And the princes said to them, let them live
They were very pressing upon them, and importunate with them, to save their lives, because of the oath they had taken:
(but let them be hewers of wood, and drawers of water, unto all the
which was a very low and mean employment, ( Deuteronomy 29:11 ) ; as well as wearisome; and this being a yoke of servitude on the Gibeonites, and a punishment of them for their fraud, and of service, profit, and advantage to the people of Israel, the princess proposed it in hopes of pacifying them, and that they would yield to spare the lives of the Gibeonites; what they proposed was, not that they should hew wood and draw water for all the Israelites for their private use, but what was necessary for the service of the sanctuary, which the congregation was obliged to furnish them with; and now these men should do that work for them, which before was incumbent on them; for Joshua afterwards imposed this upon them, to be hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of God, ( Joshua 9:23 ) ; though Kimchi thinks that while the people of Israel were in camp, and before the land was divided, they were hewers of wood and drawers of water to the congregation; but after the land was divided, and they were settled in their cities and inheritances, then they only hewed wood and drew water for the sanctuary at Gilgal, Shiloh, Nob, Gibeon, and the temple; the Jewish writers say F19, the Nethinim and the Gibeonites were the same, who became proselytes in the times of Joshua, see ( 1 Chronicles 9:2 ) ;
as the princes promised them;
which is to be connected, not with their being hewers of wood and drawers of water, this the princes had said nothing of before, and which is rightly included in a parenthesis, but with their being let to live; this they had promised and sworn to, even all the princes, not only all that were now at Gibeon, and were persuading the people to let the Gibeonites live, but all the princes, even those that were not present, but in the camp at Gilgal.
F19 Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Kiddushin, c. 4. sect. 1.