Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 9:22

Then Joshua called for them and spoke to them, saying, "Why have you deceived us, saying, ‘We are very far from you,' when you are living within our land?
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Contracts;   Joshua;   Kirjath-Jearim;   Magnanimity;   Servant;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Gibeonites;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Foreigner;   Gibeon;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - All-Sufficiency of God;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Alliance;   Gibeon;   Slave;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Joshua, the Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Gibeon;   Israel;   Joshua;   Stranger;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Journeyings of israel from egypt to canaan;   Nethinim;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Conquest of Canaan;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Betray;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Alliances;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Gibeon and Gibeonites;   Hivites;  

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Were the Israelites bound to respect an oath thus procured by fraud? Were they right in doing so? Dr. Sanderson (“Works,” vol. iv. 4 pp. 269,300, Oxford edition), determines these questions in the affirmative; and rightly, since the oath, though unlawfully taken, was not an oath taken to do an unlawful thing, i. e. a thing in itself unlawful. It was the carelessness of the Israelites themselves which betrayed them into this league. It was therefore their duty when they found themselves entrapped into this unlawful covenant, to devise means by which they might respect both their own oath and God‘s purposes as intimated in His injunctions Deuteronomy 7:2 against sparing the Canaanites. This was accomplished by granting their lives to the Gibeonites, but reducing them to a servile condition, which might be expected to disable them from influencing the Israelites to do wrong. It may be added, that had the Israelites broken their oath, taken solemnly in the Name of the Lord, they would have brought that Name into contempt among the pagan; and, while punishing perfidy in others, would have themselves, the Lord‘s people, incurred the reproach of perjury. The result showed that Joshua and the princes judged rightly in this matter. God gave to Israel a notable victory, crowned with special miracles, over the kings who were confederated against Gibeon, because of the treaty made with Israel Joshua 10:4, Joshua 10:8, Joshua 10:13; and God punished as a national act of blood-guiltiness the slaughter of the Gibeonites by Saul, which was a distinct violation of the covenant here before us (compare 2 Samuel 21:1). This sparing of the Gibeonites, as well as the previous sparing of Rahab and her household, must be borne in mind when the massacre of the Canaanites by Joshua and the Israelites is discussed.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Joshua 9:22". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/joshua-9.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

"And Joshua called for them, and he spake unto them saying, Why have ye beguiled us, saying, we are very far from you, when ye dwell among us? Now therefore ye are cursed, and there shall never fail to be of you bondmen, both hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God. And they answered Joshua, and said, Because it was certainly told thy servants, how that Jehovah thy God commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you; therefore we were sore afraid for our lives because of you, and have done this thing. And now, behold, we are in thy hand: as it seemeth good and right unto thee to do unto us, do. And so did he unto them, and delivered them out of the hands of the children of Israel, that they slew them not. And Joshua that day made them hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation, and for the altar of Jehovah, unto this day, in the place which he should choose."

One must confess that the Gibeonites gave a straightforward and truthful answer here as to why they had so skillfully deceived Joshua and all the Israelites. Their truthful answer, however, could not justify the fraud and deception, the falsehood and hypocrisy to which they had so effectively resorted, but all that, of course, did lead to their lives being spared.

The critical allegation that "the altar of Jehovah ... in the place which he (God) should choose" was a customary reference to Jerusalem is erroneous. We encountered many such critical assertions in our studies of Deuteronomy, but, as we pointed out, Jerusalem is nowhere mentioned in Deuteronomy, nor is Joshua 9:27 here a reference to it. Note the future tense in "God should choose," meaning that the permanent site of the tabernacle at this point in time had not been chosen. On this account, we reject absolutely the etiological explanation quite arbitrarily assigned to this chapter by some critics.

Blair pointed out that the curse Joshua here placed upon the Gibeonites was softened by the Lord and, indeed changed into a blessing:

"They were doomed to perpetual slavery, yet the curse that came upon them was a blessing. `Blessed are those who dwell in the house of the Lord' (Psalms 84:4). That was the curse that fell on the Gibeonites ... to be attached forever to the congregation and to the altar of God in the place (any place) that the Lord should choose. Such is God's grace. It was for the Gibeonites that God wrought the mighty miracle of the battle of Beth-horon (Joshua 10:7-15); and it was among the Gibeonites that God later located the tabernacle (2 Chronicles 1:3), and, in still later days, when the priests and Levites failed, God replaced them with the Gibeonites (Ezra 2:43; 8:20)."[30]

Joshua's curse upon the Gibeonites was the same as the curse upon the king of Ai. "Thus the judgment upon Ai and its king was pronounced, but not executed, upon the Gibeonites."[31] Why should Gibeon have been cursed at all? As Boling said, "They were cursed for bearing false witness. They were delivered from death by Israel's oath; but the Gibeonites were punished for deceiving Israel."[32] We find a somewhat similar thing in the story of Cain. He was punished, but also protected.

The tragic results of what is recorded in this chapter were profound in character. The old residue of the Canaanites remained in the Promised Land. The Gibeonites were firmly planted in the very heart of Israel's inheritance, and this hard cadre of paganism would, in time, frustrate to a certain degree the holy purpose of God with reference to Israel. The Israelites eventually would intermarry with them, adopt their sensuous pagan religion, and finally forsake God so completely that God would indeed remove them altogether from the Promised Land and send them into captivity. And yet, despite the shortcomings of Israel, a holy remnant of the Chosen People would await the Kingdom of God and would, in the fullness of time, welcome the Messiah into our evil world.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Joshua 9:22". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/joshua-9.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And Joshua called for them,.... The Gibeonites, who came as ambassadors for their people, who were detained at Gilgal until the children of Israel returned from Gibeon; and upon their return, and having made their report to Joshua that they found it to be true that they were near neighbours, Joshua ordered them to be brought before him:

and he spake unto them, saying, wherefore have ye beguiled us? what is your reason and motive for so doing? what has induced you to act such a deceitful part, to tell such lies and falsehoods, and impose upon us after this manner?

saying, we are very far from you, when ye dwell among us: pretending to come from a very far country, when they were inhabitants of the land Israel were come to possess.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Joshua 9:22". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-9.html. 1999.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And Joshua called for them, and he spake unto them, saying, Wherefore have ye beguiled us, saying, We are very far from you; when ye dwell among us?

Called for them — Probably not only the messengers, but the elders of Gibeon were now present.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Joshua 9:22". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-9.html. 1765.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

GUILEFUL GIBEONITES

‘Wherefore have ye beguiled us?’

Joshua 9:22

Joshua and the elders, although at first a little in doubt about the Gibeonites’ story, seem to consider this too plain and obvious a matter to consult God about. Surely they are to use their own common sense, and decide some things themselves! So they reason. And so, we read, they ‘asked not counsel of the Lord, and Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them.’ Israel had yet to learn, as each one of us must learn, that in this life of full surrender to God we cannot trust our own judgment or wisdom, any more than we can trust our own strength. Everything must be referred to God. He is our wisdom as well as our strength. This is humbling to pride, but it is necessary, if we would make no mistakes.

Ere three days pass, the people find out what a blunder they have made, and what a tangle they have got themselves into. These pious-talking, innocent-appearing strangers, they find, are their near neighbours, and are some of those desperately wicked people whom God had commanded should be utterly destroyed. But because Israel thought it unnecessary to ask counsel of God, an oath has been made, ‘in the name of the Lord God of Israel,’ that these Gibeonites shall live! The matter is patched up as well as possible. Because of the oath, and the Name in which it has been given, the Gibeonites cannot be killed, but they are made hewers of wood and drawers of water, thus really becoming helpers in the service of the Tabernacle. This shows how God can overrule even the mistakes of His people, to His glory and to their best good.

I. The personal application and instruction of all this is very plain.—The condemned nations of Canaan furnish a good type of the Christian’s spiritual enemies of various kinds, enemies which surround us on every hand. We have already studied about great Jericho and little Ai; and now, in this section, the Gibeonites represent, not so much the open attacks or opposition, as the miles of the devil. These enemies are none the less deadly because they use deceit and guile instead of open assault. Indeed, they are far more dangerous, because they are not so easily recognised as enemies. Only God’s eye can penetrate their disguise, and reveal their real character. If Israel had consulted God before making any agreement with them, all would have been well. As Christians we are surrounded by Gibeonites, real enemies of God, who, disguised and under assumed friendliness, or in the name of religion, desire to make a league with us. Let us learn the lesson of this story, and before entering into any league—by marriage, business, partnership, social agreement, etc.—however much we may trust the individuals, or however right it may all appear to us, let us not fail to ‘ask counsel of the Lord.’

II. It is always a bad thing for God’s people to make alliances with the enemies of God.—How often we see Christian women marrying ungodly men, or Christian men entering into business partnership with the thoroughly ungodly, as though there were no such command from the Lord as ‘Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.’ True, sometimes God has overruled such agreements to our good and His own glory, as in the case of the Gibeonites; but it is better not to make such blunders. Sad results are always sure to follow when God’s people join with Satan’s. Look at the history of the Church. During the first centuries of her existence, although much persecuted and assailed, she swept forward, planting the news of salvation in many lands; and we have but to read the book of Acts to see what wonders were accomplished, and what multitudes were won to Christ. Satan saw that he could not prevail by force; and so he resorted to wiles, until, little by little, the Church made a league with the world and the things of Satan, and rapidly lost power.

Illustrations

(1) ‘What mistakes I make, when I “ask not counsel at the mouth of the Lord”! My foes are very crafty. The devil has a thousand wiles. There seem so many reasons why I should make my peace with the world. Many of these reasons will present themselves to-day. Lord, at every such appeal let me turn to Thee, and seek counsel of Thy wisdom alone.’

(2) ‘It is by no means certain, if they had sought the Divine direction, that they would have been commanded to reject the suit of the Gibeonites and show them no mercy. The probability is that upon any of the devoted nations voluntarily coming forward, professing repentance, renouncing idolatry, and embracing the true religion, the Israelites would have been authorised by God to spare their lives. But the circumstance is mentioned here as a severe reflection upon the princes of Israel for neglect of duty, for rashness, credulity, and impolicy. They rushed precipitately into an alliance which they had no right to form without the express sanction of Jehovah, and their “lips became a snare to their souls.”’

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Joshua 9:22". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/joshua-9.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 9:22 And Joshua called for them, and he spake unto them, saying, Wherefore have ye beguiled us, saying, We [are] very far from you; when ye dwell among us?

Ver. 22. Wherefore have ye beguiled us?] {See Trapp on "Joshua 9:6"} {See Trapp on "Joshua 9:7"} But was Joshua so light of belief? knew he not that Multis annis iam transactis? &c.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 9:22". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-9.html. 1865-1868.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And Joshua called for them, and he spake unto them, saying, Wherefore have ye beguiled us, saying, We are very far from you; when ye dwell among us?

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 9:22". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/joshua-9.html. 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Now therefore ye are cursed, and there shall none of you be freed from being bondmen, and hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.
Wherefore
Genesis 3:13,14; 27:35,36,41-45; 29:25; 2 Corinthians 11:3
We are
6,9,10
ye dwell
Reciprocal: Deuteronomy 20:11 - tributaries

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 9:22". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-9.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

22.And Joshua called for them, etc. As he was to deliver a sad and severe sentence, he premises that the resolution involves no injustice, because nothing would be more unbecoming than to allow tricks and wiles to be profitable to those who employ them. He therefore first expostulates with them for having warded off danger by falsehood, and then immediately pronounces them cursed. By this I understand that he throws the blame of their servitude upon themselves, because they bear nothing worse than they have deserved by their guile or perfidy; as if he had said that the ground of the condemnation which he pronounces is in themselves. It is hard, indeed, that no end is assigned to the labors to which they are doomed, for this is implied in the words, Slaves shall never cease from among you: but he declares that no injustice is done them, as they were cursed of their own accord, or by their own fault. They, indeed, extenuate the offense, by alleging the necessity which compelled them, and yet they decline not the punishment, which they acknowledge to be justly inflicted. It may indeed be, that overcome with fear, they refused nothing, nay, calmly and flatteringly (87) acquiesced in the terms imposed on them. For what could they gain by disputing? I have no doubt, however, that as they were conscious of having done wrong, and had no means of completely exculpating themselves, they considered themselves very humanely dealt with, so long as their lives were saved, (88)

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Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Joshua 9:22". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/joshua-9.html. 1840-57.