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Bible Commentaries

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Joshua 9

A.M. 2553. B.C. 1451.

The confederacy of the kings of Canaan against Israel, Joshua 9:1 , Joshua 9:2 . The confederacy of the Gibeonites with Israel, Joshua 9:3-18 . Their employment, Joshua 9:19-27 .

Verses 1-2

Joshua 9:1-2. In all the coasts of the great sea, &c. Some versions render this, And those along all the coasts of the great sea, and those about Lebanon. Heard thereof That is, of the taking of Jericho and Ai, for what immediately precedes, namely, about writing the law on stones in mount Ebal, did not concern these nations. They gathered themselves together to fight, &c. They entered into a league to do this. Though they were many kings of different nations, and doubtless of different interests, often at variance with each other, yet they are all determined to unite against Israel. O that Israel would learn this of Canaanites, to sacrifice private interests to the public good, and to lay aside all animosities among themselves, that they may cordially unite against the common enemy!

Verses 3-4

Joshua 9:3-4. And when Rather, but when; the inhabitants of Gibeon A great and royal city of the Hivites. They made as if they had been ambassadors Sent from a far country. Wine-bottles, old and rent, and bound up This seems scarce sense to us; but will appear clear enough when we recollect that glass bottles were not then known, but that bottles made of leather or skins were then used; and the Gibeonites, to make show of being come from a far country, brought with them such as were torn and rent, and bound about with strings or cords to keep them together.

Verse 6

Joshua 9:6. Unto the camp to Gilgal Joshua’s headquarters. And said to the men of Israel To those that used to meet in council with Joshua, to whom it belonged to make leagues, namely, the princes of the congregation. Now therefore make a league with us Because we are not of this people, whom, as we are informed, you are obliged utterly to destroy.

Verses 7-8

Joshua 9:7-8. The men of Israel said to the Hivites That is, the Gibeonites, who were Hivites, Joshua 11:19. Peradventure you dwell among us That is, in this land, and so are of that people with whom we are forbidden to make any league or covenant. They said We are thy servants We desire a league with you upon your own terms; we are ready to accept of any conditions. Joshua said, From whence come ye? For this free and general concession gave him cause to suspect that they were Canaanites.

Verse 9

Joshua 9:9. Because of the Lord thy God Being moved thereunto by the report of his great and glorious nature and works. Thus they gave them hopes that they would embrace their religion. In Egypt They cunningly mention those things only which were done some time ago, and say nothing of dividing Jordan, or the destruction of Jericho and Ai, as if they lived so far off that the fame of those things had not yet reached them.

Verse 14

Joshua 9:14. The men That is, the princes. Their victuals That they might examine the truth of what they said. Asked not at the mouth of the Lord As they ought to have done upon all such weighty occasions. So they are accused of rashness and neglect of their duty. For though it is probable, if God had been consulted, he would have consented to the sparing of the Gibeonites; yet it should have been done with more caution, and an obligation upon them to embrace the true religion. In every business of importance we should take God along with us, and by his word and prayer consult him. Many a time our affairs miscarry, because we ask not counsel at the mouth of the Lord. Did we acknowledge him in all our ways, they would be more safe, easy, and successful.

Verse 15

Joshua 9:15. Joshua made a league with them to let them live Not merely, it seems, to spare their lives, which, supposing them to belong to a far country, they had no warrant to take away, but to let them continue in the enjoyment of their effects; the word life in Scripture being frequently of equal signification with prosperity. That this league was lawful and obliging, appears, 1st, Because Joshua and all the princes, upon the review, concluded it so to be, and spared them accordingly. 2d, Because God punished the violation of it long after, 2 Samuel 21:1. 3d, Because God is said to have hardened the hearts of all other cities, not to seek peace with Israel, that so he might utterly destroy them, (Joshua 11:19-20,) which seems to imply that their utter destruction did not necessarily come upon them by virtue of any peremptory command of God, but by their own obstinate hardness, whereby they refused to make peace with the Israelites.

Verse 18

Joshua 9:18. All the congregation murmured against the princes Both from that proneness which is in people to censure the actions of their rulers, and from the desire of the spoil of these cities.

Verse 21

Joshua 9:21. Unto all the congregation That is, let them be public servants, and employed in the meanest offices (one kind being put for all the rest) for the use of the congregation; doing these things partly for the sacrifices and services of the house of God, which otherwise the Israelites themselves must have done; partly for the services of the camp or body of people; and sometimes even for particular Israelites.

Verses 22-23

Joshua 9:22-23. Called for them Probably not only the messengers, but the elders of Gibeon were now present. Therefore ye are cursed You shall not escape the curse of God, which, by divine sentence, belongs to all the Canaanites; but only change the quality of it. You shall feel that curse of bondage, which is proper to your race by virtue of that ancient decree, Genesis 9:25. Bondmen The slavery which is upon you shall be entailed on your posterity. The house of my God This only service they mention here, because it was their durable servitude, being first in the tabernacle, and then in the temple, whence they were called Nethinim, 1

Chronicles Joshua 9:2; Ezra 2:43; whereas their servitude to the whole congregation, in a great measure, ceased when the Israelites were dispersed to their several habitations.

Verse 25

Joshua 9:25. We are in thy hand, &c. In thy power to use us as thou wilt. We refer ourselves to thee and thy own piety, probity, and faithfulness, to fulfil thy word and oath; if thou wilt destroy thy humble supplicants, we submit. Let us, in like manner, submit to our Lord Jesus, and refer ourselves to him, saying, We are in thy hand, do unto us as it seemeth right unto thee. Only save our souls: give us our lives for a prey, and let us serve thee just as thou wilt!

Verse 27

Joshua 9:27. And for the altar of the Lord By which it appears, that they were not only to do this service in God’s house, but upon all other occasions, as the congregation needed their help.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Joshua 9". Benson's Commentary. 1857.