Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
Jabin - Probably the hereditary and official title of the kings of Hazor (see Jdg 4:2). The word means literally "he shall understand," and is equivalent to "the wise" or "intelligent."
Hazor - This name, which means "enclosed or "fortified," belonged also to two other towns in the south of Judah (compare Jos 15:23, Jos 15:25). The Hazor here in question, the head of the principalities of Northern Canaan Jos 11:10 overlooked the lake of Merom, and was afterward assigned to the tribe of Naphtali Jos 19:36. It doubtless was one of the strongest fortresses in the north, both by nature and art. It is mentioned in Egyptian inscriptions of an early date. Its situation in the midst of a plain, though itself on a hill, rendered it especially suitable as a stronghold for people whose main reliance was on horses and chariots Jos 11:4; Jdg 4:3. Its position on the northern frontier led to its being fortified by Solomon Kg1 9:15. Its people were carried away captive, with those of the other cities of Naphtali, by Tiglath-Pileser Kg2 15:29. By the "plain of Nasor," where (1 Macc. 11:67) Jonathan gained a victory over the Syrians, is doubtless to be understood "the plain of Asor" (i. e. Hazor). Hazor is conjecturally identified with the modern Tell Kuraibeh.
Had heard those things - i. e. of the defeat of the southern Canaanites at Beth-horon and of the conquest of their country.
The sites of Madon, Shimron, and of Achshaph, are unknown.
On the north of the mountains - Rather, "northward in the mountains." The reference is to the mountain district of Galilee, called Jos 20:7 "mount Naphtali."
On the plains south of Chinneroth - literally, "in the Arabah south of Chinneroth." The words describe the northern portion of the "Arabah" (see Deu 1:1), or depressed tract, which extends along the Jordan from the lake of Gennesaret southward.
Chinneroth - Identical with the later Gennesaret (see Num 34:10). The lake derived its name from a town on its banks (compare Jos 19:35).
In the valley - The northern part of the same flat district mentioned in Jos 9:1. This "valley" is the level plain adjacent to the sea and extending from Carmel southward.
Borders of Dor - Render "highlands of Dor." Dor was a royal city, and gave its name to the district around it (compare Jos 12:23; Kg1 4:11). Its importance was derived from its having an excellent and well-sheltered haven, and from the abundance among its rocks of the shellfish which furnished the famous Tyrian purple. The site of Dor is identified by travelers as the modern Tantura or Dandora - a name which is itself only a corruption of the ancient Dor. It lies near the foot of Carmel some six miles north of Caesarea.
Hermon - See Deu 3:9 note.
The land of Mizpeh - or Mizpah," the land of the watch-tower" The locality is probably identified as a plain stretching at the foot of Hermon southwestward, from Hasbeya, toward the Bahr el Huleh. In a land abounding in striking points of view like Palestine, the name Mizpah was naturally, like "Belle Vue" among ourselves, bestowed on many places. The Mizpeh here mentioned must not be confounded with the Mizpeh of Gilead (Jos 13:26, and Jdg 11:29); nor with the Mizpeh of Judah Jos 15:38; nor yet with that of Moab Sa1 22:3.
Waters of Merom - i. e. "the upper waters," the modern Bahr el Huleh, the lake Semechonitis, or Samochonitis of Josephus. This lake occupies the southern half of the Ard el Huleh, a depressed basin some 15 miles long and 3 or 4 miles wide lying between the hills of Galilee on the west and the lower spurs of Hermon on the east. The size of the lake varies with the season, and the northern side of it ends in a large swamp. The shape of the lake is triangular, the point being at the south, where the Jordan, which enters it on the north, again quits it. There is a considerable space of tableland along the southwestern shore, and here probably the troops of Jabin and his confederates were encamped, preparing to move southward when Joshua and his army fell suddenly upon them.
Hough their horses - i. e. cut the sinews of the hinder hoofs. This sinew once severed cannot be healed, and the horses would thus be irreparably lamed. This is the first appearance of horses in the wars with the Canaanites (Deu 17:16 and note).
Suddenly - As before, at Gibeon Jos 10:9, so now Joshua anticipates his enemies. Taken by surprise, and hemmed in between the mountains and the lake, the chariots and horses would have no time to deploy and no room to act effectively; and thus, in all probability, the unwieldy host of the Canaanites fell at once into hopeless confusion.
One portion of the defeated host fled north-westward toward Zidon; the other northeastward up the Ard el Huleh.
Zidon, as the metropolis of various subject towns and territories, appears Jos 19:28 to have been afterward assigned to Asher, but was not, in fact, conquered by that tribe Jdg 1:31. It is mentioned in Egyptian papyri of great antiquity, and by Homer, and was in the most ancient times the capital of Phoenicia. In later times it was eclipsed by Tyre (compare Sa2 5:11). The prophets frequently couple Tyre and Sidon together, as does also the New Testament (Isa 23:2, Isa 23:4,Isa 23:12; Jer 27:3; Jer 47:4; Mat 11:22; Mat 15:21, etc.).
Both the site and signification of Misre-photh-maim are uncertain. Some have thought it identical with "Zarephath which belongeth to Zidon" Kg1 17:9, the Sarepta of the New Test. The name is explained by some (see the margin) as meaning hot springs; by others as salt pits; i. e. pits where the sea water was evaporated for the sake of its salt; and again by others as "smelting factories near the waters." Some, tracing the word to quite another root, render it "heights of waters," or copious springs.
Render: "But the cities standing each on its own hill" (compare Jer 30:18). The meaning is simply that, with the exception of Hazor, Joshua did not burn the cities, but left them standing, each on its former site. This site is spoken of as a hill, because such was the ordinary site chosen for cities in Canaan (compare Mat 5:14).
The mount Halak - See the margin and reference. The name serves to mark the southern limit of Joshua's conquests. It suits equally well several of the ranges near the south border of Palestine, and it is uncertain which of them is the one here indicated.
Baal-gad Jos 12:7; Jos 13:5 is probably Paneas, the Caesarea Philippi of later times. The name means "troop or city of Baal," or a place where Baal was worshipped as the giver of "good luck." Compare Isa 65:11. It was probably the same as Baal-Hermon (Jdg 3:3; Ch1 5:23; and see Deu 3:9).
A long time - At least five years; according to others, seven years (see Jos 14:10, and Introduction). This and the preceding chapter contain a very condensed account of the wars of Joshua, giving particulars about leading events only.
See the marginal references.
At that time - i. e. in course of the "long time" mentioned in Jos 11:18.
The Anakims - See Num 13:22. As it was the report of the spies respecting the Anakims which, above all, struck terror into the Israelites in the wilderness, and caused their faithless complaining and revolt, so the sacred writer goes back here in his story to record pointedly the overthrow of this gigantic and formidable race. They had their chief settlements in the mountains around Hebron Jos 10:3 or Debir. See Jos 15:15.
Anab was a city in the mountain district of Judah, lying some distance south of Hebron. It still bears its ancient name.
Gaza, Gath, Ashdod - See the Jos 13:3 note.
These words import that Joshua had overcome all overt resistance. There were, however, many districts by no means thoroughly and finally subdued Jos 13:1-6.