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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 9

 

 

Verse 1

Joshua 9:1 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];

Ver. 1. The Hittite and the Amorite.] Some say the Girgashites are not here named, because that, of all the seven nations, they accepted of conditions; of peace; the rest, save only the Gibeonites, who were of the Hivites, [Joshua 9:7] stood it out to their utter destruction. If men harden their hearts, God will harden his hand, and hasten their ruin.


Verse 2

Joshua 9:2 That they gathered themselves together, to fight with Joshua and with Israel, with one accord.

Ver. 2. That they gathered themselves together, &c.] Herein they showed themselves far wiser than our forefathers, of whom Tacitus testifieth upon his own experience, for he had been in Brittany with his father-in-law Agricola, that nothing more disadvantaged them against the Romans, who conquered them, than dissension, that mother of dissolution. Seldom did two or three cities convene or combine: Ita dum singuli pugnant, universi vincuntur, and so when they cannot agree to fight together, they are undone together.


Verse 3

Joshua 9:3 And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai,

Ver. 3. And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard, &c.] The rest of the Canaanites had heard as much, but made not so good a use of it. Some hear and fear; others hear and are hardened. Some of St Paul’s hearers at Athens derided, others doubted, a few only believed. [Acts 17:32; Acts 17:34] Grace maketh the difference.


Verse 4

Joshua 9:4 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;

Ver. 4. They did work wilily.] They exercised a serpentine subtilty, and dealt fraudulently, as Genesis 3:1; but where was their columbine simplicity? [Matthew 10:16] They strain hard to save their lives. But a man should rather die than lie.


Verse 5

Joshua 9:5 And old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry [and] mouldy.

Ver. 5. And old shoes and clouted.] Papists, boasting so much of antiquity, are by one not unfitly compared to these Gibeonites with their old shoes and mouldy bread. Antiquity disjoined from verity is but filthy hoariness, and deserveth no more reverence than an old fornicator, who is so much the more odious because old. It is here at best, as in books, some of which are odorandae rubiginis, of greater antiquity than authority. Those were old things spoken of in 1 Chronicles 4:22, but no whit the better for that.


Verse 6

Joshua 9:6 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.

Ver. 6. We be come from a far country.] And therefore you may safely make a league with us. [Deuteronomy 20:11] Here was fair tale, but not a word of truth, Nusquam tuta fides.

Sit licit in partes circumspectissimus omnes,

Nemo tamen vulpes nemo cavere potest. ”


Verse 7

Joshua 9:7 And the men of Israel said unto the Hivites, Peradventure ye dwell among us; and how shall we make a league with you?

Ver. 7. Peradventure ye dwell among us.] Certe qui caret ne decipiatur, vi cavet dum etiam caret.


Verse 8

Joshua 9:8 And they said unto Joshua, We [are] thy servants. And Joshua said unto them, Who [are] ye? and from whence come ye?

Ver. 8. We are thy servants.] We come not to capitulate with thee, but to receive conditions from thee; and to be wholly at thine appointment. A servant is υπηρετης και οργανον, saith Aristotle, the master’s underling and instrument.


Verse 9

Joshua 9:9 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,

Ver. 9. From a very far country, &c.] Thus mendacium mendacio assunt, they lay lie upon lie, as those in Psalms 119:69. They had taught their tongues to speak lies, and were artists at it. [Jeremiah 9:5] They had taken fast hold of deceit. [Jeremiah 8:5]


Verse 10

Joshua 9:10 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.

Ver. 10. And all that he did to the two kings.] Not of Jericho and Ai, but of Heshbon and Pashan, things long since done, and far and near talked of.


Verse 11

Joshua 9:11 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.

Ver. 11. And go to meet them, and say.] Seeing we are not able to match them, it is good policy to meet them with entreaties of peace. Let us do the like by Almighty God. [Amos 4:12] Mittamus preces et lachrymas cordis legatos, saith Cyprian; Currat paenitentia ne praecurrat sententia, saith Chrysologus.


Verse 12

Joshua 9:12 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:

Ver. 12. This is our bread, &c.] See Joshua 9:5-6; Joshua 9:9.


Verse 13

Joshua 9:13 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.

Ver. 13. See Joshua 9:5-6; Joshua 9:9.


Verse 14

Joshua 9:14 And the men took of their victuals, and asked not [counsel] at the mouth of the LORD.

Ver. 14. And the men took of their victuals.] That is, they did eat of it in token of a league made with them, say some: others more probably, they took it and looked on it, to see whether it were hoary and mouldy, as they had said.

And asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord.] This precipitancy and credulity is seldom successful. Good Josiah lost his life by it. Sometimes both grace and wit are asleep in the holiest and wariest breasts.


Verse 15

Joshua 9:15 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.

Ver. 15. And Joshua made peace with them.] This was not without the Lord; who, as he glorified his justice in rooting out the rest of the Amorites, so he manifested his mercy in saving these Gibeonites from that general deluge of destruction.


Verse 16

Joshua 9:16 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.

Ver. 16. At the end of three days.] Truth is the daughter of time: falsehood will out at length. Some is so thin, that it may be presently seen through: and some again so closely and covertly carried, that it appeareth not till after a time.


Verse 17

Joshua 9:17 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.

Ver. 17. And Kirjathjearim.] Or, The city of woods; famous afterwards for the birth of the prophet Uriah there, who prophesied against Jerusalem, and suffered for speaking truth. [Jeremiah 26:20-22] Veritas odium parit.


Verse 18

Joshua 9:18 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.

Ver. 18. Smote them not.] But yet bore them on their backs, as we say, and murmured against the princes who were gulled by the Gibeonites, and the people by that means beguiled of the spoil of those great cities.

Because the princes … had sworn unto them.] ορκος quasi ερκος; an oath is a hedge which must not be lept over for the avoiding of a piece of fouler way. If the Gibeonites had been slain after an oath given for their security, the banks of blasphemy would have been broken down in those heathens that had heard of it.


Verse 19

Joshua 9:19 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.

Ver. 19. Now therefore we may not touch them.] Unless we will run upon the pikes of God’s displeasure, as Saul did four hundred years after this. [2 Samuel 21:1-2]


Verse 20

Joshua 9:20 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.

Ver. 20. Lest wrath be upon us.] In the twelve tables at Rome it was written, Periurii, poena divina, exitium; humans, dedecus." God punisheth perjury with destruction, men with disgrace. Tissaphernes the Persian being overcome by Agesilaus, desired a truce, and had it, both parties swearing to observe it. This Agesilaus did with great care, but not Tissaphernes. Agesilaus comforted himself and his army with this, that the Persian by his perjury would both provoke God and offend men, and should fare accordingly. (a)


Verse 21

Joshua 9:21 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.

Ver. 21. But let them be hewers of wood and drawers of water.] Lignatores et lixae: so they are freed from a natural death, because of the princes’ oath, but condemned to a civil death (slavery) by the princes’ sentence.

Unto all the congregation.] That they, in the meantime, as a royal nation might be privileged and exempted from such servile drudgery. A great mercy to the one, and, as it proved, no less to the other. See Ezra 2:43, {See Trapp on "Ezra 2:43"} These Gibeonites were afterwards called Nethinims, that is, Dedititii, or rather Deodati, men given to God, and to the public service of the sanctuary and people.


Verse 22

Joshua 9:22 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?

Ver. 22. Wherefore have ye beguiled us?] {See Trapp on "Joshua 9:6"} {See Trapp on "Joshua 9:7"} But was Joshua so light of belief? knew he not that Multis annis iam transactis? &c.


Verse 23

Joshua 9:23 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.

Ver. 23. Now therefore ye are cursed,] viz., With Cannaan’s curse, "A servant of servants," &c., which yet afterwards God turned to a blessing. See on Ezra 2:43, Genesis 9:25, and observe that it was literally fulfilled in these Canaanites.


Verse 24

Joshua 9:24 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.

Ver. 24. Therefore we were sore afraid of our lives.] Man is ζωον φιλοζωον, a life-loving creature. Skin for skin and all that he hath will he give for his life. But yet he purchaseth his life at too dear a rate who payeth his honesty to save it. He that thus saveth his life shall lose it. Life in God’s displeasure is worse than death, said that martyr.


Verse 25

Joshua 9:25 And now, behold, we [are] in thine hand: as it seemeth good and right unto thee to do unto us, do.

Ver. 25. And now, behold, we are in thine hand.] These ambassadors were masters of speech, which they here order very prudently and politically to effect that they came for. An orator, saith Quintilian - so, an ambassador - should be Vir bonus, dicendi peritus, a good man, well able to express himself.


Verse 26

Joshua 9:26 And so did he unto them, and delivered them out of the hand of the children of Israel, that they slew them not.

Ver. 26. And delivered them out of the hands of the children of Israel.] Whose fingers even itched, as they say, after the pillage of those great cities: but Joshua staved them off.


Verse 27

Joshua 9:27 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.

Ver. 27. For the congregation.] To do those works belonging to God’s service, which otherwise the people should have done. Ut lignatores essent et lixae.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 9:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-9.html. 1865-1868.

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