Joshua Chapter 9

The Israelites were beginning to show themselves as a real threat to those in the land of Canaan and the nearby area. Since crossing the Jordan, they had taken both the areas of Jericho and Ai. The miracles accompanying them, brought fear to the nations of the land.

1 And it came to pass, when all the kings which were on this side Jordan, in the hills, and in the valleys, and in all the coasts of the great sea over against Lebanon, the Hittite, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, heard thereof;
2 That they gathered themselves together, to fight with Joshua and with Israel, with one accord.

The kings of the area, gathered together to fight against the children of Israel.

3 And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai,
4 They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up;
5 And old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and mouldy.
6 And they went to Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal, and said unto him, and to the men of Israel, We be come from a far country: now therefore make ye a league with us.
7 And the men of Israel said unto the Hivites, Peradventure ye dwell among us; and how shall we make a league with you?
8 And they said unto Joshua, We are thy servants. And Joshua said unto them, Who are ye? and from whence come ye?
9 And they said unto him, From a very far country thy servants are come because of the name of the Lord thy God: for we have heard the fame of him, and all that he did in Egypt,
10 And all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites, that were beyond Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, which was at Ashtaroth.
11 Wherefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spake to us, saying, Take victuals with you for the journey, and go to meet them, and say unto them, We are your servants: therefore now make ye a league with us.
12 This our bread we took hot for our provision out of our houses on the day we came forth to go unto you; but now, behold, it is dry, and it is mouldy:
13 And these bottles of wine, which we filled, were new; and, behold, they be rent: and these our garments and our shoes are become old by reason of the very long journey.
14 And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord.
15 And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation sware unto them.

The Gibeonites heard of the strength of the Israelites as well. They prepared themselves to pretend to be poor ambassadors. They presented themselves to Joshua, in rags and with old provisions and belongings. They begged to be allowed to live among them. The Israelites questioned what their relationship would be. The Gibeonites told Joshua that they would be their servants. Joshua questions where they were from and they told him from a far land. They had heard of all that the Israelites had done with the Lord on their side. They deceitfully led the Israelites to believe that they had traveled far and had worn out their belongings on the journey to find them. The Israelite princes made an agreement with them to allow them to live and be their servants, but did not counsel with the Lord in this. In Deuteronomy 7:2 we read, “And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:” The Lord had commanded the Israelites not to make any covenants with people in the land of their inheritance, and I think that they would not have agreed to this had they known who these people really were. I am sure that revelation would have let them know who the Gibeonites were, if they had counseled with the Lord instead of trusting in their own wisdom.

16 And it came to pass at the end of three days after they had made a league with them, that they heard that they were their neighbours, and that they dwelt among them.
17 And the children of Israel journeyed, and came unto their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, and Chephirah, and Beeroth, and Kirjath-jearim.
18 And the children of Israel smote them not, because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel. And all the congregation murmured against the princes.
19 But all the princes said unto all the congregation, We have sworn unto them by the Lord God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them.
20 This we will do to them; we will even let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath which we sware unto them.
21 And the princes said unto them, Let them live; but let them be hewers of wood and drawers of water unto all the congregation; as the princes had promised them.

Three days passed, when the Israelites learned that these people were actually their neighbors who had come among them. They went to the cities of the Gibeonites, but did not destroy them because of the covenant they had made. The host of Israel murmured against their leaders for doing this thing, but the princes could not go against their promise. The princes suggested that the Gibeonites be servants to the host of Israel.

22 And Joshua called for them, and he spake unto them, saying, Wherefore have ye beguiled us, saying, We are very far from you; when ye dwell among us?
23 Now therefore ye are cursed, and there shall none of you be freed from being bondmen, and hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.
24 And they answered Joshua, and said, Because it was certainly told thy servants, how that the Lord thy God commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you, therefore we were sore afraid of our lives because of you, and have done this thing.
25 And now, behold, we are in thine hand: as it seemeth good and right unto thee to do unto us, do.
26 And so did he unto them, and delivered them out of the hand of the children of Israel, that they slew them not.
27 And Joshua made them that day hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation, and for the altar of the Lord, even unto this day, in the place which he should choose.

Joshua questioned the Gibeonites for deceiving the Israelites about who they really were. He cursed them for their deceit and made them bondmen or servants to the Israelites. They told him that they had feared for their lives, so they lied to be spared.

The Lord had told them that if they made covenants with the people of the land, they would be a problem for them later. They valued their covenants and promises to much, to go against them once made with the Gibeonites, but I am sure that this mistake would eventually lead to temptations and falling away. When we make covenants, the Lord tells us what blessings will come. He also knows that we will fall short of being perfect in those things and we will suffer consequences for the mistakes we make as well. This is why the Savior and His atonement was and is necessary to all of us. We can easily be deceived by others who are looking out for themselves, as the Gibeonites were. The atonement will allow us to repent and return once we recognize the error of our ways. I think one of the important lessons in this story, is that we should counsel with the Lord in all things in our lives. Alma 37:37 teaches us with these words, “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.” Prayer is so vitally important in our lives and I am so grateful for it. We can hold fast to this promise as well. If we remember to pray always, God will direct us for our good and eventually we will be lifted up at the last day.


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