The Gibeonites Act with Cunning
1Now#Or “And it happened” when all the kings who were beyond the Jordan in the hill country and in the Shephelah,#Or “lowlands”; a geographical region on the western edge of the hills of Judea and on all the coast of the great sea toward Lebanon#Literally “white mountain”—the Hittites,#Hebrew “Hittite” the Amorites,#Hebrew “Amorite” the Canaanites,#Hebrew “Canaanite” the Perizzites,#Hebrew “Perizzite” the Hivites,#Hebrew “Hivite” and the Jebusites#Hebrew “Jebusite”—heard of this, 2they gathered themselves together to fight with one accord against#Hebrew “with” Joshua and Israel.
3But the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua did to Jericho and Ai, 4and they acted on their part with cunning: they went and prepared provisions,#The Hebrew is difficult here. Some ancient manuscripts read, “they sent out a delegation/an envoy” and took worn-out sacks#Or “sackcloths” for their donkeys and old wineskins that were torn and mended. 5The sandals on their feet were patched and old, their clothes were old, and their food was dry and crumbled. 6And they went to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a far land; so then make a covenant with us.”#Literally “cut for us a covenant” 7And the men of Israel said to the Hivites,#Hebrew “Hivite” “Perhaps you are living among us; how can we make a covenant#Literally “cut a covenant” with you?” 8They said to Joshua, “We are your servants.” And Joshua said to them, “Who are you, and from where do you come?” 9And they said to him, “Your servants have come from a very far land because of the name of Yahweh your God; we have heard of his reputation, of all that he did in Egypt, 10and of all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan—to Sihon king of Heshbon and to Og king of Bashan, who was in Ashtaroth. 11So our elders said to us and all the inhabitants of our land, ‘Take in your hand provisions for the journey, and go to meet them, and say to them, “We are your servants; so then make a covenant with us.” ’#Literally “cut for us a covenant” 12This is our bread; it was hot when we took it from our houses as provisions on the day we set out to come to you. But now, look, it is dry and crumbled. 13These are the wineskins that we filled new, but look, they have burst; and these are our clothes and sandals that have worn out from the very long journey.” 14So the leaders#Or “men” took from their provisions, but they did not ask direction from Yahweh.#Literally “the mouth of Yahweh they did not ask” 15And Joshua made peace with them, and he made a covenant with them#Literally “he cut a covenant with them” to allow them to live happily, and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them.
16And it happened that at the end of three days, after they made a covenant with them, they heard that they were their neighbors#Literally “they were near them” and living among them. 17And the Israelites#Literally “sons/children of Israel” set out and went to their cities on the third day (their cities were Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath Jearim). 18But the Israelites#Literally “sons/children of Israel” did not attack them, because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by Yahweh the God of Israel. And all the congregation murmured against their leaders.#Literally “against the leaders of the congregation” 19But all the leaders of the congregation said, “We have sworn to them by Yahweh the God of Israel, and so we cannot touch them. 20This we will do to them: we will let them live so that wrath will not be on us because of the oath we swore to them.” 21And the leaders#Or “men” said to them, “Let them live.” So they became woodcutters and water carriers for all the congregation, just as the leaders had said to them.
22And Joshua summoned them and said, “Why have you deceived us saying, ‘We are very far from you’ when you are living among us? 23Therefore you are cursed; some of you will always be slaves as woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.” 24And they answered Joshua and said, “Because it was told with certainty to your servants that Yahweh your God commanded Moses his servant to give to you all the land and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land before you, so we were very afraid for our lives because of you, and so we did this thing. 25So then, look, we are in your hand; do with us whatever seems good and right in your eyes.” 26So he did this to them: he saved them from the hand of the Israelites,#Literally “sons/children of Israel” and they did not kill them. 27And that day Joshua made them woodcutters and water carriers for the congregation and for the altar of Yahweh, to this day, in the place that he should choose.