Joshua 24:12, 13: Memorial of God’s Covenant Faithfulness to Israel, Part 5

Verse 12:[1] And (Ex. 23:28; Deut. 7:20) I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but (Ps. 44:3, 6) not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.

[And I sent…hornets, and I drove out (thus Jonathan, similarly the Syriac), וַתְּגָרֶשׁ] And it drove out (Montanus, Vatablus, similarly Drusius); which was driving out (Junius and Tremellius), that is, the Hornets themselves turned them to flight (Vatablus). Concerning these things see what things are on Exodus 23:28 (Bonfrerius). Some understand it metaphorically, of terrors divinely sent (thus Augustine in Serarius, Arabic). But others properly (thus Munster, Masius, Serarius, Lapide, Menochius, Tirinus); as it is plain from the book of Wisdom 12:8-10[2] (Masius, Serarius). Now, since it appears that those things were thus conducted before the coming of the Israelites, it is not at all to be wondered at that they were nowhere set forth in this Record among the other matters conducted, in which only those things done under the leadership of Joshua were exhibited. Now, the conjunction is also wanting here: For plainly it was to be written, which drove them away…and the two kings of the Amorites, as he relates in verse 18 (Masius).

The hornet; either, 1. Figuratively, that is, terrors and plagues, or other destroying judgments. Or, 2. Properly so called. See on Exodus 23:28. And this being done before Joshua’s entrance into Canaan, it is not strange if it be not mentioned in this book or record of Joshua’s actions.

[Not with thy sword, etc.] But these two kings of the Israelites were conquered by the sword, Numbers 21. Responses: 1. They are able to be said to have been overcome by the hornets, not by sword and bow, either because, while their lines were in readiness for battle, hornets were sent in among them, by the bites and venomous stings of which they were put to flight; or, before the coming of the Israelites it came to pass by an unremitting and intolerable infestation of hornets, that many Amorite subjects of these two Kings moved, whence it happened that a small number of warriors remained to them, whom they set against the Israelites. 2. Therefore, these words, I drove them out, etc., are to be referred to the Amorites on both sides of Jordan, and something is to be understood here, the two kings (supply, likewise, or similarly, or even) of the Amorites (Bonfrerius).

Not with thy sword, nor with thy bow; for though thou didst fight with them, and prevail against them in battle, yet this was not because thou hadst more force or courage than they; but because by my hornet, which I sent like a harbinger before thee, I had both broken their spirits, and greatly diminished their numbers, and particularly cut off those giants or others who were like to give time most trouble and difficulty; whence it comes to pass that we read of so few giants in that land, which was called the land of giants, Deuteronomy 3:3.


Verse 13:[3] And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and (Deut. 6:10, 11; Josh. 11:13) cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat.

[A land in which ye have not labored (thus the Syriac, Arabic, Pagnine, similarly Jonathan, Montanus, Junius and Tremellius), אֲשֶׁ֧ר לֹֽא־יָגַ֣עְתָּ בָּ֗הּ] For which ye labored not (Tigurinus). Land, that is, the fruit of the land (Vatablus).

Cities which you built not. See on Joshua 11:12, 13.

[1] Hebrew: וָאֶשְׁלַ֤ח לִפְנֵיכֶם֙ אֶת־הַצִּרְעָ֔ה וַתְּגָ֤רֶשׁ אוֹתָם֙ מִפְּנֵיכֶ֔ם שְׁנֵ֖י מַלְכֵ֣י הָאֱמֹרִ֑י לֹ֥א בְחַרְבְּךָ֖ וְלֹ֥א בְקַשְׁתֶּֽךָ׃

[2] Wisdom of Solomon 12:8-10:  “Nevertheless even those thou sparedst as men, and didst send wasps, forerunners of thine host, to destroy them by little and little.  Not that thou wast unable to bring the ungodly under the hand of the righteous in battle, or to destroy them at once with cruel beasts, or with one rough word:  But executing thy judgments upon them by little and little, thou gavest them place of repentance, not being ignorant that they were a naughty generation, and that their malice was bred in them, and that their cogitation would never be changed.”

[3] Hebrew: וָאֶתֵּ֙ן לָכֶ֜ם אֶ֣רֶץ׀ אֲשֶׁ֧ר לֹֽא־יָגַ֣עְתָּ בָּ֗הּ וְעָרִים֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לֹא־בְנִיתֶ֔ם וַתֵּשְׁב֖וּ בָּהֶ֑ם כְּרָמִ֤ים וְזֵיתִים֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר לֹֽא־נְטַעְתֶּ֔ם אַתֶּ֖ם אֹכְלִֽים׃

2 thoughts on “Joshua 24:12, 13: Memorial of God’s Covenant Faithfulness to Israel, Part 5

  1. Matthew Henry: ‘He brought them safely and triumphantly into Canaan, delivered the Canaanites into their hand (Joshua 24:11), sent hornets before them, when they were actually engaged in battle with the enemy, which with their stings tormented them and with their noise terrified them, so that they became a very easy prey to Israel. These dreadful swarms first appeared in their war with Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites, and afterwards in their other battles, Joshua 24:12. God had promised to do this for them, Exodus 23:27, 28. And here Joshua takes notice of the fulfilling of that promise. See Exodus 23:27, 28; Deuteronomy 7:20. These hornets, it should seem, annoyed the enemy more than the artillery of Israel, and therefore he adds, not with thy sword nor bow. It was purely the Lord’s doing. Lastly, They were now in the peaceable possession of a good land, and lived comfortably upon the fruit of other people’s labours, Joshua 24:13.’

  2. America is probably the greatest military power that the world has ever seen. But she has set herself against the Most High, who is also called “The Lord of Hosts”. He is able to marshal any and all creatures in His wars, even insects, dust, wind, and water droplets. There can be no victory against such a foe.

    There can be only one sound policy: Let us wave the white flag of repentance, and surrender to King Jesus.

    –Dr. Dilday

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