Joshua 10&11: The Southern and Northern Campaigns

Joshua battles two sets of alliances against Israel, one in the North and one in the South.

Introduction

In Joshua 9 and 10, we see that the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon came together against Israel. I talked about the fate of the kings (death) in the previous post, but in this post I will discuss the conquest of their cities and the armies that that followed the kings. Once Joshua handles this alliance, another alliance forms in the north; I will discuss their fate as well.
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Southern Campaign

When Joshua learns that the kings of the alliance have hidden in a cave, he demands that they be trapped in the cave while the Israelites eliminate what is left of the army. The Israelites are instructed not to let the men return to their cities, but to kill them as God has instructed. Following the destruction of these armies and their kings, Joshua moves to take many of the southern cities: Makkedah, Libnah, Lachish, Gezer, Eglon, Hebron, Debir. We are told that Joshua fought, won, and eliminated the cities from Kadeshbarnea to Gaza and the country of Goshen
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3 of the 5 Kingdoms Destroyed

During this conquest, Joshua conquers 3 of the 5 kingdoms involved in the first alliance against Israel: Lachish, Eglon, and Hebron. For some reason Jerusalem and Jarmuth are not yet captured. During the leadership of Moses in the Books of Law, the Israelites are cautioned about the pace at which they take the land, so perhaps this is why these cities are saved for later (see Deuteronomy 7:22).
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Gaza

One thing that stood out to me in this passage, was the mentioning of Gaza. If you know anything about the tension in Middle East, you know that a major conflict exists between Israel and The Gaza Strip. The Gaza Strip is home to the Palestinians (or Philistines, as they are known Biblically). Much tension surrounds the issue of who should possess the land. By Biblical standards, we see that it was originally given to Israel, however, the lost the land over time and when the modern country of Israel was created, much of that territory was given to Palestine. At the close of World War II, the territory was a British territory inhabited by Palestinians. The territory was originally to be divided into Israel and Palestine, to give the Jews a portion of the land, but a war broke out. The Palestinians hoped to create an independent Palestine. Instead, Israel won most of the territory and we have an independent Israel (looks like history was repeating itself). The Gaza Strip is one of two areas the Palestinians maintained control of. Unlike Israel, Gaza is not an independent country.[1][2]
Unfortunately, due to the animosity and situation, many of Gaza's citizens live in poverty.
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Northern Campaign

In the north, another alliance formed upon receiving the news of the south's decimation. The hand of God was moving swiftly through the country, and fear was in the hearts of the kings. The instigator of this alliance is Jabin, king of Hazor. Jabin calls for an alliance between Jobab of Madon, the king of Shimron, and the king of Achshaph. Interestingly, we are not given the names of the kings from Shimron or Achshaph. Many of these cities have been mapped to current cities in Israel. Shimron is linked to the modern city Tel Shimron in the foothills near the Jezreel Valley. Achshaph is linked to the modern city of Tell Keisan, which is west of the Acco plain. Madon may be linked to Tel Qarnel Hittin, which would place it east, near the Sea of Galilee.[3]

God reassures Joshua that the Israelites will triumph, and once again Israel fights a victorious battle. All of the men fighting on the opposing side are slain per God's command.
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The Chariots

Photocredit: FreeImages.com/Jon Wisbey
An interesting point is made about Joshua burning the chariots of the armies (Joshua 11:6). Chariots were the most sophisticated weapon of war at he time of Joshua. In terms of intimidation factor, chariots would have been the equivalent of a nuclear warhead today (since that is the most sophisticated weapon of our day); only the most powerful armies had chariots. Yet, God didn't want Israel to keep the chariots, he wanted them destroyed. Many scholars point out that this forced Israel to rely on God for victory, and was a show of His hand in battle that Israel could win without chariots.[3] However, I think this also says something about God's views on war. God didn't want His people fighting using chariots, how do you think He felt about tanks, subs, and airplanes? Guns and bombs? To me this is a reminder than mankind went above and beyond to figure out how to kill each other, which was never what God wanted from us.
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Hazor

Joshua makes a special effort to fight Jabin and Hazor. This kingdom is the leader of the allied kingdoms, which is inferred earlier in the chapter when we learn that Jabin started up the alliance. This is the only city during this campaign that Joshua burns to the ground after defeating the people. It is possible that the motivation for burning this city is linked to Jabin's instigation of the alliance, however it seems that there were certain cities God deemed particularly wicked and those were the cities that were to be burned to ash.

The modern ruins of Hazor have been examined and scholars have identified a layer of destruction roughly around the time of Israel's entry to Canaan.[3]
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Time at War

Joshua spent a lot of time warring with the cities of Canaan; only Gibeon surrendered, so all the other cities had to be defeated. However, Joshua doesn't give up. Can you imagine how overwhelmed Joshua might have felt at the thought of leading these people against so many armies? Yet, he knew that God was doing the heavy lifting. We have to remember that in our own journeys. Sometimes the tasks ahead of us will be much larger than we think we can handle, and they may take years to overcome, but if it is the direction God is taking you in, He will fight the battles.

The miraculous victories Joshua reaped from following God did not convince the Canaanites to repent and join God as the Gibeonites did. Instead it caused their hearts to harden the way Pharaoh's did in Egypt. This is an interesting thing to think about when sharing God's glory and hearing about God's glory. Depending on where you are in your sin, you may hear of God's wonder and be awed to follow him, or you may turn even further away. When we see that people become more hate-filled at God's success, the only thing we can do is pray for God to warm their heart.
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The Anakims

Ancestors of Goliath, the Anakims are confirmed in ancient Egyptian texts, as well as the Bible.[3] They were known to be legendary warriors (and giants). Joshua manages to cut them off from the mountains and destroys them and their cities. Joshua does not succeed in destroying all of the Anakims, though. There are some left in Gaza, Gath, and Ashdod. It is from the Anakims that Joshua did not destroy that Goliath will descend.
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References

  1. Fisher, Max. "9 questions about Israel-Gaza you were too embarrassed to ask". Washington Post. November 2012
  2. "Gaza Strip". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2016
  3. Holman Bible Publishers. Holman KJV Study Bible. pg. 381-383. 2014

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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