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Jos 9:1-27. THE KINGS COMBINE AGAINST ISRAEL.
1. all the kings which were on this side--that is, the western side of
2. they gathered themselves together, to fight with Joshua and with Israel, with one accord--Although divided by separate interests and often at war with each other, a sense of common danger prompted them to suspend their mutual animosities, that by their united forces they might prevent the land from falling into the hands of foreign masters.
Jos 9:3-15. THE GIBEONITES OBTAIN A LEAGUE BY CRAFT.
3-15. when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard--This town, as its name imports, was situated on a rocky eminence, about six miles northwest from Jerusalem, where the modern village of El Jib now stands. It was the capital of the Hivites, and a large important city (Jos 10:2). It seems to have formed, in union with a few other towns in the neighborhood, a free independent state (Jos 9:17) and to have enjoyed a republican government (Jos 9:11).
4. They did work wilily--They acted with dexterous policy, seeking the
means of self-preservation, not by force, which they were convinced
would be unavailing, but by artful diplomacy.
5. old shoes and clouted--Those who have but one ass or mule for
themselves and baggage frequently dismount and walk--a circumstance
which may account for the worn shoes of the pretended travellers.
7. the men of Israel said unto the Hivites, Peradventure ye dwell among us--The answer of the Israelites implied that they had no discretion, that their orders were imperative, and that if the strangers belonged to any of the native tribes, the idea of an alliance with them was unlawful since God had forbidden it (Ex 23:32; 34:12; De 7:2).
9. From a very far country thy servants are come because of the name of the Lord thy God--They pretended to be actuated by religious motives in seeking to be allied with His people. But their studied address is worthy of notice in appealing to instances of God's miraculous doings at a distance, while they pass by those done in Canaan, as if the report of these had not yet reached their ears.
14, 15. the men took of their victuals and asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord--The mouldy appearance of their bread was, after examination, accepted as guaranteeing the truth of the story. In this precipitate conclusion the Israelites were guilty of excessive credulity and culpable negligence, in not asking by the high priest's Urim and Thummim the mind of God, before entering into the alliance. It is not clear, however, that had they applied for divine direction they would have been forbidden to spare and connect themselves with any of the Canaanite tribes who renounced idolatry and embraced and worshipped the true God. At least, no fault was found with them for making a covenant with the Gibeonites; while, on the other hand, the violation of it was severely punished (2Sa 21:1; and Jos 11:19, 20).
16, 17. at the end of three days . . . they heard that they were their neighbours, and that they dwelt among them--This information was obtained in their further progress through the country; for as Jos 9:17 should be rendered, "when the children of Israel journeyed, they came to their cities." Gibeon was about eighteen or twenty miles from Gilgal.
18-27. the children of Israel smote them not--The moral character of the Gibeonites' stratagem was bad. The princes of the congregation did not vindicate either the expediency or the lawfulness of the connection they had formed; but they felt the solemn obligations of their oath; and, although the popular clamor was loud against them, caused either by disappointment at losing the spoils of Gibeon, or by displeasure at the apparent breach of the divine commandment, they determined to adhere to their pledge, "because they had sworn by the Lord God of Israel." The Israelitish princes acted conscientiously; they felt themselves bound by their solemn promise; but to prevent the disastrous consequences of their imprudent haste, they resolved to degrade the Gibeonites to a servile condition as a means of preventing their people from being ensnared into idolatry, and thus acted up, as they thought, to the true spirit and end of the law.
27. hewers of wood and drawers of water--The menials who performed the lowest offices and drudgery in the sanctuary; whence they were called Nethinims (1Ch 9:2; Ezr 2:43; 8:20); that is, given, appropriated. Their chastisement thus brought them into the possession of great religious privileges (Ps 84:10).