Joshua 11:8, 9: Joshua’s Victory over the Confederacy

Verse 8:[1] And the LORD delivered them into the hand of Israel, who smote them, and chased them unto great Zidon (or, Zidon-rabbah[2]), and unto (Josh. 13:6) Misrephoth-maim (or, salt pits; Heb. burnings[3]), and unto the valley of Mizpeh eastward; and they smote them, until they left them none remaining.

[Unto great Zidon] Not that there was another, lesser Zidon, but because it was famous, both for the industry of craftsmen, and for the convenience of the port (Lapide out of Masius). It appears that it was formerly the capital city of Phœnicia (Lapide); and it was more ancient than Tyre, as Strabo, Geography 16, and Justinus, Philippic History[4] 18, testify. And, in Isaiah 23:12, Tyre is called the daughter of Zidon (Bonfrerius). And Homer, who often extols Zidon,[5] does not even mention Tyre. It had its name from Sidon, son of Canaan;[6] or from the abundance of fish, as Justinus maintains.[7] Those nations call a Fisherman ציד/Said. And the city today is called Said by the common people (Masius).

Zidon, a great and famous city in the northwest part of Canaan, and upon the sea.

[And the waters of Misrephoth, מִשְׂרְפ֣וֹת מַ֔יִם][8]] [They render it variously. To some it is a proper name, either the whole, or in part.] Μασφερὼθ-μαεὶμ/Maspheroth-maim (the Septuagint in Masius). Misrephoth of the waters (Aquila, Pagnine). Misrephoth on the sea; he was reading מִיָּם, on the sea (Symmachu in Masius). The Chaldean: ditches, or pools, of waters, as it is my manuscript of the Complutensian codex; or, ditches of the sea. Following this, the Jews do not hesitate to write that there were pools there near the sea, into which having been drawn, the briny water was drying up by the heat of the Sun into salt (Masius). Unto the salt-pans (certain interpreters in Vatablus, Lyra). Others: the places of burning (the combustions, or burnings [Munster, Vatablus], heatings [Tigurinus], fires [Castalio]) of waters (Masius). It is able to be taken either actively, in the place of waters kindling, or passively, in the place of waters kindled (Bonfrerius out of Serarius). To the place of hot water (Arabic). In which hot waters were bubbling up (Hebrews in Vatablus); which sort belong to Aquisgrana for baths[9] (Lapide). Unto the furnaces, or workshops, of glass (Masius, Junius and Tremellius, Serarius), with which that region abounds, with material taken out of the Belus River[10] (Junius, Masius). Perhaps in that place also the sands for making glass were dug up: But sand, so that it might be able to be fashioned into glass, must be boiled with contiuous fire, as we saw (Masius). Question: Why then is it called the burnings of waters? Responses: Either, 1. because the sands were believed to have sprung in a certain way from the waters of the marsh, as we shall say on Joshua 19:11 (Bonfrerius). Or, 2. It is Catachresis;[11] as when we call what is in fact a clepsammium/sand-glass a clepsydra/water-clock (Serarius). Moreover, Zidon and the waters of Misrephoth do not appear to indicate two diverse boundaries, but these waters appear to be set as the borders of the Zidonians toward Zidon. See on Joshua 13:6 (Bonfrerius).

Misrephoth-maim, a place not far from Zidon, supposed to be so called from the salt or glass which they made there.

[And the field of Mizpeh[12]] Or, the valley of Mizpeh (Masius, Junius and Tremellius, Drusius). In verse 17, that is called the valley of Lebanus. Recently we saw that Mizpeh was located at the foot of Hermon[13] (Masius).

[Which is toward the eastern part of that] Of that, that is, in comparison with the place in which the battle was fought; with respect to which also Zidon was on the West. Thus it signifies that they fled this way and that (Bonfrerius).

The valley of Mizpeh, under Mount Hermon, as appears by comparing this with verses 3, 17, where it seems to be called the valley of Lebanon. This lay on the east, as Zidon did on the west; and so it seems they fled several ways, and the Israelites also divided themselves into two bodies, one pursuing east, and the other west.


Verse 9:[14] And Joshua did unto them (Josh. 11:6) as the LORD bade him: he houghed their horses, and burnt their chariots with fire.

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּתְּנֵ֙ם יְהוָ֥ה בְּיַֽד־יִשְׂרָאֵל֮ וַיַּכּוּם֒ וַֽיִּרְדְּפ֞וּם עַד־צִיד֣וֹן רַבָּ֗ה וְעַד֙ מִשְׂרְפ֣וֹת מַ֔יִם וְעַד־בִּקְעַ֥ת מִצְפֶּ֖ה מִזְרָ֑חָה וַיַּכֻּ֕ם עַד־בִּלְתִּ֥י הִשְׁאִֽיר־לָהֶ֖ם שָׂרִֽיד׃

[2] Hebrew: צִיד֣וֹן רַבָּ֗ה.

[3] Hebrew: מִשְׂרְפ֣וֹת מַ֔יִם.

[4] Junianus Justinus was a Roman historian of the third century.  He composed an Epitome of the forty-four volume Philippic History of Cnænus Pompeius Trogus (a late first century BC-early first century AD Roman historian).

[5] For example, Iliad 6:290, 291; 23:743, 744; Odyssey 15:118.

[6] See Genesis 10:15.

[7] Epitome 18:3.

[8] מִשְׂרְפוֹת may be related to שָׂרַף, to burn.

[9] Aquisgrana was a city in western Germany, long famous for its springs and mineral baths.

[10] The Na’aman River in north-western Israel was known as the Belus to ancient writers.

[11] That is, a semantic misuse.

[12] Hebrew: וְעַד־בִּקְעַ֥ת מִצְפֶּ֖ה.

[13] See on verse 3.

[14] Hebrew: וַיַּ֤עַשׂ לָהֶם֙ יְהוֹשֻׁ֔עַ כַּאֲשֶׁ֥ר אָֽמַר־ל֖וֹ יְהוָ֑ה אֶת־סוּסֵיהֶ֣ם עִקֵּ֔ר וְאֶת־מַרְכְּבֹתֵיהֶ֖ם שָׂרַ֥ף בָּאֵֽשׁ׃

2 thoughts on “Joshua 11:8, 9: Joshua’s Victory over the Confederacy

  1. Jonathan Edwards, “Notes on Scripture”: “‘And the Lord delivered them into the hand of Israel, who smote them, and chased them even unto great Zidon.’ Bedford, in his Scripture Chronology, p. 195, and 493, supposes that great numbers of them made their escape from thence, and from neighbouring seaports, by shipping, to all the shores which lay round the Mediterranean and Aegean seas, and even to other parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa, of which, says he, the learned Bochart hath given us a large account, in his incomparable Canaan, and particularly shown that the names of most places are of Phoenician or Hebrew extraction. About this time they set up their two pillars at Tangier, with this inscription in the Phoenician language, ‘We are they who fled from the face of Joshua the robber, the son of Nun.’ About this time they built the city of Carthage, which at first they called Carthada, which in the Chaldee and Syriac languages signifies The New City. This building of Carthage, says he, p. 195, not only appears from the common consent of all historians, but also from the remains of the Carthaginian language, which we have in Plautus, where he brings in a youth from thence, speaking in such a manner that many learned men have proved it to be the Hebrew, or language of Canaan, and the Carthaginians are frequently called Phoenicians and Tyrians, because they came from this country. Being thus used to sailing and merchandise, they soon carried on a larger trade, and settled other colonies near Gibraltar, both in Europe and Africa. The learned Bochart thus tells us, that these expeditions were computed to be in the times of the heroes. And Bedford says, p. 493, that hence the story of Dido and Eneas, as mentioned in Virgil, must be false and groundless. Neither is it probable, says he, that the widow of a priest flying the country unknown to the king, could carry with her so great a number of men to a new colony, as should undertake to build so great a city. So she brought not inhabitants there, but found them there, and did not so properly build, as repair and enlarge, the town to which she came. She built the tower which was called Bozrah, or A Fort, in Hebrew, and from thence called Byrsa, or A Hide, in Greek, and so occasioned the fabulous story that Dido bought the place to build the city on with little bits of leather marked, which was anciently used instead of money. But others tell us that when she arrived on the coast of Africa she was forbidden to tarry there by Hiarbas, king of the country, lest she, with her company, might seize on a great part of his dominion, and therefore she craftily desired of him only to buy so much ground as might be compassed with an ox hide; which, when she had obtained, she cut it into small thongs, and therewith compassed two and twenty furlongs, on which she built the city afterward named Carthage, and called the castle Byrsa, or Hide. All this we owe to the fertile invention of the Greeks, to make every thing derived from them: whereas Dido, coming from Tyre, knew nothing of that language; and besides, the old Carthaginian language was the Phoenician or Hebrew, as appears by the old remains thereof, which we have in Plautus’s Pœanulus.

    It looks exceedingly probable, that when Joshua had smitten the vast army of Hazor, and the kings that were with him, and chased them into Zidon, that all that could, would flee by ship; for that was a great seaport, and therefore they had opportunity to escape this way, and they had enough to terrify them to it, for they had heard how Jehovah, the God of Israel, with a strong hand had brought off the people from Egypt, and had divided the Red sea, and drowned the Egyptians there, and fear and dread had fallen upon them, and their hearts had melted at the news, Exodus 15:14-16. And they had heard how that God was among the people in the wilderness, and how he was seen face to face, and how that his cloud stood over them, and how he went before them in a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night, Numbers 14:14. And their dread and astonishment was renewed by hearing how they had destroyed Sihon, king of the Amorites, and Og, the king of Bashan; they had trembled, and anguish had taken hold on them, at the news, Deuteronomy 2:25. As Rahab told the spies that terror was fallen upon them, and all the inhabitants of the land did faint, and even melt, neither was there any more courage left in any man because of them, Joshua 2:9-11. God did as he promised. Exodus 23:27, ‘I will send my fear before thee, and I will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee.’ Their terror was greatly increased by God’s drying up the Jordan, Joshua 5:1, and then causing the walls of Jericho to fall down flat, and after that his causing the sun to stand still, and so miraculously destroying the five kings of the Amorites in a storm of thunder, and lightning, and hail, and their utterly destroying their cities in all the southern parts of Canaan, and they had heard how that Joshua was positively commanded to smite them, and utterly destroy them, and make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them, and how that Joshua had given no quarters to their neighbours. And now when the king and people in all the northern parts of Canaan had gathered together such a vast strength of people, as the sands upon the seashore, with innumerable horses and chariots, as Joshua 11:4. And yet they were suddenly vanquished. Joshua was still pursuing with a design utterly to destroy them according to his order, and had pursued them even to great Zidon. When they therefore came there, they must needs be in the utmost consternation, and if there were any ships there it could be no otherwise, but that all that could fled in them; and that they would not trust to the walls of Zidon, for they did not know but they would fall down flat, as the walls of Jericho had done; and that not only multitudes should be slain, but many of them driven away to the ends of the earth, agrees best with the expression so often used of God’s driving them out before the children of Israel.

    And besides there could be no room for such multitudes in Zidon, and a few neighbouring cities; for they, with those that Joshua had slain of them, had before filled all the land of Canaan, north of the tribe of Ephraim, even to mount Hermon, and to Zidon, and they were under a necessity to seek new seats abroad where they could find them.”

  2. Matthew Henry: “His obedience to the orders given him, in destroying the horses and chariots (Joshua 11:9), which was an instance, 1. Of his subjection to the divine will, as one under authority, that must do as he is bidden. 2. Of his self-denial, and crossing his own genius and inclination in compliance with God’s command. 3. Of his confidence in the power of God engaged for Israel, which enabled them to despise the chariots and horses which others trusted in, Psalm 20:7; 33:17. 4. Of his care to keep up in the people the like confidence in God, by taking that from them which they would be tempted to trust too much to. This was cutting of a right hand.”

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