Verse 26. "And so did he unto them" - That is, he acted according to justice and mercy: he delivered them out of the hands of the people, so that they slew them not-here was mercy; and he made them hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation, and to the altar of God-here was justice. Thus Joshua did nothing but what was good and right, not only in his own eyes, but also in the eyes of the Lord. How long the Gibeonites were preserved as a distinct people after this, we know not. That they existed in the time of David, is evident from the circumstance mentioned on ver. 19. They are not mentioned after the captivity; and it is probable that they were nearly annihilated by the persecution raised up against them by Saul. Some suppose that the Gibeonites existed under the appellation of Nethinim; but of this there is no decisive proof; the Nethinim were probably slaves of a different race. ON what we meet with in this chapter, we may make the following observations. 1. The Gibeonites told lies, in order to save their lives. No expediency can justify this, nor are we called to attempt it. The Gibeonites were heathens, and we can expect nothing better from them. See note at the end of chap. ii. 24. 2.
They did not profit by their falsity: had they come in fairly, sought peace, and renounced their idolatry, they would have had life on honourable terms.
As it was, they barely escaped with their lives, and were utterly deprived of their political liberty. Even the good that is sought by unlawful means has God's curse on it. 3. We need not be solicitous for the character of the Gibeonites here; they are neither our models, nor believers in the true God, and therefore pure religion is not concerned in their prevarication and falsity. 4. We see here of what solemn importance an oath was considered among the people of God; they swore to their own hurt, and changed not.
When once they had bound themselves to their Maker, they did not believe that any changing circumstances could justify a departure from so awful an obligation. Thus, reader, shouldst thou fear a lie, and tremble at an oath.