Joshua 9:14
And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) And the men took of their victuals.And they accepted the men from (the appearance of) their provisions. This, which is the view taken in our marginal reading, seems to be the more probable interpretation, and follows the Targum. “The men” can hardly refer to any one but the ambassadors of the Gibeonites.

Joshua 9:14. The men — That is, the princes. Their victuals — That they might examine the truth of what they said. Asked not at the mouth of the Lord — As they ought to have done upon all such weighty occasions. So they are accused of rashness and neglect of their duty. For though it is probable, if God had been consulted, he would have consented to the sparing of the Gibeonites; yet it should have been done with more caution, and an obligation upon them to embrace the true religion. In every business of importance we should take God along with us, and by his word and prayer consult him. Many a time our affairs miscarry, because we ask not counsel at the mouth of the Lord. Did we acknowledge him in all our ways, they would be more safe, easy, and successful.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.The elders of Israel Joshua 9:18, tasting what was offered them by the Gibeonites, pledged themselves according to the usage of Eastern nations to peace and friendship with them. They credited the story at once, instead of seeking the direction of God in the matter. The rendering of the margin is not to be preferred to that of the text.

At the mouth of the Lord - i. e. by the Urim and Thummim Exodus 28:30.

14, 15. the men took of their victuals and asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord—The mouldy appearance of their bread was, after examination, accepted as guaranteeing the truth of the story. In this precipitate conclusion the Israelites were guilty of excessive credulity and culpable negligence, in not asking by the high priest's Urim and Thummim the mind of God, before entering into the alliance. It is not clear, however, that had they applied for divine direction they would have been forbidden to spare and connect themselves with any of the Canaanite tribes who renounced idolatry and embraced and worshipped the true God. At least, no fault was found with them for making a covenant with the Gibeonites; while, on the other hand, the violation of it was severely punished (2Sa 21:1; and Jos 11:19, 20). The men, i.e. the princes, as before, Joshua 9:6.

Took of their victuals; not from their want or any desire they could have to such unpleasant and unwholesome food; nor in a ceremony usual in making leagues, for that was not now done, but in the next verse; but that they might examine the truth of what they said.

Asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord, as they ought to have done upon all such weighty and doubtful occasions. So they are accused of rashness, and neglect of their duty. For though it is probable, if God had been consulted, he would have consented to the sparing of the Gibeonites; yet it should have been done with more caution, and an obligation left upon them to embrace the true religion, which here was omitted. And the men took of their victuals,.... That is, the princes of Israel took thereof; not to eat of them, for it cannot be thought that such personages would eat of such dry and mouldy bread, and especially as they were now in a plentiful country, and possessed of the fruits of it; but to see whether it was in such a plight and condition as they said, whereby they might judge of the truth of what they said; and they learned and knew, as R. Jonah observes, from the dryness of their food, that it was truth they said; and so the Targum, the men hearkened to their words; and so Jarchi, they believed what they said on sight of their provisions; but, according to Kimchi and Ben Melech, they ate with them, to confirm the covenant they made with them; but had this been the case, as it sometimes was a custom to eat together at making covenants, see Genesis 26:30; the princes would doubtless have provided a better entertainment for such a purpose: the "margin" of our Bibles leads to the other sense,"they received the men by reason of their victuals:"

and asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord; as they might and should have done, by desiring the high priest to inquire of the Lord by Urim and Thummim; but this they neglected, which, had they attended to, the fraud would have been discovered; or however, they would have had the mind of God about making peace with the Gibeonites, which in all likelihood he would not have disapproved of, they becoming proselytes, and giving up their possessions to Israel; but this did not excuse their neglect.

And the {g} men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD.

(g) Some think that the Israelites are of their victuals, and so made a league with them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. the men took of their victuals] “thei token thanne of the meetis of hem,” Wyclif. “The men” here denote the elders of Israel, the heads of the tribes. Comp. Joshua 9:18-21. Some think it means they took and tasted of their provisions by way of test to see if their story was true, so Keil and Rosenmüller. Others interpret the words as denoting that the princes of the people took of the provisions, and by thus eating, according to the usages of Oriental nations, pledged themselves to friendship and amity. Compare the eating together as a sign of friendship of Jacob and Laban, Genesis 31:46; and the expression “covenant of salt,” Leviticus 2:13; 2 Chronicles 13:5.

and asked not counsel] This was a transgression of an explicit command that the priest should seek a revelation of the Divine will for Joshua by means of the Sacred Oracle, the Urim and Thummim; “at his word shall they go out, and at his word they shall come in, both he, and all the children of Israel with him” (Numbers 27:21). See also Exodus 28:30. Against any league with the inhabitants of Canaan they had been specially warned (Exodus 23:32; Exodus 34:12; Numbers 33:55; Deuteronomy 7:2).Verse 14. - And the men took of their victuals. Most commentators prefer this rendering to that of the margin, "and they received the men because of their victuals." The natural explanation - though several others are given, for which see Keil in loc. - would seem to be that the Israelites relied on the evidence of their senses, instead of upon the counsel of God. They could see the condition of the garments, sacks, and wine skins of the Gibeonites. They tasted of their victuals to convince themselves of the truth of those statements of which the sight was insufficient to take cognisance. And asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord. Even in the most obvious matter it is well not to trust too implicitly to our own judgment. Nothing could seem more clear or satisfactory than the account given of themselves by the Gibeonites - nothing more easy for the unassisted intellect to decide. And yet Joshua and the congregation were deceived. It is perhaps too much to say, with some commentators - Maurer, for instance - that Joshua disobeyed a plain command in acting thus. The passage in which Joshua is instructed to "stand up before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him at the judgment of Urim before the Lord" (Numbers 27:18-23), does not require him to do so in all cases. But it was clearly "an act of gross carelessness" (Calvin). And the inference may safely be drawn that in no case whatever is it wise to trust to ourselves. However obvious our course may be, we shall do well to take counsel with God by prayer. To the further question put by Joshua, where they had come from, the Gibeonites replied, "From a very distant land have thy servants come, because of the name of Jehovah thy God," or as they themselves proceed at once to explain: "for we have heard the fame (fama) of Him, and all that He did in Egypt, and to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites." They very wisely say nothing about the miracles connected with the crossing of the Jordan and the taking of Jericho, since, "as the inhabitants of a very far distant region, they could not have heard anything about things that had occurred so lately, even by report" (Masius).
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