The Gibeonites’ trick
1All the kings on the west side of the Jordan heard about this, including those in the highlands, the lowlands, and along the entire coast of the Mediterranean Sea toward Lebanon. They were Hittites and Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. 2They formed an alliance to fight Joshua and Israel. 3In contrast, when the population of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, 4they acted cleverly. They set out pretending to be messengers.#Heb uncertain They took worn-out sacks for their donkeys and worn-out wineskins that were split and mended. 5They had worn-out, patched sandals on their feet and were wearing worn-out clothes. All the bread in their supplies was dry and crumbly.
6They went to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal. They said to him and to Israel, "We have come from a distant country. So now, make a treaty with us."
7Israel said to the Hivites, "Perhaps you live among us. How then could we make a treaty with you?"
8Then they said to Joshua, "We are your servants."
Joshua said to them, "Who are you? Where have you come from?"
9They said to him, "Your servants have come from a very distant country because of the reputation of the LORD your God. We have heard a report about him and everything he did in Egypt. 10We heard about everything he did to the two kings of the Amorites on the east side of the Jordan, Heshbon’s King Sihon and Bashan’s King Og, who was in Ashtaroth. 11Our elders and all the population of our land said to us, ‘Take along supplies for the journey. Go meet them and say to them, "We are your servants. So now make a treaty with us."’ 12This is our bread. On the day we left to come to you we took it warm from our houses as supplies. But now here it is, dried up and crumbly. 13These wineskins were new when we filled them. But here they are, split open. These clothes and sandals of ours are worn out from the very long journey." 14The Israelites#Or men took some of their supplies, but they didn’t ask for any decision from the LORD. 15Joshua made peace with them. He made a treaty with them to protect their lives. The leaders of the community made a solemn pledge to them.
Israel discovers the trick
16Three days after the Israelites made a treaty with the Gibeonites, the Israelites heard that they were actually their neighbors and were living among them. 17So on the third day the Israelites marched out and came to their cities: Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim. 18But the Israelites didn’t strike at them. This was because the leaders of the community had made a solemn pledge to them by the LORD, the God of Israel. The entire community grumbled against the leaders. 19Then all the leaders said to the whole community, "We have made a solemn pledge to them by the LORD, the God of Israel. So we can’t touch them now. 20This is what we’ll do with them. We’ll let them live so that wrath won’t come down on us because of the solemn pledge that we made to them." 21The leaders went on to say to them, "Let them live." So they became woodcutters and water haulers for the whole community, exactly as the leaders had intended for them.
22Joshua called for the Gibeonites and spoke to them: "Why have you deceived us by saying, ‘We live very far away from you,’ when actually you live among us? 23So now you are cursed. Some of you will always serve as woodcutters and water haulers for my God’s house."
24They answered Joshua, "Your servants had been told that the LORD your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you the entire land and to wipe out all its population on your account. So we feared for our very lives because of you and did this thing. 25Now, here we are in your power. Do to us whatever seems good and proper to you." 26So Joshua treated them in this way. He spared them from the power of the Israelites, and they didn’t kill them. 27That day Joshua assigned them as woodcutters and water haulers for the community and for the LORD’s altar, located wherever God#Or he would choose. That is still the case today.