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The Gibeonites Trick Joshua

All the kings west of the Jordan River heard about these things. They were the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. They lived in the hill country and in the plains. They also lived along the seacoast of the Mediterranean Sea as far as Lebanon. All these kings came together and made plans to fight against Joshua and the Israelites.

The people from the city of Gibeon heard about the way Joshua had defeated Jericho and Ai. So they decided to try to trick the Israelites. This was their plan: They gathered together old wineskins that were cracked and broken. They put these old wineskins on the backs of their animals. They put old pieces of cloth on their animals to look as if they had traveled from far away. The men put old sandals on their feet and wore old clothes. They found some old bread that was dry and moldy. Then they went to the camp of the Israelites. This camp was near Gilgal.

The men went to Joshua and said to him, “We have traveled from a faraway country. We want to make a peace agreement with you.”

The men of Israel said to these Hivite men, “Maybe you are trying to trick us. Maybe you live near us. We cannot make a peace agreement with you until we know where you are from.”

The Hivite men said to Joshua, “We are your servants.”

But Joshua asked, “Who are you? Where do you come from?”

The men answered, “We are your servants. We have come from a faraway country. We came because we heard of the great power of the Lord your God. We heard about what he has done and about everything he did in Egypt. 10 And we heard that he defeated the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan River. This was King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of Bashan in the land of Ashtaroth. 11 So our elders and our people said to us, ‘Take enough food for your journey. Go and meet with the Israelites.’ Tell them, ‘We are your servants. Make a peace agreement with us.’

12 “Look at our bread. When we left home, it was warm and fresh. But now you can see that it is dry and old. 13 Look at our wineskins. When we left home, they were new and filled with wine. But now you can see that they are cracked and old. Look at our clothes and sandals. You can see that the long journey has almost destroyed the things we wear.”

14 The men of Israel wanted to know if these men were telling the truth. So they tasted the bread—but they did not ask the Lord what they should do. 15 Joshua agreed to make peace with them. He agreed to let them live. The leaders of Israel agreed with this promise of Joshua.

16 Three days later the Israelites learned that these men lived very near their camp. 17 So the Israelites went to the place where they lived. On the third day the Israelites came to the cities of Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath Jearim. 18 But the army of Israel did not try to fight against those cities. They had made a peace agreement with them. They had made a promise to them before the Lord, the God of Israel.

All the people complained against the leaders who made the agreement. 19 But the leaders answered, “We have given our promise. We promised before the Lord, the God of Israel. We cannot fight against them now. 20 This is what we must do. We must let them live. We cannot hurt them or God will be angry with us because we broke the promise we made to them. 21 So let them live, but they will be our servants. They will cut wood for us and carry water for all our people.” So the leaders did not break their promise of peace to them.

22 Joshua called the Gibeonites together. He said, “Why did you lie to us? Your land was near our camp. But you told us you were from a faraway country. 23 Now, your people will have many troubles. All of your people will be slaves—they will have to cut wood and carry water for the house of God.[a]

24 The Gibeonites answered, “We lied to you because we were afraid you would kill us. We heard that God commanded his servant Moses to give you all this land. And God told you to kill all the people who lived in this land. That is why we lied to you. 25 Now we are your servants. You can do whatever you think is right.”

26 So the Gibeonites became slaves, but Joshua let them live. He did not allow the Israelites to kill them. 27 He made them slaves of the Israelites. They cut wood and carried water for the Israelites and for the altar of the Lord—wherever the Lord chose it to be. They are still slaves today.

The Day the Sun Stood Still

10 At this time Adoni Zedek was the king of Jerusalem. He heard that Joshua had defeated Ai and completely destroyed it. The king learned that Joshua had done the same thing to Jericho and its king. He also learned that the Gibeonites had made a peace agreement with Israel and that they lived very near Jerusalem. So Adoni Zedek and his people were very frightened. Gibeon was not a small town like Ai. It was a very big city—as big as any royal city.[b] And all the men in that city were good fighters, so the king was afraid. King Adoni Zedek of Jerusalem talked with King Hoham of Hebron. He also talked with King Piram of Jarmuth, King Japhia of Lachish, and King Debir of Eglon. The king of Jerusalem begged these men, “Come with me and help me attack Gibeon. Gibeon has made a peace agreement with Joshua and the Israelites.”

So these five Amorite kings joined their armies together. (The five kings were the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon.) Their armies went to Gibeon, surrounded the city, and began fighting against it.

The people in the city of Gibeon sent a message to Joshua at his camp at Gilgal: “We are your servants! Don’t leave us alone. Come and help us! Hurry! Save us! All the Amorite kings from the hill country have brought their armies together to fight against us.”

So Joshua marched out of Gilgal with his whole army. His best fighting men were with him. The Lord said to Joshua, “Don’t be afraid of those armies. I will allow you to defeat them. None of them will be able to defeat you.”

Joshua and his army marched all night to Gibeon, so it was a complete surprise when he attacked them.

10 The Lord caused those armies to be very confused when Israel attacked. So Israel defeated them and won a great victory. Israel chased the enemy from Gibeon along the road going up to Beth Horon. The army of Israel killed men all the way to Azekah and Makkedah. 11 Then they chased the enemy down the road from Beth Horon to Azekah. While they were chasing the enemy, the Lord caused large hailstones to fall from the sky. Many of the enemy were killed by these large hailstones. More men were killed by the hailstones than by the swords of the soldiers of Israel.

12 On that day the Lord gave Israel the victory against the Amorites. Joshua stood before all the Israelites and said to the Lord:

“Sun, stop over Gibeon.
    Moon, stand still over the Valley of Aijalon.”

13 So the sun did not move, and the moon stopped until the people defeated their enemies. This story is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky. It did not move for a full day. 14 That had never happened before, and it has never happened again. That was the day the Lord obeyed a man. The Lord really was fighting for Israel!

15 After this, Joshua and his army went back to the camp at Gilgal. 16 But during the fight, the five kings ran away. They hid in a cave near Makkedah, 17 but someone found them hiding in that cave. Joshua learned about this. 18 He said, “Cover the entrance to the cave with large rocks. Put some men there to guard the cave. 19 But don’t stay there yourselves. Continue chasing the enemy and attacking them from behind. Don’t let the enemy get back to their cities. The Lord your God has given you the victory over them.”

20 So Joshua and the Israelites killed the enemy. But some of them were able to go to their cities that had tall walls around them and hide. These men were not killed. 21 After the fighting, Joshua’s men came back to him at Makkedah. Not one of the people in that country was brave enough to say anything against the Israelites.

22 Joshua said, “Move the rocks that are covering the entrance to the cave. Bring the five kings to me.” 23 So Joshua’s men brought the five kings out of the cave—the kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon. 24 When they brought the five kings to Joshua, he called all his men to come to that place. He said to the officers of his army, “Come here! Put your feet on the necks of these kings.” So the officers of Joshua’s army came close and put their feet on the necks of the kings.

25 Then Joshua said to his men, “Be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid. I will show you what the Lord will do to all the enemies you will fight in the future.”

26 Then Joshua killed the five kings and hanged their bodies on five trees. He left them hanging in the trees until evening. 27 At sunset Joshua told his men to take the bodies down from the trees. So they threw the bodies into the cave where the kings had been hiding and covered the entrance of the cave with large rocks. Their bodies are still in that cave today.

28 That day Joshua defeated Makkedah. He killed the king and the people in that city. No one was left alive. Joshua did the same thing to the king of Makkedah that he had done to the king of Jericho.

Taking the Southern Cities

29 Then Joshua and all the Israelites traveled from Makkedah to Libnah and attacked that city. 30 The Lord allowed the Israelites to defeat that city and its king. They killed everyone in the city. No one was left alive. And they did the same thing to that king as they had done to the king of Jericho.

31 Then Joshua and all the Israelites left Libnah and went to Lachish. Joshua and his army camped around that city and attacked it. 32 The Lord allowed them to defeat the city of Lachish. They defeated it on the second day. The Israelites killed everyone in the city, just as they had done in Libnah. 33 King Horam of Gezer came to help Lachish, but Joshua also defeated him and his army. No one was left alive.

34 Then Joshua and all the Israelites traveled from Lachish to Eglon. They camped around Eglon and attacked it. 35 That day they captured the city and killed everyone in the city. This was the same thing they had done to Lachish.

36 Then Joshua and all the Israelites traveled from Eglon to Hebron and attacked it. 37 They captured the city and all the small towns near Hebron. The Israelites killed everyone in the city, just as they did to Eglon. No one was left alive there. They destroyed the city and killed all the people in it as an offering to the Lord.

38 Then Joshua and all the Israelites went back to Debir and attacked it. 39 They captured the city, its king, and all the towns near Debir. They killed everyone in the city, just as they had done to Libnah and its king. No one was left alive there. They destroyed the city and killed all the people in it as an offering to the Lord.

40 So Joshua defeated all the kings of the cities of the hill country, the Negev, the western foothills, and the eastern foothills. The Lord, the God of Israel, had told Joshua to kill all the people, so Joshua did not leave anyone alive in those places.

41 Joshua captured all the cities from Kadesh Barnea to Gaza. He captured all the cities from Goshen[c] to Gibeon. 42 Joshua captured all these cities and their kings in one series of battles. He did this because the Lord, the God of Israel, was fighting for Israel. 43 Then Joshua and all the Israelites returned to their camp at Gilgal.


  1. Joshua 9:23 house of God This might mean the “family of God” (Israel), “the Holy Tent,” or “the Temple.”
  2. Joshua 10:2 royal city A strong, well-protected city that controlled smaller towns nearby.
  3. Joshua 10:41 Goshen The northeastern part of Egypt.

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