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The Gibeonites by craft obtain a league.
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
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?
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 behewers of wood and drawers of water unto all the congregation; as the princes had promised them.
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.
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.
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
had one short answer to give to all such ensnaring questions: "We have sworn unto them by the LORD God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them." It was a hasty proceeding to take this oath without further enquiry. And they who had now discovered their mistake, must have felt how foolish a thing it was not to have asked counsel at the mouth of the Lord. See ver. 14. But though they suffered loss themselves, by being debarred from taking these four cities, though they found all the congregation murmuring against them, though they might have pleaded the fraud by which the league was obtained, and might have been tempted to plead further that the Lord's work was hindered by the escape of these four cities, still they resolved to abide by the words which they had sworn in the name of the Lord God of Israel. If we act hastily, we shall often have to regret our haste. If we decide without asking counsel of God, without considering what is his will in the matter, we must be prepared to suffer loss. But let us rather suffer any loss than violate an oath, or not keep an agreement. Let us rather brave the murmurs and reproaches of the world, than run the least risk that God should hold us guilty of taking his name in vain.
As for the inhabitants of these four Hivite cities, it must be allowed that they gained some present benefit by the falsehood they were guilty of. For it is evident, that but for their league, the children of Israel would have smitten them with the edge of the sword. Thus the men of these cities saved their lives. And this seems to be all for which they had agreed. They had given up their liberty, in saying, "We are your servants." Ver. 11. And the league which Joshua made with them was "to let them live." Ver. 15. It was therefore no infringement of this league to make them perpetual bondsmen, to punish them for their fraud by the most strict bondage, and the most laborious work. "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 God." But see the mercy of God! What a miracle of goodness is manifest in this punishment! What a blessed change for these idolatrous Hivites, to become servants, though the very lowest, in the house of the true God! Well may we be disposed to think that in them, as in Rahab, faith was counted unto them for righteousness. Both parties were guilty of deceit. But both really believed. Both were really persuaded of God's almighty power, exerted in behalf of Israel; though both still sought to gain their object by the practice of deceit. In both we have ground to think, that the sin was set down to their heathen ignorance; whilst their faith, in such unfavourable circumstances, redounded, through God's mercy, to their gain. We for our part have the inestimable privilege of knowing, not only what great things God has done for us, but also how we ought to walk and to please Him. Let it be our desire and endeavour, so to believe, as always to obey.
The victory which God gave to Joshua over five kings.
shua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee.
1 Now it came to pass, when 8 And the LORD said unto JoAdoni-zedec king of Jerusalem had heard how Joshua had taken Ai, and had utterly destroyed it; as he had done to Jericho and her king, so he had done to Ai and her king; and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel, and were among them;
2 That they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, as one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all the men thereof were mighty. 3 Wherefore Adoni-zedec king of Jerusalem sent unto Hoham king of Hebron, and unto Piram king of Jarmuth, and unto Japhia king of Lachish, and unto Debir king of Eglon, saying,
4 Come up unto me, and help me, that we may smite Gibeon: for it hath made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel.
5 Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, the king of Eglon, gathered themselves together, and went up, they and all their hosts, and encamped before Gibeon, and made war against it. 6 And the men of Gibeon sent unto Joshua to the camp to Gilgal, saying, Slack not thy hand from thy servants; come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us: for all the kings of the Amorites that dwell in the mountains are gathered together against us.
7 So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valour.
9 Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night.
10 And the LORD discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Beth-horon, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah.
11 And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Beth-horon, that the LORD cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.
12 Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.
13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.
14 And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.