Joshua 11:19, 20: Joshua Takes the Entire Land, Part 4

Verse 19:[1] There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save (Josh. 9:3, 7) the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon: all other they took in battle.

[There was not a city, etc.] He gives the reason for the long-lasting war; namely, by force of arms was the matter to be conducted against a most obstinate enemy, and ἄσπονδον/implacable, and full of desperation (Masius).

There was not a city, etc.: To wit, all that were taken by Joshua, were taken by the sword, and therefore it is no wonder that the war was long, when the enemy was so obstinate.

[All he took] Namely, either, those that were mentioned above, or, unto which Joshua approached with arms (Masius out of Augustine).


Verse 20:[2] For (Deut. 2:30; Judg. 14:4; 1 Sam. 2:25; 1 Kings 12:15; Rom. 9:18) 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 favour, but that he might destroy them, (Deut. 20:16, 17) as the LORD commanded Moses.

[It was the decree of the Lord that their hearts might be hardened,מֵאֵ֣ת יְהוָ֣ה׀ הָיְתָ֡ה לְחַזֵּ֣ק אֶת־לִבָּם֩] It was from the Lord to strengthen (or, to harden [Dutch]) their heart (Montanus). [Some refer this to God:] That He, namely, God, might harden (Pagnine), or, make obdurate (Drusius); who hardened, or strengthened (Munster, Tigurinus). He rendered their heart hard (Arabic). [Others refer this to the Canaanites:] That they might make obdurate their heart (Masius); that they were making obdurate their heart, etc. (Junius and Tremellius); so that, with obstinate hearts, they might rush to war, etc. (Castalio); or, so that their hearts might be made obdurate (Drusius, similarly the Syriac). Thus לִקְרֺא in Genesis 4:26 signifies to be called[3] (Drusius). Of itself it is an ambiguous expression, whether God hardened the heart of the Canaanites, or they hardened their own. And certainly either is rightly able to be said, as it is evident from Exodus 9:12, 34; 14:17; Deuteronomy 2:30 (Masius). The doubling of the preposition, from unto God, or, from with God, it was, is not without emphasis, to indicate the great and most secret methods of the Divine Providence to harden and overthrow them (Malvenda). God did not send among them terror as He was able; indeed, He also withdrew much of their prudence (Grotius). The language of heart is put for the mind (Masius).

[And they might fight against Israel, לִקְרַ֙את הַמִּלְחָמָ֤ה אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙[4]] Unto an encounter of war with Israel (Pagnine, Montanus). It is a Hebraism; with war imminent with Israel (Vatablus). To set in order battle with Israel (Jonathan); so that they might rush to war, etc. (Arabic, similarly Junius and Tremellius, Syriac, Septuagint, Munster, Tigurinus).

[And they might not find any mercy, לְבִלְתִּ֥י הֱיוֹת־לָהֶ֖ם תְּחִנָּ֑ה] So that by no means, or not, there might be, or be found, for them grace, or mercy, or compassion (Malvenda, Junius and Tremellius, similarly the Septuagint, Jonathan, Syriac, Arabic, Vatablus). So that they might not pity them (Vatablus). So that they might be completely uprooted by the Israelites without any mercy, by which we are wont to be moved, not towards those opposing, but towards supplicants (Masius).

It was of the Lord, etc.: It was the design of God’s providence not to soften their hearts to a compliance with the Israelites, but to give them up to their own animosity, pride, confidence, and stubbornness; that so both their abominable and incorrigible wickedness might be severely punished and that the Israelites might not be mixed with them, but be entire among themselves in the possession of the land. Compare Deuteronomy 2:30, and for the phrase, Exodus 7:13; 9:12; 14:17.

[1] Hebrew: לֹא־הָיְתָ֣ה עִ֗יר אֲשֶׁ֤ר הִשְׁלִ֙ימָה֙ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל בִּלְתִּ֥י הַחִוִּ֖י יֹשְׁבֵ֣י גִבְע֑וֹן אֶת־הַכֹּ֖ל לָקְח֥וּ בַמִּלְחָמָֽה׃

[2] Hebrew: כִּ֣י מֵאֵ֣ת יְהוָ֣ה׀ הָיְתָ֡ה לְחַזֵּ֣ק אֶת־לִבָּם֩ לִקְרַ֙את הַמִּלְחָמָ֤ה אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ לְמַ֣עַן הַֽחֲרִימָ֔ם לְבִלְתִּ֥י הֱיוֹת־לָהֶ֖ם תְּחִנָּ֑ה כִּ֚י לְמַ֣עַן הַשְׁמִידָ֔ם כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר צִוָּ֥ה יְהוָ֖ה אֶת־מֹשֶֽׁה׃

[3] Genesis 4:26:  “And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos:  then began men to call upon the name of the Lord (לִקְרֹ֖א בְּשֵׁ֥ם יְהוָֽה׃, to be called by the name of the Lord).”  The infinitive is formally active, but may be taken in a passive sense.

[4] קָרָא can signify to meet or encounter, or to call.

2 thoughts on “Joshua 11:19, 20: Joshua Takes the Entire Land, Part 4

  1. Matthew Henry: “The obstinacy of the Canaanites in their opposition to the Israelites. It was strange that though it appeared so manifestly that God fought for Israel, and in every engagement the Canaanites had the worst of it, yet they stood it out to the last; not one city made peace with Israel, but the Gibeonites only, who understood the things that belonged to their peace better than their neighbours, Joshua 11:19. It is intimated that other cities might have made as good terms for themselves, without ragged clothes and clouted shoes, if they would have humbled themselves, but they never so much as desired conditions of peace. We here are told whence this unaccountable infatuation came: It was of the Lord to harden their hearts, Joshua 11:20. As Pharaoh’s heart was hardened by his own pride and wilfulness first, and afterwards by the righteous judgment of God, to his destruction, so were the hearts of these Canaanites. To punish them for all their other follies, God left them to this, to make those their enemies whom they might have made their friends. This was it that ruined them: they came against Israel in battle, and gave the first blow, and therefore might have no favour shown them. Those know not what they do who give the provocation to divine justice, or the authorized instruments of it. Are we stronger than God? Observe here, That hardness of heart is the ruin of sinners. Those that are stupid and secure, and heedless of divine warnings, are already marked for destruction. What hope is there of those concerning whom God has said, Go, make their hearts fat?”

  2. Loraine Boettner, “Doctrine of Predestination”: “That this is the doctrine of the Scriptures is abundantly plain. The sale of Joseph into Egypt by his brothers was a very wicked act; yet we see that it was overruled not only for Joseph’s good but also for the good of the brothers themselves. When it is traced to its source we see that God was the author. It had its exact place in the divine plan. Joseph later said to his brothers, ‘And now be not grieved nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither; for God did send me before you to preserve life. … So now it was not you that sent me hither but God. … And as for you, ye meant evil against me, but God meant it for good,’ Genesis 45:5, 8; 50:20. It is said that God hardened the heart of Pharaoh, Exodus 4:21; 9:12; and the very words which God addressed to Pharaoh were, ‘But in every deed for this cause have I made thee to stand, to show thee my power, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth,’ Exodua 9:16. A nd to Moses God said, ‘And I, behold I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians and they shall go (into the Red Sea) after them; and I will get me honor upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, and upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen,’ Exod 14:17. Shimei cursed David, because Jehovah had said, ‘Curse David’; and when David knew this, he said, ‘Let him alone, and let him curse; for Jehovah hath bidden him,’ 2 Samuel 16:10, 11. And after David had suffered the unjust violence of his enemies he recognized that ‘God hath done all this.’ Of the Canaanites it was said, ‘And it was of Jehovah to harden their hearts, to come against Israel in battle, that He might utterly destroy them, that they might have no favor, and that He might destroy them, as Jehovah commanded Moses,’ Joshua 11:20. Hophni and Phinehas, the two evil sons of Eli, ‘hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because Jehovah was minded to slay them,’ 1 Samuel 2:25.

    Even Satan and the evil spirits are made to carry out the divine purpose. As an instrument of divine vengeance in the punishment of the wicked an evil spirit was openly given the command to go and deceive the prophets of King Ahab: ‘And Jehovah said, Who shall entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-Gilead? And one said on this manner; and another on that manner. And there came forth a spirit, and stood before Jehovah, and said, I will entice him. And Jehovah said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of his prophets. And He said, Thou shalt entice him, and shalt prevail; Go forth and do so. Now therefore (said Micaiah), behold, Jehovah hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets; and Jehovah hath spoken evil concerning thee,’ 1 Kings 22:20-23. Concerning Saul it is written, ‘an evil spirit from Jehovah troubled him,’ 1 Samuel 16:14. ‘And God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem; and the men of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech,’ Judges 9:23. Hence it is from Jehovah that evil spirits proceed to trouble sinners. And it is from him that the evil impulses which arise in the hearts of sinners take this or that specific form, 2 Samuel 24:1.

    In one place we are told that God, in order to punish a rebellious people, moved the heart of David to number them (2 Samuel 24:1, 10); but in another place where this same act is referred to, we are told that it was Satan who instigated David’s pride and caused him to number them (1 Chronicles 21: 1). In this we see that Satan was made the rod of God’s wrath, and that God impels even the hearts of sinful men and demons whithersoever He will. While all adulterous and incestuous intercourse is abominable to God, He sometimes uses even such sins as these to punish other sins, as was the case when He used such acts in Absalom to punish the adultery of David. Before Absalom had committed his sin it was announced to David that this was the form which his punishment was to take: ‘Thus saith Jehovah, Behold I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house; and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbor, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of the sun,’ 2 Samuel 12:11. Hence these acts were not in every way contrary to the will of God.

    In 1 Chronicles 10:4 we read that ‘Saul took a sword and fell upon it.’ This was his own deliberate, sinful act. Yet it executed Divine justice and fulfilled a divine purpose which was revealed years before concerning David; for a little later we read, ‘So Saul died for his transgressions which he committed against Jehovah. … He inquired not of Jehovah; therefore He slew him and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse,’ 1 Chronicles 10:14. There is a sense in which God is said to do what he permits or impels His creatures to do.

    The evil which was threatened against Jerusalem for her apostasy is described as directly sent of God, 2 Kings 22:20. The psalmist recognized that even the hate of their enemies was stirred up by Jehovah to punish a rebellious people, Psalm 105:25. Isaiah recognized that even the apostasy and disobedience of Israel was in the divine plan: ‘O Jehovah, why dost thou make us to err from thy ways, and hardenest our hearts from thy fear?’ Isaiah 63:17. In 1 Chronicles 5:22 we read, ‘There fell many slain, because the war was of Jehovah.’ Rehoboam’s foolish course which caused the disruption of the kingdom was ‘a thing brought about by Jehovah,’ 1 Kings 12:15. All of these things are summed up in that passage of Isaiah, ‘I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil: I am Jehovah that doeth all these things,’ Isaiah 45:7; and again in Amos, ‘Shall evil befall a city and Jehovah hath not done it?’ Amos 3:6.

    When we come to the New Testament we find the same doctrine set forth. We have already shown that the crucifixion of Christ was a part of the divine plan. Though slain by the hands of lawless men who did not understand the importance of the event which they were carrying out, ‘The things which God foreshowed by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He thus fulfilled,’ Acts 3:18. The crucifixion was the cup which the Father had given Him to drink, John 18:11. It was written, ‘I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad,’ Matthew 26:31. When Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, they spoke of ‘His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem,’ Luke 9:31. Concerning His own death Jesus said, ‘The son of man indeed goeth, as it hath been determined; but woe unto that man through whom He is betrayed,’ Luke 22:22; again, ‘Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, The same was made the head of the corner; This was from the Lord, And it is marvelous in our eyes?’ Matthew 21:42; and never did He teach more plainly that the cross was in the divine plan than when in the garden of Gethsemane He said, ‘Not as I will, but as thou wilt,’ Matthew 26:39. Jesus deliberately surrendered Himself to be crucified when He might have called to his defence ‘more than twelve legions of angels,’ had He chosen to have done so, Matthew 26:53. Pilate thought that he had power to crucify Jesus or to release Him as he pleased; but Jesus told him he could have no power against Him at all except it were given him from above, John 19:10, 11.

    It was in the plan of God that Christ should come into the world, that He should suffer, that He should die a violent death, and thus make atonement for His people. Hence God simply permitted sinful men to sinfully lay that burden upon Him, and overruled their acts for His own glory in the redemption of the world. Those who crucified Christ acted in perfect harmony with the freedom of their own sinful natures, and were alone responsible for their sin. On this occasion, as on many others, God has made the wrath of man to praise Him. It would be hard to frame language which would more explicitly set forth the idea that God’s plan extends to all things than is here used by the Scripture writers. Hence the crucifixion on Calvary was not a defeat, but a victory; and the cry, ‘It is finished,’ announced the successful achievement of the work of redemption which had been committed to the Son. That which ‘stands written of Jesus in the Old Testament Scriptures has its certain fulfillment in Him; and that enough stands written of Him there to assure His followers that in the course of His life, and in its, to them, strange and unexpected ending, He was not the prey of chance or the victim of the hatred of men, to the marring of His work or perhaps even the defeat of His mission, but was following step by step, straight to its goal, the predestined pathway marked out for Him in the counsels of eternity, and sufficiently revealed from of old in the Scriptures to enable all who were not “foolish and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken,” to perceive that the Christ must needs have lived just this life and fulfilled just this destiny.’ [Warfield]

    Other events recorded in the New Testament also teach the same lesson. When God cast off the Jews as a people it was not a purposeless destruction, nor in order merely that ‘they might fall’; ‘but that by their fall salvation might come to the Gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy,’ so that they in turn shall also embrace Christianity, Romans 11:11. The blindness of one man is said to have been, not because of his own or his parent’s sin, but in order to give Jesus a chance to display His power and glory in restoring the sight, or, as the writer puts it, ‘that the works of God should be made manifest in him,’ John 9:3. The Old Testament statement that the very purpose which God had in raising up Pharaoh was to show His power and to publish abroad his name is repeated in Romans 9:17. This general teaching is climaxed with Paul’s declaration that ‘To them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to His purpose.’ Romans 8:28.

    No one can rationally deny that God foreordained sin if, as the Scriptures assert, He foreordained the crucifixion of Christ, and these other events to which we have referred. That sinful acts do have their place in the divine plan is repeatedly taught. And if any persons are inclined to take offence at this, let them consider how many times the Scriptures declare the judgments of God to be a ‘great deep.’ Hence those who hastily charge that our doctrine makes God the author of sin, bring that charge not only against us, but against God Himself; for our doctrine is the clearly revealed doctrine of the Scriptures.”

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