-By now the kings of the region in the hill country, lowland, coastal areas, and northward toward Lebanon were hearing of the exploits of Joshua through the power of God. The Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites all gathered in one accord to fight Joshua and his people Israel (Joshua 9:1-2). There was another group who heard of the feats of strength the LORD had accomplished by His people in Jericho and Ai. These were the inhabitants of Gibeon, and they devised a guileful plan to con God’s people for the right to survive. They “acted craftily” in their scheming as they sent out envoys with worn-out sacks on their donkeys along with worn-out wine skins that were torn and mended. They put worn-out shoes on their feet that were patched up and old-tattered clothes, plus they allowed their bread to become dried out to the point of crumbling. Then they went to Joshua at Gilgal, the Israeli headquarters during the invasion, deceitfully claiming to have come from a “far country” and sook a covenant for preservation in exchange for servitude to the Israelites. There was some suspicion at first from the men of Israel, but the Gibeonites maintained their position and humbly asked to be the Israelites servants. They claimed they had heard the fame of the LORD God of Israel and what He did to deliver His people from Egypt and the kings of the Amorites, Sihon and Og (Joshua 9:3-10). They desperately wanted a covenant of peace with the people of this Living God. They gave some of their manipulative provisions to the men of Israel who took them without consulting the LORD their God. “Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them (Joshua 9:11-15).”
-Inevitably the nation of Israel heard about the real situation. It only took three days according to the text for them to find out they these Gibeonites were actually close neighbors living within their Promised Land. These towns were described as Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim. The Israelites held to their oath by and before the LORD and did not strike them. This caused some grumbling among the congregation of Israel towards their leaders for a huge mistake. But it was too late, they had not sought after the counsel of God, and foolishly swore to their neighbors not to harm them. The Gibeonites became “hewers of wood and drawers of water” as servants, or slaves, of the Chosen People. Joshua cursed them to this posture of servitude for their deception. They acknowledged their great fear of the LORD and His people, which led them to this deliberate action of dishonesty. They were in the hands of God’s people and would do whatever seemed good to the Israelites. They stayed slaves, but had their lives, until the writing of this book (Joshua 9:16-27).
-*Application* What can we say for the cunning actions of the Gibeonites? In a way they escaped with their lives, and who could fault them for fearing the wrath of God that was about to come their way? This is a historical reminder that we need to get counsel for every decision, no matter how trivial or mundane it might seem. We can get trapped by our word in situations as righteous, God fearing people. Don’t let ourselves be deceived by the craftiness of men, rely on God for insight and discernment on every decision you face in life (Ephesians 4:14). His counsel is a must. Look for it and receive it.