Joshua 9

The Gibeonites deceive Joshua

1 All the kings who lived west of the Jordan River heard about what had happened at Ai. They were the kings who ruled in the hill country, in the low hills in the west, and all the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, as far as Lebanon. They were the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 2 They joined together to fight against Joshua and the Israelites.

3 Some Hivite people who lived in Gibeon heard how Joshua had won against Jericho and Ai. 4 So they had a clever idea. Some men took old bags of food and broken bags of wine that had holes in them. They put these things on their donkeys. 5 They wore old shoes on their feet, and they dressed themselves in old clothes. They took some bread that was old and dry. 6 They arrived at the tents of the Israelites in Gilgal. They said to Joshua and to the men of Israel, ‘We have come from a land that is very far away. Please let us make an agreement that we will not fight each other.’

7 But the men of Israel said to the Hivites, ‘Perhaps you live near to us. So we could not make a promise not to fight against you.’

8 The Hivites said to Joshua, ‘If you agree, we will become your servants.’

Joshua asked them, ‘Who are you? Where do you come from?’

9 They answered, ‘We, your servants, have come from a country that is very far away. We heard about the Lord, who is your God. We have heard about all the things that he did in Egypt. 10 We also heard what he did to the two kings of the Amorites. They ruled cities east of the Jordan: Sihon, king of Heshbon, and Og, king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth. 11 Our leaders and all our people told us to come to meet you. Our leaders said, “Take food and drink for your journey. Go to meet them, and say to them, ‘We want to be your servants. Please promise not to fight against us.’ ” 12 We have come a very long way. This bread was warm when we put it in our bags on the day that we left home. But see how hard and dry it has become. 13 These bags of wine were new, but see how old and spoiled they are now. Our clothes and our shoes have become old as we made our long journey.’

14 The Israelite men tasted some of the Gibeonites' food, but they did not ask the Lord what they should do. 15 So Joshua agreed that they would not kill the people of Gibeon. The Israelite leaders also said that they would obey this agreement.

16 Three days after they made this agreement, the Israelites discovered that the Gibeonites lived near to them. 17 So the Israelites left Gilgal to find the cities where the Hivites lived. After three days they arrived at their cities: Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth and Kiriath-Jearim. 18 The Israelites did not attack them, because of the promise that their leaders had made. They had made a strong promise in the name of the Lord God of Israel that they would not kill the Gibeonites.

The Israelite people were angry with their leaders, because of the agreement. 19 But all the leaders said to them, ‘We have made a strong promise to the Lord, Israel's God. So now we cannot hurt the Gibeonites. 20 But this is what we will do. We will let them live, because we made a strong promise to do that. Then God will not punish us. 21 We will let them live, but they will become our servants. They will cut wood and they will fetch water for all the Israelite people.’ That is what the Israelite leaders decided to do.

22 Joshua called the Gibeonites to come to him. He asked them, ‘Why did you deceive us like that? You said that you lived far away from us. But you really live near to us. 23 Because you told lies to us, you will always have to be our servants. You will cut wood and you will fetch water to serve our God.’

24 The Gibeonites said to Joshua, ‘We heard about the command that the Lord your God had given to his servant, Moses. We know that he told Moses to take the whole of our land for you to live in. We know that you must kill all the people who live there now. Because of that, we were very afraid that you would kill us. That is why we did what we did. 25 Now we are under your power. You must decide what to do with us. Do whatever you think is right and good.’

26 So Joshua agreed. He did not let the Israelites kill the Gibeonites. 27 Instead, they made the Gibeonites cut wood and fetch water, as servants for the Israelite people. They would also do this for the priests who served the Lord at his altar. They are still doing this, at the place that the Lord has chosen for his altar.