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The Gibeonite Deception

January 6, 2012

Now I do expect my comments on the façade of the Gibeonites actually to be short. We shall see. Yes, I also find this story (Jos. 9:1-27) hard to believe. I even find it hard to believe that this story was ever written down and passed off as history, although that most certainly did happen. A commission from the Canaanite city of Gibeon comes to Joshua with shabby provisions and wearing shoddy clothing. These Gibeonites tell Joshua that they are from a far country and wish to make a league of peace with him. It really makes little to no sense why anyone would fall for this. First, how hard would it be to find such kind of clothing and provisions? Of course, the Israelites question these emissaries about their true country of origin, but they are convinced that the Gibeonites spoke the truth because of their clothing and provisions. The other pressing question I would expect to be asked is the reason for these people’s concern for a league of peace. I mean, this should have been extremely obvious. They wouldn’t have any reason for a league of peace if they were not of the land of Canaan and instead were from a country so far away that Israel could not be expected to come to their aid in war. Whatever the case, I am happy for the Gibeonites, even though Israel does make them slaves. At least they were not more victims of Yahweh’s purge.

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