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When all the kings on the west side of the Yarden in the hills, in the Sh’felah and all along the shore of the Great Sea that fronts the L’vanon — the Hitti, Emori, Kena‘ani, P’rizi, Hivi and Y’vusi — heard what had happened, they joined forces to fight together against Y’hoshua and Isra’el. But when the inhabitants of Giv‘ah heard what Y’hoshua had done to Yericho and ‘Ai, they developed a clever deception: they made themselves look as if they had been on a long journey by putting old sacks on their donkeys and taking used wineskins that had burst and been mended back together. They put old, patched sandals on their feet and dressed in worn-out clothes; and took as provisions nothing but dried-up bread that was crumbling to pieces. Then they went to Y’hoshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and the men of Isra’el, “We have come from a country far away. Now, make a covenant with us.” The men of Isra’el said to the Hivi, “How do we know that you don’t live here among us? If you do, we don’t want to make a covenant with you.” But they answered Y’hoshua, “We are your servants.” Y’hoshua asked, “Who are you, and where do you come from?” They answered him, “Your servants have come from a very distant country because of the reputation of Adonai your God. We have heard reports about him — everything he did in Egypt, 10 and everything he did to the two kings of the Emori across the Yarden, Sichon king of Heshbon and ‘Og king of Bashan at ‘Ashtarot. 11 So our leaders and all the people living in our country said to us, “Take provisions with you for the journey, go to meet them, and say to them, ‘We are your servants, and now make a covenant with us.’ 12 Here is the bread which we took for our provisions. It was still warm when we took it out of our homes the day we left to come to you. Now look at it! It’s dry and turned to crumbs! 13 And these wineskins were new when we filled them, but look, now they’re torn. Likewise these clothes of ours and our shoes are worn out because of the very long journey.”

14 The men sampled some of their food but didn’t seek the advice of Adonai, 15 so Y’hoshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them to spare their lives, and the leading officials of the community swore to them. 16 But three days later, after they had made the covenant with them, they heard that they were their neighbors, that they lived there with them.

17 The people of Isra’el traveled and arrived at their cities on the third day. Their cities were Giv‘on, K’firah, Be’erot and Kiryat-Ye‘arim. 18 The people of Isra’el did not attack them, because the leading officials of the community had sworn to them by Adonai, the God of Isra’el; but all the community grumbled against the leaders. 19 However, the leaders replied to the whole community, “We have sworn to them by Adonai, the God of Isra’el; so we can’t touch them. 20 Here is what we will do to them: we will let them live, so that God’s anger will not be on us because of the oath we swore to them. 21 Yes, let them live,” the leaders continued, “but let them chop wood and draw water for the whole community.” This is what the leaders said.

22 Y’hoshua summoned them and said this to them: “Why have you deceived us by saying, ‘We come from a place very far away,’ when in fact you are living right here with us? 23 Now you have a curse on you: you will be slaves forever, supplying people to chop wood and draw water for the house of my God.” 24 They answered Y’hoshua, “It is because we heard the reports that Adonai your God had ordered his servant Moshe to give you all the land and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from ahead of you. So we were terrified for our lives on account of you; that’s why we did this. 25 Now, as you see, we are in your hands; do to us whatever seems good and right to you.” 26 So Y’hoshua did exactly that: he saved them from the power of the people of Isra’el, so that they didn’t kill them. 27 But he did that same day make them choppers of wood and drawers of water for the community and for the altar of Adonai in the place which he would choose; and they remain so to this day.

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