[Yehoshua 9 Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)]
1 And it came to pass, when all the kings [kol hamelachim] which were on this side Jordan [beyond the Yarden], in the hills [har], and in the valleys [Shefelah], and in all the coasts of the great sea [Yam Hagadol (the Mediterranean)] over against Lebanon [Levanon], the Hittite, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, [ Chitti, and HaEmori, the Kena'ani, the Perizzi, the Chivi, and the Yevusi] heard thereof;
2 That they gathered themselves together, to fight with Joshua [Yehoshua] and with Israel [Yisroel], with one accord [with one peh (mouth, i.e., one accord).
The Canaanites Prepare for War (Vv.1-2)
A confrontation between the Israelites and the inhabitants on the west of Jordan was imminent. Having driven a wedge deep into the land towards the west, two further major military campaigns were before the Israelites: first, they would neutralise the power of the
peoples in the southern region, then they would march to meet the Canaanites in the north.
Israel's invasion of the land had been a whirlwind affair, from the time they had crossed Jordan. It is not difficult to imagine the fear and political chaos which would have been created "from Dan to Beersheba".
During this brief but hectic interlude "all the kings'' of the southern region had not been inactive. They had been feverishly conniving to make mutual alliances in preparation for warfare with the Israelites.
Those who dwelt "in the hills" and in the "lowlands" (J.B.) became confederated in a defence pact. There was no avoiding the inevitable: the Israelites had to be faced and fought. Hence these Canaanites "formed an alliance to fight together against Joshua and Israel" (J.B.).
Their union caused them to come together with "one mouth" (see marg.). This does not mean that they spoke the same language, but that they were united against a common enemy, and spoke the same things against Israel. This is, and always has been, a basis for unity among Gentiles: a mutual hatred of Israel.
Constantly throughout the book of Joshua the Canaanitish nations typify the Gentile powers which will arraign themselves against the Greater Joshua, when he comes to lead his disciples and his nation into their inheritance (cp. Ps. 2, etc.). *
3 And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua [Yehoshua] had done unto Jericho [Yericho] and to Ai,
The Gibeonites were Hivites. They were a confederation of four cities, of which Gibeon was the chief. It was termed a "great city" (v.7, 17; 10:2).
After the division of the land among the Israelites, Gibeon belonged in the canton of Benjamin and also became a city of the Levites. Like Jericho and Ai, Gibeon was of considerable strategic importance. Situated about seven miles north-west of Jerusalem, on the main route to the coast at Joppa, it presented a most commanding appearance.
Set on a hill two hundred feet above the surrounding plain, the city provided a formidable target to any invading army.
The city boasted industrial and commercial areas. Archaeological discoveries have revealed that the Gibeonites were also traders in imported merchandise. This is not surprising, since the city was so close to numerous major trade routes, leading east and west, north and south.
4 They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up;
The prosperity of the Gibeonites adds emphasis to the extraordinary guile they manifested when they presented themselves to Joshua as a ragged bunch of down-and-out peasants, totally destitute and close to starvation. At this hour of crisis the ''inhabitants of Gibeon" acted quite differently from their fellow-Canaanites. Whereas the others were busy
politicking and furiously preparing for war, the cunning Gibeonites purposed to make a study of the Israelites.*
5 And old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and mouldy.
6 And they went to Joshua [Yehoshua] unto the camp at Gilgal, and said unto him, and to the men of Israel, We be come from a far country: now therefore make ye a league with us.
They learned of "the name of Yahweh" (v.9). And by some means they managed to discover some of the contents of the Law. They ascertained that the Israelites would show no mercy to the inhabitants of the Land of Promise, and that all such were to be destroyed (Deut.
7:1-2). But they also learned that "cities" which were "very far" away from the Promised Land would be treated differently. If such cities were disposed to accept "peace" with Israel, they would be spared death and become "tributaries" to the Israelites (Deut. 20:10-18).
The Gibeonites were not honest. They cared nothing for the morality of the situation. However, they were clever... With great subtlety and earnest endeavour they made their preparations.*
*Bro John Ullman - Joshua His Life and Times