Bible Commentary: Joshua 12

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Joshua 12

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Summary of Defeated Kings 

Chapter 12 is a summary of all of the kings defeated by Moses and Joshua in the conquering of the Promised Land. Most of the cities mentioned were described in the original accounts in Numbers 21:21-35 Numbers 21:21-35 [21] And Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, saying, [22] Let me pass through your land: we will not turn into the fields, or into the vineyards; we will not drink of the waters of the well: but we will go along by the king’s high way, until we be past your borders. [23] And Sihon would not suffer Israel to pass through his border: but Sihon gathered all his people together, and went out against Israel into the wilderness: and he came to Jahaz, and fought against Israel. [24] And Israel smote him with the edge of the sword, and possessed his land from Arnon to Jabbok, even to the children of Ammon: for the border of the children of Ammon was strong. [25] And Israel took all these cities: and Israel dwelled in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon, and in all the villages thereof. [26] For Heshbon was the city of Sihon the king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab, and taken all his land out of his hand, even to Arnon. [27] Why they that speak in proverbs say, Come into Heshbon, let the city of Sihon be built and prepared: [28] For there is a fire gone out of Heshbon, a flame from the city of Sihon: it has consumed Ar of Moab, and the lords of the high places of Arnon. [29] Woe to you, Moab! you are undone, O people of Chemosh: he has given his sons that escaped, and his daughters, into captivity to Sihon king of the Amorites. [30] We have shot at them; Heshbon is perished even to Dibon, and we have laid them waste even to Nophah, which reaches to Medeba. [31] Thus Israel dwelled in the land of the Amorites. [32] And Moses sent to spy out Jaazer, and they took the villages thereof, and drove out the Amorites that were there. [33] And they turned and went up by the way of Bashan: and Og the king of Bashan went out against them, he, and all his people, to the battle at Edrei. [34] And the LORD said to Moses, Fear him not: for I have delivered him into your hand, and all his people, and his land; and you shall do to him as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, which dwelled at Heshbon. [35] So they smote him, and his sons, and all his people, until there was none left him alive: and they possessed his land.
American King James Version×
(Joshua 12:1-6 Joshua 12:1-6 [1] Now these are the kings of the land, which the children of Israel smote, and possessed their land on the other side Jordan toward the rising of the sun, from the river Arnon to mount Hermon, and all the plain on the east: [2] Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelled in Heshbon, and ruled from Aroer, which is on the bank of the river Arnon, and from the middle of the river, and from half Gilead, even to the river Jabbok, which is the border of the children of Ammon; [3] And from the plain to the sea of Chinneroth on the east, and to the sea of the plain, even the salt sea on the east, the way to Bethjeshimoth; and from the south, under Ashdothpisgah: [4] And the coast of Og king of Bashan, which was of the remnant of the giants, that dwelled at Ashtaroth and at Edrei, [5] And reigned in mount Hermon, and in Salcah, and in all Bashan, to the border of the Geshurites and the Maachathites, and half Gilead, the border of Sihon king of Heshbon. [6] Them did Moses the servant of the LORD and the children of Israel smite: and Moses the servant of the LORD gave it for a possession to the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh.
American King James Version×
), Joshua 6-8 (Joshua 12:9 Joshua 12:9The king of Jericho, one; the king of Ai, which is beside Bethel, one;
American King James Version×
), Joshua 10 (Joshua 12:10-16 Joshua 12:10-16 [10] The king of Jerusalem, one; the king of Hebron, one; [11] The king of Jarmuth, one; the king of Lachish, one; [12] The king of Eglon, one; the king of Gezer, one; [13] The king of Debir, one; the king of Geder, one; [14] The king of Hormah, one; the king of Arad, one; [15] The king of Libnah, one; the king of Adullam, one; [16] The king of Makkedah, one; the king of Bethel, one;
American King James Version×
) and Joshua 11 (Joshua 12:17-24 Joshua 12:17-24 [17] The king of Tappuah, one; the king of Hepher, one; [18] The king of Aphek, one; the king of Lasharon, one; [19] The king of Madon, one; the king of Hazor, one; [20] The king of Shimronmeron, one; the king of Achshaph, one; [21] The king of Taanach, one; the king of Megiddo, one; [22] The king of Kedesh, one; the king of Jokneam of Carmel, one; [23] The king of Dor in the coast of Dor, one; the king of the nations of Gilgal, one; [24] The king of Tirzah, one: all the kings thirty and one.
American King James Version×
).

The latter portion, on Joshua’s conquests, appears to be an itemized list of what we previously read in Joshua 11:16-20 Joshua 11:16-20 [16] So Joshua took all that land, the hills, and all the south country, and all the land of Goshen, and the valley, and the plain, and the mountain of Israel, and the valley of the same; [17] Even from the mount Halak, that goes up to Seir, even to Baalgad in the valley of Lebanon under mount Hermon: and all their kings he took, and smote them, and slew them. [18] Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. [19] There was not a city that made peace with the children of Israel, save the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon: all other they took in battle. [20] For 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 might have no favor, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses.
American King James Version×
. Baal Gad (Joshua 12:7 Joshua 12:7And these are the kings of the country which Joshua and the children of Israel smote on this side Jordan on the west, from Baalgad in the valley of Lebanon even to the mount Halak, that goes up to Seir; which Joshua gave to the tribes of Israel for a possession according to their divisions;
American King James Version×
) is in the northern extremity of the land, north of the city that eventually became known as Dan. Mount Halak is in the southern extremity, south of Beersheba. Hormah and Arad (verse 14) are not described in Joshua 10. They are south of the other cities in that chapter. These names do appear in Numbers 21:1-3 Numbers 21:1-3 [1] And when king Arad the Canaanite, which dwelled in the south, heard tell that Israel came by the way of the spies; then he fought against Israel, and took some of them prisoners. [2] And Israel vowed a vow to the LORD, and said, If you will indeed deliver this people into my hand, then I will utterly destroy their cities. [3] And the LORD listened to the voice of Israel, and delivered up the Canaanites; and they utterly destroyed them and their cities: and he called the name of the place Hormah.
American King James Version×
as people defeated by the Israelites under Moses. The area is again described in Judges 1:16-17 Judges 1:16-17 [16] And the children of the Kenite, Moses’ father in law, went up out of the city of palm trees with the children of Judah into the wilderness of Judah, which lies in the south of Arad; and they went and dwelled among the people. [17] And Judah went with Simeon his brother, and they slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. And the name of the city was called Hormah.
American King James Version×
. Geder (Joshua 12:13 Joshua 12:13The king of Debir, one; the king of Geder, one;
American King James Version×
) and Adullam (verse 15) were not mentioned in Joshua 10 either, but are in the same general area as the others in chapter 10.

Bethel (Joshua 12:16 Joshua 12:16The king of Makkedah, one; the king of Bethel, one;
American King James Version×
) was a town adjacent to Ai. Its inhabitants unsuccessfully aided Ai against the Israelites (Joshua 8:17 Joshua 8:17And there was not a man left in Ai or Bethel, that went not out after Israel: and they left the city open, and pursued after Israel.
American King James Version×
), and some defeat of the city may have occurred at that time. But a later destruction is recorded in Judges 1:22-26 Judges 1:22-26 [22] And the house of Joseph, they also went up against Bethel: and the LORD was with them. [23] And the house of Joseph sent to descry Bethel. (Now the name of the city before was Luz.) [24] And the spies saw a man come forth out of the city, and they said to him, Show us, we pray you, the entrance into the city, and we will show you mercy. [25] And when he showed them the entrance into the city, they smote the city with the edge of the sword; but they let go the man and all his family. [26] And the man went into the land of the Hittites, and built a city, and called the name thereof Luz: which is the name thereof to this day.
American King James Version×
, complete with spies and a secret entrance into the city.

Tappuah (verse 17) is not mentioned elsewhere as being conquered, but in Joshua 16:8 Joshua 16:8The border went out from Tappuah westward to the river Kanah; and the goings out thereof were at the sea. This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Ephraim by their families.
American King James Version×
and Joshua 17:7-8 Joshua 17:7-8 [7] And the coast of Manasseh was from Asher to Michmethah, that lies before Shechem; and the border went along on the right hand to the inhabitants of Entappuah. [8] Now Manasseh had the land of Tappuah: but Tappuah on the border of Manasseh belonged to the children of Ephraim;
American King James Version×
it is described as a border city between Ephraim and Manasseh. The northern towns listed in Joshua 12:17-24 Joshua 12:17-24 [17] The king of Tappuah, one; the king of Hepher, one; [18] The king of Aphek, one; the king of Lasharon, one; [19] The king of Madon, one; the king of Hazor, one; [20] The king of Shimronmeron, one; the king of Achshaph, one; [21] The king of Taanach, one; the king of Megiddo, one; [22] The king of Kedesh, one; the king of Jokneam of Carmel, one; [23] The king of Dor in the coast of Dor, one; the king of the nations of Gilgal, one; [24] The king of Tirzah, one: all the kings thirty and one.
American King James Version×
were probably part Jabin’s alliance described in chapter 11, the kings and cities of which were merely summarized in Joshua 11:2-3 Joshua 11:2-3 [2] And 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, [3] And 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.
American King James Version×
.

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