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Joshua 9

The people of Gibeon tell a lie to Joshua and save their lives

1 When all the kings who lived west of the Jordan heard about these things, they joined together. They were the kings in the hills to the west, and all the places near the Great Sea, as far as Lebanon. (They were the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.) 2 They joined together to fight Joshua and Israel.

3 The people of Gibeon heard about what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai. 4 So they had a clever idea. Some of their men put old bags of food and broken and mended skins of wine (a drink) on their donkeys (animals like small horses for carrying things). 5 They had old mended shoes on their feet, and they wore old clothes. The bread that they took for food was dry. It was going bad. 6 Then they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal. They spoke to him and to the men of Israel. ‘We have come from a land a long way away’, they said. ‘Please let us make a promise not to fight each other.’

7 But the men of Israel answered the Hivites, ‘Perhaps you live close to us. How then can we make a promise not to destroy you?’

8 ‘We want to serve you’, they said to Joshua.

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

9 They answered, ‘Your servants have come from a country a very long way away. We heard about your great God. We have heard all about the things that he did in Egypt. 10 And we heard what he did to the two kings of the Amorites. Those kings ruled cities east of the Jordan. They were Sihon, king of Heshbon, and Og, king of Bashan. They ruled in Ashtaroth. 11 Our leaders and the people of our land told us to come to see you. Our leaders said, “Take food and wine (a drink) for your journey. Go to meet them, and speak to them. Say to them, ‘We want to serve you, will you promise not to destroy us?’ ” 12 This bread of ours was warm when we put it in our bags. That was on the day that we left home to come to you. But see how bad and dry it has become. 13 And these skins of wine (a drink) were new, but see how old and mended they are. And our clothes are now old, and our shoes are very thin and mended. They have become old as we made our long journey.’

14 The men of Israel looked at the food and other things, but they did not ask the LORD for help. 15 Then Joshua agreed that they would not kill the people of Gibeon. The leaders of Israel also said that they would keep Joshua's promise.

16 So Joshua and the Israelites made a promise to the Gibeonites. Three days later, the Israelites learnt that the Gibeonites lived near to them. 17 The Israelites left their camp to go to the cities of Gibeon. Three days later, they came to 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 said to the LORD God of Israel that they would not kill the Gibeonites.

All the people of Israel were angry with their leaders. 19 The leaders said to them, ‘We have promised the LORD, the God of Israel, and now we cannot hurt them. 20 But this is what we will do. We will let them live, so that God will not punish us for breaking our promise. 21 Let them live, but make them cut wood and carry water for us’, they said. This is how the leaders kept their promise to the Gibeonites.

22 Joshua told the Gibeonites to come to him. ‘Why did you tell me those lies? You said that you lived a long way from us. But you really live near to us’, he said. 23 ‘Now you will be punished. You will always be our servants. You will cut wood and carry water for the people of our God.’

24 They answered Joshua, ‘The LORD your God had told Moses to give you the whole land. We had heard that clearly. He told you that you must kill all the people who lived there in front of you. So, we were afraid that you would kill us. That is why we did as we did. 25 You must decide what to do with us. Do what you think is right and good.’

26 So Joshua did not let the Israelites kill the Gibeonites, and the Israelites let them live. 27 They made the Gibeonites cut wood and fetch water for them. And they would do this for the altar of the LORD, at the place that the LORD would tell them. They are still doing this.

9:27God used the mistake that Joshua made. The Gibeonites enjoyed all the good things that God gave to the Israelites.