Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Joshua 9:4

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,
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Ambassadors;   Bottle;   Confidence;   Contracts;   Craftiness;   Deception;   Diplomacy;   Joshua;   Kirjath-Jearim;   Magnanimity;   Oath;   Treaty;   Wine;   Thompson Chain Reference - Ambassadors;   Craftiness;   Deception;   Duplicity;   Nation, the;   Simplicity-Duplicity;   Truth-Falsehood;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Amorites, the;   Gibeonites;   Travellers;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Bottle;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Animals;   Gibeon;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - All-Sufficiency of God;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Alliance;   Ambassador;   Bottle;   Gibeon;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Ambassador;   Bottle;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Ambassador;   Bag;   Goatskin;   Joshua, the Book of;   Transportation and Travel;   Vessels and Utensils;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ambassador, Ambassage;   Bottle;   Gibeon;   House;   Israel;   Joshua;   Stranger;   Wine and Strong Drink;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Goat ;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Alliance;   Ambassador;   Bottle;   Gibeon ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Bottle;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Gibeon;   Journeyings of israel from egypt to canaan;   Nethinim;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Ambassador,;   Gib'eon;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Conquest of Canaan;   Hebrew Monarchy, the;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Ambassador;   Bottle;   Make;   Tanner;   Tears;   Text of the Old Testament;   Wine;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Alliances;   Bottle;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Gibeon and Gibeonites;   Hivites;   Joshua, the Samaritan Book of;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

They did work wilily - Finesse of this kind is allowed by the conduct of all nations; and stratagems in war are all considered as legal. Nine tenths of the victories gained are attributable to stratagem; all sides practice them, and therefore none can condemn them. Much time and labor have been lost in the inquiry, "Did not the Gibeonites tell lies?" Certainly they did, and what is that to us? Does the word of God commend them for it? It does not. Are they held up to us as examples! Surely no. They did what any other nation would have done in their circumstances, and we have nothing to do with their example. Had they come to the Israelites, and simply submitted themselves without opposition and without fraud, they had certainly fared much better. Lying and hypocrisy always defeat their own purpose, and at best can succeed only for a short season. Truth and honesty never wear out.

Old sacks - and wine bottles, old, etc. - They pretended to have come from a very distant country, and that their sacks and the goat-skins that served them for carrying their wine and water in, were worn out by the length of the journey.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Joshua 9:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/joshua-9.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

They did work wilily - literally, “they also,” or “they too, did work, etc.” The “also” serves, apparently, to connect the stratagem of the Gibeonites with that employed by the Israelites before Ai. It hints that the Gibeonites resolved to meet craft with craft.

Rent and bound up - i. e. the wine skins were torn and roughly repaired by tying up the edges of the tear. The more thorough and careful way, hardly feasible in a hasty journey, would have been to insert a patch.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Joshua 9:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/joshua-9.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole 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.

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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 9:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/joshua-9.html. 1999.

Geneva Study 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 c bound up;

(c) Because they were all worn.
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Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Joshua 9:4". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/joshua-9.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

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 — Travelers in the East transport their luggage on beasts of burden; the poorer sort stow all their necessaries, food, clothes, utensils together, in a woolen 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.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Joshua 9:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/joshua-9.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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;

Been ambassadors — Sent from a far country.

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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 9:4". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/joshua-9.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Joshua 9:4 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;

Ver. 4. They did work wilily.] They exercised a serpentine subtilty, and dealt fraudulently, as Genesis 3:1; but where was their columbine simplicity? [Matthew 10:16] They strain hard to save their lives. But a man should rather die than lie.

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Joshua 9:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/joshua-9.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Ambassadors, sent from a far country, as they say, Joshua 9:6.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Joshua 9:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/joshua-9.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

4.[

They did work wilily — Literally, Then did also they by stratagem. The also seems to refer here most naturally to what Joshua had done to Ai. As he used cunning and strategy in the capture of that city, so did also they practice strategy in making a league with Israel. Others, we think less correctly, take also (גם ) as an adversative here, expressing the contrast between the action of the Gibeonites and the other Canaanites.]

As if’ ambassadors — Suing for peace. The more distant cities think only of war; the nearest, on whom the next blow must fall, seek for peace; perhaps their popular form of government also influenced them toward a pacific policy. [The Hebrew word translated, made as if they had been ambassadors, (Hithpael of ציר,) occurs nowhere else; but Keil and others defend this meaning, given in the English version. Others, however, with Gesenius, argue that “since no other trace of this form or signification exists in Hebrew or Aramaean, it is better to read, with six MSS., יֶצשׂירו they provided themselves with food for the journey, as in Joshua 9:12; which is also expressed by the ancient versions.”]

Old sacks — The traveller’s equipage in Syria, anciently and at the present day, comprises food and drink, kitchen utensils, tents, bedding, etc., all stowed away in sacks and transported on the backs of asses. Old sacks would give the impression of a long journey.

Wine bottles — These were goat-skins, nearly whole, cured in a peculiar manner. When worn through, a temporary expedient for mending them was to gather up the skin about the hole and tie it like the mouth of a bag. By this means the mending becomes very manifest.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Joshua 9:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/joshua-9.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Provisions. By the alteration of a single letter, Hebrew means, "they feigned themselves to be ambassadors." But the Chaldean, Syriac, and Septuagint agree with the Vulgate. (Calmet) --- The Gabaonites were Hevites, though they are called by the more general name of Amhorrites, 2 Kings xxi. 2. St. Jerome says that their city stood in the tribe of Benjamin; according to Josephus, 40 or 50 stadia north of Jerusalem. (Menochius) --- They alone had the prudence to submit, (Calmet) being terrified and converted by the miracles of God. (Haydock) --- Again. In the East, goat skins with the hair inwards, are used to carry wine.

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Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Joshua 9:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/joshua-9.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

They They too.

made as if they had been ambassadors. Some codices, with Aramaean, Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate, read "furnished themselves with provisions", as in Joshua 9:11 and Joshua 9:12.

bottles = skins i.e. wine-skins.

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Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Joshua 9:4". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/joshua-9.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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;

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 haircloth 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, of by gathering together the edges of the rent and sewing them in the form of a purse, or by putting in a round flat splinter of wood into the hole.

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 9:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/joshua-9.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(4) They did work wilily.—Literally, and they also dealt with subtilty. The stratagem does not seem a very profound one, or one that would have been difficult to detect. But we may remember a fact of Israel’s experience which puts it in a somewhat different light. The Israelites themselves had come from a far country, but their raiment had not “waxed old upon them,” nor did “their feet swell,” these forty years. Of bread they had no need, when there was manna, and God gave them water for their thirst. Of worn garments and stale provisions they had no experience, and therefore, when the Gibeonites presented themselves in this extraordinary garb and guise, it is not unnatural that they were not detected by the eyes of Israel.

They . . . made as if they had been ambassadors.—The verb thus translated does not occur elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible. By the alteration of a letter, the Targum, LXX., and some other versions make it mean, “they gat them provision.”

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Joshua 9:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/joshua-9.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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;
work wilily
Genesis 34:13; 1 Kings 20:31-33; Matthew 10:16; Luke 16:8
ambassadors
The word tzir, 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 bottles 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.
Psalms 119:83; Matthew 9:17; Mark 2:22; Luke 5:37,38
Reciprocal: Joshua 9:12 - our bread

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Joshua 9:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/joshua-9.html.