The Bible – Old Testament
When the news reached the kings west of the Jordan, in the mountain regions and in the foothills, and all along the coast of the Great Sea as far as Lebanon: Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites,
they all formed an alliance to launch a common attack against Joshua and Israel.
On learning what Joshua had done to Jericho and Ai, the inhabitants of Gibeon
put into effect a device of their own. They chose provisions for a journey, making use of old sacks for their asses, and old wineskins, torn and mended.
They wore old, patched sandals and shabby garments; and all the bread they took was dry and crumbly.
Thus they journeyed to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal, where they said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant land to propose that you make an alliance with us.”
1 But the men of Israel replied to the Hivites, “You may be living in land that is ours. How, then, can we make an alliance with you?”
But they answered Joshua, “We are your servants.” Then Joshua asked them, “Who are you? Where do you come from?”
They answered him, “Your servants have come from a far-off land, because of the fame of the LORD, your God. For we have heard reports of all that he did in Egypt
and all that he did to the two kings of the Amorites beyond the Jordan, Sihon, king of Heshbon, and Og, king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth.
So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country said to us, ‘Take along provisions for the journey and go to meet them. Say to them: We are your servants; we propose that you make an alliance with us.’
This bread of ours was still warm when we brought it from home as provisions the day we left to come to you, but now it is dry and crumbled.
Here are our wineskins, which were new when we filled them, but now they are torn. Look at our garments and sandals, which are worn out from the very long journey.”
Then the Israelite princes partook of their provisions, without seeking the advice of the LORD.
So Joshua made an alliance with them and entered into an agreement to spare them, which the princes of the community sealed with an oath.
Three days after the agreement was entered into, the Israelites learned that these people were from nearby, and would be living in Israel.
The third day on the road, the Israelites came to their cities of Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth and Kiriath-jearim,
but did not attack them, because the princes of the community had sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel. When the entire community grumbled against the princes,
these all remonstrated with the people, “We have sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel, and so we cannot harm them.
Let us therefore spare their lives and so deal with them that we shall not be punished for the oath we have sworn to them.”
2 Thus the princes recommended that they be let live, as hewers of wood and drawers of water for the entire community; and the community did as the princes advised them.
Joshua summoned the Gibeonites and said to them, “Why did you lie to us and say that you lived at a great distance from us, when you will be living in our very midst?
For this are you accursed: every one of you shall always be a slave (hewers of wood and drawers of water) for the house of my God.”
They answered Joshua, “Your servants were fully informed of how the LORD, your God, commanded his servant Moses that you be given the entire land and that all its inhabitants be destroyed before you. Since, therefore, at your advance, we were in great fear for our lives, we acted as we did.
And now that we are in your power, do with us what you think fit and right.”
3 Joshua did what he had decided: while he saved them from being killed by the Israelites,
at the same time he made them, as they still are, hewers of wood and drawers of water for the community and for the altar of the LORD, in the place of the LORD’S choice.
1  The Hivites: apparently the Gibeonites belonged to this larger ethnic group (cf also ⇒ Joshua 11:19), although in ⇒ 2 Sam 21:2 they are classed as Amorites; both groups are listed among the seven nations in Canaan whom the Israelites were to exterminate; cf ⇒ Deut 7:1-2.
2  Hewers of wood and drawers of water: proverbial terms for the lowest social class in the Israelite community; cf ⇒ Deut 29:10-11.
3 [26-27] Later on, Saul violated the immunity of the Gibeonites, but David vindicated it; cf ⇒ 2 Sam 21:1-9.