|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:14-21 The Israelites, having examined the provisions of the Gibeonites, hastily concluded that they confirmed their account. We make more haste than good speed, when we stay not to take God with us, and do not consult him by the word and prayer. The fraud was soon found out. A lying tongue is but for a moment. Had the oath been in itself unlawful, it would not have been binding; for no obligation can render it our duty to commit a sin. But it was not unlawful to spare the Canaanites who submitted, and left idolatry, desiring only that their lives might be spared. A citizen of Zion swears to his own hurt, and changes not, Ps 15:4. Joshua and the princes, when they found that they had been deceived, did not apply to Eleazar the high priest to be freed from their engagement, much less did they pretend that no faith is to be kept with those to whom they had sworn. Let this convince us how we ought to keep our promises, and make good our bargains; and what conscience we ought to make of our words.
Verse 20. - Lest wrath be upon us. The original is not quite so strong: "and wrath will not be upon us (καὶ οὐκ ἔσται καθ ἡμῶν ὀργή, LXX.).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
This we will do to them,.... Either this favour we will show them, preserving their lives, next mentioned, or this punishment we will inflict on them, making them hewers of wood, and drawers of water; which though not mentioned directly, was what was upon their minds, and in their design to propose, only they were extremely desirous of sparing their lives, which they repeat:
we will even let them live; this by all means must be done, their lives must not be taken away as the rest of the Canaanites:
lest wrath come upon us, because of the oath which we sware unto them; that is, lest the wrath of God come upon us princes, and upon the whole community, for perjury, a breach of the third command, Exodus 20:7, a sin highly displeasing to God; since an oath is made not only in his presence, and before him as a witness, who is appealed unto, but in his name, and is often severely threatened, and sorely punished; and as even the breach of this oath was several hundreds of years after, in the times of David, 2 Samuel 21:1. The Vulgate Latin version therefore reads the words, "lest the wrath of the Lord come upon us": but Abarbinel observes, that it may be understood of the wrath of Israel; for the words may be rendered, "and there shall not be wrath upon us, because of the oath": there need be none, there is no occasion for it, since this was agreed upon on all hands, that the Gibeonites should be let to live; and since it was an act of kindness and goodness, and especially they would have no reason to be angry and wrathful with them, when they heard them out, what they had further to propose to them, to make them their servants, though they spared their lives.
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