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Joshua 9

The Deceit of the Gibeonites

1 Now when news of this reached all the kings west of the Jordan—those in the hill country, the foothills, a and all along the coast of the Great Sea b toward Lebanon (the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites)— 2 they came together to wage war against Joshua and Israel.

3 But the people of Gibeon, having heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, 4 acted deceptively and set out as envoys, c carrying on their donkeys worn-out sacks and old wineskins, cracked and mended. 5 They put worn, patched sandals on their feet and threadbare clothing on their bodies, and their whole supply of bread was dry and moldy. 6 They went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant land; please make a treaty d with us.”

7 But the men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you dwell near us. How can we make a treaty with you?”

8 “We are your servants,” they said to Joshua.

Then Joshua asked them, “Who are you and where have you come from?”

9 “Your servants have come from a very distant land,” they replied, “because of the fame of the LORD your God. For we have heard the reports about Him: all that He did in Egypt, 10 and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites beyond the Jordan—Sihon king of Heshbon and Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth. 11 So the elders and inhabitants of our land told us, ‘Take provisions for your journey; go to meet them and say to them: We are your servants. Please make a treaty with us.’

12 This bread of ours was warm when we packed it at home on the day we left to come to you. But take a look, it is now dry and moldy. 13 These wineskins were new when we filled them, but look, they are cracked. And these clothes and sandals are worn out from our very long journey.”

14 Then the men of Israel sampled their provisions, but did not seek the counsel of the LORD. 15 And Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them.

16 Three days after they had made the treaty with the Gibeonites, the Israelites learned that they were neighbors, living among them. 17 So the Israelites set out and on the third day arrived at their cities—Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim. 18 But the Israelites did not attack them, because the leaders of the congregation had sworn an oath to them by the LORD, the God of Israel. And the whole congregation grumbled against the leaders.

19 All the leaders answered, “We have sworn an oath to them by the LORD, the God of Israel, and now we cannot touch them. 20 This is how we will treat them: We will let them live, so that no wrath will fall on us because of the oath we swore to them.” 21 They continued, “Let them live, but let them be woodcutters and water carriers for the whole congregation.” So the leaders kept their promise.

22 Then Joshua summoned the Gibeonites and said, “Why did you deceive us by telling us you live far away from us, when in fact you live among us? 23 Now therefore you are under a curse and will perpetually serve as woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.”

24 The Gibeonites answered, “Your servants were told clearly that the LORD your God had commanded His servant Moses to give you all the land and wipe out all its inhabitants before you. So we greatly feared for our lives because of you, and that is why we have done this. 25 Now we are in your hands. Do to us whatever seems good and right to you.”

26 So Joshua did this and delivered them from the hands of the Israelites, and they did not kill the Gibeonites. 27 On that day he made them woodcutters and water carriers, as they are to this day for the congregation of the LORD and for the altar at the place He would choose.



1 a Hebrew Shephelah or lowlands ; that is, the western foothills of Judea
1 b That is, the Mediterranean Sea
4 c Or set out with provisions
6 d Forms of the Hebrew berit are translated in most passages as covenant ; also in verses 7, 11, 15, and 16.

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