Joshua and Judges: The deception of the Gibeonites, part 2; Joshua fails to seek God's counsel. Jos 9.

Class Outline:

Title: Joshua and Judges: The deception of the Gibeonites, part 2; Joshua fails to seek God's counsel. Jos 9.  


Announcements/opening prayer:


JOS 9:15 And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them.


"This account is a warning to the Church of God of all ages against the cunning and dissimulation of the world, which often seeks for a peaceable recognition on the part of the kingdom of God, and even for a reception into it, whenever it may be its advantage to do so." [Gerlach]


We find examples of this all throughout history. Let's look at one example.


The nineteenth century posed great intellectual challenges for Christianity. Many Protestants in the west, especially in Europe, sought way to interpret their ancient faith in terms of the new frame of mind. Rather than staying true to the timeless revelation of the truth, which does not ever depend on periods of history or so-called progress, as if God depended on such things. In the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Industrial Revolution had reached most of Europe and America. This impacted life greatly. People flocked to industrial centers seeking employment. The traditional extended family, so necessary in agricultural life shrank to the size of nuclear families without uncles, aunts, and cousins. Individualism was on the rise and life's needs were more easily supplied through technology. Life, living for the sake of being alive, became easier as technology supplies wealth and comfort. The future seemed to have no limits. Intellectuals belonged to the leading classes who were benefiting the most from the new world and it way they that taught and wrote about the new world leaving the old world behind. Everything was progressing and so why not rethink Christian faith as something that should also progress. In a sense, even Darwin's theory of evolution was an expression of faith in progress. Progress would be reaped by the strongest, the survival of the fittest.


This is seen in Darwin's title.


On the origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. [Darwin, 1859]


Also greatly contributing to the ideology of the time was the work of Carl Marx and Sigmund Freud.


In order to keep up with this title wave of progress the Church compromised greatly and instead of standing firmly in the blueprint given by God to the Apostle Paul, the church also progressed towards views that accepted the state of the world at the time rather than standing on truth. Many parts of the church saw the world changing and tried to change with it, even to the point of turning a blind eye to the tremendous anti-Semitism of twentieth century Europe.


1CO 3:10

According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it.


Instead of building upon this one foundation or blueprint with gold, silver, and precious stones, many have built upon it with wood, hay, and straw.


A spiritual leader must never rely on his own counsel, no matter how spiritually mature he may have become. We must seek God’s counsel continually in prayer and in reliance on God the Holy Spirit to fully influence our every decision.


Even when we make decisions without first praying we are always relying on God's revelation in His word.


JOS 9:16 And it came about at the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, that they heard that they were neighbors and that they were living within their land.


Meanwhile, for three days, the kings or chieftains who ruled in Western and Central Palestine were consolidating and preparing their forces, but Gibeon was not used by them as a ruse designed to make Israel relax her guard. The Canaanite kings will come against Gibeon for this pact that they make with Israel. This casts light on the political atmosphere of Canaan at the time. Gibeon is an independent republic with three associate cities. There is a jealously amongst the kingdoms of city-states of the area and this explains why Gibeon would not choose to join the hasty confederation of Canaan but rather to attempt a covenant with Israel and why the other kings would rally against Gibeon.  


JOS 9:17 Then the sons of Israel set out and came to their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon and Chephirah and Beeroth and Kiriath-jearim.


JOS 9:18 And the sons of Israel did not strike them because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord the God of Israel. And the whole congregation grumbled against the leaders.


JOS 9:19 But all the leaders said to the whole congregation, "We have sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, and now we cannot touch them.


It would have been foolish to go against the covenant they had made with Gibeon. The leaders understood that though they had been deceived they had made a vow to them by the Lord God of Israel and such a vow, not made sinfully, had to be kept or they would have faced discipline from God.


About 400 years later, Saul, the first king of Israel, would break this vow and face that same consequence.


2SA 21:1 Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David sought the presence of the Lord. And the Lord said, "It is for Saul and his bloody house, because he put the Gibeonites to death."


This shows without a doubt that God honored the accord made by Israel with Gibeon.


2SA 21:2 So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them (now the Gibeonites were not of the sons of Israel but of the remnant of the Amorites, and the sons of Israel made a covenant with them, but Saul had sought to kill them in his zeal for the sons of Israel and Judah).


2SA 21:3 Thus David said to the Gibeonites, "What should I do for you? And how can I make atonement that you may bless the inheritance of the Lord?"


2SA 21:4 Then the Gibeonites said to him, "We have no concern of silver or gold with Saul or his house, nor is it for us to put any man to death in Israel." And he said, "I will do for you whatever you say."


2SA 21:5 So they said to the king, "The man who consumed us, and who planned to exterminate us from remaining within any border of Israel,


2SA 21:6 let seven men from his sons be given to us, and we will hang them before the Lord in Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of the Lord. "And the king said," I will give them."


Why should Israel keep the covenant when it was built on the deception by the others?


Since the oath was made in the name of Jehovah, to break it would have cause His name contempt among the Canaanites.


Joshua and the other leaders were rightly afraid of bringing the name of the God of Israel into contempt among the Canaanites, which they would have done if they had broken the oath which they had sworn by His name, and had destroyed the Gibeonites. While not being justified in taking the oath, they were bound to observe it, if only to prevent the sincerity of the God by whom they had sworn from being tarnished in the eyes of the Gibeonites. Breaking the oath would not repair their failure to seek God's counsel.


David writes of such a man of virtue who keeps his vow, even to his own hurt in Psa 15.


PSA 15:1 A Psalm of David.

O Lord, who may abide in Thy tent?

Who may dwell on Thy holy hill?[the peace of fellowship]


PSA 15:2 He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness,

And speaks truth in his heart.


PSA 15:3 He does not slander with his tongue,

Nor does evil to his neighbor,

Nor takes up a reproach against his friend;


PSA 15:4 In whose eyes a reprobate is despised,

But who honors those who fear the Lord;

He swears to his own hurt, and does not change;


PSA 15:5 He does not put out his money at interest,

Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.

He who does these things will never be shaken.


"The binding power of an oath ought to be held so sacred among us, that we should not swerve from our bond under any pretence of error, even though we had been deceived: since the sacred name of God is of greater worth than all the riches of the world. Even though a person should have sworn therefore without sufficient consideration, no injury or loss will release him from his oath." [Calvin]


This is rightly said, but then Calvin goes on to limit this golden rule in the most arbitrary manner to private affairs alone and concludes that the Israelites were not bound to observe this "wily deal."


JOS 9:20 This we will do to them, even let them live, lest wrath be upon us for the oath which we swore to them."


JOS 9:21 And the leaders said to them, "Let them live." So they became hewers of wood and drawers of water for the whole congregation, just as the leaders had spoken to them.


As soon as they discovered their error or their oversight, they were bound to do all in their power to ward off from the congregation the danger which might arise of their being drawn away to idolatry, which was the very thing which the Lord had intended to avert by giving the command to wipe out the Canaanites.


If this could, by any possibility, be done without violating their oath, they were bound to do it for the sake of the name of the Lord by which they swore. While letting the Gibeonites live, it was their duty to put them in such a position that they could not possibly seduce the Israelites to idolatry.


The Israelites needed to keep their word while ensuring that the Gibeonites would not infect the people with idolatry. They made them slaves of the sanctuary.


By granting to the Gibeonites on the one hand the preservation of their lives according to the oath they had taken, and on the other hand by making them slaves of the sanctuary, the Israelites affectively prevented them from poisoning their Jewish neighbors with pagan idol worship.


That they acted rightly in this respect, is evident from the fact that their conduct is never blamed either by the historian or by the history, inasmuch as it is not stated anywhere that the Gibeonites, after being made into temple slaves, held out any inducement to the Israelites to join in idolatrous worship, and still more from the fact, that at a future period God himself reckoned the attempt of Saul to destroy the Gibeonites, in his false zeal for the children of Israel, as an act of blood-guiltiness on the part of the nation of Israel for which expiation must be made (2SA 21:1 ff.), and consequently approved of the observance of the oath which had been sworn to them, though without thereby sanctioning the treaty itself.


JOS 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?


JOS 9:23 "Now therefore, you are cursed, and you shall never cease being slaves, both hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God."


The sentence is that they will draw water and cut and haul wood for the people for the worship of the sanctuary.


This duty was to be given to the lowest classes of people.


DEU 29:10-11

 "You stand today, all of you, before the Lord your God: your chiefs, your tribes, your elders and your officers, even all the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives, and the alien who is within your camps, from the one who chops your wood to the one who draws your water,


In this way the curse from Noah upon Canaan was literally fulfilled on the Gibeonites. Ham, the father of Canaan had disrespected his father Noah when Noah got drunk and apparently passed out naked in his tent. Ham looked upon him and rather than respectively covering him up he couldn't wait to run out and tell his brothers of his father's foolishness.


GEN 9:24-25

When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him. So he said,

"Cursed be Canaan;

A servant of servants

He shall be to his brothers."


The Gibeonites readily succumb to the command and relate that they had heard that the God of the Israelites was going to destroy all the people in the land of Canaan and they believed it and feared for their lives.


JOS 9:24 So they answered Joshua and said, "Because it was certainly told your servants that the Lord your God had commanded His servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land before you; therefore we feared greatly for our lives because of you, and have done this thing.


JOS 9:25 And now behold, we are in your hands; do as it seems good and right in your sight to do to us."


JOS 9:26 Thus he did to them, and delivered them from the hands of the sons of Israel, and they did not kill them.


JOS 9:27 But Joshua made them that day hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the Lord, to this day, in the place which He would choose.


The place refers to God's choosing of the location of the Tabernacle, which we assume to be in Gilgal at this time but will end up for a while a few miles to the east in Shiloh.


The surrender of Gibeon would fill the kings of Southern Canaan with dismay. Israel now has a very strong position in central Canaan, the heart of the country. In the circumstances it was natural that the kings of the south would combine in an effort to take back Gibeon. Plus, Gibeon is a prosperous city and so the economic rewards would be great if she could be taken.


JOS 10:1 Now it came about when Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem heard that Joshua had captured Ai, and had utterly destroyed it (just as he had done to Jericho and its king, so he had done to Ai and its king), and that the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were within their land,


King of Jerusalem: Adoni-zedek = lord of righteousness. Abraham was met by Melchizedek = king of righteousness, who brought him bread and wine and blessed him.


The town was called Salem in the time of Abraham and was ruled by the Jebusites who were descendents of Canaan, son of Ham. Abraham was met by Melchizedek, a king priest who was a believer in Jehovah and would become a unique type of Christ.


Ironically Jerusalem will not be taken in this southern campaign, for the Jews were unable to drive the Jebusites out


JOS 15:63

Now as for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the sons of Judah could not drive them out; so the Jebusites live with the sons of Judah at Jerusalem until this day.


The town would be taken after the death of Joshua by the tribe of Judah, but the Jebusites would take it back. It would not fully fall into the hands of the Hebrews until David took it many years later.