Joshua 9:14: The Gibeonite Deception, Part 7

Verse 14:[1] And the men took of their victuals (or, they received the men by reason of their victuals[2]), (Num. 27:21; Isa. 30:1, 2; see Judg. 1:1; 1 Sam. 22:10; 23:10, 11; 30:8; 2 Sam. 2:1; 5:19) and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD.

[They received of their provisions, etc., וַיִּקְח֥וּ הָֽאֲנָשִׁ֖ים מִצֵּידָ֑ם] Some translate it, and the men received of their plot; for צוּר, or צָדָה, signifies to lie in ambush (certain interpreters in Malvenda). That is to say, the men assented to their words (Jonathan), namely, deceitful words (Masius). Others thus: and they learned (thus they translate לָקַה, to take) from their provisions that the matter was true (certain interpreters in Masius). Others: and the men (that is, the princes [the Septuagint, similarly Junius and Tremellius, Piscator], for the rashness of these is condemned [Masius]) received of their provisions (Montanus, similarly the Septuagint, Jonathan, Syriac, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus). Others: those men brought of their provisions, and showed them (Arabic). Others: since those principal men had received these things because of their provisions (Junius and Tremellius). That is, since they had admitted and approved those speeches, they were led away by the appearance of the things that they had taken for their journey’s provisions (Junius). Others: and they received the men by reason of their victuals (English in the margin). Question: Why did they receive of their provisions? Response: Not so that they might eat from them, for they had fresh bread from the produce of the earth (Lapide); nor that they might devour that dry and moldy bread (Masius). But, either, 1. as a sign of the beginning of the covenant (Vatablus, Lyra and Cajetan in Lapide), they ate something, even if a small amount (Lyra). By a rite not dissimilar Jacob and Laban confirmed a covenant, Genesis 31:46: and in Sallustius,[3] Curtius,[4] etc., examples are extant of covenants in the confirming of which the associates were wont to eat either of the same food or of the same drink (Masius). Or, 2. so that they might investigate whether they were telling the truth (Masius in Lapide, Bonfrerius).

The men, that is, the princes, as before, verse 6. Took of their victuals; not from their want or any desire they could have to such unpleasant and unwholesome food; nor in a ceremony usual in making leagues, for that was not now done, but in the next verse; but that they might examine the truth of what they said.

[And they asked not at the mouth of the Lord (thus Montanus, similarly the Syriac)] That is, they did not consult the Lord (Vatablus); or, the oracle of God (Drusius); namely, by the Urim and Thummim (Drusius, Lapide, Bonfrerius, similarly Junius, Piscator, Malvenda). Although it is probable that, if he had consulted God, God would not have responded that the Gibeonites were not to be received, nevertheless the Princes are not lightly criticized with the neglect of duty (Masius), for they did not consult God, whom they had present and answering, in such a serious matter (Lapide, Bonfrerius). It was rash for them to enter into covenant so quickly with men unknown and suspicious (Bonfrerius, Lapide); with Rahab and her relatives left unconsulted, or others expert in those regions (Bonfrerius). Nevertheless, I think that these things pertained to the Divine providence, who permitted them; or perhaps He even turned away the light of the soul, so that these Gibeonites, with the faith and fear of God now conceived, might be preserved (Bonfrerius, similarly Lapide, Masius). Moreover, whether the Commander-in-Chief himself was also among those that here show themselves to be so gullible, I am not able to establish clearly. I am of the opinion that the Princes (since they had more easily and earlier believed) were the authors of complying with that. I have been mindful that three thousand were sent by Joshua against Ai, without consulting God, since he had believed the narration of their messengers[5] (Malvenda).

Asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord, as they ought to have done upon all such weighty and doubtful 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 left upon them to embrace the true religion, which here was omitted.

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּקְח֥וּ הָֽאֲנָשִׁ֖ים מִצֵּידָ֑ם וְאֶת־פִּ֥י יְהוָ֖ה לֹ֥א שָׁאָֽלוּ׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיִּקְח֥וּ הָֽאֲנָשִׁ֖ים מִצֵּידָ֑ם.

[3] Catiline’s War 22.  Gaius Sallustius Crispus (86-34 BC) was a Roman historian.

[4] History of Alexander the Great 8.  Quintus Curtius Rufus (died 53) was a Roman and a historian. History of Alexander the Great is his only surviving work.

[5] See Joshua 7:2-4.

3 thoughts on “Joshua 9:14: The Gibeonite Deception, Part 7

  1. Charles Bridges, “Psalm 119”: “Psalm 119:24—Thy testimonies also are my delight, and my counsellors….

    But let it be remembered, that any want of sincerity in the heart (1 Samuel 28:6; Ezekiel 14:2-4)—any allowance of self-dependence (Proverbs 3:5-6), will always close the avenues of this Divine light and counsel. We are often unconsciously ‘walking in the light of our own fire, and in the sparks that we have kindled’ (Isaiah 50:11). Perhaps we sought, as we conceived, the guidance of the Lord’s counsel, and supposed that we were walking in it. But, in the act of seeking, and as the preparation for seeking, did we subject our motives and inclinations to a strict, cautious, self-suspecting scrutiny? Was the heart schooled to the discipline of the cross? Was ‘every thought brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ’ (2 Cor 10:5)? Or was not our heart possessed with the object, before counsel was sought at the mouth of God (Jeremiah 42)? Oh! how careful should we be to walk warily in those uncertain marks of heavenly counsel, that fall in with the bias of our own inclination! How many false steps in the record of past experience may be traced to the counsel of our own hearts, sought and followed to the neglect and counsel of God (Joshua 9:14; Isaiah 30:1-3); while no circumstance of perplexity can befall us in the spirit of humility, simplicity, and sanctity, when the counsel of the Lord will fail!”

  2. Matthew Henry: “Here is…[t]he treaty soon concluded with the Gibeonites… Nothing appears to have been culpable in all this but that it was done rashly; they took of their victuals, by which they satisfied themselves that it was indeed old and dry, but did not consider that his was no proof of their bringing it fresh from home; so that, making use of their senses only, but not their reason, they received the men (as the margin reads it) because of their victuals, perceiving perhaps, upon the view and taste of their bread, not only that now it was old, but that it had been fine and very good at first, whence they inferred that they were persons of some quality, and therefore the friendship of their country was not to be despised. But they asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord. They had the Urim and Thummim with them, which they might have advised with in this difficult case, and which would have told them no lie, would have led them into no error; but they relied so much on their own politics that they thought it needless to bring the matter to the oracle. Joshua himself was not altogether without blame herein. Note, We make more haste than good speed in any business when we stay not to take God along with us, and by the word and prayer to consult him. Many a time we see cause to reflect upon it with regret that such and such an affair miscarried, because we asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord; would we acknowledge him in all our ways, we should find them more safe, easy, and successful.”

  3. Thomas Boston, “A Memorial concerning Personal and Family Fasting and Humiliation”: “It is much to be lamented, that men professing the belief of a divine providence in human affairs, should, in confidence of their own wisdom, take the weight of their matters on themselves, without acknowledging God in them; aiming only to please themselves therein, and not their God, as if their fancy, conveniency, or advantage, and not their conscience, were concerned in their determinations and resolves. Hence it is, that wise men are often left to signal blunders in conduct, and feel marks of God’s indignation justly impressed on their rash determinations. Thus Joshua and the princes of Israel, in the matter of the league with the Gibeonites, finding no need of the exercise of their faith, but of their wit, vainly imagining they could see well enough with their own eyes, ‘took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord,’ and were egregiously overreached by them, as they saw afterward, when it was too late, Joshua 9:14, 22.”

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