Joshua and Gibeonites
As the Israelites were on conquest of the land of Canaan,God walked with them,actually fought for them and anyone who oppossed them was totally destroyed.When Jericho and Ai took a stand against them they were utterly destroyed and their majestic destruction became the talk of the town,When the people of Gibeon heard about it ,they were greatly terrified of the Israelites and Joshua, and being not willing to meet them in the battlefield they devised a plan,they came up with a deceptive approach,the elders of Gibeon gathered some of the able young men ,gave them worn-out sacks,old wineskins,cracked and mended,on their feet they wore patched up sandals and wore worn out clothes on their bodies.They also carried dry and mouldy bread in their food supply,the elders also instructed the young men to deceive Joshua that they came from a far flung country ,that they heard of the fame of the Israelites’ God , all that He did in Egypt, 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, and they had come to enter in a peace treaty with the Israelites ,and in extension with this Majestic God of theirs.The young men travelled and went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal. Just as instructed by their elders they reproduced the lies to Joshua and the leaders of the assembly, the leaders doubted it and asked them “But perhaps you live near us, so how can we make a treaty with you?” The Gibeonites emissaries replied ” We are your servants” this they said to Joshua(Joshua 9)(its is worthy noting that: 1.Despite the question having been asked by the other leaders of the Israelite assembly,the Gibeonites addressed themselves to Joshua,who was the Leader and Commander of the Israelite army,this should help us understand that the great enemy,Devil,knows how to identify the people of influence,whom once he fells them they fall with many, 2.The two items being offered by the Gibeonites; Peace(inform of a treaty), Labour(inform of servants) were very enticing to the Israelites at this moment of heightened warfare, Which conscious general won’t have fancied at the idea of an easy victory?,Many are times at our moment of need,our most vulnerable moment,Satan entices and tempts us with many of his fallacies,but we should learn to defeat him,resist him and he flees(James 4:7)) I perceive this to have secretly been a ‘sweet’ suprise to Joshua, having been (since they crossed river Jordan),continously on the field in action against the enemies of the Israelites but he didn’t swallow it easily,he asked them” Who are you and where do you come from?” (Joshua 9:8) ,The young men didn’t provide any name or place(be wary of dealing with unknowns) but in a calculated manner lied to Joshua as instructed by their elders ,actually they went ahead to give a proof of it ,they said ‘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 mouldy 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. “(Oh dear believer be very wary anytime proof is provided even before you ask for it,most likely something mischevious is cooking ,as it is on this moment). On hearing this the Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord.This was a great omission by Joshua and the other leaders because all along we read of them consulting God in their every undertaking,Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath. Three days down the line the consequences of this great omission started to be realised; the Israelites learnt that their ‘Visitors’ from a ‘very distant’ country were just their next door neighbours ,the Gibeonites,The whole assembly of Israelites grumbled against Joshua and the other leaders, they felt let down by their leaders,critical ones must have started asking themselves how many more deceptions they would survive before they possessed the promised land. The leaders pacified people by telling them that having sworn an oath in the name of God to the Gibeonites they couldn’t now hurt them but they will let them live and be the wood cutters and water carriers to the whole assembly. Joshua summoned the Gibeonites and placed them under a curse which they could never be released,he condemned them to eternal servitude,but being a just man he condemned them to be the wood cutters and water carriers for the altar of God,wherever it will be. It is worthy noting that Joshua condemned them to serve for the altar of God and not the whole assembly as the leaders had earlier told the assembly,this portrays a cool collected character who despite the spur of the moment makes an independent just ruling. This pacified the people,(but later during Saul’s reign this hate was reignited,injustice was done to Gibeonites and God true to his Word He held the Israelites accountable and for three years there was a great famine in Israel.(2 Samuel 21:1-14) ,Joshua saved the Gibeonites, Israelites didn’t kill them,What a spirited effort of mitigating the consequences of a simple act of omission,We must realise that Joshua and the other leaders were walking on a tight rope at this moment,having read that more than once the older generation of these same Israelites were ready to stone Moses (Exodus 17:4,Numbers 14:10). As believers there are several lessons we learn from this episode,in our journey on this earth we come across many deals or deal makers ,many are times we are rushed to enter into a deal under the guise that it is on a limited offer but in the real sense the rush is intended to only let you lower your guard ,fail to do your due diligence and be easily fooled.Just like Joshua in the above episode how many are times we are coerced to deal with nameless,faceless ,anonymous partners /deal makers all in the name of how the deal has been cut,actually one is told that the partners do not like to expose themselves at this stage but you will eventually meet them at a later stage in the deal, which may never happen or if it happens it gives you a shock of your life on realizing that you have been scammed.It is worthy noting all along as the Israelites quizzed the Gibeonite emissaries no name whatsoever was provided,even though they came from a distant land as purported, didn’t their country have a name? Curiously the Israelites didn’t prod them any further to clearly identify themselves but were guiled to enter in a pact with people from unkown land despite the fact these emissaries appeared to know very much about the Israelites and their God,this should have made them raise their guard because any enemy who knows you very well is a very prepared enemy. It is also worthy to note that despite the Gibeonites emissaries having appeared before the leaders assembly,they kept on addressing themselves to Joshua who was the overall leader of the assembly,they knew should they convince Joshua,they would have got the whole assembly,Similarly when we hold positions of influence either in the family,church,nation etc the enemy knows very well should we stumble and fall we would fall with many,a very valid reason why as a leader you should be on double guard and as much as possible seek God’s guidance in all matters,someone may argue that the omission ,failure to consult God was not Joshua’s mistake but was the leaders’ assembly mistake ,as a result of people with varied intentions handling a sensitive matter,but still Joshua being their overall leader is equally blamed for having failed to consult God over this matter,this should teach us that both God and man will hold us accountable for failures of our juniors because by the virtue of being in the senior most office we are supposed to guide the junior leaders as God guides us.Indeed when the Israelites multitude grumbled,they grumbled against all the assembly leaders Joshua included.It is also worthy to note that when the emissaries were prodded further by Joshua they readily provided a proof,this shows a well calculated scheme ,meaning someone took time to prepare on how to counter the disbelief that may arise,and as a believer any time you find someone/deal too convincing either in matters faith or business,a situation where proof is readily provided even before you ask for it,you should raise your guard and ask yourself why does the other party seem too eager or too desperate to convince you,whats in for them in the deal,if the God Himself,our loving father, has given us an option of choosing to obey Him for our better or disobey Him to our detriment(Deutronomy 30:19-20),why should someone deny you that opportunity of taking your time,thinking about it,meditate,and ultimately consult your God through a prayer about the deal? From this verse ,the Gibeonites succeeded in tricking the Israelites to enter in a peace treaty and this introduces us to another line of lessons to learn:Consequences;for every act of omission or commission there are consequences to follow,here the Israelites omitted to consult God over this matter and there are consequences which followed;When the assembly grumbled against Joshua and his team,he summoned the Gibeonites and put them under a curse to be the woodcutters and water carriers for the altar of God,it is good to note the other assembly leaders had told the assembly that the Gibeonites would be the wood cutters and water carriers for the entire assembly but here were see Joshua condemning them to be slaves for the altar only(Gibeonites being only a sizeable number it would be a very daunting task to serve the entire assembly of the Israelites),this should be a lesson to us that despite the mess we are already in we should not loose our leadership minds,we should still issue balanced rulings all in pursuit of justice and service to God,Also as a result of the oath that had been made in the name of God the Israelite warriors couldn’t lay a finger on the Gibeonites despite a strong surge of adrenaline and rage running in their veins against them,this a lesson to us the believers that whatever agreement we make in the name of God it should be upheld no matter the circumstances or how uncomfortable it be for us, God would hold us accountable to the entire terms of the agreement(Eccl 5:4-6),many years later on after Israelites had settled in the promised land during the reign of King Saul,the Israelites broke this peace treaty,they hurt the Gibeonites,and God true to His word and nature ,seriously contended with them with a severe three years famine until when the Gibeonites were avenged,for the famine to be stopped it took intervention of King David,who did what his ancestors(Joshua&assembly leaders) failed to do many years ago,he consulted God over the famine and God clearly pointed at the murder and injustice done to the Gibeonites as the reason as to why He was contending with them.What a perfect example of consequences which out lived the then current generation and proceeded to haunt even the future ones,i believe you can picture this situation whereby the Israelites were forced to live peacefully with people they greatly detested and could do nothing about it thanks to mistakes done by their fore fathers,this should make us be very wary of our actions knowing that every misstep has its share of consequences in this generation and the next ones. Finally we learn about the power of words,When the Gibeonite emissaries came to Joshua at Gilgal camp,they detailed the Majestic acts done by the Israelite God and how they had come to do a treaty with Israelites ,of course being motivated by the fear of the Israelites and their God,i perceive the Gibeonites must have concluded instead of contending with this Israelite God who was helping the Israelites to tear down anybody standing on their way they would rather submit to this God and be saved,also when the leaders of the assembly sought the identity of these young men they simply replied “We are your servants” Look at what happens, After Joshua had reprimanded the Gibeonites for this trickery he condemned them to be eternal slaves at the altar of the very same God,they greatly held in awe,i perceive they were so afraid of Israelites to an extent even being offered their lives at the expense of their liberty was an honour done to them,and this is what precisely happened as professed by their very lips.It should be a good lesson to us that no matter the moment, still our words are powerful and can shape our destiny.
In conclusion we have learnt alot about what happened after a single act of omission,in our daily lives on this earth many are times we find our selves in similar straits,but having taken the Lord as our shield,there should be no moment so urgent or so nice as to proceed with it without consulting God because He is the source of all discernment(Psalms 119:66,1 Corinthians 12:7-11).
NB:Watch out for a brief continuation in part2