As we walk through the book of Joshua, Chapter 11 validates God’s decision to appoint Joshua to be the leader of the people of Israel and secure the Promised Land. After Israelite victories over the Canaanite factions in central and southern Canaan, war again appears on the horizon. Jabin, king of Hazor, is furious and filled with hatred. He gathers the northern Canaanite kings together to form a massive coalition army intending to rid the land of the Israelites once and for all.
Hazor was a massive city of some 200 acres compared to Jericho which was less than 10 acres. Hazor was located on a main trade route, which runs from Syria to Egypt. The Canaanite army had a massive numerical and technological edge, yet the power of God shines brightly (Deuteronomy 20:1). Josephus, a Jewish historian, records the size of the force facing Joshua is 300,000 infantry, 10,000 cavalry and 20,000 chariots.
“The LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, because by this time tomorrow I will hand all of them, slain, over to Israel.”” Joshua 11:6
To engage the enemy, Joshua has to march his army for five days over difficult terrain. When he arrives he finds the enemy forces bogged down in a now flooded plain. Joshua attacks. Any tactical advantage Jabin planned to use was washed away by a flood. Joshua routes the Canaanite army, pursuing remnants of the fleeing enemy to the east and west. The war was not over however. Joshua reassembles his army and attacks the northern cities, decimating them.
We need to remember the Bible gives us a condensed account of this war. In reality the war with the Canaanites lasted a long time (Exodus 23:29-30; Deuteronomy 7:22). The war included a battle against the Anakites to the south, the “incredible hulks of the land of Canaan.” (D.R. Davis). These were the same giants that discouraged ten of the twelve Israelite spies some forty years earlier. “Who can stand against them”, they asked, shaking with fear.
Though the descendants of Anakin were defeated by Joshua, a few of them remained in the Philistine cities of Gaza, Gath and Ashdod. David would later fight Goliath from hailed from Gath.
The listing of conquered kings in chapter 12 appears to be a boring account, but it demonstrates in detail the complete fulfillment of the covenant God made with Abraham (Genesis 15:18-21).
What can be learned from this scripture passage? When you face giant problems, don’t focus on how big they are, instead focus on your faith. Rob fear of its victory. And when you pray remember to give God detailed praise for all the blessings He has bestowed on you.