The Gibeonites: What Almost Deceived Joshua


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Yeshua said the elect could be deceived “if possible”. That brings into question whether His elect can be deceived. Joshua was deceived for a moment, but quickly became un-deceived, so ultimately, the elect are not deceived in the long run. However, we pay a price for letting ourselves fall into deception. Sometimes the price paid happens in later generations.

Jos 9:1  When all the kings who were beyond the Jordan, in the hill country, and in the lowland, and on all the shore of the great sea in front of Lebanon, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, heard of it
Jos 9:2  they gathered themselves together to fight with Joshua and with Israel, with one accord.
Jos 9:3  But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai,

The Canaanites inhabited all of the area which YHVH had given to Shem and then Abraham. The area of the Promised Land was from “the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites,” Genesis 15:18-21. One hundred percent of YHVH’s land was inhabited by Ham’s son’s descendants, the children of Canaan who was cursed by Noah. That curse plays a role in the deception of the Israelites.

Gen 9:25  He said, “Canaan is cursed. He will be a servant of servants to his brothers.”
Gen 9:26  He said, “Blessed be Yahweh, the God of Shem. Let Canaan be his servant.

The Gibeonites were a coalition of cities which were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath Jearim. For the purposes of this teaching, I will call this coalition “Gibeonites”. They resorted to a ruse so they would not face war.

Jos 9:4  they also resorted to a ruse, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks on their donkeys, and old, torn-up and bound up wine skins,
Jos 9:5  and old and patched shoes on their feet, and wore old garments. All the bread of their food supply was dry and moldy.
Jos 9:6  They went to Joshua at the camp at Gilgal, and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a far country. Now therefore make a covenant with us.”

The Gibeonites could have approached Israel way Rahab did with a testimony that “YHVH your God, He is God in heaven above, and on earth beneath”. This was a testimony of faith in YHVH. She also assisted in the destruction of her own city, Jericho. The Gibeonites, though, were trying to prevent their destruction by a surrender on their terms. They were not only rebellious cowards, but thieves!

The way peace was supposed to happen was through an offer of peace made by Israel to the city before it would be conquered (Deuteronomy 20:10-11). It wasn’t that Israel was supposed accept an offer of peace. Israel was to make the offer. How this Gibeonite situation happened was backwards. Furthermore, the Gibeonites lied in order to make peace. Can you make peace with lairs? These are people that cannot be trusted and now Israel peace and a covenant with those who were cursed by Noah.

The comment that they were from a far country should have been a clue to Joshua and the princes of Israel that something was wrong. Israel had no mandate from YHVH to conquer far countries, only the area where the Canaanites lived which YHVH told Abram in Genesis 15.

Jos 9:7  The men of Israel said to the Hivites, “What if you live among us? How could we make a covenant with you?”

Correct. How can Israel make covenant with any nation, near or far? YHVH did not give Israel the authority to make any covenants with anyone. Israel is the head, not the tail.

Deu 28:13  Yahweh will make you the head, and not the tail. You will be above only, and you will not be beneath; if you listen to the commandments of Yahweh your God, which I command you today, to observe and to do,
Deu 28:14  and shall not turn away from any of the words which I command you today, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

Plus, YHVH had told the Israelites to utterly destroy all of the Canaanites in the land who lived there.

Deu 7:1  When Yahweh your God brings you into the land where you go to possess it, and casts out many nations before you, the Hittite, the Girgashite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, seven nations greater and mightier than you;
Deu 7:2  and when Yahweh your God delivers them up before you, and you strike them; then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them, nor show mercy to them.
Deu 7:3  You shall not make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to his son, nor shall you take his daughter for your son.
Deu 7:4  For he will turn away your son from following me, that they may serve other gods. So Yahweh’s anger would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.
Deu 7:5  But you shall deal with them like this. You shall break down their altars, dash their pillars in pieces, cut down their Asherah poles, and burn their engraved images with fire.
Deu 7:6  For you are a holy people to Yahweh your God. Yahweh your God has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, above all peoples who are on the face of the earth.

We now have a problem. YHVH has told the Israelites to utterly destroy all the Canaanites yet he has also told them to offer peace to all the Canaanite cities. So which is it?

So Joshua’s question, “How could we make a covenant with you?”, is a good one given that the Israelites were ordered to utterly destroy the Canaanites. The answer is that YHVH is merciful. He offered life through peace to those who would surrender to Him and utter destruction to those who would not. The offer of peace before war in Deuteronomy 20:10-11 is not a covenant but an acceptance of surrender on the part of that city’s king. These are two different things.

In fact, the men of Israel did know something was wrong with the Gibeonite’s statement of being from a far country because they asked the question, “What if you live among us?” But the Gibeonites had this figured out. They said, in Joshua 9:8:

Jos 9:8  They said to Joshua, “We are your servants.”

Sometimes, we are blinded to something. We know there is something amiss but we cannot put our finger on it. This is when we must seek the face of YHVH through prayer, and sometimes through prayer and fasting.

The Gibeonites sought the outcome of a different kind of offer of peace which YHVH had not commanded, and which should not have been granted. The word for ‘servant’ in Deuteronomy 20:11, where YHVH said to make the offer of peace (shalom), is ‘mas’, (Strong’s H4522). That word means ‘tributaries’.

The word for servant in Joshua 9:8, which the Gibeonites offered themselves to be, is ‘ebed’, (Strong’s H5620) bondservants. The Gibeonites wanted a status which was higher than a tributary which YHVH did not authorize in His commandment. A ‘tributary’ nation pays tribute to that nation’s king. If they won’t pay tribute to the king, then they become forced labor. See the difference?

Furthermore, there are commandments for how to treat a bondservant, remember? I suspect that these Canaanites, at least, know and understood something of the laws of YHVH which their forebear, Canaan, would have been taught and then rebelled against. What is that commandment? Exodus 21 tells us that bondservants go free after 7 years! A tributary is a permanent situation. Oh how the words people use can confuse us!

However, the curse of Canaan by Noah in Genesis 9 was for the purpose of making the Canaanites to be bondservants. YHVH’s offer of peace to them was to make them vassals, ‘mas’, tributaries, to YHVH, the King of Israel. In effect, YHVH overrode Noah’s curse for Canaan which Noah put on them. However, we shall see that YHVH allowed Noah’s preference for Canaan’s sin. I will come to that in a minute.

By the way, since Israel is to be the head and not the tail, and all the nations on earth qill be governed by Israel from Jerusalem, all the nations of the earth will be ‘mas’, tributaries. They will pay tribute to Yeshua at Sukkot in the coming Millennium or they will be punished. He will have the right to punish them because, after He has conquered the United Nations beast, He will offer peace to all the leftover nations of the earth. They will accept being ‘mas’, tributaries, and will then will be liable to punishment for their disobedience.

The rest of Joshua 9:8 says: Joshua said to them, “Who are you? Where do you come from?”

Jos 9:9  They said to him, “Your servants have come from a very far country because of the name of Yahweh your God; for we have heard of his fame, all that he did in Egypt,
Jos 9:10  and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon and to Og king of Bashan, who was at Ashtaroth.

This is the same story Rahab told the two spies, only the Gibeonites did not come further with her confession of faith that “Yahweh your God, he is God in heaven above, and on earth beneath”, in Joshua 2:9-11. These Gibeonites want into the Kingdom without accepting YHVH’s terms. They want to continue being Gibeonites hoping to keep doing what they have been doing. They do not want to switch gods and serve only YHVH. They want their cake and they want a great big helping of YHVH on top in the presence of their Canaanite demon deities. They are not like Rahab who are willing to become Israelites and fight against their other Canaanite brethren.

Jos 9:11  Our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, ‘Take supplies in your hand for the journey, and go to meet them. Tell them, “We are your servants. Now make a covenant with us.”’

It is interesting to me that the Gibeonites did not name the far country nor did Joshua and the Israelites ask the name of the it.

Jos 9:12  This our bread we took hot for our supplies out of our houses on the day we went out to go to you; but now, behold, it is dry, and has become moldy.
Jos 9:13  These wine skins, which we filled, were new; and behold, they are torn. These our garments and our shoes have become old because of the very long journey.”
Jos 9:14  The men sampled their provisions, and didn’t ask counsel from Yahweh’s mouth.

Human logic speaks to human logic and leaves YHVH out of the process. The Gibeonites speak to the Israelites appealing to the logic of the human mind. We have old shoes, dirty clothes and our bread is moldy. This proves our story. No, it doesn’t! But with no further inspection or interrogation, the human logic of the Israelites accepted what logical argument of the Gibeonites. The Israelites, knowing that YHVH had no intention to conquer far-away lands accepted the lie because of logic. They went by what they saw. There is a commandment about that.

Num 15:38  “Speak to the children of Israel, and tell them that they should make themselves fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put on the fringe of each border a cord of blue:
Num 15:39  and it shall be to you for a fringe, that you may look on it, and remember all Yahweh’s commandments, and do them; and that you don’ t follow your own heart and your own eyes, after which you use to play the prostitute;
Num 15:40  so that you may remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God.

That the Israelite leaders went after what their eyes saw does not mean they were not wearing tsitsiot. That is not what I’m saying. I am demonstrating how easy it is to be deceived with our eyes and logical explanation for what our eyes see. This test of logic and what the eyes see is coming to end times Israel, too.

The Gibeonites showed the Israelite leaders things to see with their eyes. So while the Israelite leaders did not buy into the story with their ears that they were from a far country, their eyes proved them wrong. Our eyes will also cause us to be deceived.

The coming Antichrist will speak logical words that people might not believe, but when they see his image as he seats himself in the temple, they will believe the image, that which they see, just like the Israelites who saw what the Gibeonites showed them and then they believed what the Gibeonites said. People underestimate the power of what is seen with the eyes, especially images and things made to look a certain way, which is what an image is. They are a distortion of reality, a perversion.

Joshua and the Israelite leaders made up their minds without praying. Had the men prayed about this, YHVH would have revealed to them who these men were.

Jos 9:15  Joshua made peace with them, and made a covenant with them, to let them live. The princes of the congregation swore to them.

Peace, shalom, was made but not for the purpose of being tributaries to YHVH because they also made covenant with them. The commandment was “shalom and mas”, “peace as tributaries”, or vassals. But Joshua brought the Gibeonites into covenant with YHVH making them equal to the Israelites in standing before YHVH. The way we are to become equal Israelites is through converting from being gentiles to being Israelites. We get this status through repentance, not because a man makes a covenant between us and YHVH without our hearts being surrendered to YHVH. Rahab made her declaration of faith which she had come to even before the two spies showed up at her door by divine appointment because YHVH knows who has repented, who has not, and who are His own because of it.

Also, YHVH made provision for the strangers, ‘ger’, who were not Israelites among them to have the same protection under the law as Israelites had, and Israelites were to treat all strangers as themselves. Thus, a covenant was not necessary! Joshua! What did you do!?

Jos 9:16  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.

I can’t even imagine the horror and angst Joshua and the leaders felt when they heard this.

Jos 9:17  The children of Israel traveled and came to their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath Jearim.
Jos 9:18  The children of Israel didn’t strike them, because the princes of the congregation had sworn to them by Yahweh, the God of Israel. All the congregation murmured against the princes.
Jos 9:19  But all the princes said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by Yahweh, the God of Israel. Now therefore we may not touch them.
Jos 9:20  We will do this to them, and let them live; lest wrath be on us, because of the oath which we swore to them.”
Jos 9:21  The princes said to them, “Let them live, so they became wood cutters and drawers of water for all the congregation, as the princes had spoken to them.”
Jos 9:22  Joshua called for them, and he spoke to them, saying, “Why have you deceived us, saying, ‘We are very far from you,’ when you live among us?
Jos 9:23  Now therefore you are cursed, and some of you will never fail to be slaves, both wood cutters and drawers of water for the house of my God.”
Jos 9:24  They answered Joshua, and said, “Because your servants were certainly told how Yahweh your 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 very afraid for our lives because of you, and have done this thing.
Jos 9:25  Now, behold, we are in your hand. Do to us as it seems good and right to you to do.”
Jos 9:26  He did so to them, and delivered them out of the hand of the children of Israel, so that they didn’t kill them.
Jos 9:27  That day Joshua made them wood cutters and drawers of water for the congregation and for Yahweh’s altar to this day, in the place which he should choose.

Noah’s curse was fulfilled here in this account. The curse of Canaan was two-fold. First, he would be a servant of servants to his brothers, and second a servant of Shem. The Israelites were descended from Shem. Thus, YHVH allowed for Canaanites to be made into servants, ‘ebed’, according to Noah’s curse because of the mistake that Joshua and Israel’s leaders made.

Second, Joshua made them wood cutters and drawers of water for the congregation and for Yahweh’s altar to this day, in the place which he should choose. Most certainly, the servants of YHVH in His Temple were Levites. The Gibeonites, then, became servants of the Levites in the place where YHVH put His name. They were servants of servants.

So, Israel’s enemies, the Gibeonites, Chephirahites, Beerothites, and Kiriath Jearimites would be servants. But remember that servants are treated especially well in Biblical Israel. Servants, ‘ebed’,  have all the rights of citizens. There is one law that governs everyone, the native born and the stranger. Servants are required to keep the law of YHVH and they are punished under the law of YHVH. So being a servant to Biblical Israel is not a bad thing. It is, in fact, a good thing.

Also, let’s remember that YHVH never withheld salvation from anyone, even the Canaanites, so long as they would repent and serve only Him. Even Esau whom YHVH rejected could have repented, but because he would not and he continued seeking to kill Jacob, YHVH rejected him. YHVH has the right to reject the unrepentant and the right to accept the repentance of a Canaanite like Rahab. And now, Israel has to live with the bad decision made by Joshua and his advisors.

Earlier I said sometimes the price of our sins are paid in later generations. King David would be troubled by what king Saul did to the Gibeonites over 400 years later. Saul attacked and killed them.

2 Samuel 21:1  There was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David sought the face of Yahweh. Yahweh said, “It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.”
2 Samuel 21:2  The king called the Gibeonites, and said to 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 to them; and Saul sought to kill them in his zeal for the children of Israel and Judah);
2 Samuel 21:3  and David said to the Gibeonites, “What should I do for you? And with what should I make atonement, that you may bless Yahweh’s inheritance?”
2 Samuel 21:4  The Gibeonites said to him, “It is no matter of silver or gold between us and Saul, or his house; neither is it for us to put any man to death in Israel.” He said, “Whatever you say, that I will do for you.”
2 Samuel 21:5  They said to the king, “The man who consumed us, and who devised against us, that we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the borders of Israel,
2 Samuel 21:6  let seven men of his sons be delivered to us, and we will hang them up to Yahweh in Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of Yahweh.” The king said, “I will give them.”

David sent 7 of Saul’s descendants to pay the price for his breaking of the treaty with the Gibeonites. The Word says nothing about what Saul did in the account of Saul’s reign. I doubt David did not know what happened but the scripture does not mention this atrocity that the wicked king, Saul, perpetrated. YHVH punished Israel many years after Saul’s tragic error.

2 Samuel 21:8  But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bore to Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she bore to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite.
2 Samuel 21:9  He delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them on the mountain before Yahweh, and all seven of them fell together. They were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, at the beginning of barley harvest.

The consequences of our sins don’t always come right away. Sometimes, YHVH visits the sins of the parents on their children.

Exo 34:6  Yahweh passed by before him, and proclaimed, “Yahweh! Yahweh, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness and truth,
Exo 34:7  keeping loving kindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and disobedience and sin; and who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the children’s children, on the third and on the fourth generation.”

Now, you might think this is unfair. YHVH is just and every person dies for his own sins. So let’s not ever say Saul’s sons were innocent in their own right when they died for Saul’s sin. It is simply that their deaths also were the payment for their own sins and those of Saul’s simultaneously. The wages of sin is death. Theirs came in the way YHVH ordained it to come.

The account of the Gibeonites shows how peace is to be made between Israel and the nations. Israel offers peace; the nations accept. The nations don’t tell Israel how to make peace and the nations don’t get to be in covenant with YHVH. The nations are tributaries, vassal nations, who pay tribute to Yeshua every year by showing up in Jerusalem for the Feast of the nations called Sukkot.

May YHVH’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven and as it is written in the scriptures.

Be Blessed!
Kimberly Rogers-Brown
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Kimberly Rogers-Brown has been teaching Torah and special Bible topics since 2008. She is also the author and publisher of Beast Watch News dot com and is heard internationally via two radio programs on Hebrew Nation Radio. Kimberly now lives in Aqaba, Jordan close to the Exodus wilderness area where the Bride (i.e. "the woman" of Revelation 12:6) will flee for 1260 days of the Great Tribulation.