III. The case of the Gibeonites. The condition of the inhabitants of Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kirjathjearim, under the Hebrew commonwealth, is quoted in triumph by the advocates of slavery; and truly they are right welcome to all the crumbs that can be gleaned from it. Milton's devils made desperate snatches at fruit that turned to ashes on their lips. The spirit of slavery raves under tormenting gnawings, and casts about in blind phrenzy for something to ease, or even to mock them. But for this, it would never have clutched at the Gibeonites, for even the incantations of the demon cauldron, could not extract from their case enough to tantalize starvation's self. But to the question. What was the condition of the Gibeonites under the Israelites? (1.) It was voluntary. Their own proposition to Joshua was to become servants. Josh. ix. 8, 11. It was accepted, but the kind of service which they should perform, was not specified until their gross imposition came to light; they were then assigned to menial offices in the Tabernacle. (2.) They were not domestic servants in the families of the Israelites. They still resided in their own cities, cultivated their own fields, tended their flocks and herds, and exercised the functions of a distinct, though not independent community. They were subject to the Jewish nation as tributaries. So far from being distributed among the Israelites, and their internal organization as a distinct people abolished, they remained a separate, and, in some respects, an independent community for many centuries. When attacked by the Amorites, they applied to the Israelites as confederates for aid—it was rendered, their enemies routed, and themselves left unmolested in their cities. Josh. x. 6—18.
Israel, to dine publicly with a select party, in company with his master, who was at the same time anointed King of Israel! and this servant introduced by Samuel into the parlor, and assigned, with his master, to the chiefest seat at the table! This was "one of the servants" of Kish, Saul's father; not the steward or the chief of them—not at all a picked man, but "one of the servants;" any one that could be most easily spared, as no endowments specially rare would be likely to find scope in looking after asses. Again: we find Elah,the King of Israel, at a festive entertainment, in the house of Arza, his steward, or head servant, with whom he seems to have been on terms of familiarity.—1 Kings xvi. 8, 9. See also the intercourse between Gideon and his servant.—Judg. vii. 10, 11. Jonathan and his servant.—1 Sam. xiv. 1—14. Elisha and his servant.—2 Kings iv. v. vi.