However, when the people of Gibeon1 heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai,24
they resorted to a ruse: They went as a delegation whose donkeys were loadeda with worn-out sacks and old wineskins, cracked and mended.
The men 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 Gilgal3 and said to him and the men of Israel, "We have come from a distant country;4 make a treaty5 with us."
The men of Israel said to the Hivites,6 "But perhaps you live near us. How then can we make a treaty7 with you?"
"We are your servants,8" 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 country9 because of the fame of the LORD your God. For we have heard reports10 of him: all that he did in Egypt,1110
and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan--Sihon king of Heshbon,12 and Og king of Bashan,13 who reigned in Ashtaroth.1411
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." '
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.
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."
The men of Israel sampled their provisions but did not inquire15 of the LORD.
Then Joshua made a treaty of peace16 with them to let them live,17 and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.
Three days after they made the treaty with the Gibeonites, the Israelites heard that they were neighbors, living near18 them.
So the Israelites set out and on the third day came to their cities: Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth19 and Kiriath Jearim.2018
But the Israelites did not attack them, because the leaders of the assembly had sworn an oath21 to them by the LORD, the God of Israel. The whole assembly grumbled22 against the leaders,
but all the leaders answered, "We have given them our oath by the LORD, the God of Israel, and we cannot touch them now.
This is what we will do to them: We will let them live, so that wrath will not fall on us for breaking the oath23 we swore to them."
They continued, "Let them live,24 but let them be woodcutters and water carriers25 for the entire community." So the leaders' promise to them was kept.
Then Joshua summoned the Gibeonites and said, "Why did you deceive us by saying, 'We live a long way26 from you,' while actually you live near27 us?
You are now under a curse:28 You will never cease to serve as woodcutters and water carriers for the house of my God."
They answered Joshua, "Your servants were clearly told29 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.
We are now in your hands.30 Do to us whatever seems good and right31 to you."
So Joshua saved them from the Israelites, and they did not kill them.
That day he made the Gibeonites32 woodcutters and water carriers33 for the community and for the altar of the LORD at the place the LORD would choose.34 And that is what they are to this day.