|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:3-13 Other people heard these tidings, and were driven thereby to make war upon Israel; but the Gibeonites were led to make peace with them. Thus the discovery of the glory and the grace of God in the gospel, is to some a savour of life unto life, but to others a savour of death unto death, 2Co 2:16. The same sun softens wax and hardens clay. The falsehood of the Gibeonites cannot be justified. We must not do evil that good may themselves to the God of Israel, we have reason to think Joshua would have been directed by the oracle of God to spare their lives. But when they had once said, We are come from a far country, they were led to say it made of skins, and their clothes: one lie brings on another, and that a third, and so on. The way of that sin is especially down-hill. Yet their faith and prudence are to be commended. In submitting to Israel they submitted to the God of Israel, which implied forsaking their idolatries. And how can we do better than cast ourselves upon the mercy of a God of all goodness? The way to avoid judgment is to meet it by repentance. Let us do like these Gibeonites, seek peace with God in the rags of abasement, and godly sorrow; so our sin shall not be our ruin. Let us be servants to Jesus, our blessed Joshua, and we shall live.
Verse 3. - The inhabitants of Gibeon. That is, of a confederation of cities (see ver. 17), of which Gibeon was the head. Gibeon was a city of some importance (Joshua 10:2). Though it was for size and importance "as one of the royal cities," we hear nothing of a king there. Hengstenberg, in his history, describes it (p. 227) as "eine freie Stadt," with daughter cities dependent on it. In fact, the Phoenician cities (see Introduction) seem to have had as great a variety of constitution as those of ancient Greece. Its inhabitants were Hivites (ver. 7, and Joshua 11:19). Its name (compare Gibeah and גִבְעָה a hill) signifies hill city, like the termination dunum in Latin, as Lugdunum, or Lyons; dune in Anglo-Saxon, as Ethandune. Compare also Dunkirk. Robinson, in his 'Biblical Researches,' 2:135-9, identifies it with el-Jib, a village on an eminence in the midst of a fertile plain, where the remains of large buildings may still be seen. (So Vandevelde and Condor.) "Onely the Hivites are wiser than their fellowes, and will rather yeeld and live. Their intelligence was not diverse from the rest; all had equally heard of the miraculous conduct and successe of Israel; but their resolution was diverse. As Rahab saved her family in the midst of Jericho, so these foure cities preserved themselves in the midst of Canaan; and both of them by beleeving what God would do. The efficacie of God's marvellous works is not in the acts themselves, but in our apprehension" (Bp. Hall).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And when the inhabitants of Gibeon,.... A large and royal city, a metropolitan one, which had three others belonging to it, and under it, mentioned Joshua 9:17; see Joshua 10:2; no mention is made of any king over them, perhaps they were governed by elders, Joshua 9:11. Though an Arabic writer (h) says, the king of Gibeon wrote to Joshua, and desired security, and sent him large gifts, whom having preserved in safety, Joshua placed on his throne: when these
heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai; had taken the one in a miraculous way, and the other by a stratagem, and had burnt them both, destroyed the inhabitants, plundered their substance, and slew both their kings, all which struck them with terror.
(h) Patricides, p. 30. apud Hottinger. Smegm. Oriental. l. 1. c. 8. p. 507.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Jos 9:3-15. The Gibeonites Obtain a League by Craft.
3-15. when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard—This town, as its name imports, was situated on a rocky eminence, about six miles northwest from Jerusalem, where the modern village of El Jib now stands. It was the capital of the Hivites, and a large important city (Jos 10:2). It seems to have formed, in union with a few other towns in the neighborhood, a free independent state (Jos 9:17) and to have enjoyed a republican government (Jos 9:11).
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