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The Gibeonite Deception

When all the kings west of the Jordan in the hill country, in the low country, and along all the coast of the Mediterranean Sea toward Lebanon—the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite kings—heard this, they gathered together as one to wage war against Joshua and Israel.

But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they acted craftily, and took old sacks on their donkeys, and old wineskins, torn and mended, old and patched sandals on their feet, and old garments on themselves. All the bread of their provision was dry and crumbly. They went to Joshua at the Gilgal settlement and said to him and the children of Israel, “We have come from a distant land. Now make a pact with us.”

Then the children of Israel said to these Hivites, “Perhaps you live among us, so how could we make a pact with you?”

Yet they said to Joshua, “We are your slaves.”

Joshua said to them, “Who are you, and where do you come from?”

They said to him, “We, your slaves, have come from a very distant land because of the name of the Lord your God, for we heard news of Him and all He did in Egypt 10 and all that He did to the two Amorite kings on the other side of the Jordan, King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of Bashan in Ashtaroth. 11 So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country said to us, ‘Take food provisions for the journey and go to meet them. Say to them, “We are your slaves. So now, make a pact with us.” ’ 12 This bread of ours was hot as we took it from our homes on the day we left to come to you, but now, see, it is dry and crumbly. 13 These wineskins that we filled were new, but see, they are ripped open. These clothes and sandals wore out due to the very long journey.”

14 So the men examined some of the food provisions, but they did not ask the Lord about it. 15 Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them.

16 Three days after they had made a covenant with them, they heard that they were neighbors to them and lived among them. 17 So the children of Israel set out and came to their cities on the third day. Their cities were Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath Jearim. 18 Now the children of Israel did not attack them, for the leaders of the congregation had sworn an oath to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, so the congregation murmured against the leaders.

19 Yet all the leaders said to the whole congregation, “We swore to them by the Lord God of Israel, so now we may not harm them. 20 This is what we will do to them. We will let them live so that wrath will not come upon us due to the oath that we swore to them.” 21 The leaders of the congregation also said to them, “Let them live!” So they became woodcutters and water carriers for the whole congregation, as the leaders told them.

22 Joshua met them and said, “Why did you trick us, saying, ‘We are very distant from you,’ but you are living in our midst? 23 Therefore now you are cursed, and you will always be slaves, cutting wood and carrying water for the house of my God.”

24 They answered Joshua, “It was told to your slaves that the Lord your God commanded Moses His servant to give you all the land and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land before you. So we were very afraid for our lives, and we did this thing. 25 Now here we are, in your hands. Do to us whatever is good and right in your eyes.”

26 Thus he did to them, and delivered them from the hand of the children of Israel; and they did not kill them. 27 That day he made them woodcutters and water carriers for the congregation and the altar of the Lord, even to this day, at the place He would choose.