Joshua 9

1 When all the kings who were beyond the Jordan, in the hill country, and in the lowland, and on all the shore of the great sea in front of Lebanon, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, heard of it 2 they gathered themselves together to fight with Joshua and with Israel, with one accord. 3 But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, 4 they also resorted to a ruse, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks on their donkeys, and old, torn-up and bound up wine skins, 5 and old and patched shoes on their feet, and wore old garments. All the bread of their food supply was dry and moldy. 6 They went to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal, and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a far country. Now therefore make a covenant with us.” 7 The men of Israel said to the Hivites, “What if you live amongst us. How could we make a covenant with you?” 8 They said to Joshua, “We are your servants.” Joshua said to them, “Who are you? Where do you come from?” 9 They said to him, “Your servants have come from a very far country because of the name of the LORD your God; for we have heard of his fame, all that he did in Egypt, 10 and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon and to Og king of Bashan, who was at Ashtaroth. 11 Our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, ‘Take supplies in your hand for the journey, and go to meet them. Tell them, “We are your servants. Now make a covenant with us.”’ 12 This our bread we took hot for our supplies out of our houses on the day we went out to go to you; but now, behold, it is dry, and has become moldy. 13 These wine skins, which we filled, were new; and behold, they are torn. These our garments and our shoes have become old because of the very long journey.” 14 The men sampled their provisions, and didn’t ask counsel from the LORD’s mouth. 15 Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them, to let them live. The princes of the congregation swore to them. 16 At the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, they heard that they were their neighbors, and that they lived amongst them. 17 The children of Israel traveled and came to their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath Jearim. 18 The children of Israel didn’t strike them, because the princes of the congregation had sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel. All the congregation murmured against the princes. 19 But all the princes said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel. Now therefore we may not touch them. 20 We will do this to them, and let them live; lest wrath be on us, because of the oath which we swore to them.” 21 The princes said to them, “Let them live, so they became wood cutters and drawers of water for all the congregation, as the princes had spoken to them.” 22 Joshua called for them, and he spoke to them, saying, “Why have you deceived us, saying, ‘We are very far from you,’ when you live amongst us? 23 Now therefore you are cursed, and some of you will never fail to be slaves, both wood cutters and drawers of water for the house of my God.” 24 They answered Joshua, and said, “Because your servants were certainly told how the LORD your 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 very afraid for our lives because of you, and have done this thing. 25 Now, behold, we are in your hand. Do to us as it seems good and right to you to do.” 26 He did so to them, and delivered them out of the hand of the children of Israel, so that they didn’t kill them. 27 That day Joshua made them wood cutters and drawers of water for the congregation and for the LORD’s altar to this day, in the place which he should choose.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–2

Hitherto the Canaanites had defended themselves, but here they consult to attack Israel. Their minds were blinded, and their hearts hardened to their destruction. Though often at enmity with each other, yet they united against Israel. Oh that Israel would learn of Canaanites, to sacrifice private interests to the public welfare, and to lay aside all quarrels among themselves, that they may
unite against the enemies of God’s kingdom! (Jos 9:3-13)

Verses 3–13

Other people heard these tidings, and were driven thereby to make war upon Israel; but the Gibeonites were led to make peace with them. Thus the discovery of the glory and the grace of God in the gospel, is to some a savour of life unto life, but to others a savour of death unto death, 2Co 2:16. The same sun softens wax and hardens clay. The falsehood of the Gibeonites cannot be justified. We must not do evil that good may themselves to the God of Israel, we have reason to think Joshua would have been directed by the oracle of God to spare their lives. But when they had once said, “We are come from a far country,” they were led to say it made of skins, and their clothes: one lie brings on another, and that a third, and so on. The way of that sin is especially down-hill. Yet their faith and prudence are to be commended. In submitting to Israel they submitted to the God of Israel, which implied forsaking their idolatries. And how can we do better than cast ourselves upon the mercy of a God of all goodness? The way to avoid judgment is to meet it by repentance. Let us do like these Gibeonites, seek peace with God in the rags of abasement, and godly sorrow; so our sin shall not be our ruin. Let us be servants to Jesus, our blessed Joshua, and we shall live.

Verses 14–21

The Israelites, having examined the provisions of the Gibeonites, hastily concluded that they confirmed their account. We make more haste than good speed, when we stay not to take God with us, and do not consult him by the word and prayer. The fraud was soon found out. A lying tongue is but for a moment. Had the oath been in itself unlawful, it would not have been binding; for no obligation can render it our duty to commit a sin. But it was not unlawful to spare the Canaanites who submitted, and left idolatry, desiring only that their lives might be spared. A citizen of Zion swears to his own hurt, and changes not, Ps 15:4. Joshua and the princes, when they found that they had been deceived, did not apply to Eleazar the high priest to be freed from their engagement, much less did they pretend that no faith is to be kept with those to whom they had sworn. Let this convince us how we ought to keep our promises, and make good our bargains; and what conscience we ought to make of our words.

Verses 22–27

The Gibeonites do not justify their lie, but plead that they did it to save their lives. And the fear was not merely of the power of man; one might flee from that to the Divine protection; but of the power of God himself, which they saw engaged against them. Joshua sentences them to perpetual bondage. They must be servants, but any work becomes honourable, when it is done for the house of the Lord, and the offices thereof. Let us, in like manner, submit to our Lord Jesus, saying, We are in thy hand, do unto us as seemeth good and right unto thee, only save our souls; and we shall not repent it. If He appoints us to bear his cross, and serve him, that shall be neither shame nor grief to us, while the meanest office in God’s service will entitle us to a dwelling in the house of the Lord all the days of our life. And in coming to the Saviour, we do not proceed upon a peradventure. We are invited to draw nigh, and are assured that him that cometh to Him, he will in nowise cast out. Even those things which sound harsh, and are humbling, and form sharp trials of our sincerity, will prove of real advantage.

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