Joshua 10:6: The Gibeonites Petition Joshua for Relief

Verse 6:[1] And the men of Gibeon sent unto Joshua (Josh. 5:10; 9:6) to the camp to Gilgal, saying, Slack not thy hand from thy servants; come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us: for all the kings of the Amorites that dwell in the mountains are gathered together against us.

[They sent] While they were surrounded and besieged by enemies, as it appears, not beforehand: which shows their confidence in the power of God, whose religion they had recently undertaken. Hence they say, Save us, as those doubting nothing (Masius). I translate it, they had sent, namely, before the siege (Piscator).

The men of Gibeon sent, or, had sent, when their enemies were drawn towards them, which they could easily learn.

[Withdraw not thine hands (thus Tigurinus), אַל־תֶּ֥רֶף יָדֶ֖יךָ[2]] Slack not thine hands (Munster, similarly Montanus, Septuagint). Relax not thine hands, that is, neglect not to bring help (Vatablus).

Slack not thy hand; do not neglect nor delay to help us.

[From the help of thy servants] Hebrew: from thy servants.[3] They understand in whose presence they plead. Barbarous men would hesitate at this appellation, and would enter into this reasoning among themselves: The loss of servants is a trifle: Why should we communicate our dangers with them, etc.? But whom pure Religion has informed, as in the love of God, so also in true humanity, to them every condition of life, however lowly, instills the necessity of brining help. Neither is a Prince able to neglect his citizens, nor a master his servants, in dangers of life or body, without base cruelty; no more than a father his own children. And the civil laws liberate the servant that, imperiled by sickness, his master cast out, etc. (Masius). Subordinates (are) to be defended. Livy, History of Rome 7, their honor seemed to be involved in not betraying those that had surrendered[4] (Grotius).

From thy servants, whom thou art obliged to protect both in duty, as thou art our master and ruler; and by thy own interest, we being part of thy possessions; and in ingenuity, because we have given ourselves to thee, and put ourselves under thy protection. In the mountains; in the mountainous country.

[They gathered together against us[5]] [Most render it similarly.]  It is not unusual to use אֵלֵינוּ, toward us, in the place of עֲלֵינוּ, against us (Masius).

[All the kings, etc.] The body, which they indicate, so that they might more powerfully urge the Commander-in-Chief, they limit to the inhabitants of the mountain, which I take of the mountainous regions of Judea (Masius).

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּשְׁלְח֣וּ אַנְשֵׁי֩ גִבְע֙וֹן אֶל־יְהוֹשֻׁ֤עַ אֶל־הַֽמַּחֲנֶה֙ הַגִּלְגָּ֣לָה לֵאמֹ֔ר אַל־תֶּ֥רֶף יָדֶ֖יךָ מֵֽעֲבָדֶ֑יךָ עֲלֵ֧ה אֵלֵ֣ינוּ מְהֵרָ֗ה וְהוֹשִׁ֤יעָה לָּ֙נוּ֙ וְעָזְרֵ֔נוּ כִּ֚י נִקְבְּצ֣וּ אֵלֵ֔ינוּ כָּל־מַלְכֵ֥י הָאֱמֹרִ֖י יֹשְׁבֵ֥י הָהָֽר׃

[2] רָפָה signifies to sink or relax.  The Hiphil conjugation frequently conveys a causative sense.

[3] Hebrew: מֵעֲבָדֶיךָ.

[4] In book 7 of History of Rome, Livy gives an account of events leading to the First Samnite War (343-341 BC).  The Samnites attacked the Campanians, and the Campanians appealed to Rome for help.  Because of a pre-existing treaty of friendship, the Romans refused to take up arms against the Samnites.  So, the Campanians surrendered to Rome; the Romans now esteemed themselves to be honor-bound to protect those that had surrendered to them.  This soon led to war with the Samnites.

[5] Hebrew: נִקְבְּצ֣וּ אֵלֵ֔ינוּ

Joshua 10:3-5: Confederacy of the Five Kings against Gibeon

Verse 3:[1] Wherefore Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem sent unto Hoham king of Hebron, and unto Piram king of Jarmuth, and unto Japhia king of Lachish, and unto Debir king of Eglon, saying…

[Therefore, Adoni-zedek sent] Either, 1. because he was nearest the danger (Malvenda). From Gibeon he was only two leagues, or hours,[2] distant (Lapide). Or, 2. because he excelled the others in dignity (Masius, Menochius). Or, 3. because he had a certain power over the others (Montanus in Menochius).

He sent, either because he was superior to them in power or dignity, or because he was nearest the danger, and most forward in the work.

[To Hoham, king of Hebron, etc.] All those cities stood in the hill-country of Judea, as it is called in Luke 1:39, 65 (Masius).


Verse 4:[3] Come up unto me, and help me, that we may smite Gibeon: (Josh. 10:1; 9:15) for it hath made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel.


Verse 5:[4] Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, the king of Eglon, (Josh. 9:2) gathered themselves together, and went up, they and all their hosts, and encamped before Gibeon, and made war against it.

[Kings of the Amorites] That is, of the Canaanites; for the name of Amorites is here taken broadly (Drusius out of Masius). It is certain that the citizens of Hebron were Hittites, as we showed on Joshua 1:4 (Masius); and that the citizens of Jerusalem were Jebusites[5] (Drusius, Bonfrerius). Thus the Gibeonites are called Amorites, 2 Samuel 21:2, who it is certain were Hivites (Malvenda). The Amories appear to have dwelt dispersedly throughout Canaan: For, although that nation had first occupied those most prosperous kingdoms of Sihon and Og, soon (as it is likely), increased with a most numerous offspring, they sent many colonies into diverse parts of Canaan: see Genesis 14:7; Numbers 13:29; Deuteronomy 1:20; 2 Chronicles 20:1, 2: it is not strange that whatever Canaanites are called by this name (Masius).

Amorites; this name being here taken largely or generally for any of the Canaanites, as is frequent; for, to speak strictly, the citizens of Hebron, here mentioned, verse 3, were Hittites; thus the Gibeonites, who were Hivites, Joshua 11:19, are called Amorites, 2 Samuel 21:2. It is reasonably supposed that the Amorites, being numerous and victorious beyond Jordan, did pour forth colonies or forces into the land of Canaan, and there subdued divers places, and so communicated their name to all the rest.

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּשְׁלַ֙ח אֲדֹנִי־צֶ֜דֶק מֶ֣לֶךְ יְרוּשָׁלִַ֗ם אֶל־הוֹהָ֣ם מֶֽלֶךְ־חֶ֠בְרוֹן וְאֶל־פִּרְאָ֙ם מֶֽלֶךְ־יַרְמ֜וּת וְאֶל־יָפִ֧יעַ מֶֽלֶךְ־לָכִ֛ישׁ וְאֶל־דְּבִ֥יר מֶֽלֶךְ־עֶגְל֖וֹן לֵאמֹֽר׃

[2] A league was roughly three-miles, about the distance one could walk in an hour.

[3] Hebrew: עֲלֽוּ־אֵלַ֣י וְעִזְרֻ֔נִי וְנַכֶּ֖ה אֶת־גִּבְע֑וֹן כִּֽי־הִשְׁלִ֥ימָה אֶת־יְהוֹשֻׁ֖עַ וְאֶת־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

[4] Hebrew: וַיֵּאָסְפ֙וּ וַֽיַּעֲל֜וּ חֲמֵ֣שֶׁת׀ מַלְכֵ֣י הָאֱמֹרִ֗י מֶ֣לֶךְ יְרוּשָׁלִַ֜ם מֶֽלֶךְ־חֶבְר֤וֹן מֶֽלֶךְ־יַרְמוּת֙ מֶֽלֶךְ־לָכִ֣ישׁ מֶֽלֶךְ־עֶגְל֔וֹן הֵ֖ם וְכָל־מַֽחֲנֵיהֶ֑ם וַֽיַּחֲנוּ֙ עַל־גִּבְע֔וֹן וַיִּֽלָּחֲמ֖וּ עָלֶֽיהָ׃

[5] See, for example, Joshua 15:63; Judges 1:21.

Joshua 10:2: The Fear of Adoni-zedek, Part 2

Verse 2:[1] That they (Ex. 15:14-16; Deut. 11:25) feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, as one of the royal cities (Heb. cities of the kingdom[2]), and because it was greater than Ai, and all the men thereof were mighty.

[He feared] Hebrew: they feared,[3] namely, the King and his people (Vatablus, Masius). It is plural, because in the word King the citizens are also metonymically contained (Masius). Or, he and the other Kings, verse 3 (Piscator, Masius).

They feared, that is, he and his people, the king being spoken of verse 1, as a public person representing all his people. Or, he and the following kings, verse 3. But this fear is mentioned, verse 2, as the cause why he sent to those kings.

[And one of the royal cities, כְּאַחַ֖ת עָרֵ֣י הַמַּמְלָכָ֑ה] As one of the cities of the kingdom (Montanus, Drusius), or, of kingdoms (Jonathan), from among the cities royal, or regal (Vatablus, Masius, Drusius, Piscator, Junius and Tremellius), that is, in which is a residence of the king (Vatablus, similarly Masius). It was one of the principal cities of the kingdom of the Canaanites (Lapide). But it was not one kingdom, but many, verse 3 (Piscator). Equally as great as whatever other of the cities of the kingdom (Syriac, Arabic). From the particle כ/as they gather that Gibeon was not a royal city (and there is no mention anywhere of a King of the Gibeonites), but was the equal of such. But to others the כ/as does not signify similitude, but the truth of the matter, as in John 1:14; Philippians 2:7 (Bonfrerius).

As one of the royal cities; either, 1. Really a royal city, the Hebrew particle כ/caph oft signifying the truth of a thing, as Hosea 4:4;[4] 5:10,[5] and oft elsewhere. Or, 2. Equal to one of the royal cities, though it had no king, but seems to be governed aristocratically by their elders, Joshua 9:11.

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּֽירְא֣וּ מְאֹ֔ד כִּ֣י עִ֤יר גְּדוֹלָה֙ גִּבְע֔וֹן כְּאַחַ֖ת עָרֵ֣י הַמַּמְלָכָ֑ה וְכִ֙י הִ֤יא גְדוֹלָה֙ מִן־הָעַ֔י וְכָל־אֲנָשֶׁ֖יהָ גִּבֹּרִֽים׃

[2] Hebrew: עָרֵ֣י הַמַּמְלָכָ֑ה.

[3] Hebrew: וַיִּירְאוּ.

[4] Hosea 4:4:  “Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another:  for thy people are as they that strive (כִּמְרִיבֵי) with the priest.”

[5] Hosea 5:10:  “The princes of Judah were like them that remove (כְּמַסִּיגֵי) the bound: therefore I will pour out my wrath upon them like water.”

Joshua 10:1: The Fear of Adoni-zedek, Part 1

Verse 1:[1] Now it came to pass, when Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem had heard how Joshua had taken Ai, and had utterly destroyed it; (Josh. 6:21) as he had done to Jericho and her king, so he had done to (Josh. 8:22, 26, 28) Ai and her king; and (Josh. 9:15) how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel, and were among them…

[Adoni-zedek] The Kings of Jerusalem had a common name, either, MELCHIZEDEK, that is, King of Righteousness,[2] or, Adonizedek, that is, Lord of Righteousness[3] (Masius, Kimchi in Drusius). Whence I infer that the city was formerly called צֶדֶק/Righteousness (Masius), for Melchizedek transplanted this city there (Lapide, Bonfrerius), from whom the name passed to Adoni-zedek, without the substance, as often happens (Bonfrerius). That city was also called שָׁלֵם/Salem/Peace.[4] Such august names were divinely attributed to it because of the mystery of the economy of the Passion of Christ to be accomplished there (Lapide out of Masius).

[And they were their confederates, וַיִּֽהְי֖וּ בְּקִרְבָּֽם׃] And they were in the midst of them (Pagnine, Drusius), namely, of the Israelites, out of Joshua 9:16 (Drusius). It is a Hebraism for they were dwelling with them (Vatablus). They were abiding among them, that is, either, they were dwelling continually in their camps, or, they were joined with them in community of law and all of life (Masius). Others thus: and the Israelites were in the midst of them, that is, the Gibeonites, that is, they came unto their cities, Joshua 9:17, and they now obtained the dominion over them (Malvenda out of Junius). This does not satisfy: for the Israelites were not at that time in the midst of the Gibeonites, but were still in Gilgal, Joshua 10:6, neither is it thus read in Joshua 9:17, but only that they came to their cities. Therefore, it appears that the Israelites, with the cities of the Hivites occupied, and with the servitude of the Gibeonites decreed, returned unto their camps at Gilgal. Therefore, I translate it, and they (that is, the Gibeonites) were in the midst of them, that is, the Israelites, that is, in their land, which they already occupied through surrender (Piscator).

And were among them: that is, Were conversant with them, had yielded themselves to their disposal, submitted themselves to their laws, had mingled interests with them.

[1] Hebrew: וַיְהִי֩ כִשְׁמֹ֙עַ אֲדֹֽנִי־צֶ֜דֶק מֶ֣לֶךְ יְרוּשָׁלִַ֗ם כִּֽי־לָכַ֙ד יְהוֹשֻׁ֣עַ אֶת־הָעַי֮ וַיַּחֲרִימָהּ֒ כַּאֲשֶׁ֙ר עָשָׂ֤ה לִֽירִיחוֹ֙ וּלְמַלְכָּ֔הּ כֵּן־עָשָׂ֥ה לָעַ֖י וּלְמַלְכָּ֑הּ וְכִ֙י הִשְׁלִ֜ימוּ יֹשְׁבֵ֤י גִבְעוֹן֙ אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל וַיִּֽהְי֖וּ בְּקִרְבָּֽם׃

[2] מַלְכִּי־צֶדֶק/Melchizedek is a compound of מֶלֶךְ/king and צֶדֶק/righteousness.

[3] אֲדֹנִי־צֶדֶק/Adoni-zekek is a compound of אֲדוֹן/lord and צֶדֶק/righteousness.

[4] See Genesis 14:18; Hebrews 7:1, 2.

Joshua 10 Outline

Five of the kings of Canaan, afraid of Joshua, are angry with the Gibeonites, and wage war against them; they send to Joshua for succours, 1-5. He rescues them, 6-10. God casts down hailstones upon the enemy, 11. Joshua prays to God, and commands the sun to stand still, which it does for the space of a day, 12-15. The five kings hide themselves in caves, where Joshua causeth them to be shut up, afterwards to be brought forth, scornfully used, and hanged, and thrown into a cave by Makkedah, 16-27. This place taken, the king, city, and all therein are burnt, 28. Joshua doth the same to Libnah and Lachish, 29-32; to Gezer, Eglon, Hebron, Debir, and all the land, 33-42. Joshua returns to Gilgal, 43.

Joshua 9:26, 27: The Covenant with Gibeonites Upheld

Verse 26:[1] And so did he unto them, and delivered them out of the hand of the children of Israel, that they slew them not.

[He did…as he had said, וַיַּ֥עַשׂ—כֵּ֑ן] And he did so (Montanus, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Masius, Vatablus), namely, as it was said (Vatablus, Masius). It is also able thus to be translated, He did that which is right, honest, and founded upon equity itself: For they had admitted sin, as it was said, if they had destroyed the Gibeonites (Masius).

And so did he unto them: So as was said verse 23, and so as here follows.


Verse 27:[2] And Joshua (1 Chron. 9:2; Ezra 8:20) made them (Heb. gave, or, delivered them to be[3]) that day (Josh. 9:21, 23) hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation, and for the altar of the LORD, even unto this day, (Deut. 12:5) in the place which he should choose.

[And he decreed, etc., וַיִּתְּנֵם] And he set them (Septuagint, Arabic, Munster, Tigurinus, Pagnine, Junius and Tremellius, Drusius, Vatablus, Masius). He made them, I say (Syriac). He gave them (Montanus, Vatablus, Drusius). Perhaps hence they were called Nethinims, that is, נְתִינִים, because, have been given,[4] that is, set or constituted, they were wood-gatherers, etc. (Drusius out of Masius). You will say, the Nethinims were first founded by David, according to Ezra 8:20. Responses: 1. That happens, because he was the author of that new appellation (Rabbi Salomon in Masius). Or, 2. because David had prescribed a great many of the courses of all ther servants and offices, according to 1 Chronicles 23 (Masius).

[On that day] Or, from that day he made them, etc. (Vatablus).

For the congregation, 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 or required their help.

[In the place which the Lord had chosen (similarly Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Drusius)] That is, in which He would desire to be worshipped, and to have the Tabernacle or Temple established (Bonfrerius out of Lapide). In Gilgal, in Shiloh,[5] etc. (Drusius, similarly Masius).

[1] Hebrew: וַיַּ֥עַשׂ לָהֶ֖ם כֵּ֑ן וַיַּצֵּ֥ל אוֹתָ֛ם מִיַּ֥ד בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל וְלֹ֥א הֲרָגֽוּם׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיִּתְּנֵ֙ם יְהוֹשֻׁ֜עַ בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֗וּא חֹטְבֵ֥י עֵצִ֛ים וְשֹׁ֥אֲבֵי מַ֖יִם לָֽעֵדָ֑ה וּלְמִזְבַּ֤ח יְהוָה֙ עַד־הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֔ה אֶל־הַמָּק֖וֹם אֲשֶׁ֥ר יִבְחָֽר׃

[3] Hebrew: וַיִּתְּנֵם.

[4] From the verbal root נָתַן, to give.

[5] See Joshua 18:1.

Joshua 9:24, 25: The Apology and Submission of the Gibeonites

Verse 24:[1] And they answered Joshua, and said, Because it was certainly told thy servants, how that the LORD thy God (Ex. 23:32; Deut. 7:1, 2) commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you, therefore (Ex. 15:14) we were sore afraid of our lives because of you, and have done this thing.

[It was announced to us, כִּי֩ הֻגֵּ֙ד הֻגַּ֤ד] For in indicating it was indicated (Montanus); it was certainly heard (Syriac); it was plainly announced (Arabic, Junius and Tremellius). The doubling shows the frequency of the announcement, and the certainty of the report (Masius).

[That He had promised, etc.] Therefore, the Gibeonites added faith to those things that they had heard concerning God’s marvelous deeds and promises. Thence fear, not indeed completely pious and deferential, but rather servile, which nevertheless opened for them the way to salvation. For such fear is wont to form the minds of men with those meditations by which they are led by degrees to the hope of pardon; being raised and supported with this hope, they then meditate upon the manner of a better life worthy to be undertaken; and finally they exercise charity itself and begin to reverence God as Father. And so it happens that that servile fear banishes itself in the end (Masius).

[For our souls (thus Montanus, Jonathan, Arabic, similarly the Syriac), לְנַפְשֹׁתֵינוּ[2]] Concerning our souls (Septuagint); our lives (Junius and Tremellius, Vatablus).

[This counsel] Prudently spoken. They set forth their sin with no name, as if they would avert its recollection. Their justified fear argues the stupor of the other Canaanites. Finally, it is to be observed that they do not at all depend upon the oath to preserve their safety; for they were readily acknowledging its defect: Nevertheless, at the same time they appear to remind the Commander-in-Chief of the good and of the equitable, with a certain confidence in that ancient honesty and reverence concerning an oath (Masius).


Verse 25:[3] And now, behold, we are (Gen. 16:6) in thine hand: as it seemeth good and right unto thee to do unto us, do.

We are in thine hand, that is, in thy power to use as thou wilt. We refer ourselves to thee and thy own piety and probity, and faithfulness to thy word and oath; if thou wilt destroy thy humble suppliants, we submit.

[1] Hebrew: וַיַּעֲנ֙וּ אֶת־יְהוֹשֻׁ֜עַ וַיֹּאמְר֗וּ כִּי֩ הֻגֵּ֙ד הֻגַּ֤ד לַעֲבָדֶ֙יךָ֙ אֵת֩ אֲשֶׁ֙ר צִוָּ֜ה יְהוָ֤ה אֱלֹהֶ֙יךָ֙ אֶת־מֹשֶׁ֣ה עַבְדּ֔וֹ לָתֵ֤ת לָכֶם֙ אֶת־כָּל־הָאָ֔רֶץ וּלְהַשְׁמִ֛יד אֶת־כָּל־יֹשְׁבֵ֥י הָאָ֖רֶץ מִפְּנֵיכֶ֑ם וַנִּירָ֙א מְאֹ֤ד לְנַפְשֹׁתֵ֙ינוּ֙ מִפְּנֵיכֶ֔ם וַֽנַּעֲשֵׂ֖ה אֶת־הַדָּבָ֥ר הַזֶּֽה׃

[2] Joshua 9:24b:  “…therefore we were sore afraid of our lives (לְנַפְשֹׁתֵינוּ) because of you, and have done this thing (אֶת־הַדָּבָ֥ר הַזֶּֽה׃; hoc consilium, in the Vulgate).”

[3] Hebrew: וְעַתָּ֖ה הִנְנ֣וּ בְיָדֶ֑ךָ כַּטּ֙וֹב וְכַיָּשָׁ֧ר בְּעֵינֶ֛יךָ לַעֲשׂ֥וֹת לָ֖נוּ עֲשֵֽׂה׃

Joshua 9:22, 23: The Censure of the Gibeonites, Part 2

Verse 22:[1] And Joshua called for them, and he spake unto them, saying, Wherefore have ye beguiled us, saying, (Josh. 9:6, 9) We are very far from you; when (Josh. 9:16) ye dwell among us?

[Joshua called the Gibeonites] Hitherto the deliberation of the Israelites was among themselves, neither was anything done with the Gibeonites: but what things were decided by the common counsel of the Princes and also the assent of the people, these are only now declared by Joshua before the guilty (Masius).


Verse 23:[2] Now therefore ye are (Gen. 9:25) cursed, and there shall none of you be freed from being (Heb. not be cut off from you[3]) bondmen, and (Josh. 9:21, 27) hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.

[Under a curse] Ye are cursed (Junius and Tremellius). We have discovered that ye are of the number of those nations that God cursed (Junius). Onerous servitude is a certain sort of curse, that is, of evil-doing and punishment (Lapide). Under a curse, that is, of servitude, doomed to vile employment (Menochius).

Ye are cursed; you shall not escape the curse of God, which by Divine sentence belongs to all the Canaanites, who are a people devoted by God to ruin, but only change the quality of it; you shall feel that curse of bondage and servitude, which is proper to your race by virtue of that ancient decree, Genesis 9:25; you shall live indeed, but in a poor, vile, and miserable condition.

[There shall not fail, etc., (thus the Septuagint, Syriac, Arabic, Junius and Tremellius), וְלֹֽא־יִכָּרֵ֙ת מִכֶּ֜ם עֶ֗בֶד] Not shall be cut off (or, shall be blotted out [Vatablus]) from you a servant (Montanus, Vatablus), that is, servants (Jonathan, Vatablus); that is to say, Ye shall always be servants, etc., that is, before the division of the Holy Land (Vatablus). The right belongs to the victor to punish those surrendered, as having become subjects. On account of their deceit they are sentenced to servile works, as formerly the Bruttii were by the Romans (after whose similitude those that were performing servile duties for Magistrates were called Brutiani), because the Bruttii had surrendered themselves to Hannibal, and had continued with him right until he withdrew from Italy.[4] To carry water is servile, as Athenæus testifies (Grotius).

There shall none of you be freed from being bondmen; the slavery which is upon you shall be entailed to your posterity.

[For the house of my God] But of this there was no mention in the deliberation, but, of the whole assembly. But it is likely that those most holy Princes had regard to the holy house especially (for they were not able to serve the assembly, after the people were separated unto their possessions); but, when they applied that speech to them to quiet the souls of the people, they were prudently setting forth that servitude that was going to be useful and advantageous to the people (Masius).

Hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God: this only service they mention here, because it was their principal and most durable servitude, being first in the tabernacle, and then in the temple, whence they were called Nethinims, 1 Chronicles 9:2; Ezra 2:43; whereas their servitude to the whole congregation would in a great measure cease when the Israelites were dispersed to their several habitations.

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּקְרָ֤א לָהֶם֙ יְהוֹשֻׁ֔עַ וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר אֲלֵיהֶ֖ם לֵאמֹ֑ר לָמָּה֩ רִמִּיתֶ֙ם אֹתָ֜נוּ לֵאמֹ֗ר רְחוֹקִ֙ים אֲנַ֤חְנוּ מִכֶּם֙ מְאֹ֔ד וְאַתֶּ֖ם בְּקִרְבֵּ֥נוּ יֹשְׁבִֽים׃

[2] Hebrew: וְעַתָּ֖ה אֲרוּרִ֣ים אַתֶּ֑ם וְלֹֽא־יִכָּרֵ֙ת מִכֶּ֜ם עֶ֗בֶד וְחֹטְבֵ֥י עֵצִ֛ים וְשֹֽׁאֲבֵי־מַ֖יִם לְבֵ֥ית אֱלֹהָֽי׃

[3] Hebrew: וְלֹֽא־יִכָּרֵ֙ת מִכֶּ֜ם.

[4] During the Second Punic War (218-201 BC), the Bruttii of southern Italy allied themselves with Hannibal.  After Hannibal was forced to withdraw, for their treachery the Bruttii were reduced by the Romans to a state bordering on servitude.

Joshua 9:21: The Censure of the Gibeonites, Part 1

Verse 21:[1] And the princes said unto them, Let them live; but let them be (Deut. 29:11) hewers of wood and drawers of water unto all the congregation; as the princes had (Josh. 9:15) promised them.

[But let them live in such a way that they might hew wood and draw water for the use of the entire multitude. While they were speaking these things,וַיֹּאמְר֧וּ אֲלֵיהֶ֛ם הַנְּשִׂיאִ֖ים יִֽחְי֑וּ וַ֠יִּֽהְיוּ חֹטְבֵ֙י עֵצִ֤ים וְשֹֽׁאֲבֵי־מַ֙יִם֙ לְכָל־הָ֣עֵדָ֔ה כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר דִּבְּר֥וּ לָהֶ֖ם הַנְּשִׂיאִֽים׃] This verse is able to be interpreted in a variety of ways, because the very structure of the words has not been sufficiently explained (Masius). Some supply many things. The Hebrews say here that it is מִקְרָא קוֹצֶר, an abbreviated reading (Munster). And the chief men said to them (unto the sons of Israel [Syriac]), Let them live. [Here they supply, and let them be wood- and water-bearers for the whole assembly (thus Kimchi in Masius, Syriac, Arabic).] And they were made gatherers of wood and drawers of water for the whole assembly, just as the chief men had said (Syriac, Arabic, Kimchi in Masius). This does not satisfy; it is inconsistent with the chronological order to say here, they were, or, were made, wood-bearers, etc. For that shall be done only when the Commander-in-Chief pronounced sentence, as we shall hear[2] (Masius). Others thus: And the princes said to them, Let them live, and let them be, or they shall be, etc., just as the princes (or, the preeminent [Montanus]) spoke to them (Jonathan, similarly Tigurinus). And the princes said to them, Let them live, and let them hew, etc. And they did just as the princes spoke to them (Munster). Therefore, when those princes had said to them, They shall be allowed to live (that is, by this law, so that they might be pruners, etc., βραχυλογία, curtailed speech, or synecdoche of member [Piscator]), they were (I prefer, were made [Piscator]) pruners (hewers, or cutters [Piscator]) of wood, and drawers of water, just as the princes said to them (Junius and Tremellius). They (namely, the assembly of Israelites [Malvenda]) said in addition to those princes, Let them live, and let them hew…just as the princes spoke to us (Pagnine). In addition the princes said to them (that is, to the sons of Israel), Let them live, and let them be…just as the princes (that is, we) said to them (that is, the Gibeonites) (Dutch). But if you take them of the Gibeonites, it is necessary that you say that the Princes treated with the Gibeonites separately concerning that hard servitude, before Joshua said those things which are in verse 22, etc., which is uncertain, although not absurd (Masius). Who would believe that the Princes in treating with them had gotten ahead of the censure of Joshua? We do not anywhere that the Princes spoke previously with the Gibeonites (Bonfrerius). And the princes said unto them, Let them live (but let them be hewers of wood…unto all the congregation), as the princes had promised them (English). Let them live, but let them be gatherers of wood, etc. Accordingly the citizenry [he understands the multitude of soldiers] conceded to the nobles (Castalio). They were saying, I say, the princes were saying to them, Let them live, and let them be hewers…just as the princes had spoken among themselves (Masius). The ו/Vav/and in וַיִּהְיוּ[3] does not covert in this place the future/imperfect into the perfect. The לָהֶם, to them, I take αὐτοπαθῶς or reflexively, for among themselves, or with themselves, just as it is taken in Ecclesiastes 3:18.[4] Those words, כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר דִּבְּר֥וּ לָהֶ֖ם הַנְּשִׂיאִֽים׃, just as the princes had spoken among themselves, unless you refer them to that consulatation in which the Princes had deliberated among themselves as to how they might be able to keep their oath, shall appear to be altogether superfluous. Now, the Latin relates this little clause to the following verse [While they were speaking these things, verse 22, Joshua called the Gibeonites], and it supposes that כַּאֲשֶׁר/as signifies here, not similitude, but time, and that the pronoun points to the soldiers of the Israelites; with that sense agreeable indeed, but not sufficiently agreeing with the pointing which is now in the books of the Hebrews.[5] There are also those that would interpret in such a way that it might give the signification of the assent and approbation of the soldiers, who had previously murmured. [Thus Castalio understands it.] But certainly that speech would be too truncated and curtailed, and this is to divine rather than to interpret (Masius). As the princes spoke to them. Repetitions of this sort wonderfully serve for augmentation of the sense: that is to say, Indeed, the Princes certainly decided, affirmed again and again to the assembly, that the Gibeonites were going to be camp-servants and -followers (Malvenda).

[They said—some translate it, and the princes added, that is to say, they said to them these things also: דִּבְּר֥וּ לָהֶ֖ם[6]] And they said to them, or, concerning them (Vatablus). This last clause I thus translate, while, or when (כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר often signifies this), they spoke concerning them. Thus ל is taken in Genesis 20:13, אִמְרִי־לִי, say of me, and elsewhere (Bonfrerius).

[For the use of the entire multitude, לְכָל־הָעֵדָה] For all the assembly (Arabic, Junius and Tremellius): [all interpreters in a similar manner:] that is, public servants, in the name of the assembly of the people of God, attending upon public services in the house of God, verse 23 and Ezra 8:20. Wherefore they are also called Nethinims, that is, those surrendered,[7] in Ezra and Nehemiah[8] (Junius). In the stead and place of the entire assembly of Israelites, who otherwise were expected to provide wood and water for the house of God (Malvenda). Others maintain that those were obliged to be water-bearers and wood-gatherers for whatever Israelite of the common people that had accosted them concerning this duty; thus Nahmanides (Masius, thus Tostatus and Menochius); and that all the way to the division of the land (Tostatus in Menochius); or even when the possession had been divided: although not completely without recompense, but hired for a little pay (Nahmanides in Masius). Indeed, at first they were bound to bear wood and water for the entire people and all the camps, even after the division of the land; whence they were also called δημόσιοι, public or camp servants, by Josephus. Afterwards only for the Tabernacle and Temple; thence they were called Nethinims, that is, those given, namely, to the Levites, so that they might be to them as subdeacons. Thus Ribera,[9] Sigonius,[10] Masius, and Tostatus (Tirinus). This was a just punishment, both on account of the fraud, and because they were Canaanites (Lapide). Moreover, that the place of wood-gatherers and water-bearers was meanest and lowest is evident from Deuteronomy 29:11 (Masius on verse 22).

Hewers of wood and drawers of water: that is, Let them be public servants, and employed in the meanest offices and drudgeries, (such as this was, this one kind being put for all the rest, as it is Deuteronomy 29:11) for the use and benefit of the congregation; to do this partly for the sacrifices and services of the house of God, as it is expressed, Joshua 9:23, which otherwise the Israelites themselves must have done, partly for the service of the camp or body of the people, and sometimes upon occasion even to particular Israelites; whence they are made bond-men, which is mentioned as a thing distinct from their service in the house of God, verse 23. And so they are in effect stripped of all their possessions, whereby the main ground of the people’s quarrel was taken away. As the princes had promised them; or, because or seeing that (as the Hebrew word sometimes signifies) the princes (that is, we ourselves; they speak of themselves in the third person, which is very frequent in the Hebrew language) had promised it to them, to wit, that they should live, and confirmed their promise by an oath. So the princes speaking here to the people allege the promise or oath of the princes when they met among themselves, and apart from the people. And this change of persons may possibly arise from hence, because some of the princes who were present in the assembly of the princes might now be absent upon some occasion. And this clause relates not to the next words, which are fitly enclosed within a parenthesis, but to the foregoing clause, let them live, because the princes have promised them their lives.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּאמְר֧וּ אֲלֵיהֶ֛ם הַנְּשִׂיאִ֖ים יִֽחְי֑וּ וַ֠יִּֽהְיוּ חֹטְבֵ֙י עֵצִ֤ים וְשֹֽׁאֲבֵי־מַ֙יִם֙ לְכָל־הָ֣עֵדָ֔ה כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר דִּבְּר֥וּ לָהֶ֖ם הַנְּשִׂיאִֽים׃

[2] Verse 23.

[3] Joshua 9:21:  “And the princes said unto them, Let them live; but let them beיִֽחְי֑וּ) וַ֠יִּֽהְיוּ) hewers of wood and drawers of water unto all the congregation; as the princes had promised them (לָהֶם).”

[4] Ecclesiastes 3:18:  “I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts (שְׁהֶם־בְּהֵמָ֥ה הֵ֖מָּה לָהֶֽם׃).”

[5] The Silluq (ֽ׃) is the strongest disjunctive accent, separating verses.  The Vulgate reads past the Silluq.

[6] 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 (כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר דִּבְּר֥וּ לָהֶ֖ם הַנְּשִׂיאִֽים׃).”

[7] נְתִינִים/Nethinims apparently is related to the verbal root נָתַן, to give.

[8] For example, Ezra 2:43, 58, 70; 7:7; 8:17; Nehemiah 3:26, 31; 7:46, 60; 10:28.

[9] Francis Ribera (1537-1591) was a Spanish Jesuit scholar, most remembered for his commentary on Revelation in which he advances the Futurist scheme of interpretation.  He also wrote De Templo et de iis ad Templum Pertinent.  Ribera’s Commentarius in Epistolam ad Hebræos was interrupted by death; it was finished by other hands.

[10] Carlo Sigonio (c. 1524-1584) was an Italian humanist, specializing in Greek and Roman antiquities.  He also wrote De Republica Ebræorum.

Joshua 9:20: The Keeping of the Oath; the Grumbling of the People, Part 3

Verse 20:[1] This we will do to them; we will even let them live, lest (see 2 Sam. 21:1, 2, 6; Ezek. 17:13, 15, 18, 19; Zech. 5:3, 4; Mal. 3:5) wrath be upon us, because of the oath which we sware unto them.

[Let them be spared, that they might live, וְהַחֲיֵה[2]] And by causing to live (Montanus). An infinitive in the place of the future/imperfect of the finite mode (Masius). By causing to live (Septuagint); we will cause to live (Jonathan, similarly Junius and Tremllius). The ו/and ought not to be translated in וְהַחֲיֵה (Vatablus).

[Lest the anger of the Lord, etc.] Even if it was not strictly according to the letter, nevertheless the men, simple and of old-fashioned honesty, although they were not at all judging the point of that sort of law with refinement, but were regarding among themselves the third precept of the Decalogue, not without reason feared the anger of God. From which let us learn that whatever we have promised with such surety (provided it be not contrary to the Law of God), even if we realize that we have been tricked, we should nevertheless fulfill; even if what thence to us happens to be loss, we should rather make it good with other honest reasons than seek some reason for breaking faith (Masius).

[1] Hebrew: זֹ֛את נַעֲשֶׂ֥ה לָהֶ֖ם וְהַחֲיֵ֣ה אוֹתָ֑ם וְלֹֽא־יִֽהְיֶ֤ה עָלֵ֙ינוּ֙ קֶ֔צֶף עַל־הַשְּׁבוּעָ֖ה אֲשֶׁר־נִשְׁבַּ֥עְנוּ לָהֶֽם׃

[2] The Hiphil conjugation frequently conveys a causative sense.