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Jos 9:1 When all the kings who were beyond the Jordan, in the hill country, and in the lowland, and on all the shore of the great sea in front of Lebanon, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, heard of it-
Gen. 15:16 summarizes all these kings as the "Amorites", and says that Israel would possess their land when the time of their iniquity [or judgment for their iniquity] was fulfilled. Israel's victories against them were therefore a judgment upon these kingdoms for their sins. The fact Israel themselves had with them the idols of Egypt when they crossed the Red Sea, and so quickly accepted the Canaanite gods, therefore made Israel the more culpable for Divine judgment. For they had judged others for what they themselves did.

Jos 9:2 they gathered themselves together with one accord to fight with Joshua and with Israel-
Their "one accord" clearly excluded the elders of Gibeon (:3). It would seem there was group think going on here, and Gibeon are presented as being saved because they dared to go against the view of the majority. We note that :1 lists six kings, rather than the usual group of seven kings or kingdoms which are associated with the tribes in Canaan. The Girgashites of Josh. 3:10 are omitted. They may refer to the Gibeonites, or it could be that they too were not of "one accord". The gathering of the local peoples of the land against Joshua-Jesus is clearly going to happen in the last days as well (Ps. 83). The supporters of the latter day beast are likewise gathered with one mind (Rev. 17:13), and I suggest that these also refer to the local peoples within the land of Israel.  

Jos 9:3 But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai-
According to :17, "Gibeon" was a group of towns, not just one city. We note that they are not recorded as having a single king (:11), unlike the other kingdoms listed in :1; rather it seems they were governed by a group of rulers, who came to Joshua clearly with the authority to make decisions on behalf of the whole group of towns.

Jos 9:4 they in their turn resorted to a ruse, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks on their donkeys, and wineskins, old and torn and bound up-
"In their turn" could mean that having heard of the ambush of Ai, they in their turn thought they could be deceptive. For the news of Ai's destruction was very fresh in their minds. If nothing more, we learn that experience of deception inspires us to deceive. And we have to break that cycle. One wonders if "deceiving and being deceived" makes some kind of allusion to this situation (2 Tim. 3:13). But they will go on to quote the words of Rahab, so we wonder whether "in their turn" means that they like Rahab told lies in order to enter into covenant with Yahweh and be saved from destruction. 

Jos 9:5 and old and patched shoes on their feet, and wore old garments. All the bread of their provision was dry and mouldy-
There is great detail provided as to their appearance. We are invited thereby to stand with Joshua and the Israelite elders, looking these people up and down, observing everything about them.

Jos 9:6 They went to Joshua to the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, We have come from a far country. Now therefore make a covenant with us-
It is possible that there were two places known as Gilgal at the time, and this may be the Gilgal in the center of the land, rather than the camp first made at the Gilgal by the Jordan.

Jos 9:7 The men of Israel said to the Hivites, What if you live among us. How could we make a covenant with you?-
We get the sense that the Gibeonites’ deception was somehow guessed by the elders of Israel, but against their better judgment they disregarded the telltale signs (Josh. 9:7). Or Amasa, taking no heed to the sword in Joab’s hand... against his better judgment, surely (2 Sam. 20:10). This is a feature of human nature, to know on one level but not on another; and the contradictions evident in the Jesus : Judas relationship and the Samson : Delilah relationship are only explicable by realizing this. The whole thing is an eloquent essay in the Lord's humanity and the depth of His 'in-loveness' with Judas the traitor.

Jos 9:8 They said to Joshua, We are your servants. Joshua said to them, Who are you? Where do you come from?-
We notice that the Gibeonites try to avoid lying. They skip the key questions by saying they come from far away, and immediately go on to use Rahab's words about the wonder of Israel's God and their desire to fear Him and enter covenant. I will argue on :9,10 that they were to some degree sincere in this. So their attempt to minimize the amount of lies they told could therefore be seen as a reflection of their sincerity in spiritual terms.

Jos 9:9 They said to him, Your servants have come from a very far country because of the name of Yahweh your God; for we have heard of His fame, all that He did in Egypt-
Coming from a far country for the sake of the name of Yahweh' is the very phrase used in 1 Kings 8:41 in a positive sense, of genuine proselytes who were to be welcomed into Israel and relationship with Yahweh. It seems this is a recognition that indeed there was something genuine about these Gibeonites. They wanted relationship with Yahweh but saw no way to get it apart from being deceitful as they were. See on :10. We note they say nothing about the miracle of the crossing of Jordan or fall of Jericho. They were repeating almost verbatim the words of Rahab, and we wonder whether in fact she had got word to them, or at least they had heard about her and wished to emulate her.

Jos 9:10 and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon and to Og king of Bashan who was at Ashtaroth-
These are the words of Rahab. As noted on :9, they were apparently in the same situation as she was. They wanted to accept Israel's God, but saw no way in which they could, without being deceitful. Their imitation of her is perhaps developed by the way in which they too lie in a blessed way, just as she did to the men of Jericho.

Although context is indeed important, it isn't always so. The New Testament writers so often quote the Old Testament without (apparently) attention to the context of the words they are quoting. And this is indeed the approach of the Rabbis, who tend to expound each Bible verse as a separate entity. But all the same, in seeking to understand a verse, attention should be paid to the context. Because a word or phrase means something in one context doesn't mean it always means this in any context. Thus "leaven" can be a symbol of both the Gospel and also sin. And the eagle is a symbol of several quite different enemies of Israel, as well as of God Himself. Another simple example is in Dt. 3:20; the land "beyond Jordan" refers to land on the West of the river; but in Josh. 9:10 the same phrase refers to land on the East. That same phrase "beyond Jordan" means something different in different contexts. We can't always assume, therefore, that the same phrase must refer to the same thing wherever it occurs.

Jos 9:11 Our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us saying, ‘Take provision in your hand for the journey and go to meet them, and tell them, We are your servants. Now make a covenant with us’-
No mention is made of their king; see on :3. The "ambassadors" (:4) from Babylon also came from a "far country" (s.w. 2 Kings 20:14) to apparently make a covenant with Hezekiah. He ought to have learned from the mistake of Joshua, but instead he liked to reason that these men were like the Gibeonites and should be accepted. Hence he twisted this historical incident into a precedent for wrong behaviour and choices; as we see so often in religious people. See on :18.   

Jos 9:12 This our bread we took hot for our provision out of our houses on the day we went out to go to you; but now, behold, it is dry, and has become mouldy-
"Behold" implies they invited the princes to test the bread, which they did (:14).

Jos 9:13 These wineskins which we filled were new; and behold, now they are torn. These our garments and our shoes have become old because of the very long journey-
The obvious contrast was with the way that the garments and shoes of Israel had not worn out after a far longer journey of 40 years. God's actions in our lives are always multi faceted. This was more than a test of their humility, to what extent they would trust their own native judgment of truth as opposed to turning to God's word. It was also a reminder of His gracious provision for them throughout the wilderness years. His actions in our lives are likewise multi dimensional.

Jos 9:14 The men examined their provisions, and didn’t ask counsel from the mouth of Yahweh-
"The mouth of Yahweh" implies they had prophets amongst them, or at least God's word expressed through the yes / no decisions of the Urim and Thummim (Num. 27:21). It seems Joshua delegated the examination of their integrity to the princes, who were deceived by the old bread. "Examined" could mean "tasted", as if they ate the old bread and confirmed it was indeed old. Truth can never be arrived at by delegating the examination of it to others. And Joshua and the princes were clearly wrong in not asking for God's counsel in a situation which was clearly not clearly covered by Mosaic legislation.

David apparently learned the lesson from all this. For he did ask counsel of Yahweh when not knowing how to act (s.w. 2 Sam. 5:23); whereas Israel didn't (s.w. Is. 30:1; Hos. 4:3).

Jos 9:15 Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them to let them live. The princes of the congregation swore an oath to them-
Joshua was very good at obedience to clear commandments (Josh. 4:10,17; 8:27,31,35; 10:40). But when he had to articulate his faith in God in unexpected situations, e.g. when the ambassadors from Gibeon arrived, or when the first attack on Ai failed, he seems to have performed poorly. Legalistic obedience is no use in those cases when principles need to be applied. Josh. 5:13,14 can be read as a rebuke of Joshua, wanting to boil everything down to black and white, wanting to see God as either personally for him or against him; when the essence is to seek to discern and do God’s will. He very strictly adhered to God’s commandments with legalistic obedience, e.g., about how to approach and deal with Jericho, or how to cross the flooded Jordan and build an altar; and time and again, we read in Joshua of how he strictly relayed and obeyed the Divine commandments given by Moses (Josh. 8:31,33,35; 11:12,15,20; 14:2,5; 17:4; 21:2,8).  Yet as with any literalistic or legally minded person, it was hard for Joshua to apply the principles behind the laws to situations which weren’t specifically addressed by Divine revelation, where legalistic obedience wasn't what was required.

Jos 9:16 It happened at the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them that they heard that they were their neighbours, and that they lived among them-
"Three days" in the Bible is often not a literal period of 72 hours, and we must remember this when attempting to work out the chronology of the Lord's "three days" in the tomb.

Jos 9:17 The children of Israel travelled and came to their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath Jearim-
The ark was to be kept here for 20 years (1 Sam. 7:2), confirming the impression that these people were in fact sincere.

Jos 9:18 The children of Israel didn’t strike them, because the princes of the congregation had sworn to them by Yahweh, the God of Israel. All the congregation murmured against the princes-
The obvious question was as to whether the oath to the Gibeonites was binding seeing they had lied; and because Yahweh had commanded them to destroy the inhabitants of Canaan. I suggested on :11 that this incident with the Gibeonites was abused by Hezekiah to justify his acceptance of the ambassadors from Babylon. And I would now further suggest that it was abused by Saul when he slew the Gibeonites. He would have argued that the princes had been wrong to make this covenant, and therefore it was null and void. But God was extremely angry that he thought that and punished the land because of it, indicating the common people had agreed with him (2 Sam. 21:1-9). That later judgment confirms that the princes, although unwise, did the right thing by upholding the covenant. And the subsequent faithfulness of the Gibeonites within Israel was evidence that God worked through human unwisdom in order to save people. For the salvation of the people of Canaan was important to Him, and it could be argued that the six days march and blowing of trumpets around Jericho had been an invitation for their repentance.    

Jos 9:19 But all the princes said to all the congregation, We have sworn to them by Yahweh the God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them-
David appears to allude to the incident, in an oblique criticism of Saul's murder of the Gibeonites, by commending the man who swears to his own hurt but doesn't change (Ps. 15:4). See on :18,26.

Jos 9:20 This we will do to them, and let them live; lest wrath be on us, because of the oath which we swore to them-
This indicates some morality amongst the princes, although they may well have been living in some superstitious fear of consequences for broken oaths, as the Mosaic law doesn't specifically legislate about the situation they were in.

Jos 9:21 The princes said to them, Let them live, so they became wood cutters and drawers of water for all the congregation, as the princes had spoken to them-
It seems this group became the Nethinim, the given / devoted ones; and were consistently faithful within Israel and the temple service, far more so than the Israelites themselves ( 1 Chron. 9:2; Ezra 2:43-54,58,70; 8:20). See on :23. Wood cutters and drawers of water were specifically mentioned in Dt. 29:11 as the lowest rank of society, and yet able to enter covenant relationship with Yahweh. 

Jos 9:22 Joshua called for them, and he spoke to them saying, Why did you deceive us by saying, ‘We are very far from you’, when you live among us?-
"Among us" could be read as an expression of faith that Israel were already occupying the land and were the dominant group there. 

Jos 9:23 Now therefore you are cursed, and some of you will never fail to be bondservants, both wood cutters and drawers of water for the house of my God-
I have suggested on Josh. 1:1 that these records were rewritten [under Divine inspiration] for the exiles. Hence the reference to the house of God, which didn't then exist. This would confirm the idea that the Gibeonites became the Nethinim who served in the temple; see on :21,27.

Jos 9:24 They answered Joshua and said, Because your servants were certainly told how Yahweh your 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 very afraid for our lives because of you, and have done this thing-
As noted above, this was again an allusion to the words of Rahab- who had lied to her own people in order to avoid destruction and enter covenant with Yahweh. They certainly did have a good knowledge of Israel's history, and far more than the average Canaanite, they believed that these stories they had heard were true. Their knowledge of the commandment to destroy the inhabitants of Canaan is another hint that they had received some kind of word from Rahab or had heard the words she had used. The only way to avoid that destruction was to repent and join Israel and accept their God; and this was what they wanted to do.

Jos 9:25 Now, behold, we are in your hand. Do to us as it seems good and right to you to do-
See on :26. The "good and right" thing was clearly not to slay them. Israel had been told by Moses that their doing what was "good and right" was required for them to possess the land (Dt. 6:18; 12:28). The Gibeonites use the same phrase in appealing for Joshua to do what was "good and right" (Josh. 9:25) in not slaying them but accepting them into covenant relationship with Yahweh. The people generally didn't want to do this (Josh. 9:26). It seems God's providence used Joshua's initial unwisdom in order to give Joshua a chance to do what was "good and right", so that Israel could indeed possess Canaan. We marvel at how God works through human unwisdom and dysfunction, in order to achieve His final purpose of giving His people His Kingdom.

Jos 9:26 He did so to them, and delivered them out of the hand of the children of Israel, so that they didn’t kill them-
This implies that the thing which was "good and right" (:25)was not to kill them, although the people generally wanted to do so. See on :18,19. For all his unwisdom, Joshua comes over as having absolute integrity in this matter, and doing the right thing after having made a mess and not inquired of Yahweh as he should have done. 

Jos 9:27 That day Joshua made them wood cutters and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of Yahweh, to this day, in the place which He should choose-
I would consider the book of Joshua to have largely been written by Joshua, under Divine inspiration, although edited [again under Divine inspiration] for the exiles. And the book of Judges likewise. For the exiles too were set to reestablish God's Kingdom in the land and to inherit it again as the Israelites first did. The phrase "to this day" occurs several times in Joshua / Judges, and appears to have different points of historical reference (Josh. 4:9; 5:9; 6:25; 7:26; 8:28,29; 9:27; 10:27; 13:13; 14:14; 15:63; 16:10; 22:3; 23:8,9; Jud. 1:26; 6:24; 10:4; 15:19; 18:12). I would explain this by saying that the book was edited a number of times and the remains of those edits remain in the text. For God's word is living and made relevant by Him to every generation.

I have suggested on Josh. 1:1 that these records were rewritten [under Divine inspiration] for the exiles. Hence the reference to the Gibeonites serving in the place Yahweh would choose, which didn't then exist. This would confirm the idea that the Gibeonites became the Nethinim who served in the temple; see on :21,23.