The People from Gibeon Deceive Joshua
1 When all the kings west of the Jordan River heard about these events, 2 they joined together to fight Joshua and Israel. (They were the kings in the mountains, the foothills, and along the whole Mediterranean coast as far as Lebanon, the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites.) #Part of verse 1 (in Hebrew) has been placed in verse 2 to express the complex Hebrew paragraph structure more clearly in English.
3 When the people living in Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, 4 they devised a scheme. They posed as messengers. They took worn-out sacks on their donkeys. Their wineskins were old, split, and patched. 5 Their sandals were worn-out and repaired, and their clothes were tattered. All their bread was dried out and crumbling. 6 They came to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal. They told Joshua and the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant country. Make a treaty with us right now.”
7 The men of Israel said to the Hivites, “What if you’re living in this area? We wouldn’t be able to make a treaty with you.”
8 They responded to Joshua, “We’re at your mercy.”
Joshua asked them, “Who are you, and where did you come from?”
9 They answered him, “We came from a country very far away because the Lord your God has become famous. We heard stories about him and everything he did in Egypt. 10 We also heard everything he did to the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of Bashan in Ashtaroth. 11 Our leaders and everyone who lives in our country told us, ‘Take what you need for the trip, and go meet them. Tell them, “We’re at your mercy. Make a treaty with us right now.”’ 12 Our bread was warm when we left home to meet with you. Look at it now! It’s dry and crumbling. 13 These were new wineskins when we filled them. Look at them now! See how they are splitting! Our clothes and sandals are also worn-out because we have come such a long way.”
14 The men believed the evidence they were shown, but they did not ask the Lord about it. 15 So Joshua made peace with them by making a treaty which allowed them to live. The leaders of the congregation swore to it with an oath.
16 But three days after the treaty was made, the Israelites heard that these people were their neighbors and lived with them. 17 The Israelites broke camp. They came to the cities of Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath Jearim two days later. 18 The Israelites didn’t destroy these other people, because the leaders of the congregation had sworn an oath about them to the Lord God of Israel. The whole congregation complained about the leaders. 19 But all the leaders said to them, “We have sworn an oath about them to the Lord God of Israel, so we cannot touch them now. 20 We must let them live to avoid ⌊the Lord’s⌋ anger because of the oath we swore.” 21 The leaders said that they should be allowed to live. So they became woodcutters and water carriers for the whole congregation, as the leaders had said.
22 Joshua sent for the people of Gibeon and asked, “Why did you deceive us by saying, ‘We live very far away from you,’ when you live here with us? 23 You are under a curse now. You will always be servants. You will be woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.”
24 They answered Joshua, “We were told that the Lord your God commanded his servant Moses to give you the whole land and destroy all who live there. We deceived you because we feared for our lives. 25 Now we’re at your mercy. Do to us what you think is good and right.”
26 So Joshua rescued them and did not let the people of Israel kill them. 27 But that day Joshua made them woodcutters and water carriers for the congregation. They served the Lord’s altar, wherever he chose to put it. They still serve today.