The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Joshua 9

Jos 9:1

Jos 9: "The wiles of the adversary are many and varied. The consequences of involvement with deceivers is revealed in the chapter before us. A confederacy gathers against Israel, and causes the concern of the Gibeonites. A plan is set in motion, and a scheme of trickery is devised. The Gibeonites must have recognised the integrity of Israel, to have trusted them. But Israel acted foolishly. When the Gibeonites approaches Israel, the people of God questioned them, rather than seek the advice of Yahweh (v 15). The deception is discovered (vv 16-18), and Israel brought into a covenant relationship with the enemy. But notwithstanding the circumstances, Israel must honour the covenant entered into. The Gibeonites must have diligently considered the binding nature of the covenant under the Mosaic Law (cp v 24), and had evidently made careful investigation as to what was required. They mention only the Exodus (v 9), and the victories east of Jordan, and are careful to avoid mention of Jericho and Ai, as this would have betrayed their close proximity to the Land. They are reduced to slavery (vv 22-27). Yet the case of Rahab showed that they could have received honoured treatment by a proper approach, but now they are reduced to servitude. The chapter provides the policy for the kingdom, when the Lord Jesus will receive the homage of all mankind, and the covenant of life will be provided for those who seek to join themselves unto Israel (Zec 8:23)" (GEM).

Jos 9: "The other cities of Canaan were not more brave [vv 1,2], they were only more foolish than Gibeon [vv 3-27]. They lacked the imagination of faith which could realise the fate awaiting them. They dreamed of safety without taking measures to secure it. They believed in that 'chapter of accidents which is the Bible of the fool.' Like some Oriental governments which we have seen, they stared destruction in the face, and did nothing to ensure success in averting it. Wisdom averts the preventable, but sets itself to work at once to accept the inevitable. And Gibeon deserves credit for its clear perception of its danger, and its sagacity in trying to make the best of what could not be avoided. Perhaps, being more republican than any of the other nationalities, we have here an instance of the superior wisdom of the popular instinct to that of the rulers'. Without dwelling, however, on the source of their wisdom, we may with advantage follow its example. One of the chiefest parts of the art of life is frankly, promptly accepting the inevitable. Whatever the pressure that you cannot avoid, proceed at once to make the best of it. If it be poverty, do not with desperate ventures attempt to win back wealth, but with contentment and industry set yourself to make the best of it. If disease affects you from which you cannot free yourself, come to terms with it. Send your ambassadors and make a covenant with it. And accepting the situation in which you find yourself, address yourself to gather the 'sweet uses of adversity,' and you will find weakness a great teacher and not without its compensations. If you have done wrong, and to humble yourself is a necessity of honour, do so like Gibeon, at once. If submission to your redeeming God has become a necessity of your case, do not, like the other cities of Israel, dream and defy, and then fall before the destroyer; but with timely overtures seek Him while He is near. Thus in all relations of life accept frankly the inevitable. Agree with thine adversary quickly, and with the force you cannot resist make such terms as will allow you to enjoy a less dignity, but yet some degree of happiness.

"In the action of the Gibeonites there is the good of a rudimentary faith, and there is the evil of deceit. It is to be observed that, while the evil is punished, the good is not ignored. God does not require the retraction of the oath; and when, centuries later, Israel breaks the oath, He shows His disapproval of their course. God sanctions their being spared, and thus approves the good that is mixed with evil. Happily for us, God is still the same. Perfect motive He never finds, and unmixed good He never looks on. But, in His infinite compassion, whatever of good there is in our action receives a rich reward. His love holds as keen a scrutiny as His justice, and wherever in the action of men the slightest good appears, then He rewards it" (Pulpit).

Jos 9:9

THE LORD YOUR GOD: Covenant language!

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