And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai,…
The grand inquiry here is whether this league was lawful or not? Answer the first: Some have these sentiments, that it was unlawful upon those grounds, because(1) God forbade Israel to make any league with the Canaanites, and bade to destroy them all (Exodus 23. 32, 34:15; Deuteronomy 7:2) without making any exceptions, &c.
(2) Secondly, the people murmured at this league (ver. 18), which they ought not to have done, had it been lawful.
(3) Joshua denounces those Gibeonites accursed for deceiving him (ver. 23), which he would not have done had nothing been done but what was just and equal.
(4) He charged them with circumventing him by dissimulation (ver. 21). Answer the second: but others affirm it was a lawful league, as and all the rabbis, &c., upon those grounds. First, it was lawful for Israel to offer peace to other nations before they besieged any of their cities (Deuteronomy 20:10), which shows this league was lawful as to the substantial part of it. Secondly, this sanguinary law of killing all the Canaanites was not absolute and universal, but admitted of an exception of penitents and true converts, as appeareth from Jeremiah 18:7, 8, and John 3:4. Thirdly, that this law was thus limited (being only a positive law, and so might be qualified with a natural and moral equity) appears in Israel's sparing Rahab and her relations. Fourthly, the reason of that sanguinary law was lest those Canaanites that were not killed might entice the Israelites to their idolatry. Now that reason ceased at their turning from idolatry and becoming proselytes to Israel, &c. Fifthly, that the Gibeonites were converts appears, for their hearts were not hardened as the other Canaanites were (Joshua 11:19, 20). They came to Joshua here in the name of the Lord (ver. 9), and they had this blessing, to have a near approach unto God in their service of the sanctuary (ver. 27), where David could have been content to be a poor door-keeper (Psalm 84:10). Sixthly, Had this league been unlawful it had been better broken than kept; if it had been a sin to make it, the sin would have been double to keep it; but Joshua and all the princes upon the review of it did conscientiously keep it (vers. 19, 20, 22, 23). Seventhly, God severely punished the violaters of this league, long, even 400 years, after, as 2 Samuel 21:3. Saul's rash zeal cost the seven of his sons' lives, and so almost rooted out his whole posterity. Eighthly, The utter destruction of all the other cursed Canaanites came not so much or so necessarily upon them by virtue of any absolute or peremptory precept for destroying them as it did from their own obstinacy and obduration of their hearts, whereby they did not only neglect but also scorned to make peace (Joshua 11:19, 20).
Parallel VersesKJV: And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai,