That they feared greatly
The king of Jerusalem and his people, lest they should fall into the hands of the Israelites, and be used as Jericho and Ai, and the kings and inhabitants of them were, and that they would be the next that should fall a sacrifice to them; for Gibeon was fifty furlongs from Jerusalem, as Josephus says F1; and in another place he says F2 but forty, which were but five miles; and if fifty, but little more than six miles; according to Bunting F3, it was but four miles: and what added to their terror was,
because Gibeon [was] a great city;
being a metropolitan city, and having others subject to it; therefore the surrender of that to the Israelites might intimidate other cities, and lead them by example to do the like, and so of bad consequence:
as one of the royal cities;
the Vulgate Latin version omits the note of similitude, and reads, "and one of the royal cities"; and sometimes "caph" or "as" is not a note of likeness, but of reality; yet as we nowhere read of a king of Gibeon, the sense may be, that though it was not a royal seat, it was equal to those that were, and like one, being a metropolitan city: and
because it [was] greater than Ai:
had more inhabitants in it, and perhaps better fortified:
and all the men thereof [were] mighty;
men of strength, courage, and valour, warlike men, and therefore for such a city to yield so easily, and in such a base, mean, and cowardly way, was setting a very bad example.
F1 De Bello Jud. l. 2. c. 19. sect. 1.
F2 Antiqu. l. 7. c. 11. sect. 7.
F3 Travels of the Patriarchs p. 98.