1. Lesson One of the Book of Daniel, Introduction to the Book of Daniel

Lesson 43,  Geography Study Concerning the Scriptures, Joshua's Northern Campaign


Joshua’s Northern Campaign


Israel’s first three battles of the conquest were against opponents of relative weakness compared to Israel’s opponents in the northern campaign


Hazor, ruled by King Jabin, was the largest city in Canaan and the most powerful Canaanite center in Galilee at the time of the conquest. 


Hazor was located about 10 miles NW of the Sea of Galilee.


Hazor had been fortified earlier with massive ramparts of earth, a high, thick and heavily protected wall, a deep fortification ditch and a slope up to the ditch.


Hazor was composed of two distinct areas, an upper city of 30 acres and a lower city of 150 acres and estimates of its population at the time of the conquest was around 40,000 people.


It was a major commercial and political center and its king was able to amass the forces of Canaanite kings from surrounding cities to oppose Joshua. 


Hazor is first mentioned in the Bible in Joshua 11 where the battle is described. 


Joshua 11:10,  And Joshua at that time turned back, and took Hazor, and smote the king thereof with the sword: for Hazor beforetime was the head of all those kingdoms.


So in the case of this northern campaign Joshua’s forces were pitted against the strongest possible political and military adversary.


The Israelites were opposed both by the city state of Hazor and by those territories over which Hazor exercised domination. 


The Bible is clear that Joshua’s forces were outnumbered both numerical and technologically.


Joshua 11:1-4,  And it came to pass, when Jabin king of Hazor had heard those things, that he sent to Jobab king of Madon, and to the king of Shimron, and to the king of Achshaph, 2And to the kings that were on the north of the mountains, and of the plains south of Chinneroth, and in the valley, and in the borders of Dor on the west, 3And to the Canaanite on the east and on the west, and to the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Jebusite in the mountains, and to the Hivite under Hermon in the land of Mizpeh. 4And they went out, they and all their hosts with them, much people, even as the sand that is upon the sea shore in multitude, with horses and chariots very many.


The scripture does not give us details concerning the strategy used against the Canaanite forces.


We are informed merely that the confederated Canaanite army was encamped by the waters of Merom and that Joshua came upon them suddenly or unexpectedly.


Joshua 11:6-9,  And the LORD said unto Joshua, Be not afraid because of them: for to morrow about this time will I deliver them up all slain before Israel: thou shalt hough (to disable by cutting hamstrings) their horses, and burn their chariots with fire. 7So Joshua came, and all the people of war with him, against them by the waters of Merom suddenly; and they fell upon them. 8And the LORD delivered them into the hand of Israel, who smote them, and chased them unto great Zidon (Sidon), and unto Misrephothmaim, and unto the valley of Mizpeh eastward; and they smote them, until they left them none remaining. 9And Joshua did unto them as the LORD bade him: he houghed their horses, and burnt their chariots with fire.


After this rout of the Canaanites a contingent of Joshua’s army marched directly to Hazor itself, overpowered its residents, and set fire to the city.


Joshua 11:10-14,  And Joshua at that time turned back, and took Hazor, and smote the king thereof with the sword: for Hazor beforetime was the head of all those kingdoms. 11And they smote all the souls that were therein with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them: there was not any left to breathe: and he burnt Hazor with fire. 12And all the cities of those kings, and all the kings of them, did Joshua take, and smote them with the edge of the sword, and he utterly destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the LORD commanded. 13But as for the cities that stood still in their strength, Israel burned none of them, save Hazor only; that did Joshua burn. 14And all the spoil of these cities, and the cattle, the children of Israel took for a prey unto themselves; but every man they smote with the edge of the sword, until they had destroyed them, neither left they any to breathe.


At first glance the book of Joshua seems to portray a conquest that was lighting quick and highly sucessful. 


But it is worth a closer look to see if this is true. 


Israel had experienced a string of stunning, even miraculous, successes at Jerico, Ai, Gibeon, and Hazor. 


However near the end of Joshua’s life there remained huge tracts of the Promised Land still to be possessed. 


Those included (1) the territories of Philistia (Ekron, Gath, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gaza) Geshur, and Maacah (from below Mt. Hermon southward), (2) strategic cities in the Jezreel valley (Meggido, Taanach, Ibleam, Endor, and Beth-shan, and the coastal plain (Aphek, Gezer, and Dor) and (3) the city of Jerusalem.


Joshua 15:63,  As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out: but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto

this day.


We can learn in the book of Judges of the vast stretches of unconquered land of the Phoenician plain (Ahlab, Achzib, Beth-shemish, Acco, etc)  and the major pass into the Judean heartland (Shaalbim, Aijalon, Har-heres,  Gibeon) still remained outside of Israel’s control.


A number of significant geographical factors emerge concerning the territories of the conquest. 


First it seems that wherever the Philistines or their allies could run iron chariots – namely in the Philistine plain or the Jezreel Valley – the Israelites could not conquer the terrain. 


But where this technological superiority was neutralized by the rugged mountain highlands of Palestine’s interior and Transjordan, Israel carved out its developing kingdom.


Judges 1:19,20,  And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron. 20And they gave Hebron unto Caleb, as Moses said: and he expelled thence the three sons of Anak.


Second there seems to be no record of Egyptian interference during the time of the conquest. 


It may be that in placing Israel in Egypt for 400 years and in the way the exodus was accomplished by God the Egyptians would have nothing to do with what was taking place in Canaan.


Also what effect had the exodus of such a large labor force had on Egypt the last 40 years? 


Also this land was a land that provided for international caravans to pass through and as long as their caravans were

unmolested Egypt was unconcerned as to the internal politics. 


It is interesting to consider the limits of the conquest when crossing over the Jordan is sometimes compared to salvation and the time spent in the Promised Land is compared to the Christian walk. 


We see the children of Israel’s early victories but soon a satisfaction and unwillingness on their part to engage in further battles but willing to rest at a level of conquest that seems to satisfy. 


How many Christian’s sing the song “I’m pressing on the upward way, new heights I’m gaining every day”  consistently throughout their life but instead we get to a satisfying level and go no higher?