Joshua 9:7, 8: The Gibeonite Deception, Part 4

Verse 7:[1] And the men of Israel said unto the (Josh. 11:19) Hivites, Peradventure ye dwell among us; and (Ex. 23:32; Deut. 7:2; 20:16; Judg. 2:2) how shall we make a league with you?

[And they said (thus the Septuagint, Jonathan, Arabic, similarly the Syriac), וַיֹּאמְרוּ] [All the ancients appear to have followed the letter of the text, but not the pointing on this word. Others: and he said.[2]]

[אֶל־הַחִוִּי] To the Hivites, that is, to the Gibeonites, who were Hivites (Vatablus, Junius). In חִוִּי is the signification of a serpent; for a serpent is called חויא. Therefore, he calls them serpentine, because they deceived Israel, as formerly the serpent deceived Eve. This is noted in Dras (Drusius).

The Hivites, that is, the Gibeonites, who were Hivites, Joshua 11:19.

[Peradventure in the land, etc., Hebrew, בְּקִרְבִּי] In my interior (Montanus), among us (Jonathan, similarly the Arabic), near us (Syriac), in the midst, or the bosom, of me (Junius and Tremellius, Piscator), that is, of my land, given to me, namely, by God. A Metonymy of adjunct, of which sort is found in Terence,[3] eamus ad me, let us go to me,[4] that is, my home (Piscator). They were rightly thinking it to be a sin for them to enter into a covenant with these, because it was forbidden, Exodus 23; 34; Deuteronomy 7:2 (Masius, Lapide, Bonfrerius). This was prohibited because of the danger to the Jews, lest they also, by the example of the nations among which they were about to dwell, should desert God (Malvenda). But concerning foreigners there was another reason, since with the Israelites no bond and familiarity of life was going to come between, even if they were covenanted (Masius).

Among us, that is, in this land, and so are of that people with whom we are forbidden to make any league or covenant, Exodus 23:32, 33; Deuteronomy 7:2; 20:15, 16.


Verse 8:[5] And they said unto Joshua, (Deut. 20:11; 2 Kings 10:5) We are thy servants. And Joshua said unto them, Who are ye? and from whence come ye?

[But they to Joshua, etc.] What they said to the Israelites has been related: now their conference with the Commander-in-Chief is set forth (Masius).

[We are thy servants] We desire to serve thee (Vatablus). That is to say, we give ourselves to you in service, so that ye might decide concerning us according to your will (Masius). Thus they speak from a certain officious humility of soul, but they do not intend to offer servitude and subjection (Bonfrerius, Masius on verse 27).

We are thy servants; we desire a league with you upon your own terms; we are ready to accept of any conditions. Who are ye? and from whence come ye? for this free and general concession of theirs gave Joshua just cause to suspect that they were of the cursed Canaanites.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֥אמְרוּ אִֽישׁ־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל אֶל־הַחִוִּ֑י אוּלַ֗י בְּקִרְבִּי֙ אַתָּ֣ה יוֹשֵׁ֔ב וְאֵ֖יךְ אֶֽכְרוֹת־לְךָ֥ בְרִֽית׃

[2] Thus the Qere: וַיֹּאמֶר.

[3] Publius Terentius Afer (died 159 BC) was a Roman playwright.

[4] Eunuchus 3:5:612.

[5] Hebrew: וַיֹּאמְר֥וּ אֶל־יְהוֹשֻׁ֖עַ עֲבָדֶ֣יךָ אֲנָ֑חְנוּ וַיֹּ֙אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֧ם יְהוֹשֻׁ֛עַ מִ֥י אַתֶּ֖ם וּמֵאַ֥יִן תָּבֹֽאוּ׃

1 thought on “Joshua 9:7, 8: The Gibeonite Deception, Part 4

  1. Matthew Henry: “When they were suspected, and more strictly examined as to whence they came, they industriously declined telling the name of their country, till the agreement was settled. [1.] The men of Israel suspected a fraud (Joshua 9:7): ‘Peradventure you dwell among us, and then we may not, we must not, make any league with you.’ This might have discouraged the Gibeonites from urging the matter any further, concluding that if the peace were made the Israelites would not think themselves obliged to keep it, having thus solemnly protested against it in case they dwelt among them; but, knowing that there was no hope at all if they stood it out, they bravely ventured a submission. ‘Who knows but the people of Israel may save us alive, though thus inveigled into a promise; and if we tell them at last we shall but die.’ [2.] Joshua put the questions to them, Who are you? and whence come you? He finds himself concerned to stand upon his guard against secret fraud as well as against open force. We in our spiritual warfare must stand against the wiles of the devil, remembering he is a subtle serpent as well as a roaring lion. In all leagues of relation and friendship we must first try and then trust, lest we repent at leisure agreements made in haste. [3.] They would not tell whence they came; but still repeat the same thing: We have come from a very far country, Joshua 9:9. They will have it thought that it is a country Joshua knows nothing of nor ever heard of, and therefore would be never the wiser if they should tell him the name of it.”

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