Joshua 9:8
And they said to Joshua, We are your servants. And Joshua said to them, Who are you? and from from where come you?
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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.Compare the marginal references. 7. the men of Israel said unto the Hivites, Peradventure ye dwell among us—The answer of the Israelites implied that they had no discretion, that their orders were imperative, and that if the strangers belonged to any of the native tribes, the idea of an alliance with them was unlawful since God had forbidden it (Ex 23:32; 34:12; De 7:2). We are thy servants; we desire a league with you upon your own terms; we are ready to accept of any conditions.

Who are ye? and from whence come ye? for this free and general concession of theirs gave Joshua just cause to suspect that they were of the cursed Canaanites. And they said unto Joshua, we are thy servants,.... Not that they meant to be subjects of his, and tributaries to him; but this they said in great humility and lowliness of mind, being willing to be or do anything he should enjoin them. Abarbinel observes, that this they proposed to Joshua singly, not to be servants to all the people, but to him only, and to have him for their head and governor:

and Joshua, said, who are ye? and from whence come ye? by what name are ye called? and from what country do ye come? suspecting, as it should seem, that they were the inhabitants of Canaan; or however he was cautious and upon his guard, lest they should be such, and yet was not enough upon his guard to prevent imposition.

And they said unto Joshua, We are thy servants. And Joshua said unto them, Who are ye? and from whence come ye?
8. Who are ye?] To this is to be noticed that they made no direct reply. They adroitly evaded the question by dwelling on the fact that they were Joshua’s “servants” (comp. Genesis 32:4; Genesis 50:18).Verse 8. - We are thy servants. This does not mean altogether, as ver. 9 shows, that the Gibeonites intended by this embassy to reduce themselves to servitude. Their object, as Grotius remarks, was rather to form an alliance on terms of something like equality. The phrase was one common in the East as a token of respect (e.g., Genesis 32:4, 18; Genesis 50:18; 2 Kings 10:5; 2 Kings 16:7). But no doubt the Gibeonites (see ver. 11) expected to have a tribute laid on them. And they would willingly accept such an impost, for, as Ewald remarks ( 'History of Israel,' 4:3), their object was "to secure the peace which a mercantile inland city especially requires" (see also note on Joshua 3:10). From whence come ye? Joshua uses the imperfect, not the perfect, tense here. Commentators are divided about its meaning. Some suppose that the perfect, "from whence have ye come?" is mere direct and abrupt than "from whence may you have come?" or, "from whence were you coming?" and certainly an indirect question is in most languages considered more respectful than a direct one (see Genesis 42:7). But perhaps with Ewald we may regard it simply as implying that their mission was still in progress. Joshua 9:1, Joshua 9:2 form the introduction to chs. 9-11, and correspond to the introduction in Joshua 5:1. The news of the miraculous passage of the Israelites through the Jordan had thrown all the kings of Canaan into such despair, that they did not venture to make any attack upon Israel. But they gradually recovered from their first panic, partly, no doubt, in consequence of the failure of the first attack of the Israelites upon Ai, and resolved to join together in making war upon the foreign invaders. The kings of Canaan did this when they heard, sc., what Israel had hitherto undertaken and accomplished, not merely "what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai" (Knobel): that is to say, all the kings across the Jordan, i.e., in the country to the west of the Jordan (היּרדּן עבר, as in Joshua 5:1), viz., "upon the mountains" (not only the mountains of Judah, as in Joshua 10:40; Joshua 11:16, etc., but all the mountains which run throughout the whole length of Canaan, as in Deuteronomy 1:7 and Numbers 13:17 : see the explanation of the latter passage); "in the lowlands" (shephelah, the low-lying country between the mountains and the sea-coast, which is simply intersected by small ranges of hills; see at Deuteronomy 1:7); "and on all the coast of the Great Sea towards Lebanon," i.e., the narrow coast of the Mediterranean Sea from Joppa up to the Ladder of Tyre (see at Deuteronomy 1:7). The different tribes of the Canaanites are also mentioned by name, as in Joshua 3:10, except that the Girgashites are omitted. These gathered themselves together to fight with Joshua and Israel with one mouth, or with one accord (1 Kings 22:13).
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