Joshua 9:19: The Keeping of the Oath; the Grumbling of the People, Part 2

Verse 19:[1] But all the princes said unto all the congregation, We have sworn unto them by the LORD God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them.

[Who answered them] Hebrew: And all the princes said,[2] etc. Here the concord of the Princes is to be observed. Thereby it happened that they kept their authority. In this way they also overcome the fury of the people, while they decree that nothing is to be conceded, and openly pronounce that they are not able to do what they are demanding. A good man shall suffer himself to be moved from what is right and honest neither by the fear nor by the favor of any multitude (Masius).

We have sworn, etc.: They plead not the lawfulness or the prudence of the action, but only the obligation of an oath; of which, though it was procured by fraud, they perceived the people sufficiently sensible.

[Of the Lord God of Israel] That is to say, the God, whom ye worship, has been given as the surety of safety (Masius).

[We are not able to touch them[3] (thus Montanus, Septuagint)] Or, to hurt (Jonathan, similarly the Syriac). נָגַע signifies to inflict a wound, to sanction, etc., as it appears from the noun נֶגַע, to which wound, ulcer,[4] injury,[5] etc., are joined (Masius).

We may not touch them, that is, not hurt them, as that word is oft used, as Genesis 26:11;[6] Psalm 105:15;[7] 144:5;[8] or not smite them, as is said, Joshua 9:18.[9]

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּאמְר֤וּ כָל־הַנְּשִׂיאִים֙ אֶל־כָּל־הָ֣עֵדָ֔ה אֲנַ֙חְנוּ֙ נִשְׁבַּ֣עְנוּ לָהֶ֔ם בַּֽיהוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְעַתָּ֕ה לֹ֥א נוּכַ֖ל לִנְגֹּ֥עַ בָּהֶֽם׃

[2] Hebrew: וַיֹּאמְר֤וּ כָל־הַנְּשִׂיאִים֙.

[3] Hebrew: לֹ֥א נוּכַ֖ל לִנְגֹּ֥עַ בָּהֶֽם׃.

[4] For example, Leviticus 13:44:  “He is a leprous man, he is unclean:  the priest shall pronounce him utterly unclean; his plague (נִגְעוֹ) is in his head.”

[5] For example, Deuteronomy 17:8a:  “If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke (וּבֵ֥ין נֶ֙גַע֙ לָנֶ֔גַע), being matters of controversy within thy gates…”

[6] Genesis 26:11:  “And Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He that toucheth (הַנֹּגֵעַ) this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”

[7] Psalm 105:15:  “Saying, Touch not (אַל־תִּגְּעוּ) mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.”

[8] Psalm 144:5:  “Bow thy heavens, O Lord, and come down:  touch (גַּע) the mountains, and they shall smoke.”

[9] Joshua 9:18a:  “And the children of Israel smote them (הִכּוּם) not, because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel….”

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