The Kings Combine against Israel.
1. all the kings which were on this
side—that is, the western side of Jordan.
in the hills, and in ther valleys, and in all
the coasts of the great sea—This threefold distinction marks
out very clearly a large portion of Canaan. The first designates the
hill country, which belonged afterwards to the tribes of Judah and
Ephraim: the second, all the low country from Carmel to Gaza; and the
third, the shores of the Mediterranean, from the Isthmus of Tyre to the
plain of Joppa. (As for the tribes mentioned, see on Nu 13:29).
heard thereof—that is, of the
sacking of Jericho and Ai, as well as the rapid advance of the
Israelites into the interior of the country.
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.
The Gibeonites Obtain a League by
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
took old sacks upon their
asses—Travellers in the East transport their luggage on
beasts of burden; the poorer sort stow all their necessaries, food,
clothes, utensils together, in a woollen or hair-cloth sack, laid
across the shoulders of the beast they ride upon.
wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound
up—Goat-skins, which are better adapted for carrying liquor
of any kind fresh and good, than either earthenware, which is porous,
or metallic vessels, which are soon heated by the sun. These skin
bottles are liable to be rent when old and much used; and there are
various ways of mending them—by inserting a new piece of leather,
or by gathering together the edges of the rent and sewing them in the
form of a purse, or by putting a round flat splinter of wood into the
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
bread … dry and mouldy—This must
have been that commonly used by travellers—a sort of biscuit made
in the form of large rings, about an inch thick, and four or five
inches in diameter. Not being so well baked as our biscuits, it becomes
hard and mouldy from the moisture left in the dough. It is usually
soaked in water previous to being used.
6-14. they went to Joshua unto the camp at
Gilgal—Arrived at the Israelitish headquarters, the strangers
obtained an interview with Joshua and the elders, to whom they opened
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
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
18:26; Ezr 2:25; Ne 7:29).
Beeroth—(2Sa 4:2), now El Berich, about twenty
minutes' distance from El Jib (Gibeon).
Kirjath-jearim—"the city of forests,"
now Kuryet-el-Enab [Robinson].
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
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).