The People of Gibeon Trick Israel
1All the kings who ruled west of the Jordan River heard about the battles Israel had won. That included the kings who ruled in the central hill country and the western hills. It also included those who ruled along the entire coast of the Mediterranean Sea all the way to Lebanon. They were the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 2They brought their armies together to fight against Joshua and Israel.
3The people of Gibeon heard about what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai. 4So they decided to trick the Israelites. They packed supplies as if they were going on a long trip. They loaded their donkeys with old sacks and old wineskins. The wineskins were cracked but had been mended. 5They put worn-out sandals on their feet. The sandals had been patched. They also wore old clothes. All the bread they took along was dry and moldy. 6They went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal. They spoke to him and the Israelites. They said, “We’ve come from a country that’s far away. Make a peace treaty with us.”
7The Israelites said to the Hivites, “But suppose you live close to us. If you do, we can’t make a peace treaty with you.”
8“We’ll serve you,” they said to Joshua.
But Joshua asked, “Who are you? Where do you come from?”
9They answered, “We’ve come from a country that’s very far away. We’ve come because the Lord your God is famous. We’ve heard reports about him. We’ve heard about everything he did in Egypt. 10We’ve heard about everything he did to Sihon and Og. They were the two kings of the Amorites. They ruled east of the Jordan River. Sihon was the king of Heshbon. Og was the king of Bashan. He ruled in Ashtaroth. 11Our elders and all the people living in our country spoke to us. They said, ‘Take supplies for your trip. Go and meet the Israelites. Say to them, “We’ll serve you. Make a peace treaty with us.” ’ 12Look at our bread. It was warm when we packed it. We packed it at home the day we left to come and see you. But look at how dry and moldy it is now. 13When we filled these wineskins, they were new. But look at how cracked they are now. And our clothes and sandals are worn out because we’ve traveled so far.”
14The Israelites looked over the supplies those people had brought. But they didn’t ask the Lord what they should do. 15Joshua made a peace treaty with the people who had come. He agreed to let them live. The leaders of the community gave their word that they agreed with the treaty.
16So the Israelites made a peace treaty with the people of Gibeon. But three days later they heard that the people of Gibeon lived close to them. 17So the Israelites started out to go to the cities of those people. On the third day they came to Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth and Kiriath Jearim. 18But they didn’t attack those cities. That’s because the leaders of the community had given their word and made a peace treaty with them. They had given their word in the name of the Lord, the God of Israel.
The whole community told the leaders they weren’t happy with them. 19But all the leaders answered, “We’ve made a peace treaty with them. We’ve given our word in the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. So we can’t touch them now. 20But here is what we’ll do to them. We’ll let them live. Then the Lord won’t be angry with us because we didn’t keep our promise.” 21They continued, “Let them live. But make them cut wood and carry water to serve the whole community.” So the leaders kept their promise to them.
22Joshua sent for the people of Gibeon. He said to them, “Why did you trick us? You said, ‘We live far away from you.’ But in fact you live close to us. 23So now you are under a curse. You will always serve us. You will always cut wood and carry water for the house of my God.”
24They answered Joshua, “We were clearly told what the Lord your God had commanded his servant Moses to do. He commanded him to give you the whole land. He also ordered him to wipe out all its people to make room for you. So we were afraid you would kill us. That’s why we tricked you. 25We are now under your control. Do to us what you think is good and right.”
26So Joshua saved the people of Gibeon. He didn’t let the Israelites kill them. 27That day he made them cut wood and carry water. They had to serve the community of Israel. They also had to do work connected with the altar of the Lord. The altar would be at the place the Lord would choose. And they still serve the Israelites to this day.
The Gibeonite Deception
1Now when all the kings west of the Jordan heard about these things—the kings in the hill country, in the western foothills, and along the entire coast of the Mediterranean Sea as far as Lebanon (the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites)— 2they came together to wage war against Joshua and Israel.
3However, when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, 4they resorted to a ruse: They went as a delegation whose donkeys were loaded9:4 Most Hebrew manuscripts; some Hebrew manuscripts, Vulgate and Syriac (see also Septuagint) They prepared provisions and loaded their donkeys with worn-out sacks and old wineskins, cracked and mended. 5They put worn and patched sandals on their feet and wore old clothes. All the bread of their food supply was dry and moldy. 6Then they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and the Israelites, “We have come from a distant country; make a treaty with us.”
7The Israelites said to the Hivites, “But perhaps you live near us, so how can we make a treaty with you?”
8“We are your servants,” they said to Joshua.
But Joshua asked, “Who are you and where do you come from?”
9They answered: “Your servants have come from a very distant country because of the fame of the Lord your God. For we have heard reports of him: all that he did in Egypt, 10and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan—Sihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth. 11And our elders and all those living in our country said to us, ‘Take provisions for your journey; go and meet them and say to them, “We are your servants; make a treaty with us.” ’ 12This bread of ours was warm when we packed it at home on the day we left to come to you. But now see how dry and moldy it is. 13And these wineskins that we filled were new, but see how cracked they are. And our clothes and sandals are worn out by the very long journey.”
14The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. 15Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.
16Three days after they made the treaty with the Gibeonites, the Israelites heard that they were neighbors, living near them. 17So the Israelites set out and on the third day came to their cities: Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth and Kiriath Jearim. 18But the Israelites did not attack them, because the leaders of the assembly had sworn an oath to them by the Lord, the God of Israel.
The whole assembly grumbled against the leaders, 19but all the leaders answered, “We have given them our oath by the Lord, the God of Israel, and we cannot touch them now. 20This is what we will do to them: We will let them live, so that God’s wrath will not fall on us for breaking the oath we swore to them.” 21They continued, “Let them live, but let them be woodcutters and water carriers in the service of the whole assembly.” So the leaders’ promise to them was kept.
22Then Joshua summoned the Gibeonites and said, “Why did you deceive us by saying, ‘We live a long way from you,’ while actually you live near us? 23You are now under a curse: You will never be released from service as woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.”
24They answered Joshua, “Your servants were clearly told how the Lord your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you the whole land and to wipe out all its inhabitants from before you. So we feared for our lives because of you, and that is why we did this. 25We are now in your hands. Do to us whatever seems good and right to you.”
26So Joshua saved them from the Israelites, and they did not kill them. 27That day he made the Gibeonites woodcutters and water carriers for the assembly, to provide for the needs of the altar of the Lord at the place the Lord would choose. And that is what they are to this day.