The story of the Gibeonites in Joshua 9 raises for Israel again the issue of how to deal with the people in the land. The people in the land are devoted to destruction. But there is Rahab and her family who are saved by faith in Yahweh. Now we have the Gibeonites who are saved by Israel’s oath to them.
The question is more than merely the presence of foreigners in Israel.1 The question really is the concern for covenant faithfulness with regards to the people of the land.2 In this thematic sense, Josh 8 is connected with Josh. 9. Josh. 8 speaks of renewing the covenant, while Josh. 9 deals with applying the terms of the covenant to people devoted to destruction.
Deut. 20:16-18 states that the Canaanites, including the Hivites or Gibeonites, are devoted for destruction. But the Gibeonites fooled the Israelites into believing that they were not people of the land. So the leaders of Israel made an oath that they will not destroy them. When the Israelite leaders discovered the Gibeonite deception, they could no longer destroy them because of their oath. Thus, their decision compromised their faithfulness to the covenant.
As we study this chapter, I hope and pray that we will learn that life’s choices carry with it life’s consequences. The choices we make bring either good or evil to our lives. The grace of God saves us from our bad choices. But we shall still reap what we sow.
We learn three important lessons from Israel’s choices in the Gibeonite deception. . . . more