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Asbury Bible Commentary – E. Joshua's Northern Campaign (11:1–23)
E. Joshua's Northern Campaign (11:1–23)

The northern kings now organized a coalition against Israel. The northern coalition was under the leadership of the king of Hazor, which sat astride the international trade route north of the Sea of Galilee. They brought their forces together at the waters of Merom, north-northwest of the Sea of Galilee.

The account of the northern campaign has many features in common with that of the southern campaign just concluded. However, they are reported in briefer fashion. The point has been well made that God had given this land to his people. Details could be omitted in the account of the northern campaign.

One detail not omitted is that Joshua hamstrung the horses and burned the chariots captured at Merom (v. 9). This was at God's command; Israel was not to trust in human weapons of war, but in God, who alone would give victory against their enemies.

The summary statement of the northern territory taken indicates that the campaign lasted a long time. Though initial victories in both campaigns were quick and decisive, the taking of many fortified cities was a longer process. The total campaign for Canaan may have lasted about seven years (cf. 14:10). Both faith and perseverance were needed.

It is fitting that the descriptions of the warfare for the land should end with the notice that the Anakim were vanquished and destroyed from the territory Israel would settle. The ten spies (Nu 13:28, 33) had discouraged Israel from entering the land in the previous generation with their report of the Anakim and their great size. What must Joshua's victorious soldiers have thought of their fathers' lack of faith, which had cost them entry into the land of promise?