The Book of Joshua, Chapter Nine, with BAC Commentary. The Gibeonites Pretend to be from a Far-Away Land.
[Joshua 9:1] AND IT CAME TO PASS, WHEN ALL THE KINGS WHICH WERE ON THIS
SIDE JORDAN, IN THE HILLS, AND IN THE VALLEYS, AND IN ALL THE COASTS OF THE
GREAT SEA OVER AGAINST LEBANON, THE HITTITE, AND THE AMORITE, THE
CANAANITE, THE PERIZZITE, THE HIVITE, AND THE JEBUSITE, HEARD THEREOF;
[Joshua 9:2] THAT THEY GATHERED THEMSELVES TOGETHER, TO FIGHT WITH JOSHUA
AND WITH ISRAEL, WITH ONE ACCORD.
The pagan Canaanite nations united to fight against Israel. According to
archaeological findings these peoples appear to have been culturally
advanced and formidable. They were often of tall stature and warrior
inclination. They were morally corrupt. Some of them were fair and of
European type, others were dark, and some (but not all) groups of Hittites
were even depicted with what appear to be Mongol features.
At all events those who identify as Israelites and follow the God of Israel
should be prepared at certain stages to encounter opposition from all the
peoples of the world.
[Joshua 9:3] AND WHEN THE INHABITANTS OF GIBEON HEARD WHAT JOSHUA HAD DONE
UNTO JERICHO AND TO AI,
[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;
<<THEY DID WORK WILILY>>: They were crafty.
[Joshua 9:5] AND OLD SHOES AND CLOUTED UPON THEIR FEET, AND OLD GARMENTS
UPON THEM; AND ALL THE BREAD OF THEIR PROVISION WAS DRY AND MOULDY.
[Joshua 9:6] AND THEY WENT TO JOSHUA UNTO THE CAMP AT GILGAL, AND SAID UNTO
HIM, AND TO THE MEN OF ISRAEL, WE BE COME FROM A FAR COUNTRY: NOW THEREFORE
MAKE YE A LEAGUE WITH US.
The Midrash (Sifrei, Behe-alotecha 10;29) the Midrash says we should learn
from these people. They had been very bad. God had cursed them and
condemned them to death. Despite this of their own initiative they drew
closer to Israel and became saved and ultimately part of Israel. We as
Israelites have not necessarily been so bad as they. God has blessed us and
says He loves us and wants us to return to Him. He did not say that to the
Gibeonites but they repented anyway and were saved. Even more so should we
follow their example and do what we can to return to the Almighty and be
identified as Israelites.
[Joshua 9:7] AND THE MEN OF ISRAEL SAID UNTO THE HIVITES, PERADVENTURE YE
DWELL AMONG US; AND HOW SHALL WE MAKE A LEAGUE WITH YOU?
[Joshua 9:8] AND THEY SAID UNTO JOSHUA, WE ARE THY SERVANTS. AND JOSHUA
SAID UNTO THEM, WHO ARE YE? AND FROM WHENCE COME YE?
[Joshua 9:9] AND THEY SAID UNTO HIM, FROM A VERY FAR COUNTRY THY SERVANTS
ARE COME BECAUSE OF THE NAME OF THE LORD THY GOD: FOR WE HAVE HEARD THE
FAME OF HIM, AND ALL THAT HE DID IN EGYPT,
[Joshua 9:10] AND ALL THAT HE DID TO THE TWO KINGS OF THE AMORITES, THAT
WERE BEYOND JORDAN, TO SIHON KING OF HESHBON, AND TO OG KING OF BASHAN,
WHICH WAS AT ASHTAROTH.
[Joshua 9:11] WHEREFORE OUR ELDERS AND ALL THE INHABITANTS OF OUR COUNTRY
SPAKE TO US, SAYING, TAKE VICTUALS WITH YOU FOR THE JOURNEY, AND GO TO MEET
THEM, AND SAY UNTO THEM, WE ARE YOUR SERVANTS: THEREFORE NOW MAKE YE A
LEAGUE WITH US.JOSH
[Joshua 9:12] THIS OUR BREAD WE TOOK HOT FOR OUR PROVISION OUT OF OUR
HOUSES ON THE DAY WE CAME FORTH TO GO UNTO YOU; BUT NOW, BEHOLD, IT IS DRY,
AND IT IS MOULDY:
[Joshua 9:13] AND THESE BOTTLES OF WINE, WHICH WE FILLED, WERE NEW; AND,
BEHOLD, THEY BE RENT: AND THESE OUR GARMENTS AND OUR SHOES ARE BECOME OLD
BY REASON OF THE VERY LONG JOURNEY.
[Joshua 9:14] AND THE MEN TOOK OF THEIR VICTUALS, AND ASKED NOT COUNSEL AT
THE MOUTH OF THE LORD.
[Joshua 9:15] AND JOSHUA MADE PEACE WITH THEM, AND MADE A LEAGUE WITH THEM,
TO LET THEM LIVE: AND THE PRINCES OF THE CONGREGATION SWARE UNTO THEM.
[Joshua 9:16] AND IT CAME TO PASS AT THE END OF THREE DAYS AFTER THEY HAD
MADE A LEAGUE WITH THEM, THAT THEY HEARD THAT THEY WERE THEIR NEIGHBOURS,
AND THAT THEY DWELT AMONG THEM.
[Joshua 9:17] AND THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL JOURNEYED, AND CAME UNTO THEIR
CITIES ON THE THIRD DAY. NOW THEIR CITIES WERE GIBEON, AND CHEPHIRAH, AND
BEEROTH, AND KIRJATHJEARIM.
<<KIRJATHJEARIM>>: Also known as Telstoneand a Jewish settlement at present
but beside it is a large Arab city known as Abu Gosh. Perhaps 20% of the
Arab population of Abu Gosh are Circassian. The Circassians are Moslems
from the Caucasus whom the Turks settled inn the area. The Circassians were
originally pagans and Christians. They were conquered and forced to become
Moslems. Then the Russians conquered them and pressured them to return to
Christianity. Many of them fled southward to the Middle East that was then
ruled by the Turks. The Turkish authorities were pleased with the martial
qualities of the Circassians and settled them in troublesome areas
throughout the Turkish Empire. There is another small village of
Circassians in the Northern Galilee. In general they are loyal to the State
of Israel and serve in the armed forces. There are also large numbers of
Circassians in Jordan and they together with the Beduin maintain the ruling
Hashemite regime there. [Most of the population of Jordan is Palestinian].
The remainder of the population of Abu Gush (ca.80%) are of unknown origin.
Unlike other Arab groups the people of Abu Gush are traditionally
pro-Jewish on the whole. They assisted Jewish resistance fighters against
the British and inn the War of independence sided with the Jews. Many of
them serve in the IDF and police forces. Some Jews live in their township
and on the whole relations are good but there are exceptions. Some of them
now identify with the Palestinians but overall the impression is that most
remain pro-Jewish, in some cases , fanatically so. Most of the people of
Abu Gush are Moslems but a sizeable Christian community also exists.
Perhaps some of the people of Abu Gosh are descended from the ancient
Gibeonites who made an alliance with Israel as related in the present chapter?
[Joshua 9:18] AND THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL SMOTE THEM NOT, BECAUSE THE
PRINCES OF THE CONGREGATION HAD SWORN UNTO THEM BY THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL.
AND ALL THE CONGREGATION MURMURED AGAINST THE PRINCES.
[Joshua 9:19] BUT ALL THE PRINCES SAID UNTO ALL THE CONGREGATION, WE HAVE
SWORN UNTO THEM BY THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL: NOW THEREFORE WE MAY NOT TOUCH THEM.
[Joshua 9:20] THIS WE WILL DO TO THEM; WE WILL EVEN LET THEM LIVE, LEST
WRATH BE UPON US, BECAUSE OF THE OATH WHICH WE SWARE UNTO THEM.
[Joshua 9:21] AND THE PRINCES SAID UNTO THEM, LET THEM LIVE; BUT LET THEM
BE HEWERS OF WOOD AND DRAWERS OF WATER UNTO ALL THE CONGREGATION; AS THE
PRINCES HAD PROMISED THEM.
[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?
[Joshua 9:23] 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.
[Joshua 9:24] AND THEY ANSWERED JOSHUA, AND SAID, BECAUSE IT WAS CERTAINLY
TOLD THY SERVANTS, HOW THAT THE LORD 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 OF OUR LIVES BECAUSE OF YOU, AND
HAVE DONE THIS THING.
[Joshua 9:25] AND NOW, BEHOLD, WE ARE IN THINE HAND: AS IT SEEMETH GOOD AND
RIGHT UNTO THEE TO DO UNTO US, DO.
[Joshua 9:26] AND SO DID HE UNTO THEM, AND DELIVERED THEM OUT OF THE HAND
OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL, THAT THEY SLEW THEM NOT.
[Joshua 9:27] AND JOSHUA MADE THEM THAT DAY HEWERS OF WOOD AND DRAWERS OF
WATER FOR THE CONGREGATION, AND FOR THE ALTAR OF THE LORD, EVEN UNTO THIS
DAY, IN THE PLACE WHICH HE SHOULD CHOOSE.
<<JOSHUA MADE THEM>>: The word translated here as MADE THEMin Hebrew is
"VaYitnaem" literally as "placed them". These people were ever afterwards
known as "Netinim" meaning "Those who were Placed". A group of these people
returned with Ezra and the Jews from the Babylonian exile.
The Book of Ezra says;
[Ezra 8:20] ALSO OF THE NETHINIMS, WHOM DAVID AND THE PRINCES HAD APPOINTED
FOR THE SERVICE OF THE LEVITES, TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY NETHINIMS: ALL OF
THEM WERE EXPRESSED BY NAME.
<<ALSO OF THE NETHINIMS>>: These were descendants of the Gibeonites. Their
villages had to supply volunteersto do certain tasks in Jerusalem connected
with needs of the Temple. Apart from that they appear to have had the same
rights and obligations as other Israelites. They later acquired a
reputation for vindictiveness and cruelty and according to tradition it was
forbidden to intermarry with them.