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

1 thought on “Joshua 10:6: The Gibeonites Petition Joshua for Relief

  1. Matthew Henry: “The Gibeonites send notice to Joshua of the distress and danger they are in, Joshua 10:6. Now they expect benefit from the league they had made with Israel, because, though it was obtained by deceit, it was afterwards confirmed when the truth came out. They think Joshua obliged to help them, (1.) In conscience, because they were his servants; not in compliment, as they had said in their first address (Joshua 9:8), We are thy servants, but in reality made servants to the congregation; and it is the duty of masters to take care of the poorest and meanest of their servants, and not to see them wronged when it is in the power of their hand to right them. Those that pay allegiance may reasonably expect protection. Thus David pleads with God (Psalm 119:94), I am thine, save me; and so may we, if indeed we be his. (2.) In honour, because the ground of their enemies’ quarrel with them was the respect they had shown to Israel, and the confidence they had in a covenant with them. Joshua cannot refuse to help them when it is for their affection to him, and to the name of his God, that they are attacked. David thinks it a good plea with God (Psalm 69:7), For thy sake I have borne reproach. When our spiritual enemies set themselves in array against us, and threaten to swallow us up, let us, by faith and prayer, apply to Christ, our Joshua, for strength and succour, as Paul did, and we shall receive the same answer of peace, My grace is sufficient for thee, 2 Corinthians 12:8-9.”

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