Guile of the Gibeonites
1 Now when all the kings who were beyond the Jordan, in the hill country and in the lowland [at the western edge of the hills of Judea], and all along the coast of the Great [Mediterranean] Sea toward Lebanon, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, heard of this [army and its victories over Jericho and Ai], 2 they gathered together with (a)one purpose to fight with Joshua and with Israel.
3 But when the people of Gibeon [the Hivites] heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, 4 they too acted craftily and cunningly, and set out and took along provisions, but took worn-out sacks on their donkeys, and wineskins (leather bottles) that were worn out and split open and patched together, 5 and worn-out and patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes; and all their supply of food was dry and had turned to crumbs. 6 They went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and the men of Israel, “We have come from a far country; so now, make a covenant (treaty) with us.” 7 But the men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you are living within our land; how then can we make a covenant (treaty) with you?” 8 They said to Joshua, “We are your servants.” Then Joshua said to them, “Who are you, and where do you come from?” 9 They said to him, “Your servants have come from a country that is very far away because of the fame of the Lord your God; for we have heard the news about Him and all [the remarkable things] that He did in Egypt, 10 and everything that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon the king of Heshbon and to Og the king of Bashan who lived in Ashtaroth. 11 So our elders and all the residents of our country said to us, ‘Take provisions for the journey and go to meet the sons of Israel and say to them, “We are your servants; now make a covenant (treaty) with us.”’ 12 This bread of ours was hot (fresh) when we took it along as our provision from our houses on the day we left to come to you; now look, it is dry and has turned to crumbs. 13 These wineskins which we filled were new, and look, they are split; our clothes and our sandals are worn out because of the very long journey [that we had to make].” 14 So the men [of Israel] took some of their own provisions [and offered them in friendship], and [foolishly] did not ask for the counsel of the Lord. 15 Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant (treaty) with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation [of Israel] swore an oath to them.
16 It happened that three days after they had made a covenant (treaty) with them, the Israelites heard that they were [actually] their neighbors and that they were living among them. 17 Then the sons of Israel set out and came to their cities on the third day. Now the cities [of the Hivites] were Gibeon and Chephirah and Beeroth and Kiriath-jearim. 18 But the sons of Israel did not strike them because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord the God of Israel [to spare them]. And all the congregation murmured [expressing great dissatisfaction] against the leaders. 19 But all the leaders said to the whole congregation, “We have sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, so now we cannot touch them. 20 This [is what] we will do to them: we will let them live, so that the wrath [of God] does not come upon us for [violating] the oath which we have sworn to them.” 21 The leaders said to them, “Let them live [as our slaves].” So they became the cutters and gatherers of firewood and water carriers for the entire congregation, just as the leaders had said of them.
22 Joshua called the [Hivite] men and said, “Why did you deceive us, saying, ‘We live very far away from you,’ when [in fact] you live among us? 23 Now therefore, you are cursed, and you shall always be slaves, both cutters and gatherers of firewood and water carriers for the house of my God.” 24 They replied to Joshua and said, “Because your servants were told in no uncertain terms that the Lord your God commanded His servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the land’s inhabitants before you, we feared greatly for our lives because of you, and so we did this [deceptive] thing. 25 Now look, we are in your hands; do to us as it seems good and right in your sight.” 26 So that is what he did to them; he rescued them from the hands of the Israelites and they did not kill them. 27 Now on that day Joshua made them cutters and gatherers of firewood and water carriers for the congregation and for the altar of the Lord, to this day, in the place which He would choose.
a. Joshua 9:2: Lit one mouth.