The Gibeonite Deception (Joshua 9 - 10:27)

Notes from class today.


Recap History of Joshua to this point:

  • What lesson was learned at Ai?  
  • Recount the prayer (and celebration) at Shechem (Between Mount Ebal and Gerzim)
A detour at Shechem before Joshua picked back up with the Southern territories

A detour at Shechem before Joshua picked back up with the Southern territories

The defeat of chapter 7 which became victory in chapter 8: What lesson was learned at Ai? (What happened to Aichan?) becomes defeat again in chapter 9.

Not as catastrophic as AI, the experience with the Gibeonites nevertheless would set Israel back because of their failure to contact God and get his will on every matter.

Recap of the conquests from Jericho to Ai, then on to Gibeon

Recap of the conquests from Jericho to Ai, then on to Gibeon

Joshua 9: the Gibeonite Deception

  • Today is about God’s abundant mercy
  • The ability of the Israelites to look to the good that God provided and to quit resisting the discipline. 
  • Six Parts

PART 1: 9:1-13 “Understand the Cause"

READ 9:1-13

As soon as all the kings who were beyond the Jordan in the hill country and in the lowland all along the coast of the Great Sea toward Lebanon, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, heard of this, they gathered together as one to fight against Joshua and Israel.

 But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they on their part acted with cunning and went and made ready provisions and took worn- out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn- out and torn and mended, with worn- out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn- out clothes. And all their provisions were dry and crumbly. And they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us.” But the men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you live among us; then how can we make a covenant with you?” They said to Joshua, “We are your servants.” And Joshua said to them, “Who are you? And where do you come from?” They said to him, “From a very distant country your servants have come, because of the name of the Lord your God. For we have heard a report of him, and all that he did in Egypt, and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon the king of Heshbon, and to Og king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth. So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country said to us, ‘Take provisions in your hand for the journey and go to meet them and say to them, “We are your servants. Come now, make a covenant with us.”’ Here is our bread. It was still warm when we took it from our houses as our food for the journey on the day we set out to come to you, but now, behold, it is dry and crumbly. These wineskins were new when we filled them, and behold, they have burst. And these garments and sandals of ours are worn out from the very long journey



  • Alliances were forming among Kings in the South…this would not be as easy to take over as word of Israel’s successful conquests had spread.
  • Gibeonites knew that the call from God was to destroy ALL people in their chosen land…so they proactively broke rank with their recent allies and approached Joshua/Israeli at Gilgal
  • Israelites did not ask for Wisdom (James 1:5 - If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him)
  • Gibeonites did not ask for Mercy (remember how Rahab handled this in Jericho?)

PART 2: 9:14 - 9:21 “Honor the Commitment"

READ 9:14 to 9:21

So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the Lord. And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live, and the leaders of the congregation swore to them.

 At the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, they heard that they were their neighbors and that they lived among them. And the people of Israel set out and reached their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath- jearim. But the people of Israel did not attack them, because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel. Then all the congregation murmured against the leaders. But all the leaders said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, and now we may not touch them. This we will do to them:let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath that we swore to them.” And the leaders said to them, “Let them live.” So they became cutters of wood and drawers of water for all the congregation, just as the leaders had said of them


  • Two mistakes
    • Joshua accepted highly questionable evidence
    • Refused to ask God for guidance

The ruse lasted only 3 days

  • Now they honored the Oath  

          2 Samuel 21:1 The first event was the famine, which lasted for three years. When David inquired of the Lord as to the cause, he was told that it was because... Saul had broken the covenant with the Gibeonites

Class Question: How important is it for a Christian to honor their commitments? The Israelites were humiliated but they kept their integrity (which was soon to be tested)

A life of Slavery: woodcutters and water carriers

(a constant visual reminder to the Israelites: remember that time we failed to to consult God about a major decision)

PART 3: 9:22 - 9:25 “Accept the Consequences"


Joshua summoned them, and he said to them, “Why did you deceive us, saying, ‘We are very far from you,’ when you dwell among us? Now therefore you are cursed, and some of you shall never be anything but servants, cutters of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.” They answered Joshua, “Because it was told to your servants for a certainty that the Lord your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you all the land and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land from before you—so we feared greatly for our lives because of you and did this thing. And now, behold, we are in your hand. Whatever seems good and right in your sight to do to us, do it


  • Gibeonites Consequence: life of Slavery: woodcutters and water carriers
  • Israel Consequence: constant visual reminder to the Israelites: remember that time we failed to to consult God about a major decision. 

Class Question: How often do negative results bring out positive character?

  1. Dr. John Oswald Sanders (October 17, 1902—October 24, 1992) He authored more than forty books on the Christian life: (Paraphrased) "God frequently allows the results of our compromises to run their natural course but uses them to serve our spiritual development”  

PART 4: 9:26 - 9:27 “Expect the Conciliation” (to placate, stop someone from being angry)


So he did this to them and delivered them out of the hand of the people of Israel, and they did not kill them. But Joshua made them that day cutters of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the Lord, to this day, in the place that he should choose


  • The Gibeonites received God’s grace through Israel’s protection
  • Subtle blessing: being right in the middle of the daily offerings and cleansing ceremonies. (seeing the heart of Israelite worship) 
    • They could choose to move into full acceptance of God’s grace
  • Israelites where now free to focus on military strategy and not so much of the local government services in the community.  

Quote from Francis Schaeffer  Author of “Joshua and the flow of biblical history”:

Let us remember that God insisted that the Israelites keep their oath, even though it was made because of the Gibeonites deception. If God will not tolerate the breaking of an oath made in his name, how much more will he never break his own oath and covenant made to us on the basis of the shed blood and infinite value of Jesus Christ. How secure are we to have cast ourselves upon Christ as our Savior! 

LESSON FOR CLASS: We must expect the unexpected.

Christians need to be alert at all times. Joshua thought this was just another standard battle he had been looking for enemies who hid behind their fortified cities and concocted plans to attack the invading Israelite army. This was a new kind of situation, and it looked harmless. Nevertheless,  it was not harmless, and the consequences, as we’ve seen, became difficult on both sides of the error.

Luke 16:8-9  LOOK UP (Parable)

People who are spiritually minded are clearly less focused on worldly and material things and therefore “sitting ducks” for those who approach them in a Gibeonites like manner with deceit and treachery.

PART 5 CHAPTER 10: "March - Even when you don’t want to."

Chapter 10 brings us one of the most controversial stories in the Bible – the day the sun stood still.

READ: 10: 1-15

As soon as Adoni- zedek, king of Jerusalem, heard how Joshua had captured Ai and had devoted it to destruction, doing to Ai and its king as he had done to Jericho and its king, and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace with Israel and were among them, he feared greatly, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, and because it was greater than Ai, and all its men were warriors. So Adoni- zedek king of Jerusalem sent to Hoham king of Hebron, to Piram king of Jarmuth, to Japhia king of Lachish, and to Debir king of Eglon, saying, “Come up to me and help me, and let us strike Gibeon. For it has made peace with Joshua and with the people of Israel.” Then the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered their forces and went up with all their armies and encamped against Gibeon and made war against it.

And the men of Gibeon sent to Joshua at the camp in Gilgal, saying, “Do not relax your hand from your servants. Come up to us quickly and save us and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the hill country are gathered against us.” So Joshua went up from Gilgal, he and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valor. And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not fear them, for I have given them into your hands. Not a man of them shall stand before you.” So Joshua came upon them suddenly, having marched up all night from Gilgal. And the Lord threw them into a panic before Israel, who struck them with a great blow at Gibeon and chased them by the way of the ascent of Beth- horon and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah. And as they fled before Israel, while they were going down the ascent of Beth- horon, the Lord threw down large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died because of the hailstones than the sons of Israel killed with the sword.

 At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,

 “Sun, stand still at Gibeon,

and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”

 And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,

until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.

Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel.

 So Joshua returned, and all Israel with him, to the camp at Gilgal


 The Gibeonites, called on Joshua to keep his promise to them.

  • Five kings of the southern region realized that they were in trouble:
    • King of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon
    •  these kings came from the South, cities of the Amorites in Canaanite Hill country.
    • They concentrated on Gibeon
  • This was definitely a regional confrontation:
    • Hebron was 19 miles south of Jerusalem 
    • Jarmuth 16 miles southwest of Jerusalem
    • Lachish  was 27 miles southwest of Jerusalem
    •  Eglon lay  7 miles west of Lachish

The Lord already said do not be afraid of them I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you

The  map I used is from here.  The annotations are my own.

The map I used is from here. The annotations are my own.

Many were killed in the initial battle, and the rest fled west down the valley of Aijalon. 

When  the first miracle occurred, the Lord hurled large hailstones down on them from the sky.

10:12 - Joshua specifically prayed for a longer day.  The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.

CLASS QUESTION: How is this to be explained?

Part 6: Engage - Even When you are Afraid



These five kings fled and hid themselves in the cave at Makkedah. And it was told to Joshua, “The five kings have been found, hidden in the cave at Makkedah.” And Joshua said, “Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave and set men by it to guard them, but do not stay there yourselves. Pursue your enemies; attack their rear guard. Do not let them enter their cities, for the Lord your God has given them into your hand.” When Joshua and the sons of Israel had finished striking them with a great blow until they were wiped out, and when the remnant that remained of them had entered into the fortified cities, then all the people returned safe to Joshua in the camp at Makkedah. Not a man moved his tongue against any of the people of Israel.

 Then Joshua said, “Open the mouth of the cave and bring those five kings out to me from the cave.” And they did so, and brought those five kings out to him from the cave, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon. And when they brought those kings out to Joshua, Joshua summoned all the men of Israel and said to the chiefs of the men of war who had gone with him, “Come near; put your feet on the necks of these kings.” Then they came near and put their feet on their necks. And Joshua said to them, “Do not be afraid or dismayed; be strong and courageous. For thus the Lord will do to all your enemies against whom you fight.” And afterward Joshua struck them and put them to death, and he hanged them on five trees. And they hung on the trees until evening. But at the time of the going down of the sun, Joshua commanded, and they took them down from the trees and threw them into the cave where they had hidden themselves, and they set large stones against the mouth of the cave, which remain to this very day.

 As for Makkedah, Joshua captured it on that day and struck it, and its king, with the edge of the sword. He devoted to destruction every person in it; he left none remaining. And he did to the king of Makkedah just as he had done to the king of Jericho


Sometimes Christians must follow through on their commitments even when we don’t feel like.

The central lesson of Joshua’s southern campaign centers in persistence against bitter enemies and a willingness to keep commitments even to people who don’t deserve faithfulness.