约书亚记 9

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1 约但河西,住地、高原,并对着利巴嫩沿一带的诸,就是赫人、亚摩利人、迦南人、比利洗人、希未人、耶布斯人的诸见这事,

2 就都聚集,同心合意的要与约书亚和以色列人争战。

3 基遍居民见约书亚向耶利哥和艾城所行的事,

4 就设诡计,假充使者,拿旧口和破裂缝补的旧皮酒驮在上,

5 将补过的旧鞋穿在上,把旧衣服穿在身上;他们所带的饼都是乾的,长了霉了。

6 他们到吉甲中见约书亚,对他和以色列人我们是从远方的,现在求你与我们立约。

7 以色列人对这些希未:只怕你们是我们中间的;若是这样,怎能和你们立约呢?

8 他们对约书亚:我们是你的仆人。约书亚问他们:你们是甚麽人?是从那里的?

9 他们回答仆人从极远之地而,是因耶和华─你的名声和他在埃及所行的一切事,

10 并他向约但河东的两个亚摩利,就是希实本西宏和在亚斯他录的巴珊噩一切所行的事。

11 我们长老我们那地的一切居民我们:你们里要带着上用的食物去迎接以色列人,对他们我们是你们的仆人;现在求你们与我们立约。

12 我们出来要往你们这里来的日子,从家里带出来的这饼还是热的;看哪,现在都乾了,长了霉了。

13 这皮酒袋,我们盛酒的时候还是新的;看哪,现在已经破裂。我们这衣服和鞋,因为道路甚远,也都穿旧了。

14 以色列人受了他们些食物,并没有求问耶和华

15 於是约书亚与他们讲和,与他们立约,容他们活着;会众的首领也向他们起誓。

16 以色列人与他们立约之,过了见他们是近邻,在以色列人中间的。

17 以色列人起行,第三到了他们的城邑,就是基遍、基非拉、比录、基列耶琳。

18 因为会众的首领已经指着耶和华以色列的向他们起誓,所以以色列人不击杀他们;全会众就向首领发怨言。

19 众首领对全会众:我们已经指着耶和华以色列的向他们起誓,现在我们不能害他们。

20 我们要如此待他们,容他们活着,免得有忿怒因我们所起的誓临到我们身上。

21 首领又对会众:要容他们活着。於是他们为全会众作了劈柴挑的人,正如首领对他们所的话。

22 约书亚召了他们来,对他们:为甚麽欺哄我们我们离你们甚远呢?其实你们是我们中间。

23 现在你们是被咒诅的!你们中间的人必断不了作奴仆,为我的殿作劈柴挑的人。

24 他们回答约书亚:因为有人实在告诉你的仆人耶和华─你的曾吩咐他的仆人摩西,把这全地赐你们,并在你们面前灭绝这地的一切居民,所以我们为你们的缘故甚怕丧命,就行了这事。

25 现在我们在你中,你以怎样待我们为善为正,就怎样做罢!

26 於是约书亚这样待他们,救他们脱离以色列人以色列人就没有他们。

27 当日约书亚使他们在耶和华所要选择的地方,为会众和耶和华的作劈柴挑的人,直到今日。

  

Exploring the Meaning of 约书亚记 9      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth and New Christian Bible Study Staff

Joshua 9: The Gibeonites deceive Israel.

After Israel conquered Jericho and then Ai, the news about the strength of the Children of Israel - and their mighty God, Jehovah - spread quickly among the people of Canaan. In this chapter, the people of Gibeon came up with a plan to trick Joshua and the Israelites into granting them safety.

To preserve themselves, the Gibeonites cooked up a story that they had come from far away. They dressed in old clothing and worn-out sandals, and brought shabby wine-skins and moldy bread as proof of their long journey. After questioning these travelers, Joshua agreed to guarantee their safety, and the Israelites made a covenant to let them live. Note that the Israelites did not consult the Lord.

In the end, the Gibeonites admitted that they lived close by and were neighbors of Israel, just as the Hivites (the Gibeonites' ancestors) had been with Abraham. Joshua, unable to revoke his promise to them, made them wood-cutters and water-carriers for the altars of the Lord.

This chapter offers us several spiritual lessons. The main one is that there is a place for simple, well-intentioned goodness in our spiritual life, along with our love of God and our love for other people (See Swedenborg's exegetical work, Arcana Caelestia 3436, for details). This is what the Gibeonites stand for; they were not warlike but peaceful, content to live usefully day after day. This is an illustration of natural good, which is an important part of life in this world and in heaven (Arcana Caelestia 3167).

On a spiritual level, their story about living in a country far-away means that when we live good, well-intentioned lives, we are ‘far away’ from the evils of the Canaanites. Although the Gibeonites lived among the Canaanites, their higher values were entirely different. So while the Gibeonites deceived Israel to save themselves, they spoke truthfully when they said: “we come from a place a very long way away” (See Swedenborg's work, Heaven and Hell 481).

Their tattered and torn appearance is meant to illustrate the hard work of doing good. It can be quite wearing to continue doing good things, especially when we feel it is all up to us. Acknowledging that all good is from the Lord renews us, and keeps us from the burden of merit.

In the same vein, their worn-out appearance is also about our relationship with the Word. Little children love and delight in the stories of the Word, but as they grow up, this love dwindles (Arcana Caelestia 3690). But as adults, we have the choice to find those guiding principles from the Word, helping us to keep leading good lives.

The fact that Joshua commanded the Gibeonites to cut wood and draw water also holds spiritual significance. The beauty of wood is that it comes from living trees, and can be turned into many, many useful things. It stands for the steady, humble wish to do good each day (See Swedenborg's work, True Christian Religion 374). This must be present in our worship at the altars of the Lord.

Drawing water provides essential, life-giving refreshment for others. Water stands for truth, and our better actions draw the water of life for the sake of others. Truly, acknowledging the goodness in other people is part of our faith in God. This story shows us that we must allow others to live and to serve everything of God, just as Joshua showed mercy toward the Gibeonites.

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