Joshua 9
Covenant by deception and negligence
.1 ¶ And it came to pass, when all the kings which were on this side Jordan, in the hills, and in the valleys, and in all the coasts of the great sea over against Lebanon, the Hittite, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, heard thereof;
 2 That they gathered themselves together, to fight with Joshua and with Israel, with one accord.
  1 - All the kings They had no doubt heard about victories by the hand of the Israelite God. They may have heard about the meeting at Ebal where the law of God was to be the law of the land.
  1 - This side of Jordan In Hebrew "beyond Jordan." Either is correct depending on how we consider it. They were west of the Jordan River. Compare jg0517.
  2 - Gathered ... to fight The new threat had caused them to bond. This we may expect soon, before the coming of Christ re1614.
.3 ¶ And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai,
 4 They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up;
 5 And old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and mouldy.
.6 And they went to Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal, and said unto him, and to the men of Israel, We be come from a far country: now therefore make ye a league with us.
.7 And the men of Israel said unto the Hivites, Peradventure ye dwell among us; and how shall we make a league with you?
  3 - Gibeon Literally, "a hill." describing its location. It had a pool. See it in je4112 as "great waters." 6 mi. or 9 km. NW from Jerusalem. See Jerusalem area map, upper left.
  4 - Wilily From 'ormah, subtilty. We may learn an important lesson from this story. Joshua didn't take the matter to the Lord. If we begin our day without serious time in prayer, we forfeit the divine protection that helps us resist temptation.
  6 - Camp at Gilgal The place already identified with this name near Jericho.
  7 - Men of Israel "The Hebrew has the singular 'man,' not 'men,' but the verb is plural, evidently because the 'men' are thought of as individuals. The LXX reads 'sons [children] of Israel' and the Syriac '[they] of the house of Israel.' Apparently the negotiations were carried on by the princes." v18.
 8 And they said unto Joshua, We are thy servants. And Joshua said unto them, Who are ye? and from whence come ye?
.9 And they said unto him, From a very far country thy servants are come because of the name of the LORD thy God: for we have heard the fame of him, and all that he did in Egypt,
 10 And all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites, that were beyond Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, which was at Ashtaroth.
  8 - We ... thy servants This was likely a polite formality Compare ge3204, ge5018, 2ki1004,5. Joshua's response showed doubt about the story. Here he should have gone to seek the Lord in earnest prayer. This is a lesson for us. Without the Holy Spirit, we feel like we are wise enough to make good decisions. Compare pr0305-7.
  9 - We have heard ... Or "in respect to the name." They showed a measure of faith. Their gods had not helped them.
 11 Wherefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spake to us, saying, Take victuals with you for the journey, and go to meet them, and say unto them, We are your servants: therefore now make ye a league with us. 
 12 This our bread we took hot for our provision out of our houses on the day we came forth to go unto you; but now, behold, it is dry, and it is mouldy:
 13 And these bottles of wine, which we filled, were new; and, behold, they be rent: and these our garments and our shoes are become old by reason of the very long journey.
 14 And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD.
  12 - Mouldy The Hebrew word is uncertain but usually translated as here in the KJV.
  14 - Took of  They examined them maybe tasting. This seemed like solid evidence.
  14 - Asked not counsel This is the key text of the chapter and a lesson for us. We must seek counsel from the testimony in the Scriptures. And we must pray for understanding. In the end times much that seems right is wrong re1313.
 15 ¶ And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation sware unto them.
 16 And it came to pass at the end of three days after they had made a league with them, that they heard that they were their neighbours, and that they dwelt among them.
.17 And the children of Israel journeyed, and came unto their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, and Chephirah, and Beeroth, and Kirjathjearim.
.18 And the children of Israel smote them not, because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by the LORD God of Israel. And all the congregation murmured against the princes.
  15 - Princes Probably heads of tribes.
  17 - Smote them not Or "did not strike them." The princes had sworn by God. Promises should be broken only if they are found to violate a principle of the Bible. See pr1222, ps2404, ps1504.
 19 But all the princes said unto all the congregation, We have sworn unto them by the LORD God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them.
 20 This we will do to them; we will even let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath which we sware unto them.
.21 And the princes said unto them, Let them live; but let them be hewers of wood and drawers of water unto all the congregation; as the princes had promised them.
  20 - Because of the oath It could not bind them to commit sin jg1129-40.
  21 - Let them be They were to do this for the house of God as well as for the congregation where they could learn about the true God.
 22 ¶ And Joshua called for them, and he spake unto them, saying, Wherefore have ye beguiled us, saying, We are very far from you; when ye dwell among us?
.23 Now therefore ye are cursed, and there shall none of you be freed from being bondmen, and hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God. 
.24 And they answered Joshua, and said, Because it was certainly told thy servants, how that the LORD thy God commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you, therefore we were sore afraid of our lives because of you, and have done this thing.
 25 And now, behold, we are in thine hand: as it seemeth good and right unto thee to do unto us, do.
"The Gibeonites had pledged themselves to renounce idolatry, and accept the worship of Jehovah; and the preservation of their lives was not a violation of God's command to destroy the idolatrous Canaanites. Hence the Hebrews had not by their oath pledged themselves to commit sin. And though the oath had been secured by deception, it was not to be disregarded. The obligation to which one's word is pledged if it do not bind him to perform a wrong act should be held sacred." (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 506).
 26 And so did he unto them, and delivered them out of the hand of the children of Israel, that they slew them not.
.27 And Joshua made them that day hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation, and for the altar of the LORD, even unto this day, in the place which he should choose.



Joshua home
Commentary home