seen that he did not demolish all the cities, which were built on a commanding situation, ver. 13. — Enacim. Goliah is supposed to have been of this family, being six cubits and a span high, 1 Kings xvii. 4. (Calmet) — The Phœnicians probably took their name from Enak, bene anak, “sons of Enak;” whence Phœnix might easily be formed. (Bochart) — Carthage was founded by them, and styled Chadre-Anak, “the dwelling of Anak,” (Plautus) as they chose to pass for descendants of that giant, though they were not in reality. Anak means “a chain;” and some have asserted that he wore one, as the kings of the Madianites did when they were vanquished by Gedeon, and the Torquati at Rome, as a mark of honour. But this is uncertain. (Calmet)
Ver. 22. Gaza, the most southern city of the Philistines, was afterwards taken by the tribe of Juda, but lost again in a short time. It was particularly addicted to the worship of Jupiter, Marnas, or “the Lord.” — Geth was probably taken by David, who found a refuge with its king, 1 Kings xxi. After the reign of Solomon, it returned to its former masters. — Azotus, or as the Hebrew writes, Asdod, on the Mediterranean, was noted for the temple of Dagon, (1 Kings v. 1,) which Jonathas destroyed. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] xxii. 8.) (Calmet) — Wars, of a general nature. The different tribes had only to take some cities, chap. xv. 1. (Worthington)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The kings of the north are overthrown: the whole country is taken.
1 And when Jabin king of Asor had heard these things, he sent to Jobab, king of Madon, and to the king of Semeron, and to the king of Achsaph:
2 And to the kings of the north, that dwelt in the mountains and in the plains over-against the south side of Ceneroth, and in the levels and the countries of Dor by the sea side :
3 To the Chanaanites also, on the east and on the west, and the Amorrhite, and the Hethite, and the Pherezite, and the Jebusite, in the mountains: to the Hevite also who dwelt at the foot of Hermon, in the land of Maspha.
4 And they all came out with their troops, a people exceeding numerous as the sand that is on the sea-shore, their horses also and chariots, a very great multitude.
5 And all these kings assembled together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel.
6 And the Lord said to Josue: Fear them not: for to-morrow at this same hour I will deliver all these to be slain in the sight of Israel: thou shalt hamstring their horses, and thou shalt burn their chariots with fire.
7 And Josue came, and all the army with him, against them, to the waters of Merom, on a sudden, and fell upon them,
8 And the Lord delivered them into the hands of Israel. And they defeated them, and chased them as far as the great Sidon, and the waters of Maserephoth, and the field of Masphe, which is on the east side thereof. He slew them all, so as to leave no remains of them:
9 And he did as the Lord had commanded him, he hamstringed their horses, and burnt their chariots.
10 And presently turning back, he took Asor, and slew the king thereof with the sword. Now Asor, of old, was the head of all these kingdoms.
11 And he cut off all the souls that abode there: he left not in it any remains, but utterly destroyed all, and burned the city itself with fire.
12 And he took and put to the sword and destroyed all the cities round about, and their kings, *as Moses, the servant of God, had commanded him:
13 Except the cities that were on hills and high places, the rest Israel burnt: only Asor, that was very strong, he consumed with fire.
14 And the children of Israel divided among themselves all the spoil of these cities, and the cattle, killing all the men.
15 *As the Lord had commanded Moses, his servant, so did Moses command Josue, and he accomplished all: he left not one thing undone, of all the commandments which the Lord had commanded Moses.
16 So Josue took all the country of the hills, and of the south, and the land of Gosen, and the plains, and the west country, and the mountain of Israel, and the plains thereof:
17 And part of the mountain that goeth up to Seir, as far as Baalgad, by the plain of Libanus, under Mount Hermon: all their kings he took, smote, and slew.
18 Josue made war a long time against these kings.
19 There was not a city that delivered itself to the children of Israel, except the Hevite, who dwelt in Gabaon: for he took all by fight.
20 For it was the sentence of the Lord, that their hearts should be hardened, and they should fight against Israel, and fall, and should not deserve any clemency, and should be destroyed, as the Lord had commanded Moses.
21 At that time Josue came, and cut off the Enacims from the mountains, from Hebron, and Dabir, and Anab, and from all the mountain of Juda and Israel, and destroyed their cities;
22 He left not any of the stock of the Enacims, in the land of the children of Israel: except the cities of Gaza, and Geth, and Azotus, in which alone they were left.
23 So Josue took all the land, as the Lord spoke to Moses, and delivered it in possession to the children of Israel, according to their divisions and tribes.* And the land rested from wars.
12: Deuteronomy vii. 1.
15: Exodus xxxiv. 11.; Deuteronomy vii. 1.
23: Josue xiv. 15.