Joshua 11:6: God Encourages Joshua to Engage the Confederacy of Kings

Verse 6:[1] And the LORD said unto Joshua, (Josh. 10:8) Be not afraid because of them: for to morrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel: thou shalt (2 Sam. 8:4) hough their horses, and burn their chariots with fire.

[Be not afraid] It appears that Joshua was afraid; this is not strange: for cavalry and chariots armed with scythes were for good reason terrifying to infantry, especially unprotected infantry. This ought to suggest to us just how little firm confidence we all have in God, unless His continual answers prop us up (Masius).

[For tomorrow at this very hour (thus the Septuagint), כִּֽי־מָחָ֞ר כָּעֵ֣ת הַזֹּ֗את] Tomorrow close to, or about, this time (Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Montanus, similarly Junius and Tremellius, Jonathan), at the like time (Arabic). When God interposes the delay of only one day to fight and to conquer, hence it appears to be gathered that the place where the Kings had assembled to fight with Israel was not far from the camp of the Israelites. But it could easily be responded that that to fight, etc., is to be taken of their counsels for the management of the war; but that God said this to Joshua, not with the camp at Gilgal, but with the enemy even then having already advanced far in the way. And thus Josephus thinks, who writes that Joshua came upon the enemy at last on the fifth day from Gilgal.[2] But he does not relate enough to make a determination (Masius).

[I] There is great force in this pronoun: that is to say, There is no reason why thou oughtest to weigh the burden of the imminent war with thy strength: I will provide for that matter, etc. (Masius).

[I will deliver] Hebrew: giving[3] (Malvenda); or, I render. The verb of the present tense places the very matter in the sight of the Commander-in-Chief, as if it were in his hands (Masius).

[Those to be wounded, חֲלָלִים[4]] Pierced (Syriac, Junius and Tremellius); striken down (Arabic); wounded (Tigurinus, Drusius), that is, dead from wounds. From that which precedes, that which follows. But the sense requires slain (thus Munster, Pagnine, Montanus, Masius, the Chaldean and Symmachus in Masius).

[And thou shalt hamstring the horses (thus Pagnine, Montanus, Septuagint, Jonathan), or, thou shalt cut the sinews (Vatablus, Drusius), תְּעַקֵּר] Thou shalt cut from below (Munster); thou shalt cut the sinews (Tigurinus), that is, of the shanks and of the hooves (Menochius, Bonfrerius). Thou shalt cut from below their hocks (Arabic, Junius and Tremellius, Lapide, Vatablus). עִקֵּר signifies to remove the foundation, or root (Masius). It signifies to pluck up and to root out, Ecclesiastes 3:2;[5] Daniel 7:8[6] (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals). Now, the feet of horses are their foundation and root, otherwise than in man (who is an inverted tree, and has his roots above): for this reason the cutting of the shanks of a beast is called a rooting out, as if it were a plucking out of a plant by its root. Thus Kimchi in Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals. What if עָקַר by metathesis[7] is used in the place of ערק, which denotes a sinew? then it is properly to hamstring (Bochart’s A Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:2:11:178). God willed this, lest afterwards they might make use of them in war, and put confidence in them (Vatablus, Estius, Tirinus). Hence also the King was forbidden to multiply horses, Deuteronomy 17:16. For helps of this sort were easily able to lessen the opinion of Divine aid, in which alone is it right completely to put confidence. See Psalm 147:10 (Masius, similarly Bonfrerius, Lapide).

Hough their horses, that is, cut their hamstrings, that they may be unfit for war. For God forbade them to have or keep many horses, Deuteronomy 17:16, now especially, that they might not trust to their horses, as men are apt to do, nor distrust God for want of so necessary a help in battle; nor ascribe the conquest of the land to their own strength, but wholly to God, by whose power alone a company of raw and unexperienced footmen were able to subdue so potent a people, which besides their great numbers, and giants, and walled cities, had the advantage of many thousands of horses and chariots.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֙אמֶר יְהוָ֣ה אֶל־יְהוֹשֻׁעַ֮ אַל־תִּירָ֣א מִפְּנֵיהֶם֒ כִּֽי־מָחָ֞ר כָּעֵ֣ת הַזֹּ֗את אָנֹכִ֞י נֹתֵ֧ן אֶת־כֻּלָּ֛ם חֲלָלִ֖ים לִפְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל אֶת־סוּסֵיהֶ֣ם תְּעַקֵּ֔ר וְאֶת־מַרְכְּבֹתֵיהֶ֖ם תִּשְׂרֹ֥ף בָּאֵֽשׁ׃

[2] Antiquities 5:1:18.

[3] Hebrew: אָנֹכִ֞י נֹתֵ֧ן.

[4] חָלָל, pierced through or fatally wounded, appears to be related to the verbal root חָלַל, to pierce.

[5] Ecclesiastes 3:2:  “A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up (לַעֲקוֹר) that which is planted…”

[6] Daniel 7:8a:  “I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots (אֶתְעֲקַרוּ)…”

[7] That is, a transposition of letters.

1 thought on “Joshua 11:6: God Encourages Joshua to Engage the Confederacy of Kings

  1. Matthew Henry: “The encouragement God gave to Joshua to give them the meeting, even upon the ground of their own choosing (Joshua 11:6): Be not afraid because of them. Joshua was remarkable for his courage—it was his master grace, and yet it seems he had need to be again and again cautioned not to be afraid. Fresh dangers and difficulties make it necessary to fetch in fresh supports and comforts from the word of God, which we have always nigh unto us, to be made use of in every time of need. Those that have God on their side need not be disturbed at the number and power of their enemies; more are those that are with us than those that are against us; those have the hosts of the Lord that have the Lord of hosts engaged for them. For his encouragement, 1. God assures him of success, and fixes the hour: Tomorrow about this time, when an engagement (it is probable) was expected and designed on both sides, I will deliver them up slain. Though they were to be slain by the sword of Israel, yet it is spoken of as God’s work, that he would deliver them up. 2. He appoints him to hough their horses, hamstring them, lame them, and burn their chariots, not only that Israel might not use them hereafter, but that they might not fear them now, their God designing this contempt to be put upon them. Let Israel look upon their chariots but as rotten wood designed for the fire, and their horses of war as disabled things, scarcely good enough for the cart. This encouragement which God here gave to Joshua no doubt he communicated to the people, who perhaps were under some apprehensions of danger from this vast army, notwithstanding the experience they had had of God’s power engaged for them. And the wisdom and goodness of God are to be observed, (1.) In infatuating the counsels of the enemy, that all the kings of Canaan, who were not dispersed at such a distance from each other but that they might have got all together in a body, did not at first confederate against Israel, but were divided in to the southern and northern combination, and so became the less formidable. And, (2.) In preparing his people to encounter the greater force, by breaking the less. They first engage with five kings together, and now with many more. God proportions our trials to our strength and our strength to our trials.”

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