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The Law is written and rehearsed at mount Ebal. 30 Then Joshua built an altar the Levites, which bare the ark of unto the Lord God of Israel in the covenantof the LORD, as well mount Ebal,
the stranger, as he that was born 31 As Moses the servant of the among them; half of them over Lord commanded the children against mount Gerizim, and half of Israel, as it is written in the of them over against mount Ebal; book of the law of Moses, an al- as Moses the servant of the LORD tar of whole stones, over which had commanded before, that they mo man hath lift up any iron: and should bless the people of Israel. they offered thereon burnt offer- 34 And afterward he read all ings unto the Lord, and sacri- the words of the law, the blessings ficed peace offerings.
and cursings, according to all that 32 And he wrote there upon is written in the book of the law. the stones a copy of the law of 35 There was not a word of all Moses, which he wrote in the pre- that Moses commanded, which sence of the children of Israel. Joshua read not before all the
33 And all Israel, and their congregation of Israel, with the elders, and officers, and their women, and the little ones, and judges, stood on this side the ark the strangers that were conversand on that side before the priests ant among them.
LECTURE 377. The warrant of the Israelites for invading Canaan. The spot where this ceremony took place was about two days' journey from the plains of Jericho. And hence some have concluded that the ceremony, though related here, did not take place till afterwards; arguing, that it could not have been expedient or safe, for all the people to make so long an expedition into the country, whilst it was yet in possession of their enemies. But on looking back to the book of Deuteronomy, we shall see, that Moses commanded these stones to be set up, and this religious solemnity to be observed, immediately after the people should have passed over Jordan. See Deut. 27. 2, 3, 4.
And if Joshua was guided by God's direction, as to the exact time when this was to be done, he would no doubt also have God's protection in doing it. And it was no more strange that God should protect the Israelites, in advancing to mount Ebal, after the signal destruction of Jericho and Ai, than that He should protect them, as He did, in abiding still at Gilgal, whilst they were recovering from the effects of circumcision, after the miraculous passage over Jordan. Indeed we have but to look upon this ceremony in its just importance, as a solemn taking possession of the land, in the name of the Lord, and of his Law, and we shall then be no longer surprised to find, that notwithstanding some seeming inconvenience, this solemnity was performed, as soon as ever God had given to his people a firm footing in the country.
A solemn ceremony indeed it was; well fitted to impress the Israelites with a sense of their responsibility, as debtors to the
whole Law. And at the same time it must have plainly testified to the inbabitants of the land, that the people who invaded them were no rash or covetous adventurers, seeking to possess themselves unwarrantably of territory belonging to their neighbours ; but that they were a people that feared God, and were pledged to work righteousness as his servants, and were commissioned, as a part of their service due to Him, to take possession of Canaan in his name. This is the vital difference between the entrance of the Israelites into the promised land, and those unjustifiable settlements, too often made by Christian colonists, in territories to which they have had no right, except the right of lawless violence. Deep is the stain of shame with which proceedings of this kind have stained the name of Christian, amongst the heathen in all quarters of the globe. Deep is the concern which we ought to feel, for the honour of our Lord thus injured, in a point where of all others we were bound to maintain it to the uttermost, by the excellency of right Christian conduct. If the dark places of the earth are full of cruel habitations, see Ps. 74. 21, what must they who dwell therein be apt to think, of the refinements in cruelty, which they have learnt by sad experience, from natives of more enlightened lands? Which of all the chief settlements made by Christian nations in heathen countries, whether to the east or to the west, to the north or to the south, has not been formed at first, or afterwards conducted, in gross violation of the precepts of the Gospel ?
Not so did the Israelites on this occasion. In the Law which they rehearsed it was plainly written, that they should have the land of Canaan for their own. It was to be theirs by the promise of God. It was to be theirs by the gift of God. And they had express commands from God to use the utmost force of war, if needful, to dispossess the previous inhabitants. Hence they must have been led to look upon themselves not as wrongful invaders, cruel oppressors, but as upright and highly honoured ministers of the will of God most high. And hence the more their Law was known, and the more it was compared with their behaviour in this matter, they would be the more justly regarded as the chosen people of God, settled in the land of Canaan by his ap.. pointment, there to be a standing monument of his mercy, his justice, and bis truth, to all the children of men. Let us but as strictly obey the law of our commandments in the Gospel, and we as Christians shall fulfil the like honourable office, to be monuments of God's grace, to tell forth to all mankind the redemption He has wrought for all, by Jesus Christ our Lord. The weapons of our warfare are no longer carnal. Our sword is the word of God. Let us remember that our way to wield it most effectually, is to practise as well as preach it. Let us endeavour so to preach and so to practise it, that all the ends of the earth shall see, and thankfully accept, the salvation of our God.
The Gibeonites by craft obtain a league. 1 And it came to pass, when all said unto them, Who are ye? and the kings which were on this side from whence come ye? Jordan, in the hills, and in the 9 And they said unto him, From valleys, and in all the coasts of a very far country thy servants the great sea over against Leba- are come because of the name of non, the Hittite, and the Amo- LORD thy God: for we have rite, the Canaanite, the Periz- heard the fame of him, and all zite, the Hivite, and the Jebu- that he did in Egypt, site, heard thereof;
10 And all that he did to the two 2 That they gathered them- kings of the Amorites, that were selves together, to fight with Jo- beyond Jordan, to Sihon king of shua and with Israel, with one Heshbon, and to Og king of Baaccord.
shan, which was at Ashtaroth. 3 And when the inhabitants of 11 Wherefore our elders and all Gibeon heard what Joshua had the inhabitants of our country done unto Jericho and to Ai, spake to us, saying, Take victuals
4 They did work wilily, and with you for the journey, and went and made as if they had been to meet them, and say unto them, ambassadors, and took old sacks We are your servants: therefore upon
their asses, and wine bot- now make ye a league with us. tles, old, and rent, and bound up; 12 This our bread we took hot
5 And old shoes and clouted for our provision outof our houses upon their feet, and old garments on the day we came forth to go upon them; and all the bread of unto you; but now, behold, it is their provision was dry and dry, and it is mouldy: mouldy.
13 And these bottles of wine, 6 And they went to Joshua un- which we filled, were new; and, to the camp at Gilgal, and said behold, they be rent: and these unto him, and to the men of Is- our garments and our shoes are rael, We be come from a far become old by reason of the very country: now therefore make ye long journey. a league with us.
14 And the men took of their 7 And the men of Israel said victuals, and asked not counsel at unto the Hivites, Peradventure the mouth of the Lord. ye dwell among us; and how 15 And Joshua made
peace with shall we make a league with them, and made a league with you?
them, to let them live: and the 8 And they said unto Joshua, princes of the congregation We are thy servants. And Joshua sware unto them.
LECTURE 378. Of diligence in working out our salvation. Six out of the seven condemned nations of Canaan, see Deut. 7. 1, are here mentioned as having “gathered themselves together, to fight with Joshua and with Israel, with one accord.” They appear to have utterly rejected at once all thoughts of peace. And they may remind us how large is the proportion of sinners, who are averse to that way of reconciliation, which God
in his mercy has provided. And indeed, if we look round on this lower world, with eyes enlightened by acquaintance with the Scripture, does not the great bulk of mankind seem as it were leagued together against the cause of God? Nay, if we look only on them that dwell
in Christian countries, is there not a very fearfully great number of those, who uphold one another in resistance to God's will; as for instance, in pride, in covetousness, in sensuality, in the spirit of strife, in the pursuit of revenge? Never let us be tempted either by the numbers, or by the rank, of those who band together for wrong, to venture ourselves on any other side than that which God has taken. Whatever loss it may for the present entail upon us, whatever difficulty, whatever selfdenial, let us in every thing resign ourselves implicitly to that, which we believe on good grounds to be the will of God.
The inhabitants of Gibeon were of the nation of the Hivites. And their city was situated in a part of the land not far from Jericho and Ai. They must therefore have had early intelligence of the mighty works which God had wrought in behalf of his people. Upon the strength of this intelligence, they desired to obtain peace for themselves, though the king of their nation was one of those who joined in the league against the Israelites. In order to gain their object they had recourse to deceit. Fear was the thing which prompted them to falsehood. But no danger, however urgent, can justify a lie. The falsehood of these inhabitants of Gibeon, as recorded in the Old Testament, like the injustice of the steward as set forth in the New Testament, is not meant for our imitation ; though it may well serve to teach us this useful lesson, that “the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” Luke 16. 8.
Let us then abhor the deceitfulness which these Hivites practised. Let us at all costs both speak and act the truth. But let us endeavour to be as diligent, and active, and urgent, in working out our salvation from sin and death, as they were in securing their deliverance from the destroying sword of Joshua. Not only is it useless in our case to apply artifice. It is at our peril that we attempt to deceive. We have to deal with One who knows our most secret thoughts; One, whom to deceive is impossible. But He would have us use the full vigour of our faculties, in apprehending the true way of peace. He would have us apply the full force of our most earnest desires, in praying for assurance of protection. From all that we have heard of his mighty works, by the testimony of others, He would have us to be alarmed for our safety, driven to Him for deliverance, and animated with full purpose to flee, with all our might, and with all our speed, from the wrath to come.
Confirm, O Lord, we pray Thee, thy gracious league with us. And give us, we pray Thee, the comfortable assurance, that Thou art at peace with us for ever; through Jesus Christ our Saviour.
The Gibeonites are sentenced to perpetual bondage. 16 And it came to pass at the 22 And Joshua called for them, end of three days after they had and he spake unto them, saying, made a league with them, that Wherefore have ye beguiled us, they heard that they were their saying, We are very far from neighbours, and that they dwelt you; when ye dwell among us?
23 Now therefore yeare cursed, 17 And the children of Israel and there shall none of you
be journeyed, and came unto their freed from being bondmen, and cities on the third day. Now their hewers of wood and drawers of cities were Gibeon, and Chephi- water for the house of my God. rah, and Beeroth, and Kirjath- 24 And they answered Joshua, jearim.
and said, Because it was cer18 And the children of Israel tainly told thy servants, how that smote them not, because the the Lord thy God commanded princes of the congregation had his servant Moses to give you all sworn unto them by the LORD the land, and to destroy all the God of Israel. And all the con- inhabitants of the land from begregation murmured against the fore you, therefore we were sore princes.
afraid of our lives because of you, 19 But all the princes said un- and have done this thing. to all the congregation, We have 25 And now, behold, we are in sworn unto them by the Lord thine hand: as it seemeth good God of Israel: now therefore we and right unto thee to do unto may not touch them.
20 This we will do to them; we 26 And so did he unto them, will even let them live, lest wrath and delivered them out of the be upon us, because of the oath hand of the children of Israel, which we sware unto them. that they slew them not.
21 And the princes said unto 27 And Joshua made them that them, Let them live; but let day hewers of wood and drawers them be hewers of wood and draw- of water for the congregation, ers of water unto all the congre- and for the altar of the Lord, gation; as the princes had pro- even unto this day, in the place mised them.
which he should choose. LECTURE 379.
The solemn obligation of an oath. The Psalmist has spoken of the happiness of the man, who “sweareth unto his neighbour, and disappointeth him not; though it were to his own hindrance." Ps. 15. 5. We have an instructive instance of this upright principle, in the conduct of Joshua on this occasion. It was manifestly under a false impression, that he and the princes of the congregation had formed this league. It was equally true, that this false impression was made by means of a false statement on the part of those who sought to gain advantage by the league thus obtained. Here was ground on which many a man would be apt to conclude, I need not observe the league formed under these circumstances. But Joshua and the princes of the congregation