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warlike, and on that account likely to intimidate the Israelites.
The people of Israel, by the Lord's assistance, had advanced so rapidly towards Jericho and Ai, that a general consternation spread itself throughout the idolatrous nations : but whilst the Israelites were sacrificing to God, and war was suspended, the Canaanites, instead of repenting of their abominable sins, hardened their hearts, like Pharaoh, resolving to make resistance, though the miracles that had been performed at Jordan and Jericho were sufficient, one would have supposed, to convince them that the Israelites were assisted and protected by an ALMIGHTY Being.
Four cities only ainong the Gibeonites feared the power of God, and seemed to have understood that the Canaanites would be extirpated without reserve, but that the Israelites might make a league with distant nations: this circumstance shews, that the laws of Moses were known in the world. The ambassadors of the Gibeonites managed their business with great art. fulness, pretending to come from a very distant country, and shewing their old shoes and mouldy bread as proofs of their assertions: and they effectually deceived not only the princes of Israel, but Joshua himself, who in. considerately concluded a treaty with them, and ratified it with a solemn oath, without enquiring of God whether he ought to do so or not.
After the death of Moses, Joshua, as the Leader and General of God's people, was commanded in all important concerns to have recourse to the High Priest, who put on his robes and breast-plate, and presented himself in the Holy Place, and there, standing with his face towards the Ark or Mercy-Seat where the Divine. PRESENCE was manifest between the Cherubims, he asked counsel of the LORD, by Urim and THUMMIM,
which he communicated to the person in whose name he made the enquiry. The answer so given is in many parts of Scripture styled the ORACLE OF God.
Joshua certainly was very blameable, in not having recourse to such an infallible mean of directing his judgment in respect to his league with the Gibeonites, and (as is usually the case in all important matters which are precipitately determined) he committed great errors, for he had received a strict injunction not to make a league or covenant with any Canaanitish nation ; it appears to have been an inconsiderate, and not a presumptuous act; therefore God pardoned him and the princes, and allowed them to fulfil the league, which they had solemnly entered into in His holy. name: so they spared the lives of the people of those four cities, notwithstanding they were Canaanites; but to punish the Gibeonites for their deceit, God condemned them to servile employments. The nature of their punishment was this : a great quantity of wood was required for the altar of burnt offerings, and of water for the frequent washings which made a part of the Jewish purifications; these and other slavish works of the same kind, such as washing the vessels, carrying out ashes, sweeping the courts, &c. which otherwise the Levites must have performed, were required of the Gibeonites.
The Gibeonites were very blameable for telling such falsities, though they were very commendable in respect to their faith and submission to God. Their fraud was soon discovered, and for that they were condemned to slavery: but it was of an honourable kind, and such as gave them an opportunity of improving in that holy religion to which they were become proselytes, and prevented their returning to their former idolatries. Now was fulfilled the curse of Canaan the son of Ham, I 4
: from whom these Gibeonites descended, for they were
servants of servants to their brethren*; they were obliged to deliver up their cities, and, it is supposed, they were afterwards dispersed among the Levites, and came up with them in their course to serve at the altar, out of the profits of which they had their maintenance.
As the Gibeonites had obtained the league by fraudulent practices, there was a prétence for the Iraelites concealing it, and putting them to death ; but we find they would not break their oath. Their conduct in this respect is very exemplary: for every person ought to be extremely cautious how he enters into solemn engagements; but when once made, they should be strictly observed; nay, even if we give our promise on our own word, without calling God to witness, nothing should provoke us to break it, for other people's sin is no excuse for our own.
TAL SUN STANDETH STILL AT JOSHUA'S COMMAND.'
From Joshua, Chap. x.
Now it came to pass, when Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem had heard how Joshua had taken Ai, and bad utterly destroyed it; as he had done to Jericho and her king, so he had done to Ai and her king; and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel, and were among them; that they feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, as one of the royal cities, and because it was a greater than Ai, and all the men thereof were mighty.
* See Section xi, vol.is
Wherefore Adoni-zedek king of Jerusalem šent unto Hoham king of Hebron, and unto Piram king of Jarmuth, and unto Japhia king of Lachish, and unto Debir king of Eglon, saying, Come up unto me, and help me, that we may smite Gibeon ; for it hath made peace
with Joshua and with the children of Israel.
Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered themselves together, and went up, they and all their hosts, and encamped before Gibeon, and made war against it.
And the men of Gideon sent unto Joshua to the camp to Gilgal, saying, Slack not thy hand from thy servants; come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us: for all the kings of the Amorites that dwell in the mountains are gathered together against us. So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valour.
And the Lord said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee.
Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night.
And the Lord discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Beth-horon, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah.
And it came to pass as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Beth-horon, that the LORD cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hail-stones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.
Then spake Joshua to the Lord in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.
And the Sun stood still, and the Moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies: is not this written in the book of Jasher? so the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.
And there was no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man : for the Lord fought for Israel.
And Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, unto the camp to Gilgal.
But these five kings fled, and hid themselves in a cave, at Makkedah.
And it was told Joshua, saying, The five kings are found hid in a cave at Makkedah. And Joshua said, Roll
the mouth of the cave, and set men by it for to keep them.
And stay ye not, but pursue after your enemies, and smite the hindmost of them : suffer them not to enter into their cities: for the Lord your God hath delivered them into your hand.
And it came to pass when Joshua and the children of Israel had made an end of slaying them with a very great slaughter till they were consumed, that the rest which remained of them entered into the fenced cities.
And all the people returned to the camp to Joshua at Makkedah in peace : none moved his tongue against any of the children of Irael.
Then said Joshua, Open the mouth of the cave, and bring out those fiye kings unto me out of the cave.