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Bible Commentaries

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Joshua 9

 

 

Verses 1-27

This time shall we turn to the book of Joshua, chapter nine as we begin our study this evening.

Now the children of Israel had conquered Jericho and Ai, which were strong cities. The kings that were in the land of Canaan where they were coming, felt that their only hope of stopping this migration of these people into the land would be by a combined effort, pooling all of their armies, all of their resources in one massive assault against Israel. Now this strategy was really prompted by the fact that the Gibeonites, which did cover an area of several cities, had determined that their only hope of survival was by a peace treaty.

So he starts out the ninth chapter, the first three verses talking about the kings that were getting together to present a united front against this invasion. Lest they would just be picked off kingdom by kingdom, they felt that they should all get together. Then, beginning with verse four, they tell of this Gibeonite conspiracy to develop a peace treaty with the Israelites as they were coming into the land.

Now the Gibeonites had heard of how God had delivered these people out of Egypt, and how He had destroyed the Egyptians. They had heard of how the kings of Og and Sihon, of their kingdoms on the other side of Jordan, had been conquered by Israel. They heard, of course, that Jericho had fallen, that Ai had fallen. So they determined that their best course of action was to make a peace treaty. However, they also knew that these people that were coming into the land, the Israelites, had no intention of making any peace treaties with the inhabitants of the land. For they were under the orders of God to utterly drive out all of the inhabitants of the land, to destroy, to drive out, not to make any covenant with them.

Deuteronomy, chapter seven, God commands them not to make any covenant with those in the land. So they knew that their only hope of making a covenant was by a disguise which they perpetrated. They got some fellows who put on some old, ragged clothes, old clodded shoes, they had some old wine skins that were falling to pieces, that they bound up. They had some dry moldy bread. So they came to the camp of Israel, and they said that, "We have come a long journey. But the fame of your God has spread through the world, and we"ve come to make peace with you."

They said, "How do we know that you"re not our neighbors?" They said, "Oh, listen when we left home this bread was hot in our hands, and now look at it, it"s all dry and moldy. That"s how far we"ve come. Our shoes were new on our feet, but look how ragged they are, and we"ve really come a long way."

So the children of Israel took of their victuals, [and inquired not of the Lord,] or sought not to counsel from the mouth of the Lord ( Joshua 9:14 ).

And they made this covenant or peace treaty with the Gibeonites, and they swore unto them by God that they would have sort of a mutual defense pact that they would be allied together.

So as the children of Israel moved on from Ai, they started coming into the area of the kingdom of the Gibeonites, these cities. So as they started to deploy the troops to attack the cities, the men said, "Oh no, no you can"t do that."

They said, "What do you mean?"

They said, "We"ve just made a pact with you, and you"ve sworn to us by God that you would not attack us." So they honored the pact that they had made. They realized that they had been deceived. But they honored the pact that they had made with the Gibeonites; however, the people began to murmur against Joshua because of his strategic blunder.

It is interesting to note that this is really the second mistake that Joshua made as a leader. The first mistake was in the case of Ai where they sent up only a few thousand troops, and the men of Ai came out against them and defeated them. Now how that when Joshua cried unto the Lord, the Lord told him the reason for the defeat was because of the sin that was in the camp. That one of the children of Israel had taken of the accursed thing out of the spoils of Jericho, which were all to go to God. So Joshua then sought the Lord, got rid of the sin, and the Lord directed them then on how the conquest of Ai should go.

Now the problem with Ai was his failure to pray and seek counsel from God before they deployed the troops to attack the city. The same problem existed here. It was a failure to pray and inquire of God concerning the Gibeonites. They just looked at the outward circumstances. They saw the dry, moldy bread and the ragged clothes, and they just were deceived.

Now had they sought counsel from God, had he come to Eleazar the high priest and inquired of the Lord concerning these people, the Lord would"ve shown to them that these people were fakes. They would"ve realized that these men were just seeking to disguise themselves as having come on a long journey. But in reality they were fakes, but the Lord would"ve revealed that. They inquired not of the Lord. Their mistake was that of failure to seek God"s counsel. It got them into an ungodly alliance.

How many times we found ourselves in ungodly situations because we failed to seek God first. Oh, for sure when we get into these conditions, then we seek God like everything. But if we would only seek God first, we could be spared so many of these tragic experiences that we encounter in life. So the failure to seek God"s guidance led them into this alliance with the Gibeonites.

But having once made it, they honored it. However, Joshua called them and said, "All right you guys why did you deceive us like this?"

They said, "Hey, we knew that God was with you, that God was turning the land over to you, and we feared for our lives, and we felt that the only way we could survive was by this little ruse."

Joshua said, "All right but as a result of this you fellas are gonna have to be the hewers of wood and become our servants."

They said, "That"s fine, we"ll agree to that, we"ll be your servants. We will serve you but we"re just glad to be alive." So the people of Gibeon, and the cities of Gibeon were spared.

Now the names of the city of the Gibeonites are listed there. In the listing of the names in verse seventeen, the last name Kirjathjearim is an interesting name and city, because it was at Kirjathjearim that the Ark of the Covenant was kept up until the time of David when he moved it from there to Jerusalem. So one of the cities of the Gibeonites became the place where the Ark of the Covenant was kept.

Now when these five kings heard that the Gibeonites had made this league with the children of Israel, then they decided to attack the Gibeonites, more or less, as traitors. So they came against the Gibeonites.

Chapter12

Now that was a tragedy that they did leave unconquered territory, because they left it, it did become a problem later on to them. Now in chapter eleven it gives a list of the names of the kings that were in this land that they destroyed, or that they, that they had come against. So chapter twelve gives you a roster of the kings that they defeated.

Chapter13

In chapter thirteen,

Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; [It means that he was beginning to be a little feeble. The idea of "stricken in years" refers to more or less the feebleness that oftentimes accompanies old age.] ... and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed ( Joshua 13:1 ).

This, as I said, was one of their tragedies, is their failure to continue until they had taken all of the land that God had promised. Now there is a sequel to that in our own spiritual lives. As I have told you before, coming into the land of promise, and taking the land of promise as a spiritual sequel, the life of victory, the walking in the Spirit that God wants you to know, the victory over the flesh and the old flesh life.

Now God has promised you victory over your flesh life. It is a victory that all you have to do is go in and claim, lay claim to it. "Every place you put your foot, God has given it to you for a possession."

Now the tragic thing with so many Christians is they start off in the Spirit in a very powerful way. They make great initial spiritual strides in their lives. But then they will hit a spiritual plateau where a complacency will settle over them, and they"re no longer eager for conquest. They"re no longer really striving towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God, but they begin to sort of kick back in spiritual ease and resting upon the past victory. So that oftentimes when you talk to them their conversation is always of some past spiritual victory and blessing that they experienced in their life. But there"s nothing fresh and up to date. Most of the spiritual victories are relegated to some historic period in their own walk and experience, and they"re always remembering the glory days of the past, "Oh, I can remember the days of the tent." Glorying in the work of God in my life while we were in the tent. Or "the days in the little church", but it is always a sign of spiritual stagnation when you"ve got to look back to relate some vital experience with God. God wants you to have an up-to-the-moment experience of His grace and power and love in your life, and His victory.

Now they came to the place where they were satisfied, they were content; they didn"t press on to the full victory. Beware of spiritual plateaus. Beware of that spiritual complacency where you come to the place where you"re spiritually satisfied, "This is as far as I need to go, far as I desire to go. As far as the rest of the things in my life, I can live with them." Whenever you can start living comfortably with your flesh, you are in danger spiritually. Our flesh is a constant enemy to our walk in the Spirit. "The spirit is lusting against the flesh, and the flesh against the spirit, and these two are contrary"( Galatians 5:17 ), the scripture said. They"re opposed to each other. Thus, how important that we press on to the full possession of that which God has promised unto us. But there remained yet very much land to be possessed. So it tells the territories that they had not yet conquered.

Now God had told them to "divide it by lot to the Israelites for an inheritance as I have commanded you."

Verse fourteen,

Only unto the tribe of Levi there is no inheritance; the sacrifices of the Lord God of Israel made by fire are their inheritance, as he said unto them. Now Moses gave to the tribe of the children of Ruben the inheritance according to their families ( Joshua 13:14-15 ).

He describes the borders on the other side of the Jordan River that belonged to Reuben. Then to the tribe of Gad he describes in verse twenty-five to the end, the borders of the area that were given to Gad, again on the other side of the Jordan River east from Jericho.

Chapter14

Now in chapter fourteen we have the interesting account of this fellow Caleb. When Moses had sent out the twelve spies to go into the land, Caleb was a companion to Joshua. They spied out the south country of Israel. From near Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, the valley of Eshcol, on over to the valley of Elah, and southwards towards Hebron, and Beersheba on down to the southern border of Kadesh-Barnea.

Now when they came back and gave the good report, said, "Hey that land is great." They had a big bunch of grapes that they carried on a stake between them. They got this pole and they tied this huge bunch of grapes. I"ll tell you there in the Valley of Eshcol they have some beautiful, beautiful grapes. Some of the most, ah-can"t talk about it. They are good, they are eating grapes. The Jews only really grow table grapes, and they are, they"re just delicious. That the Moslems only grow the table grapes; the Jews grow the wine grapes. But the Moslems grow the eating grapes, because the Moslems don"t believe in drinking wine. So they only grow table grapes. The area, of course, there in the valley of Eshcol, Hebron and so forth, is Moslem territory, the Arabs. But they have some of the most delicious grapes. Even to the present day, and huge bunches.

So these guys picked one of these great bunches of grapes. They were some of the first tourists to go into the land of Israel. The word "spies" actually is the word for "tourist" in Hebrew. They brought back souvenirs, this big bunch of grapes. They said, "Wow that land is all right. You know; it"s flowing with milk and honey. Look at this bunch of grapes that we"ve picked. Oh, it"s a good land."

But the ten other spies said, "Oh man, it"s a land that eats up its inhabitants. They have huge cities, big walls, and there are giants there. We were like grasshoppers." And these ten spies put fear in the heart of Israel and they turned away.

Now Moses when God said, "All right you know you"re gonna have to wander". Moses promised Caleb, he said, "Look Caleb, when we take the land, you can have that territory that you spied out. That"s yours." So they had covered, they had conquered pretty much the northern part, the upper Galilee region, the area of Samaria.

Now Caleb came to Joshua, and he said, "Joshua, when you and I spied out the land, when we came back and gave our report to Moses, you"ll remember that Moses promised me that I could have for my family, the territory that we spied out." He said, "Now look I"m eighty-five years old, but I"m just as strong as the day that we spied out the land." He said, "I want your permission now to go down and take that land that was promised to me."

I love the grit of this old fellow. Eighty-five years old, he says, "Man, I"m ready to go to battle. I"m ready to take that land that God had promised to me, that Moses promised that I could have. I want your permission now to go down and take it." So Joshua gave unto Caleb the permission to go down the area of Hebron, and those areas around Hebron, the areas that were promised to Caleb. So Caleb went down and conquered that area around Hebron. He was from the tribe of Judah, and Judah actually had that entire area south from Jerusalem, east to the Dead Sea, Jordan River, Dead Sea, and west all the way on over towards the Elah Valley where from there to the coast was the tribe of Dan.

So Joshua blessed him, [verse thirteen of chapter fourteen] and he gave him Hebron, [and the environs about it] for his inheritance. [The reason given the end of verse fourteen] because he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel ( Joshua 14:13-14 ).

Chapter15

So in chapter fifteen he describes the portion that was given from Judah, and he tells the borders of the land that was given to Judah, going over at one point, clear to the Mediterranean, the area of Hebron, and the area basically south of Jerusalem. Then it tells of the various villages and the cities, and all that were in the land that was given to Judah.

In verse sixty-two one of the interesting cities is Engedi, which is down by the Dead Sea. It is still existing there today. It is one of my favorite places to visit. They have fantastic dates in Engedi, and they also have a beautiful waterfall, Fern Grotto, just an absolutely gorgeous area. We got some beautiful pictures of Engedi, and we are hoping to get our film edited pretty soon, sort of a travel log of Israel, and let you see some of that beautiful, beautiful country.

Chapter16

In chapter sixteen he describes the areas that were given then to Manasseh, and to Ephraim, the sons, or the descendants of Joseph. Now part of the tribe of Manasseh settled on the east banks of the Jordan River, but the other part settled on the west banks of the Jordan from the area of Jericho, on up through Bethel, and the area basically just north from the area of Jerusalem, and going north from there north of Judah.

So verse ten, chapter sixteen,

They drove not out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer: but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites unto this day, and they serve under tribute ( Joshua 16:10 ).

So again the failure of totally conquering the land. As we get into the book of Judges, we"ll see the cost of this disobedience of failing to totally take the land, but allowing some of the people to remain. As the scripture predicted they did become thorns in their sides, and pricks, and they became a real problem to them in time to come. We"ll cover that as we move on into Judges. But we"ll finish the book of Joshua next Sunday.

Now in some of the reading that we skipped over tonight, the listing of all those names, you can"t even find the ruins of all those cities anymore. So it"s no sense of reading all the things, when you get to those listing of names, just jump over them, else your Bible reading will become tedious indeed. So just jump over whenever you start getting a list of a lot of names.

Now I do suggest that you get a good Bible map of the division of the land to the twelve tribes. And a good map will do a lot more for you to understand the places where the twelve tribes lived than trying to read the borders of the cities that don"t even exist anymore. So just get you a good Bible map and you can study it on a good Bible map, the portion out of the land.

Now what they did is that they would draw out the area, and then they would have all the tribes" names in a little box or something, and they"d put, say, "Okay now this area on down from Jerusalem on south", and so forth, and say, "All right now who"s gonna have this?" They"d draw the lot and "Oh Judah", "Okay that"s Judah"s". So they apportioned the land by lot, by the drawing of lots. They would circumscribe an area, then draw lots and it would go to that tribe whose was drawn for that particular area.

So next week we move on to the finishing of the apportioning of the land to the various tribes, and to Joshua"s final charge to the people, and his death.

Shall we stand?

May the Lord bring you into a special consciousness of His presence, of His love, of His interest in your life. May you walk in the consciousness of God"s grace, and be led by His Spirit. May you come into a new relationship with God, a very personal relationship with God. In Jesus" name. "

 


Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.

Bibliography Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Joshua 9:4". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/joshua-9.html. 2014.

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