Joshua 9

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016




We are in the process of looking at the conquest of Canaan which extends from 5:13 - 12:24. The conquest of Canaan is divided into the central campaign, the southern campaign, and the northern campaign.


We have seen the introduction of the Divine Commander in 5:13-15.


We have also seen the central campaign in chapters 6-8 which consisted of the conquest of Jericho, the defeat at the hands of the men of Ai, and the victory over Ai.


We move ahead to the southern campaign, which consists of the alliance with the Gibeonites and the defense of the Gibeonites. In this message we will be looking at the alliance with the Gibeonites in 9:1-27.


Remember that Israel has just defeated Ai and has had a wonderful spiritual experience on Mount Ebal in Joshua 8:30-35 .


Joshua 8:30-3530 Then Joshua built an altar unto the LORD God of Israel in mount Ebal, 31 As Moses the servant of the LORD commanded the children of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of whole stones, over which no man hath lift up any iron: and they offered thereon burnt offerings unto the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings. 32 And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel. 33 And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, as well the stranger, as he that was born among them; half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel. 34 And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law. 35 There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them.


Shortly after Israel had returned from their worship at Mount Ebal to their camp in Gilgal, some visitors from Gibeon, which was located only about 25 miles from Gilgal, arrived in their camp. These visitors were pretending to be something they weren’t. Following a time of spiritual victory, along came another spiritual defeat. It demonstrates that spiritual defeats often follow spiritual victories. It’s as if we get proud of our spiritual success and think we can handle anything, but we forget our vulnerabilities to subtle temptations.

We see –



Joshua 9:1 And it came to pass, when all the kings which were on this side Jordan [i.e. the west side of the Jordan River], in the hills, and in the valleys, and in all the coasts of the great sea over against Lebanon [i.e. all the kings from west of the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea], the Hittite, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite [Remember the Hivites. I will show you why in just a little while.], and the Jebusite, heard thereof [i.e. when all these kings of the nations between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai];


Joshua 9:2 That they gathered themselves together, to fight with Joshua and with Israel, with one accord [They were intent on destroying Israel before Israel destroyed them.].


However, their intent to unite against Joshua and the Israelites never materialized because of Joshua’s successful strategy to drive a wedge through Canaan from east to west, thereby dividing the southern from the northern kingdoms.


Gibeon was located only 6.5 miles southwest of Ai and about 6 miles northwest of Jerusalem. Inasmuch as the Gibeonites assumed that they would soon be attacked and destroyed by the Israelites, they came up with a plan to deceive the Israelites into thinking that they came from a great distance. It seemed to be their only hope of surviving what they perceived to be an imminent invasion in which they would all be killed by the forces of the Israelites.


Joshua 9:3 And when the inhabitants of Gibeon [they were Hivites, some of those people whom the Israelites were supposed to utterly destroy] heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai,


Joshua 9:4 They did work wilily [i.e. craftily], and went and made as if they had been ambassadors [i.e. they pretended to be ambassadors or envoys representing a distant country], and took old sacks upon their asses [i.e. upon their donkeys], and wine bottles [i.e. wineskins], old [i.e. worn out], and rent [i.e. torn], and bound up [i.e. mended or patched];


Joshua 9:5 And old shoes and clouted upon their feet [i.e. old and patched (or mended) sandals upon their feet], and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and mouldy [i.e. they disguised themselves and pretended as if they were a delegation which had traveled a great distance to meet with Joshua when in reality they had only come a very short distance.].


Why did they deceive the Israelites into thinking that they had come from a long distance? Perhaps they had learned that the Israelites were permitted to make peace with cities that were at a distance but were required to completely destroy the cities of the seven nearby Canaanite nations.


Deuteronomy 20:10-1810 When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. 11 And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee [i.e. forced labor for you], and they shall serve thee. 12 And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it: 13 And when the LORD thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword: 14 But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the LORD thy God hath given thee. 15 Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations. 16 But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: 17 But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the HIVITES, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee: 18 That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the LORD your God.


Deuteronomy 7:1-21 When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; 2 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.


Joshua 9:6 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 [i.e. make a covenant or treaty] with us [There is a lesson for us in this. Take note that things are not always exactly what they appear to be. Learn to check things out and to verify what you can. Be careful of making commitments without knowing all the facts.].


Joshua 9:7 And the men of Israel said unto the Hivites, Peradventure [i.e. perhaps] ye dwell among us; and how shall we make a league [i.e. how will we make a covenant, how will we make a treaty] with you?[Assuming that you are permitted to live among us, on what terms should we make a treaty with you?]


Joshua 9:8 And they said unto Joshua, We are thy servants [i.e. We’ll be your slaves.]. And Joshua said unto them, Who are ye? and from whence come ye? [i.e. where do you come from?]


Joshua 9:9 And they said unto him, From a very far country thy servants [i.e. your slaves] 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,


Joshua 9:10 And all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites, that were beyond Jordan [i.e. east of the Jordan River], to Sihon king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, which was at Ashtaroth. [The Gibeonites told the leaders of Israel exactly what they wanted to hear. It sounds like some of our politicians, doesn’t it? The Gibeonites made it sound like they really wanted to get to know the LORD because they had heard glowing reports of what He had done.] [Ryrie has written, The Gibeonites were clever not to mention Israel’s recent victories – news they would not have known had they come a long distance.]


Joshua 9:11 Wherefore our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spake to us, saying, Take victuals [i.e. take provisions] with you for the journey, and go to meet them, and say unto them, We are your servants [i.e. We’ll be your slaves.]: therefore now make ye a league [i.e. make a covenant, make a treaty] with us.


Joshua 9:12 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:


Joshua 9:13 And these bottles of wine, which we filled, were new; and, behold, they be rent [i.e. they are torn]: and these our garments and our shoes are become old by reason of [i.e. Our clothes and our shoes have become old because of] the very long journey [Of course, these statements were lies.].


Joshua 9:14 And the men [i.e. the leaders of Israel] took of their victuals [i.e. took some of the Gibeonites’ provisions], and asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD. [Oh! Oh! Not consulting the Lord was a big mistake. We should always seek the Lord’s direction in everything we do. It was sin for Israel not to ask the Lord’s counsel before they did this. Likewise, it is sin for us to do things without asking the Lord’s counsel.]


Joshua 9:15 And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league [i.e. made a covenant or made a treaty] with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation sware unto them.

Next, we see –



Joshua 9:16 And it came to pass at the end of three days after they had made a league [i.e. after they made a covenant or after they made a treaty] with them, that they [i.e. the leaders of Israel] heard that they [i.e. that the Gibeonites] were their neighbours, and that they dwelt among them [i.e. that they were their neighbors who dwelt near them].


Joshua 9:17 And the children of Israel journeyed, and came unto their cities [i.e. unto the Gibeonites’ cities] on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, and Chephirah, and Beeroth, and Kirjathjearim.

Finally, we see –



Joshua 9:18 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 [i.e. grumbled, complained] against the princes.


Although Israel had sinned in making this treaty with the Gibeonites, it was now God’s will that they keep their word. Breaking their word after giving it would not have made their previous sin right.


So, what if someone marries out of the will of God and marries the wrong person? Should he correct the situation by divorcing his spouse and marrying the right person? No, he needs to keep his marriage vows. Divorce and remarriage only further complicates things. Two wrongs don’t make a right.


Approximately 350 years after Joshua and the leaders of Israel made this commitment to the Gibeonites (in about 1400 B.C.), it was violated by King Saul (who reigned from 1050 - 1010 B.C.).


II Samuel 21:1-141 Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David enquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites. 2 And the king called the Gibeonites, and said unto them; (now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; and the children of Israel had sworn unto them: and Saul sought to slay them in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah.) 3 Wherefore David said unto the Gibeonites, What shall I do for you? and wherewith shall I make the atonement, that ye may bless the inheritance of the LORD? 4 And the Gibeonites said unto him, We will have no silver nor gold of Saul, nor of his house; neither for us shalt thou kill any man in Israel. And he said, What ye shall say, that will I do for you. 5 And they answered the king, The man that consumed us, and that devised against us that we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the coasts [i.e. territories] of Israel, 6 Let seven men of his sons be delivered unto us, and we will hang them up unto the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, whom the LORD did choose. And the king said, I will give them. 7 But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan the son of Saul, because of the LORD’S oath that was between them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul. 8 But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite: 9 And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the LORD: and they fell all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of barley harvest. 10 And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water dropped upon them out of heaven [i.e. until it rained], and suffered [i.e. allowed, permitted] neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night. 11 And it was told David what Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, the concubine of Saul, had done. 12 And David went and took the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son from the men of Jabeshgilead, which [i.e. who] had stolen them from the street of Bethshan, where the Philistines had hanged them, when the Philistines had slain Saul in Gilboa: 13 And he brought up from thence [i.e. from there] the bones of Saul and the bones of Jonathan his son; and they gathered the bones of them that were hanged. 14 And the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son buried they in the country of Benjamin in Zelah, in the sepulchre of Kish his father: and they performed all that the king commanded. And after that God was intreated for the land.


Although Joshua and the leaders in Israel did wrong in making this commitment to the Gibeonites, this passage in II Samuel 21 demonstrates that God expected the commitment the Israelites made with the Gibeonites to be kept.


Joshua 9:19 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 [or strike] them.


Joshua 9:20 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.


Joshua 9:21 And the princes said unto them, Let them live; but let them be hewers of wood and drawers of water [i.e. let them be wood cutters and water carriers] unto all the congregation; as the princes had promised them.


Joshua 9:22 And Joshua called for them, and he spake unto them, saying, Wherefore have ye beguiled us [i.e. Why have you Gibeonites deceived us?], saying, We are very far from you; when ye dwell among us [i.e. when you Gibeonites are living near us]?


Joshua 9:23 Now therefore ye are cursed, and there shall none of you be freed from being bondmen [i.e. from being slaves], and hewers of wood and drawers of water [i.e. woodcutters and water carriers] for the house of my God [i.e. for the tabernacle].


Joshua 9:24 And they answered Joshua, and said, Because it was certainly told thy servants [i.e. it was clearly told your 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 [i.e. very much afraid for our lives] because of you, and have done this thing.


Joshua 9:25 And now, behold, we are in thine hand [i.e. here we are in your hands]: as it seemeth good and right unto thee to do unto us, do [i.e. do with us what it seems good and right to do to us].


Joshua 9:26 And so did he [i.e. Joshua] unto them, and delivered them out of the hand of the children of Israel, that they slew them not [i.e. that the Israelites did not kill the Gibeonites].


Joshua 9:27 And Joshua made them that day hewers of wood and drawers of water [i.e. woodcutters and water carriers] for the congregation, and for the altar of the LORD, even unto this day, in the place which he should choose [i.e. in the place which the LORD would choose].



Have you ever had a slinky? It’s one of those spring-like toys that you can have walk down stairways. I had several of them during my youth. They worked great until they got a kink in them; and try as you might, you could not get the kink out of your slinky.


God is the only One Who can bring blessings out of cursings. Similarly, He is the only One Who can take the kinks out of slinkies.


We bring problems on ourselves which no human being can unravel; but God can. No matter what your situation is, God can straighten it out. It is beyond any human being’s ability to bring blessings out of these situations, but God can.


Because the Gibeonites were woodcutters and water carriers in connection with the tabernacle worship, they were exposed to the worship of the true God in contrast to their idolatrous past. This turned out to be a blessing to them.


In Joshua 10 when the Amorites attacked Gibeon, God worked a miracle in delivering them. Later the tabernacle was pitched at Gibeon. God avenged the deaths of some of the Gibeonites at the hand of Saul. Some of the Gibeonites would eventually help Nehemiah rebuild the wall at Jerusalem. In His grace, God is still able to turn disastrous situations into blessings. God always forgives when sin is confessed and is able to overrule our mistakes and bring blessings out of our sins and failures.