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Chinese8/10/2005English
經文:約書亞記九章
鑰節:「以色列人……並沒有求問耶和華,於是約書亞……與他們立約,容他們活著。」(9:14~15)
提要

        耶利哥城和艾城的勝利開啟了以色列人向內陸挺進之路,也使迦南地的居民大為恐懼,南地的諸王於是組成聯軍,想以浩大的聲勢來對抗以色列人。但住基遍地的希未人卻沒有與他們聯盟。對以色列人和以色列之上帝的畏懼,促使他們採取不同的行動;他們想向以色列人求和,而想出一個巧妙的詭計。基遍人的代表演技高超,他們假裝來自遙遠的國度,寧願屈居以色列人之下而不願死。上帝允許以色列人讓遙遠的國民存活,向以色列人納貢,作以色列人的臣屬,但迦南地上的居民則要趕盡殺絕(申20:10~18)。

        約書亞和以色列的長老只憑間接的證據就向基遍人發誓,與他們立約。這是約書亞首次有稽可查的錯誤,因為他沒有向上帝禱告,也沒有透過大祭司的烏陵和土明來尋求上帝的心意。約書亞顯然越權了,沒有先徵詢上帝,也就是以色列大元帥暨授權者的意見。這說明了主的門徒在每件重要的決定上都必須尋求祂的引導。

        當基遍人的詭計曝光後,約書亞和以色列的長老遂從吉甲前往基遍去質問他們。有人可能認為,以色列人既是被騙立誓,此約可算無效。但那是不可能的,他們已奉了以色列之耶和華上帝的名發誓(出20:7),所起的誓就具有神聖的約束力(民30:2)。雖然以色列會眾埋怨他們的長老做出這個錯誤的決定,但他們也不敢毀約,因怕上帝的怒氣會臨到他們身上(參撒下21:1~6)。以色列人尊重所起的誓,但仍舊為基遍人的騙術懲罰他們,派他們做苦工,特別是為上帝的壇作劈柴挑水的人。基遍人也欣然同意了。

        從廿三節我們看到,咒詛基遍人的是約書亞而非上帝(23節)。可不可能是上帝容許以色列人受騙,藉此彌補許多年以前西緬和利未屠殺許多剛受割禮之希未男丁的悲劇(創卅四章,注意:基遍地的居民正是希未人)﹖又或者是不是上帝為了那些敬畏祂、相信祂的人而讓這件事發生,正如喇合蒙恩典得活命一樣﹖上帝沒有使基遍居民的心剛硬,與以色列人爭戰,像祂在其他國民中所做的一樣,祂甚至奇蹟式的保存了基遍地的人民,使他們不致滅絕。(書十章)

        我們曉得,後來基遍人成為以色列的祝福而非咒詛。他們很可能就是幫助以色列人重修聖殿的「尼提寧人」(意思是「給予者」,拉8:15~20)。熱愛聖殿的人是有福的(詩84:4)。會幕曾有一度還安置在基遍(代下1:3)。從聖經記錄中,我們發現基遍人並不像其他倖存的迦南人那樣,引誘以色列人拜偶像。後來似乎還有許多基遍人成為以色列會眾的一部分,與他們一同敬拜獨一的真神上帝(代上12:1、4;尼3:7)。

        我們絕不能限制上帝。祂的恩典和慈愛真是超過我們所能理解的。

禱告

        噢主,幫助我們不要因為沒有事先求問您而做錯決定。謝謝您,即使在我們的錯誤上,您也能加以彌補而產生好的結果。奉主耶穌聖名,阿們!

English

Scriptures:Read Joshua 9
Key Verse:“The men of Israel… did not ask counsel of the Lord. So Joshua… made a covenant with them to let them live.”
Overview

        The defeats of Jericho and Ai opened up Israel’s way of advance inland and brought great terror to the inhabitants. The kings of the city-kingdoms in the southern part of Canaan joined forces to increase their chances against the Israelites. The Hivite people of Gibeon and the neighboring towns, however, did not join this coalition. Their fear of Israel and the God of Israel prompted them to take a very different course of action; they sought to make peace with Israel, but this was accomplished through clever deception. The Gibeonite representatives were convincing actors, pretending to be from a distant allowed the Israelites to let those of distant nations live as subjects and pay tribute to Israel, but all the inhabitants within Canaan were to be completely wiped out (Deut.20:10-18).

        Joshua and the elders of Israel made an oath of peace with the Gibeonites and entered into a covenant on the basis of circumstantial evidence. This is Joshua’s first recorded blunder, for he had not consulted God in prayer or high priest’s Urim and Thummin to discover the mid of God. Joshua had overstepped his authority. He did not first seek advice from his Commander-in-chief, the Lord - Israel’s King – whose mission they were on. This illustrated well that followers of the Lord must seek His guidance in every important decision.

        When the truth of the Gibionite deception was discovered, Joshua and the Israelite elders journeyed form Gigal to Gibeon (about nine kilometers northwest of Jerusalem) to confront the deceivers. One might think that because the vow had been made by fraudulent means, it could be declared null and void. This was not possible, however, for it had been ratified by the Name of the Holy God of Israel (Ex.20:7) and was therefore sacred and binding (Num.30:2). Though the congregation of Israel murmured against the elders for making such a mistake (v.18), they dared not break the solemn agreement for fear of bringing God’s wrath upon themselves (e.g. 2 Sam.21:1-6). The Israelites honored their oath, yet punished the Gibeonites for their wood and drawing water for use in the house of God. The Gibeonites graciously agreed to do whatever Israel commanded.

        We read that Joshua, not God, put a curse upon Gibeon (v.23). Could God have allowed the Israelites to be deceived as compensation for the deception Simeon and Levi had perpetrated against the Hivites long before, when they killed all the newly circumcised townsmen (Gen.34 – Note: the inhabitants of Gibeon were Hivite people)? Could it be that God allowed this to happen on behalf of those who feared Him and believed in Him, just as Rahab was granted grace and spared? God did not harden their hearts to go to war with Israel as He did with the other nations (11:19-20); He even miraculously preserved the people of Gibeon from extinction (Josh.10).

        We learn later that the Gibeonites were a blessing and not a curse to Israel. It is probable that they were later called the “Nethinim” (meaning, “those given”) that helped with the work of God’s house (Ezra 8:15-20). Those so involved were known to be blessed (Psalm 84:4). For a time, the tabernacle was set up in Gibeon (2 Chronicles 1:3). There is no record that they let Israel into idolatry, as did the other nations which Israel disobediently allowed to remain living in the land. Rather, it seems that later many of the Gibeonites became a part of the congregation of Israel and worshipped the One true God (e.g. 1 Chron.12:1, 4; Neh.3:7).

        We can never put limitations on God. His grace and loving kindness is truly beyond our understanding.

Prayer

        O Lord, help us not to blunder by failing to consult You before we make our decisions, particularly about people and circumstances where we do not already have a specific word from you. Thank You that You can ever bring good out of our mistakes.


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