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Joshua 9 Living Bible (TLB)

1-2 When the kings of the surrounding area heard what had happened to Jericho, they quickly combined their armies to fight for their lives against Joshua and the Israelis. These were the kings of the nations west of the Jordan River, along the shores of the Mediterranean as far north as the Lebanon mountains—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites.

3-5 But when the people of Gibeon heard what had happened to Jericho and Ai, they resorted to trickery to save themselves. They sent ambassadors to Joshua wearing worn-out clothing, as though from a long journey, with patched shoes, weatherworn saddlebags on their donkeys, old, patched wineskins and dry, moldy bread. When they arrived at the camp of Israel at Gilgal, they told Joshua and the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant land to ask for a peace treaty with you.”

The Israelis replied to these Hivites, “How do we know you don’t live nearby? For if you do, we cannot make a treaty with you.”

They replied, “We will be your slaves.”

“But who are you?” Joshua demanded. “Where do you come from?”

And they told him, “We are from a very distant country; we have heard of the might of the Lord your God and of all that he did in Egypt, 10 and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites—Sihon, king of Heshbon, and Og, king of Bashan. 11 So our elders and our people instructed us, ‘Prepare for a long journey; go to the people of Israel and declare our nation to be their servants, and ask for peace.’ 12 This bread was hot from the ovens when we left, but now as you see, it is dry and moldy; 13 these wineskins were new, but now they are old and cracked; our clothing and shoes have become worn out from our long, hard trip.”

14-15 Joshua and the other leaders finally believed them. They did not bother to ask the Lord but went ahead and signed a peace treaty. And the leaders of Israel ratified the agreement with a binding oath.

16 Three days later the facts came out—these men were close neighbors. 17 The Israeli army set out at once to investigate and reached their cities in three days. (The names of the cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim.) 18 But the cities were not harmed because of the vow which the leaders of Israel had made before the Lord God. The people of Israel were angry with their leaders because of the peace treaty.

19 But the leaders replied, “We have sworn before the Lord God of Israel that we will not touch them, and we won’t. 20 We must let them live, for if we break our oath, the wrath of Jehovah will be upon us.”

21 So they became servants of the Israelis, chopping their wood and carrying their water.

22 Joshua summoned their leaders and demanded, “Why have you lied to us by saying that you lived in a distant land, when you were actually living right here among us? 23 Now a curse shall be upon you! From this moment you must always furnish us with servants to chop wood and carry water for the service of our God.”

24 They replied, “We did it because we were told that Jehovah instructed his disciple Moses to conquer this entire land and destroy all the people living in it. So we feared for our lives because of you; that is why we have done it. 25 But now we are in your hands; you may do with us as you wish.”

26 So Joshua would not allow the people of Israel to kill them, 27 but they became woodchoppers and water-carriers for the people of Israel and for the altar of the Lord—wherever it would be built (for the Lord hadn’t yet told them where to build it). This arrangement is still in force at the time of this writing.

Living Bible (TLB)

The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Joshua 9 New International Version (NIV)

The Gibeonite Deception

Now when all the kings west of the Jordan heard about these things—the kings in the hill country, in the western foothills, and along the entire coast of the Mediterranean Sea as far as Lebanon (the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites) they came together to wage war against Joshua and Israel.

However, when the people of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, they resorted to a ruse: They went as a delegation whose donkeys were loaded[a] with worn-out sacks and old wineskins, cracked and mended. They put worn and patched sandals on their feet and wore old clothes. All the bread of their food supply was dry and moldy. Then they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and the Israelites, “We have come from a distant country; make a treaty with us.”

The Israelites said to the Hivites, “But perhaps you live near us, so how can we make a treaty with you?”

“We are your servants,” they said to Joshua.

But Joshua asked, “Who are you and where do you come from?”

They answered: “Your servants have come from a very distant country because of the fame of the Lord your God. For we have heard reports of him: all that he did in Egypt, 10 and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan—Sihon king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth. 11 And our elders and all those living in our country said to us, ‘Take provisions for your journey; go and meet them and say to them, “We are your servants; make a treaty with us.”’ 12 This bread of ours was warm when we packed it at home on the day we left to come to you. But now see how dry and moldy it is. 13 And these wineskins that we filled were new, but see how cracked they are. And our clothes and sandals are worn out by the very long journey.”

14 The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. 15 Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.

16 Three days after they made the treaty with the Gibeonites, the Israelites heard that they were neighbors, living near them. 17 So the Israelites set out and on the third day came to their cities: Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth and Kiriath Jearim. 18 But the Israelites did not attack them, because the leaders of the assembly had sworn an oath to them by the Lord, the God of Israel.

The whole assembly grumbled against the leaders, 19 but all the leaders answered, “We have given them our oath by the Lord, the God of Israel, and we cannot touch them now. 20 This is what we will do to them: We will let them live, so that God’s wrath will not fall on us for breaking the oath we swore to them.” 21 They continued, “Let them live, but let them be woodcutters and water carriers in the service of the whole assembly.” So the leaders’ promise to them was kept.

22 Then Joshua summoned the Gibeonites and said, “Why did you deceive us by saying, ‘We live a long way from you,’ while actually you live near us? 23 You are now under a curse: You will never be released from service as woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God.”

24 They answered Joshua, “Your servants were clearly told how the Lord your God had commanded his servant Moses to give you the whole land and to wipe out all its inhabitants from before you. So we feared for our lives because of you, and that is why we did this. 25 We are now in your hands. Do to us whatever seems good and right to you.”

26 So Joshua saved them from the Israelites, and they did not kill them. 27 That day he made the Gibeonites woodcutters and water carriers for the assembly, to provide for the needs of the altar of the Lord at the place the Lord would choose. And that is what they are to this day.


  1. Joshua 9:4 Most Hebrew manuscripts; some Hebrew manuscripts, Vulgate and Syriac (see also Septuagint) They prepared provisions and loaded their donkeys
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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