And the children of Israel smote them not
The inhabitants of the four cities, when they came to them, though they found it to be a true report that was brought them of their being neighbours, and that they were imposed upon by them:
because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by the
Lord God of Israel;
by the Word of the Lord God of Israel, as the Targum, and therefore they restrained the people from smiting and plundering them; for it was not the oath of the princes the people so much regarded, or had such an influence on them as to abstain from seizing on them, but the princes, by reason of their oath, would not suffer them to touch them:
and all the congregation murmured against the princes;
not only for taking such an oath, but chiefly because they restrained them from smiting the Gibeonites, and taking their substance for a prey; their eager desire of revenge, and of seizing their goods, and inhabiting their cities, raised a murmur in them against the princes. This is to be understood not of the whole body of the people at Gilgal, but of all that party that was sent to Gibeon, and of the princes that went with them.