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Joshua 11

Northern Kings Defeated (11:1–23)

16–18 So Joshua took this entire land (verse 16); that is, he took overall control of it. But there were still many areas within the land that were not yet taken over (see Joshua 13:1–7). Indeed, the Canaanites would not be totally subjected to Israel’s authority until the reign of King David.

Joshua himself waged war for a long time (verse 18)—seven years. But this should not have been surprising: the Lord had said earlier that He wouldn’t drive the Canaanites out quickly but only “little by little” (Exodus 23:29–30).

19–20 Only the Hivites (Gibeonites) living in Gibeon made peace with the Israelites. All the other Canaanites fought against Israel. Why did none of the others try to make peace? Because God had hardened their hearts50(verse 20). God didn’t harden their hearts to keep them from calling out to Him, or to keep them from repenting; God never does that. He spared Rahab when she believed in Him (Joshua 2:11); He even spared the deceptive Gibeonites who had sued for peace because of the fame of Israel’s God (Joshua 9:9). God will save everyone who calls on His name51 (Romans 10:13).

But the rest of the Canaanites, because of their great wickedness, had no intention of calling on God’s name; they had already hardened their hearts. What God didn’t want was for them to surrender to the Israelites in their hardened, unrepentant state; it was to prevent their surrender that God further hardened their already hard hearts. In this way, God would be assured of their complete destruction; He didn’t want any remnant of their evil and idolatry to defile His chosen people.

21–23 These verses describe Joshua’s campaign against the Anakites, the very large people who had frightened the Israelites forty years earlier (Numbers 13:2829,32–33). Caleb also was active in this campaign and later received Hebron, one of the Anakite cities, as his inheritance (see Joshua 14:12–14).

Then the land had rest from war (verse 23). With the major battles over, it was time for Joshua to give the Israelites their inheritance, the allotments of land that were to be distributed to each tribe. But as for rest, there would be no final “rest” for the land as long as evil and idolatry remained. Indeed, true rest will only come when evil has been vanquished and Christ reigns over all as King of kings (Philippians 2:9–11; Revelation 19:16).

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