Joshua 9:3
And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai,
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(3) The inhabitants of Gibeon.—Hivites, as appears by Joshua 9:7. Gibeon was one member of a tetrapolis, or community of four cities, as is seen in Joshua 9:17. Their deception of Joshua and the Israelites on this occasion is a curious compensation for what was done by Simeon and Levi to the Hivites long before, when Jacob first came to Shechem from Padan-Aram (see Genesis 34). On that occasion, the inhabitants of a single city of the Hivites were put to the sword by Israel, by means of a stratagem; on this occasion, a stratagem saved four Hivite cities from destruction by Israel’s sword.

Joshua 9:3-4. And when — Rather, but when; the inhabitants of Gibeon — A great and royal city of the Hivites. They made as if they had been ambassadors — Sent from a far country. Wine-bottles, old and rent, and bound up — This seems scarce sense to us; but will appear clear enough when we recollect that glass bottles were not then known, but that bottles made of leather or skins were then used; and the Gibeonites, to make show of being come from a far country, brought with them such as were torn and rent, and bound about with strings or cords to keep them together.

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.Gibeon was the head of the four towns Joshua 9:17 occupied by the Hivites Joshua 11:19. The inhabitants were Amorites 2 Samuel 21:2; the name "Amorites" being used as a general name for the Canaanite population (Deuteronomy 1:44 note). The Hivites seem to have had a non-monarchical form of government (compare Joshua 9:3, Joshua 9:11), but their city was Joshua 10:2 in size and importance equal to those cities which the kings of the country made their capitals. Gibeon signifies "pertaining to a hill," i. e. built on a hill (compare Gibeah and Geba, towns in the same neighborhood), and describes the site, which is on two of the rounded hills unique to this district. It is still known as El-Jib, and lies about five miles north of Jerusalem by the most direct route. It stands at the head of the pass of Beth-horon, through which lies the main route from Jerusalem and the lower Jordan valley to Joppa and the sea coast. Thus from its position, no less than from the number and valor of its people Joshua 10:2, it was one of the most important cities of southern Canaan. Gibeon fell within the lot of Benjamin Joshua 18:25, and was one of the cities assigned to the priests Joshua 21:17. In later times it was famous as the scene of various events (2 Samuel 2:12-17; 2 Samuel 20:4-13; 1 Kings 2:28-29, compare with 1 Chronicles 16:39). It was for a long time the spot where the tabernacle of Moses, together with the brass altar of burnt offering 1 Chronicles 21:29 and other portions of the sacred furniture, were placed. It was the scene of the magnificent ceremonial with which Solomon inaugurated his reign 1 Kings 3, but no doubt lost much of its importance after the tabernacle and its accompaniments were removed to the temple of Solomon. 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).

Or, but when the inhabitants; for he shows that these took another and a wiser course.

Gibeon; a great and royal city of the Hivites, Joshua 10:2 11:19.

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.

And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai,
3–27. The Embassy of the Gibeonites

3. of Gibeon] This city was the head of the four towns occupied by the Hivites, the other three being Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kirjath-jearim (Joshua 9:17). It appears to have been a sort of independent republic, since we hear of elders there (Joshua 9:11), but not of a king, and is said to have been a great city like a royal city (Joshua 10:2), i.e. of the same size and importance as those which the kings of the country made their capitals. The name itself signifies “pertaining to a hill,” i.e. built on a hill, and describes the site, which is, by the direct route, about 5 miles north of Jerusalem, on two of the rounded hills peculiar to this neighbourhood. Placed at the head of the pass of Bethhoron, and commanding the main route from Jerusalem and the lower Jordan valley to Joppa and the sea-coast, and inhabited by a numerous and brave population, it was one of the most important cities of southern Canaan. It is still known as El-Jib.

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). Joshua 9:3But the inhabitants of a republic, which included not only Gibeon the capital, but the towns of Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kirjath-jearim also, acted differently from the rest. Gibeon (Γαβάων, Gabaon, lxx Vulg.) was larger than Ai, being one of the royal cities (Joshua 10:2), and was inhabited by Hivites, who were a brave people (Joshua 10:7; Joshua 11:19). It was afterwards allotted to the tribe of Benjamin, and set apart as a Levitical town (Joshua 18:25; Joshua 21:17). After the destruction of Nob by Saul, the tabernacle was removed thither, and there it remained till the building of Solomon's temple (1 Chronicles 16:39; 1 Chronicles 21:29; 1 Kings 3:4-5; 2 Chronicles 1:3.). According to Josephus, it was forty or fifty stadia from Jerusalem, and judging from its name was built upon a hill. It is to be found in the modern Jib, two good hours' journey to the north-west of Jerusalem, a village of moderate size, on a long chalk hill which overlooks a very fertile, well cultivated plain, or rather a basin, consisting of broad valleys and plains, and rises like a vineyard, in the form of separate terraces (Strauss, Sinai, p. 332). The remains of large massive buildings of great antiquity are still to be seen there, also some fountains, and two large subterraneous reservoirs (vid., Rob. Pal. ii. p. 136). When the Gibeonites heard of the fate of Jericho and Ai, they also did (something) with stratagem. In the expression המּה גּם ("they also") there is a reference implied to what Joshua had done at Jericho and Ai; not, however, to the stratagem resorted to in the case of Ai, as such an allusion would not apply to Jericho. They set out as ambassadors: יצטיּרוּ, from צרר, which occurs in every other instance in the form of a noun, signifying a messenger (Proverbs 13:17, etc.). In the Hithpael it means to make themselves ambassadors, to travel as ambassadors. The translators of the ancient versions, however, adopted the reading יצטיּדוּ, they provided themselves with food; but this was nothing more than a conjecture founded upon Joshua 9:12, and without the slightest critical value. They also took "old sacks upon their asses, and old mended wineskins." מצררים, from צרר, lit. bound together, is very characteristic. There are two modes adopted in the East of repairing skins when torn, viz., inserting a patch, or tying up the piece that is torn in the form of a bag. Here the reference is to the latter, which was most in harmony with their statement, that the skins had got injured upon their long journey. Also "old mended sandals upon their feet, and old clothes upon them (upon their bodies); and all the bread of their provisions had become dry and quite mouldy." נקּדים, lit. furnished with points; נקוד, pointed, speckled (Genesis 30:32.). Hence the rendering of the lxx, εὐρωτιῶν; Theod., βεβρωμένοι; Luther, schimmlicht, mouldy; whereas the rendering adopted by Aquila is ἐψαθυρωμένος; by Symmachus, κάπορος, i.e., adustus, torridus; and by the Vulgate, in frusta comminuti, i.e., crumbled.
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