A Commentary, Critical, Practical, and Explanatory on the Old and New Testaments, by Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset and David Brown  at sacred-texts.com
jos 11:1DIVERS KINGS OVERCOME AT THE WATERS OF MEROM. (Jos 11:1-9)
And it came to pass, when Jabin king of Hazor had heard those things--The scene of the sacred narrative is here shifted to the north of Canaan, where a still more extensive confederacy was formed among the ruling powers to oppose the further progress of the Israelites. Jabin ("the Intelligent"), which seems to have been a hereditary title (Jdg 4:2), took the lead, from Hazor being the capital of the northern region (Jos 11:10). It was situated on the borders of lake Merom. The other cities mentioned must have been in the vicinity though their exact position is unknown.
jos 11:2the kings that were on the north of the mountains--the Anti-libanus district.
the plains south of Chinneroth--the northern part of the Arabah, or valley of the Jordan.
the valley--the low and level country, including the plain of Sharon.
borders of Dor on the west--the highlands of Dor, reaching to the town of Dor on the Mediterranean coast, below mount Carmel.
jos 11:3the Canaanites on the east and on the west--a particular branch of the Canaanitish population who occupied the western bank of the Jordan as far northward as the Sea of Galilee, and also the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea.
under Hermon--now Jebel-es-sheikh. It was the northern boundary of Canaan on the east of the Jordan.
land of Mizpeh--now CÅlo-Syria.
jos 11:4they went out, . . . as the sand that is upon the sea-shore in multitude--The chiefs of these several tribes were summoned by Jabin, being all probably tributary to the kingdom of Hazor. Their combined forces, according to JOSEPHUS, amounted to three hundred thousand infantry, ten thousand cavalry, and twenty thousand war chariots.
with horses and chariots very many--The war chariots were probably like those of Egypt, made of wood, but nailed and tipped with iron. These appear for the first time in the Canaanite war, to aid this last determined struggle against the invaders; and "it was the use of these which seems to have fixed the place of rendezvous by the lake Merom (now Huleh), along whose level shores they could have full play for their force." A host so formidable in numbers, as well as in military equipments, was sure to alarm and dispirit the Israelites. Joshua, therefore, was favored with a renewal of the divine promise of victory (Jos 11:6), and thus encouraged, he, in the full confidence of faith, set out to face the enemy.
jos 11:6to-morrow, about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel--As it was impossible to have marched from Gilgal to Merom in one day, we must suppose Joshua already moving northward and within a day's distance of the Canaanite camp, when the Lord gave him this assurance of success. With characteristic energy he made a sudden advance, probably during the night, and fell upon them like a thunderbolt, when scattered along the rising grounds (Septuagint), before they had time to rally on the plain. In the sudden panic "the Lord delivered them into the hand of Israel, who smote them, and chased them." The rout was complete; some went westward, over the mountains, above the gorge of the Leontes, to Sidon and Misrephothmaim ("glass-smelting houses"), in the neighborhood, and others eastward to the plain of Mizpeh.
jos 11:8they left none remaining--of those whom they overtook. All those who fell into their hands alive were slain.
jos 11:9Joshua did unto them as the Lord bade him--(See Jos 11:6). Houghing the horses is done by cutting the sinews and arteries of their hinder legs, so that they not only become hopelessly lame, but bleed to death. The reasons for this special command were that the Lord designed to lead the Israelites to trust in Him, not in military resources (Psa 20:7); to show that in the land of promise there was no use of horses; and, finally, to discourage their travelling as they were to be an agricultural, not a trading, people.
jos 11:11he burnt Hazor with fire--calmly and deliberately, doubtless, according to divine direction.
jos 11:13as for the cities that stood still in their strength--literally, "on their heaps." It was a PhÅnician custom to build cities on heights, natural or artificial [HENGSTENBERG].
jos 11:16So Joshua took all that land--Here follows a general view of the conquest. The division of the country there into five parts; namely, the hills, the land of Goshen, that is, a pastoral land near Gibeon (Jos 10:41); the valley, the plains and the mountains of Israel, i. e., Carmel, rests upon a diversity of geographical positions, which is characteristic of the region.
jos 11:17from the mount Halak--Hebrew, "the smooth mountain."
that goeth up to Seir--an irregular line of white naked hills, about eighty feet high, and seven or eight geographical miles in length that cross the whole Ghor, eight miles south of the Dead Sea, probably "the ascent of Akrabbim" [ROBINSON].
unto Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon--the city or temple of the god of destiny, in Baalbec.
jos 11:23Joshua took the whole land--The battle of the take of Merom was to the north what the battle of Beth-horon was to the south; more briefly told and less complete in its consequences; but still the decisive conflict by which the whole northern region of Canaan fell into the hands of Israel [STANLEY].