Joshua 9

1 As soon as all the kings who were beyond the Jordan in the hill country and in the lowland all along the coast of the Great Sea toward Lebanon, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, heard of this, they gathered together as one to fight against Joshua and Israel.

But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they on their part acted with cunning and went and made ready provisions and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes. And all their provisions were dry and crumbly. And they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us.” But the men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you live among us; then how can we make a covenant with you?” They said to Joshua, “We are your servants.” And Joshua said to them, “Who are you? And where do you come from?” They said to him, “From a very distant country your servants have come, because of the name of the Lord your God. For we have heard a report of him, and all that he did in Egypt, 10  and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon the king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth. 11 So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country said to us, ‘Take provisions in your hand for the journey and go to meet them and say to them, “We are your servants. Come now, make a covenant with us.”’ 12 Here is our bread. It was still warm when we took it from our houses as our food for the journey on the day we set out to come to you, but now, behold, it is dry and crumbly. 13 These wineskins were new when we filled them, and behold, they have burst. And these garments and sandals of ours are worn out from the very long journey.” 14 So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the Lord. 15 And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them.

16 At the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, they heard that they were their neighbors and that they lived among them. 17 And the people of Israel set out and reached their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim. 18 But the people of Israel did not attack them, because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel. Then all the congregation murmured against the leaders. 19 But all the leaders said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, and now we may not touch them. 20 This we will do to them: let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath that we swore to them.” 21 And the leaders said to them, “Let them live.” So they became cutters of wood and drawers of water for all the congregation, just as the leaders had said of them.

22 Joshua summoned them, and he said to them, “Why did you deceive us, saying, ‘We are very far from you,’ when you dwell among us? 23 Now therefore you are cursed, and some of you shall never be anything but servants, cutters of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.” 24 They answered Joshua, “Because it was told to your servants for a certainty that the Lord your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you—so we feared greatly for our lives because of you and did this thing. 25 And now, behold, we are in your hand. Whatever seems good and right in your sight to do to us, do it.” 26 So he did this to them and delivered them out of the hand of the people of Israel, and they did not kill them. 27 But Joshua made them that day cutters of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the Lord, to this day, in the place that he should choose.

Observation –What does it say?

  • After all the Kings are about the victory of the Israelites at Ai in Jericho they formed a coalition.
  • The inhabitants and give in worn-out and in this coalition.
  • They decided to try to deceive Joshua in the Israelites.
  • The main provisions are taking
    • Worn-out sacks for the donkeys.
    • Old wineskins
    • Worn-out patched sandals
    • Worn-out clothes
    • They may their provisions dry and crumbly.
  • The Gibeonites went to Gilgal when the Israelites were camped out.
  • Gilgal is where the Israelites camped after they crossed the Jordan.
  • The people from Gibeon told the Israelites they were from a far country.
  • The people from Gibeon asked to make the covenant with the people of Israel.
  • The men of Israel appeared to be suspicious.
  • The men of Israel told the Gibeonites if you live near us we cannot make a counter covenant with you.
  • The people from Gavin told Joshua they were his servants.
  • Joshua asked them who they were and where they came from.
  • The Gibeonites were vague in their answer in the answer about where they came from.
  • The people of Gibeon said they came from a distant country.
  • The Gibeonites said they came because of the name of the Lord of the Israelites God.
  • The Gibeonites told Joshua that they had heard all that God had done for Israel in Egypt and victories on the other side of the Jordan.
  • The Gibeonites told Joshua their elders told them to come to Israel to make a treaty with them.
  • The Gibeonites offered their bread as evidence of income from long distance.
  • The Gibeonites told Joshua the bread was still warm when they left.
  • The Gibeonites told Joshua their garments and sandals were worn out from the long journey.
  • The men of Israel took some of the provisions from the Gibeonites but did not ask counsel of God.
  • Joshua and the leaders made a covenant with the Gibeonites
  • Joshua and the leader swore to the Gibeonites in by the Lord they would not be attacked.
  • Joshua and the leaders of Israel made a covenant that the Gibeonites could live.
  • Three days later the Israelites find out they were deceived.
  • The people of Israel did not attack them because the leaders of Israel had sworn to them by God that they could live.
  • And people of Gibeon were required to cut wood and draw water the entire nation of Israel.
  • Joshua asked the Gibeonites why they deceived him.
  • Joshua told them that they would be cursed.
  • Joshua said some of them will never be anything but servants, wood choppers and drawers of water for the house of god.
  • The Gibeonites told Joshua they knew that God told Moses He was giving the Israelites the land and that the Israelites were too it destroyed all the inhabitants of the land.
  • As a result of the knowledge about what God told Moses their feared for their lives.
  • The Gibeonites knew they were in Joshua’s hand.
  • The Gibeonites told Joshua to do whatever seemed right to him.
  • Joshua did not kill them.
  • Joshua made the Ebonite’s water drawers and wood choppers for the altar of God.

Interpretation –what does it mean?

God was with Joshua. And as result, Joshua was successful both in battle and successful as a leader.  But hear even though God was blessing Joshua, Joshua was deceived.  The Gibeonites put on a very successful rogue.  God had told the Israelites to destroy the inhabitants of the land.  The Gibeonites were inhabitants of the land.  Therefore, it was the God’s intention that the Israelites destroy the Gibeonites.  But that’s not what happened.  Joshua was faced with a problem which seemed to have a clear-cut solution.  Here was a group of people in front of him which came from a distant land which God had not told him to destroy.  Therefore, it was obvious that signing a treaty with this group would not have been in violation of the any commandment of God.  So Joshua and the leaders of Israel took an oath in the name of the Lord that this group will be allowed to live and not attacked by the Israelites.

They made a treaty based on false information.  They took an oath based on false information.  Nonetheless, they took an oath.  Because they took the oath which they should not have taken, they were a bound to let the Gibeonites live.  They were now facing with a dilemma.  They can attack the Gibeonites and obey the commandment of God to destroy the inhabitants of the land.  Or, they could keep an oath which they took before God and in the name of God and let the Gibeonites live.

Their choices were to commit a sin, by not following the commandment of God or commit a sin, but bringing dishonor to his name.  They were face with what psychologist call an avoidance-avoidance problem.  The name of god is sacred.  In fact, it is so sacred in taking the name of the Lord in vain appears in the list of 10 commandments.

Application – how does it work?

Straight forward and simple answers are not always straight forward and simple.  Seeking the will of God, even seemingly trivial matters, is important.  Joshua could have found out that the Gibeonites were deceiving him if he had inquired of God.  But he did not.  It appeared the answer was simple. It appeared the will of God was clear.  But even in seemingly obvious matters is wise to take things before God.  As a result of not seeking the counsel of God, Joshua was faced with a lose-lose situation. But he chose correctly. He had taken an oath in the name of God. And God’s name is sacred and is never to be blasphemed.  Take care to always honor the name of God.

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