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׃

1 thought on “Joshua 9:24, 25: The Apology and Submission of the Gibeonites

  1. Matthew Henry: “[The Gibeonites] make the best excuse for themselves, that the thing would bear, Joshua 9:24. They found by the word of God that sentence of death was passed upon them (the command was to destroy all the inhabitants of the land, without exception), and they found by the works of God already wrought that there was no opposing the execution of this sentence; they considered that God’s sovereignty is incontestable, his justice inflexible, his power irresistible, and therefore resolved to try what his mercy was, and found it was not in vain to cast themselves upon it. They do not go about to justify their lie, but in effect beg pardon for it, pleading it was purely to save their lives that they did it, which every man that finds in himself the force of the law of self-preservation will therefore make great allowances for, especially in such a case as this, where the fear was not merely of the power of man (if that were all, one might flee from that to the divine protection), but of the power of God himself, which they saw engaged against them.”

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