Confederacy Against Israel. 1When the news reached all the kings west of the Jordan, in the mountain regions and in the Shephelah, and all along the coast of the Great Sea as far as the Lebanon: Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites,a 2they gathered together to launch a common attack against Joshua and Israel.
The Gibeonite Deception. 3On hearing what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, the inhabitants of Gibeonb 4formed their own scheme. They chose provisions for a journey, making use of old sacks for their donkeys, and old wineskins, torn and mended. 5They wore old, patched sandals and shabby garments; and all the bread they took was dry and crumbly. 6Thus they journeyed to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal, where they said to him and to the Israelites, “We have come from a far-off land; now, make a covenant with us.”c 7But the Israelites replied to the Hivites,* “You may be living in land that is ours. How, then, can we make a covenant with you?” 8But they answered Joshua, “We are your servants.” Then Joshua asked them, “Who are you? Where do you come from?” 9They answered him, “Your servants have come from a far-off land, because of the fame of the LORD, your God. For we have heard reports of all that he did in Egyptd 10and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites beyond the Jordan,e Sihon, king of Heshbon, and Og, king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth. 11So our elders and all the inhabitants of our land said to us, ‘Take along provisions for the journey and go to meet them. Say to them: “We are your servants; now make a covenant with us.”’ 12This bread of ours was still warm when we brought it from home as provisions the day we left to come to you, but now it is dry and crumbly. 13Here are our wineskins, which were new when we filled them, but now they are torn. Look at our garments and sandals; they are worn out from the very long journey.” 14Then the Israelite leaders partook of their provisions, without inquiring of the LORD.f 15So Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant to let them live,g which the leaders of the community sealed with an oath.
Gibeonites Made Vassals. 16Three days after the covenant was made, the Israelites heard that these people were from nearby, and would be living in Israel. 17The third day on the road, the Israelites came to their cities of Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim, 18but did not attack them, because the leaders of the community had sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel. When the entire community grumbled against the leaders, 19these all remonstrated with the community, “We have sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel, and so we cannot harm them. 20Let us therefore let them live, and so deal with them that no wrath fall upon us because of the oath we have sworn to them.”h 21Thus the leaders said to them, “Let them live, and become hewers of wood and drawers of water* for the entire community.” So the community did as the leaders advised them.i
22Joshua summoned the Gibeonites and said to them, “Why did you deceive us and say, ‘We live far off from you’?—You live among us! 23Now are you accursed: every one of you shall always be a slave, hewers of wood and drawers of water, for the house of my God.” 24They answered Joshua, “Your servants were fully informed of how the LORD, your God, commanded Moses his servant that you be given the entire land and that all its inhabitants be destroyed before you. Since, therefore, at your advance, we were in great fear for our lives, we acted as we did.j 25And now that we are in your power, do with us what is good and right in your eyes.” 26* Joshua did what he had decided: while he saved them from being killed by the Israelites, 27on that day he made them, as they still are, hewers of wood and drawers of water for the community and for the altar of the LORD, in the place the LORD would choose.
* [9:7] The Hivites: apparently the Gibeonites belonged to this larger ethnic group (cf. also 11:19), although in 2 Sm 21:2 they are classed as Amorites; both groups are listed among the seven nations of Canaan whom, according to Dt 7:1–2, the Israelites were to dispossess.
* [9:21] Hewers of wood and drawers of water: proverbial terms for those who do menial work; cf. Dt 29:10–11.
* [9:26–27] Later on, Saul violated the immunity of the Gibeonites, but David vindicated it; cf. 2 Sm 21:1–9.
a. [9:1] Jos 3:10; 5:1; Ex 3:8, 17; 23:23; Dt 1:7.
e. [9:10] Nm 21:25, 33–35; Dt 1:4.
g. [9:15] Jos 11:19; 2 Sm 21:2.