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they brought of their victories, must have been received with great joy by their countrymen. It showed, that the way was fast opening for their entire possession of the promised inherit
It taught them the faithfulness of God in the fulfillment of his promises, and how sure they would be of his protection, if they were obedient to his commands. And it was well adapted, also, to form within them an abhorrence of those sins, especially of the seducing one of idolatry, with its impure and abominable rites, which could thus call down upon the guilty inhabitants of Canaan the vengeance of the Almighty, in some of its most terrific manifestations.
But the struggle was not yet over. Other battles must be fought, and still further conquests secured, before the Israelites could settle down in peace, as masters of the whole land. They had just discomfited a southern confederacy, and now a still more powerful one, at the north, was to be encountered.
There were several kings in that part of the country, who, hearing of the victories of Joshua and his army, were alarmed for the security of their own dominions, and began to inquire what must be done for their mutual protection. Jabin, king of Hazor, a strongly fortified city, near the waters of Merom, was the principal one among them, and who first moved in the enterprise
His residence was the capital of northern Canaan; and the kings who joined the confederacy, if not tributary, seem to have acknowledged him, in a certain sense, as their head.
Jabin sent them word, to bring into the field all the forces they could collect, that they might unite with his in the common defence against the invaders of their country. His summons was soon obeyed. The respective armies with their kings and other officers, assembled near the wa. ters of Merom, or the lake Samechonitis, and there encamped. It was a vast array, the sand that is upon the sea-shore in multitude.” The greater part were on foot, but very many came, also, with horses and chariots--a mode of fighting that was adopted by those nations—the chariots being furnished with iron scythes, which were fitted to their poles, and to the naves of the wheels, so as to make dreadful havoc when driven among the ranks of the infantry.
The king of Madon was there ;—the kings of Shimron, and of Achshaph, (places in the north of Canaan ;) the kings of the mountainous regions of Anti-Libanus; of the plains south of Cinneroth, (an ancient city, supposed to have stood on the site of the more modern Tiberias ;) of the valley; and of the borders of Dor, on the coast of the Mediterranean, near mount Carmel.
These monarchs, with their hosts equipped for
battle, and proud of their united strength, waited only for an opportunity to engage with the Israelites. It was soon afforded them.
Joshua had received divine direction with regard to the course which he should pursue, and the pledge, also, of a complete victory. Be not afraid," said the Lord unto him, " because of them: for to-morrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel: thou shalt hough their horses,* and burn their cha. riots with fire.”
* That is, cut the ham-strings, or sinews of their legs. This not only disables the animal at the time, so that he cannot be used, or annoy those on foot by running among the ranks even if his rider is slain, but frequently results in his bleeding to death. The Israelites seem to have been directed to do this, that they might not trust in chariots, and in horscs, but feel their dependence on God; while, by giving them--who fought on foot-the victory over enemies so well equipped for battle, he would more strikingly manifest the interposition of his power in their behalf, and lead them to give him all the glory of their success. Besides, it would be an unwise policy for the Israelites to retain the horses as the spoils of their vanquished enemies. Oxen and asses would much better serve the purposes of agriculture, in the rough and hilly country they were to cultivate. They were to be an agricultural, and not a tra. velling and commercial people, but to be separated from the world as a peculiar, religious community. The travelling to be performed in their own country, could best be done on foot, or on asses. Should they take the horses alive, in their wars with the Canaanites, they would be rather an
The Israelites were immediately on their march to the waters of Merom. They arrived there unexpectedly to the Canaanites, and falling upon them, threw them into such confusion that they fled before their pursuers in great consternation. A part took the direction of Zidon, on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea; to which place, and to Misrephoth-maim in its vicinity, the Israelites following hard upon them, cut off with great slaughter all who fell into their hands, very few escaping. A similar doom was the lot of the other portion who fled eastward to the valley of Mizpeh, or of Lebanon, at the foot of Mount Hermon; while, in the general destruction which took place, the divine command was not forgotten with regard to the horses and the chariots.
In the meanwhile, Jabin had contrived to make his escape, and had fled for security back again to his own capital, Hazor. There Joshua pursued him with a detachment of the army, and taking the place, put Jabin and all the inhabitants to death, and then destroyed the city with fire. The same fate befell the other kings of the confederacy, those who dwelt in their cities, and most of the cities themselves. A few were left standing in the strength of their fortifications, and retained for the use of the Israelites. But the spoils of these cities were taken, and the cattle, with the exception of those things which had been employed in idolatrous worship, and were carried off by the victors.
incumbrance than a benefit, so they were commanded to destroy them, and this in the most expeditious manner which could be effected in the heat of battle.
In all this fearful work of extermination, in order that we may understand exactly the object which it was intended to accomplish—the just punishment of the Canaanites, and the exhi. bition of it to the people of God, to deter them from idolatry and the other sins of these nations —and that we may be careful not to attribute it to the spirit of war and of conquest, or to the indulgence of a malicious vengeance, on the part of the Israelites, we are told, "As the Lord commanded Moses his servant, so did Moses command Joshua, and so did Joshua: he left nothing undone of all that the Lord commanded Moses."
These wicked Canaanites had long resisted the dictates of their own consciences, and that degree of knowledge concerning the will of God, and their duty which they had enjoyed from tradition and the light of nature. They had obstinately continued in sin, and God, at length, gave them over to the influence of their corrupt hearts, and the just consequences of their guilt. In this way, " it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they