Joshua 9:4
Parallel Verses
New International Version
they resorted to a ruse: They went as a delegation whose donkeys were loaded with worn-out sacks and old wineskins, cracked and mended.

New Living Translation
they resorted to deception to save themselves. They sent ambassadors to Joshua, loading their donkeys with weathered saddlebags and old, patched wineskins.

English Standard Version
they on their part acted with cunning and went and made ready provisions and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended,

New American Standard Bible
they also acted craftily and set out as envoys, and took worn-out sacks on their donkeys, and wineskins worn-out and torn and mended,

King James Bible
They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up;

Holman Christian Standard Bible
they acted deceptively. They gathered provisions and took worn-out sacks on their donkeys and old wineskins, cracked and mended.

International Standard Version
they took the initiative by preparing their provisions shrewdly: they took tattered sacks for their donkeys, worn-out, torn, and mended wineskins,

NET Bible
they did something clever. They collected some provisions and put worn-out sacks on their donkeys, along with worn-out wineskins that were ripped and patched.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
they devised a scheme. They posed as messengers. They took worn-out sacks on their donkeys. Their wineskins were old, split, and patched.

Jubilee Bible 2000
they worked with prudence and went and made as if they had been ambassadors and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old and rent and bound up,

King James 2000 Bible
They did work craftily, and went and made as if they were ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their donkeys, and wine skins, old, and torn, and mended;

American King James Version
They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks on their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up;

American Standard Version
they also did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine-skins, old and rent and bound up,

Douay-Rheims Bible
Cunningly devising took for themselves provisions, laying old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles rent and sewed up again,

Darby Bible Translation
then they also acted with craft, and they went prepared as on a journey, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine-flasks, old and rent and tied up;

English Revised Version
they also did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wineskins, old and rent and bound up;

Webster's Bible Translation
They did work craftily, and went and made as if they had been embassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine-bottles, old, and rent, and bound up;

World English Bible
they also resorted to a ruse, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks on their donkeys, and wineskins, old and torn and bound up,

Young's Literal Translation
and they work, even they, with subtilty, and go, and feign to be ambassadors, and take old sacks for their asses, and wine-bottles, old, and rent, and bound up,
Parallel Commentaries
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.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 4. - They did work wilily. Rather, and they worked - they also - with craft. The reference, no doubt, is to the confederacy of the other kings. The Gibeonites also acted upon what they had heard, but they preferred an accommodation to war. So Calvin and Rosenmuller; also Drusius. And they felt that they could only effect their purpose by craft. Other explanations are given, such as that a reference is made to Joshua's stratagem at Ai. Keil rejects both, and proposes an explanation of his own, which is unintelligible. Origen's interpretation here is interesting as a specimen of the theology of the third century. He regards the Gibeonites as the type of men who, though they are enrolled in the Church as believers and have faith in God, and acquiesce in all the Divine precepts, and are ready enough to take part in all the external duties of religion, are yet involved in vices and foulnesses, like the Gibeonites in their old garments and clouted shoes. They display no signs of improvement or alteration, yet Jesus our Lord concedes to them salvation, even though that salvation does not escape a certain stigma of disgrace. That there may be some persons in a condition somewhat resembling this described by Origen may be admitted, but it is difficult to see how any one in a state of salvation can display no signs of improvement whatever. There are many who do not improve as they might, whom we should yet hesitate to pronounce altogether reprobate from God. But surely the entire absence of all improvement is a manifest sign of reprobation. This passage is one of many among the voluminous works of Origen in which that holy and learned man has not sufficiently weighed what he was saying (see below, ver. 23). Made as if they had been ambassadors. "Sent an embassy" (Luther). If we take this reading, we must suppose, with Grotius and others, the word to be the Hithpahel of צִיר to go, to revolve. But the form is rare, and the word is elsewhere unknown, at least in Hebrew, though an Arabic form of it is found. It is therefore better to read יֹצְטַיָּדוּ "they prepared themselves provisions." This is the reading of the LXX., the Vulgate, the Chaldee, the Syriac, and of most modern editors. It is rendered still more probable by the occurrence of the same word in ver. 12. Old sacks. Rather, worn out, and so throughout the passage. The usual mode of conveyance still in the East is in sackcloth bags on the backs of horses, mules, camels, and asses. Such bags are apt to meet with rough usage in a long journey. Wine bottles. Rather, wine skins, the wine then being kept in skins, not in vessels of glass. This explains how they could be burst open (מְבֻקָּעִים) and tied up. These skins were hung up frequently in the smoke (Psalm 119:83), which gave them a shrivelled appearance. The first bottles were made of such skins, as Herodotus tells us. The Egyptian monuments confirm his statements, displaying as they do skins of animals so used, with the legs or the neck forming what we still term the "neck" of the bottle (cf. Homer, Iliad, 4:247, ἀσκῷ ἐν αἰγείῳ). Similar bottles are depicted on the walls of Herculaneum and Pompeii, and the like may be seen still in Italian villages. They were pitched over at the seams to prevent leakage (cf. Job 32:19; Matthew 9:17; Mark 2:22; Luke 5:37, 38. See also Kitto's 'Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature '). Bound up. The usual mode of mending in the East, except when a patch is inserted, is to tie or sew up the hole.

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

And they did work wilily,.... Acted craftily, dealt in much cunning and subtlety; our version leaves out a very emphatic word, "also"; they also, as well as other nations, acted a cunning part, but in a different way; they did not enter into consultations and alliances with others, how to defend themselves, but made use of a stratagem to make peace, and enter into a league with Israel; or also as the Israelites had done, either as Simeon and Levi had dealt craftily with the Shechemites, who were Hivites, Genesis 34:2; so now the Gibeonites, who also were Hivites, Joshua 9:7; wrought in a wily and crafty manner with them, so Jarchi; or as the Israelites had lately done in the affair of Ai:

and went and made as if they had been ambassadors: from some states in a foreign country, sent on an embassy to the people of Israel, to compliment them on their successes, and to enter into alliance with them, which they thought would be pleasing and acceptable to them; the Targum is,"they prepared food,''which they took with them for their journey; and so the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Arabic versions:

and took old sacks upon their asses: in which they put, their provisions:

and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up: not made of glass, as ours usually are, but of the skins of beasts, as the bottles in the eastern countries commonly were; which in time grew old, and were rent and burst, and they were obliged to mend them, and bind them up, that they might hold together, and retain the liquor put into them, see Matthew 9:17.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

4. They did work wilily—They acted with dexterous policy, seeking the means of self-preservation, not by force, which they were convinced would be unavailing, but by artful diplomacy.

took old sacks upon their asses—Travellers in the East transport their luggage on beasts of burden; the poorer sort stow all their necessaries, food, clothes, utensils together, in a woollen or hair-cloth sack, laid across the shoulders of the beast they ride upon.

wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up—Goat-skins, which are better adapted for carrying liquor of any kind fresh and good, than either earthenware, which is porous, or metallic vessels, which are soon heated by the sun. These skin bottles are liable to be rent when old and much used; and there are various ways of mending them—by inserting a new piece of leather, or by gathering together the edges of the rent and sewing them in the form of a purse, or by putting a round flat splinter of wood into the hole.

Joshua 9:4 Additional Commentaries
Context
The Deceit of the Gibeonites
3When the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, 4they also acted craftily and set out as envoys, and took worn-out sacks on their donkeys, and wineskins worn-out and torn and mended, 5and worn-out and patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and had become crumbled.…
Cross References
Matthew 9:17
Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved."

Joshua 9:3
However, when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai,

Joshua 9:5
They put worn and patched sandals on their feet and wore old clothes. All the bread of their food supply was dry and moldy.

Joshua 9:13
And these wineskins that we filled were new, but see how cracked they are. And our clothes and sandals are worn out by the very long journey."
Treasury of Scripture

They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks on their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up;

work wilily

Genesis 34:13 And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, …

1 Kings 20:31-33 And his servants said to him, Behold now, we have heard that the …

Matthew 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the middle of wolves: be you …

Luke 16:8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely…

ambassadors the word tzier, an ambassador, properly denotes a hinge; because an ambassador is a person upon whom the business turns as upon a hinge. So the Latin Cardinalis, from cardo, a hinge, was the title of the prime minister of the emperor Theodosius, though now applied only to the Pope's electors and counsellors.

wine bottles These bottle being made of skin, were consequently liable to be rent, and capable of being mended; which is done, according to Chardin, by putting in a piece, or by gathering up the wounded piece in the manner of a purse; and sometimes by inserting a flat piece of wood.

Psalm 119:83 For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget your statutes.

Matthew 9:17 Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, …

Mark 2:22 And no man puts new wine into old bottles: else the new wine does …

Luke 5:37,38 And no man puts new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will …

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Acted Acting Ambassadors Asses Bottles Bound Cord Craftily Deceit Delegation Donkeys Embassadors Envoys Journey Kept Loaded Patched Prepared Ready Rent Resorted Sacks Skins Together Torn Wine Wine-Bottles Wineskins Work Worn Worn-Out
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Alphabetical: a acted also and as cracked craftily delegation donkeys envoys loaded mended old on out resorted ruse sacks set their they to took torn went were whose wineskins with worn-out

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