The Gibeonite Trickery
1All the kings west of the Jordan River heard about these things: the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. They lived in the mountains and on the western hills and along the whole Mediterranean Sea coast. 2So all these kings gathered to fight Joshua and the Israelites.
3When the people of Gibeon heard how Joshua had defeated Jericho and Ai, 4they decided to trick the Israelites. They gathered old sacks and old leather wine bags that were cracked and mended, and they put them on the backs of their donkeys. 5They put old sandals on their feet and wore old clothes, and they took some dry, moldy bread. 6Then they went to Joshua in the camp near Gilgal.
The men said to Joshua and the Israelites, “We have traveled from a faraway country. Make a peace agreement with us.”
7The Israelites said to these Hivites, “Maybe you live near us. How can we make a peace agreement with you?”
8The Hivites said to Joshua, “We are your servants.”
But Joshua asked, “Who are you? Where do you come from?”
9The men answered, “We are your servants who have come from a far country, because we heard of the fame of the Lord your God. We heard about what he has done and everything he did in Egypt. 10We heard that he defeated the two kings of the Amorites from the east side of the Jordan River—Sihon king of Heshbon and Og king of Bashan who ruled in Ashtaroth. 11So our elders and our people said to us, ‘Take food for your journey and go and meet the Israelites. Tell them, “We are your servants. Make a peace agreement with us.” ’
12“Look at our bread. On the day we left home to come to you it was warm and fresh, but now it is dry and moldy. 13Look at our leather wine bags. They were new and filled with wine, but now they are cracked and old. Our clothes and sandals are worn out from the long journey.”
14The men of Israel tasted the bread, but they did not ask the Lord what to do. 15So Joshua agreed to make peace with the Gibeonites and to let them live. And the leaders of the Israelites swore an oath to keep the agreement.
16Three days after they had made the agreement, the Israelites learned that the Gibeonites lived nearby. 17So the Israelites went to where they lived and on the third day came to their cities: Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath Jearim. 18But the Israelites did not attack those cities, because they had made a promise to them before the Lord, the God of Israel.
All the Israelites grumbled against the leaders. 19But the leaders answered, “We have given our promise before the Lord, the God of Israel, so we cannot attack them now. 20This is what we must do. We must let them live. Otherwise, God’s anger will be against us for breaking the oath we swore to them. 21So let them live, but they will cut wood and carry water for our people.” So the leaders kept their promise to them.
22Joshua called for the Gibeonites and asked, “Why did you lie to us? Your land was near our camp, but you told us you were from a far country. 23Now, you will be placed under a curse to be our slaves. You will have to cut wood and carry water for the house of my God.”
24The Gibeonites answered Joshua, “We lied to you because we were afraid you would kill us. We heard that the Lord your God commanded his servant Moses to give you all of this land and to kill all the people who lived in it. That is why we did this. 25Now you can decide what to do with us, whatever you think is right.”
26So Joshua saved their lives by not allowing the Israelites to kill them, 27but he made the Gibeonites slaves. They cut wood and carried water for the Israelites, and they did it for the altar of the Lord—wherever he chose it to be. They are still doing this today.