Joshua 9

Chapter 9[a]

United against Israel. 1 When all of the kings on that side of the Jordan heard about these things; those who were in the hill country, those on the western slopes, and those along the coast to the great sea, all the way up to Lebanon, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites; 2 they gathered together as one to fight against Joshua and the Israelites.

Plot of the Gibeonites. 3 But the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai 4 and they devised a cunning plot. They prepared provisions, collecting them and putting them into old sacks upon their donkeys, along with old wineskins that were torn and mended. 5 They put old mended sandals on their feet, and dressed in old clothing, making sure that all of their provisions were dried out and crumbling. 6 They came to Joshua at the camp in Gilgal and said to him and to the people of Israel, “We have come here from a distant country, so make a covenant with us.” 7 The Israelites said to the Hivites, “Maybe you actually live among us, how could we make a covenant with you?” 8 They then said to Joshua, “We are your servants.” Joshua said to them, “Who are you, and where do you come from?” 9 They said to him, “We, your servants, come from a very distant land because of the name of the Lord, your God. We have heard reports about him and everything that he did in Egypt 10 and everything that he did to the two kings of the Amorites on the other side of the Jordan; Sihon, the king of Heshbon, and Og, the king of Bashan, who dwelt at Ashtaroth. 11 Our elders and everyone who dwells in our land said to us, ‘Take some provisions for the journey and go to meet with them and say to them, “We are your servants, so please make a covenant with us.” ’ 12 Here is our bread. It was still hot from the oven when we took it out of our houses on the day we set out to come to you. Look at it now, it is dry and crumbling. 13 These wineskins were new when we filled them. Look at them now, they are falling apart. These clothes and our shoes have become old because of the very long journey that we have made.”

14 The Israelites partook of some of their provisions, but they did not ask the counsel of the Lord.[b] 15 Joshua made peace with them; he made a covenant with them, permitting them to live. The leaders of the assembly also swore an oath to them.

16 Punishment of the Gibeonites. Three days after they had made a covenant with them, they heard that they were actually neighbors, and that they were living in their land. 17 The Israelites went out and arrived at their cities three days later. Their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim. 18 But the Israelites did not kill them, for the leaders of the assembly had made an oath to them by the Lord, the God of Israel. Everyone in the assembly, however, grumbled against their leaders. 19 All of the leaders said to the assembly, “We have made an oath 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, lest wrath come upon us because of the oath we swore to them.” 21 So the leaders said to them, “Let them live. They will cut firewood and draw water for the whole assembly of Israel, just as the leaders promised them.”

22 Joshua then summoned them and he said to them, “You have deceived us by telling us that you came from a distant land when you actually live in our midst. 23 Now, therefore, you will be cursed, you shall always be slaves, cutting firewood and drawing water for the house of my God.”

24 They answered Joshua, “Your servants were informed on how the Lord, your God, commanded Moses, his servant, to give you all the land and to kill all of the inhabitants in the land ahead of you. We truly feared for our lives, for you would have done this thing. 25 So therefore, we are in your hands. Do whatever you consider to be right to us.” 26 And so this is what he did to them: he rescued them out of the hands of the Israelites so that they did not kill them, 27 but Joshua established them that day as the ones who would cut firewood and draw water for the assembly and for the altar of the Lord in the place that he would choose, which they still do today.


  1. Joshua 9:1 Another piece of evidence that the anathema was not carried out as systematically as some passages would seem to suggest.
  2. Joshua 9:14 By not seeking God’s guidance in dealing with the Canaanites, the Israelites would be bound by vows that should not have been made and stuck with an alliance that did not benefit them.

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