Joshua 9

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1 Now When these things were heard of, all the kings beyond the Jordan, that dwelt in the mountains and in the plains, in the places near the sea, and on the coasts of the great sea, they also that dwell by Libanus, the Hethite and the Amorrhite, the Chanaanite, the Pherezite, and the Hevite, and the Jebusite,

2 Gathered themselves together, to fight against Josue and Israel with one mind, and one resolution.

3 But they that dwelt in Gabaon, hearing all that Josue had done to Jericho and Hai:

4 Cunningly devising took for themselves provisions, laying old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles rent and sewed up again,

5 And very old shoes, which for a show of age were clouted with patches, and old garments upon them: the leaves also, which they carried for provisions by the way, were hard, and broken into pieces:

6 And they went to Josue, who then abode in the camp at Galgal, and said to him, and to all Israel with him: We are come from a far country, desiring to make peace with you. And the children of Israel answered them, and said:

7 Perhaps you dwell in the land which falls to our lot; if so, we can make no league with you.

8 But they said to Josue: We are thy servants. Josue said to them: Who are you? and whence came you?

9 They answered: From a very far country thy servants are come in the name of the Lord thy God. For we have heard the fame of his power, all the things that he did in Egypt.

10 And to the two kings of the Amorrhites that were beyond the Jordan, Sehon king of Hesebon, and Og king of Basan, that was in Astaroth:

11 And our ancients, and all the inhabitants of our country said to us: Take with you victuals for a long way, and go meet them, and say: We are your servants, make ye a league with us.

12 Behold, these leaves we took hot, when we set out from our houses to come to you, now they are become dry, and broken in pieces, by being exceeding old.

13 These bottles of wine when we filled them were new, now they are rent and burst. These garments we have on, and the shoes we have on our feet, by reason of the very long journey are worn out, and almost consumed.

14 They took therefore of their victuals, and consulted not the mouth of the Lord.

15 And Josue made peace with them, and entering into a league promised that they should not be slain: the princes also of the multitude swore to them.

16 Now three days after the league was made, they heard that they dwelt nigh, and they should be among them.

17 And the children of Israel removed the camp, and came into their cities on the third day, the names of which are Gabaon, and Caphira, and Beroth, and Cariathiarim.

18 And they slew them not, because the princes of the multitude had sworn in the name of the Lord the God of Israel. Then all the common people murmured against the princes.

19 And they answered them: We have sworn to them in the name of the Lord the God of Israel, and therefore we may not touch them.

20 But this we mill do to them: Let their lives be saved, lest the wrath of the Lord be stirred up against us, if we should be forsworn.

21 But so let them live, as to serve the whole multitude in hewing wood, and bringing in water. As they were speaking these things,

22 Josue called the Gabaonites and said to them: Why would you impose upon us, saying: We dwell far off from you, whereas you are in the midst of us?

23 Therefore you shall be under a curse, and your race shall always be hewers of wood, and carriers of water unto the house of my God.

24 They answered: It was told us thy servants, that the Lord thy God had promised his servant Moses to give you all the land, and to destroy all the inhabitants thereof. Therefore we feared exceedingly and provided for our lives. compelled by the dread we had of you and we took this counsel.

25 And now we are in thy hand: deal with us as it seemeth good and right unto thee.

26 So Josue did as he had said, and delivered them from the hand of the children of Israel, that they should not be slain.

27 And he gave orders in that day that they should be in the service of all the people, and of the altar of the Lord, hewing wood and carrying water, until this present time, in the place which the Lord hath chosen.

  

Exploring the Meaning of Joshua 9      

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth and New Christian Bible Study Staff

Joshua 9: The Gibeonites deceive Israel.

After Israel conquered Jericho and then Ai, the news about the strength of the Children of Israel - and their mighty God, Jehovah - spread quickly among the people of Canaan. In this chapter, the people of Gibeon came up with a plan to trick Joshua and the Israelites into granting them safety.

To preserve themselves, the Gibeonites cooked up a story that they had come from far away. They dressed in old clothing and worn-out sandals, and brought shabby wine-skins and moldy bread as proof of their long journey. After questioning these travelers, Joshua agreed to guarantee their safety, and the Israelites made a covenant to let them live. Note that the Israelites did not consult the Lord.

In the end, the Gibeonites admitted that they lived close by and were neighbors of Israel, just as the Hivites (the Gibeonites' ancestors) had been with Abraham. Joshua, unable to revoke his promise to them, made them wood-cutters and water-carriers for the altars of the Lord.

This chapter offers us several spiritual lessons. The main one is that there is a place for simple, well-intentioned goodness in our spiritual life, along with our love of God and our love for other people (See Swedenborg's exegetical work, Arcana Caelestia 3436, for details). This is what the Gibeonites stand for; they were not warlike but peaceful, content to live usefully day after day. This is an illustration of natural good, which is an important part of life in this world and in heaven (Arcana Caelestia 3167).

On a spiritual level, their story about living in a country far-away means that when we live good, well-intentioned lives, we are ‘far away’ from the evils of the Canaanites. Although the Gibeonites lived among the Canaanites, their higher values were entirely different. So while the Gibeonites deceived Israel to save themselves, they spoke truthfully when they said: “we come from a place a very long way away” (See Swedenborg's work, Heaven and Hell 481).

Their tattered and torn appearance is meant to illustrate the hard work of doing good. It can be quite wearing to continue doing good things, especially when we feel it is all up to us. Acknowledging that all good is from the Lord renews us, and keeps us from the burden of merit.

In the same vein, their worn-out appearance is also about our relationship with the Word. Little children love and delight in the stories of the Word, but as they grow up, this love dwindles (Arcana Caelestia 3690). But as adults, we have the choice to find those guiding principles from the Word, helping us to keep leading good lives.

The fact that Joshua commanded the Gibeonites to cut wood and draw water also holds spiritual significance. The beauty of wood is that it comes from living trees, and can be turned into many, many useful things. It stands for the steady, humble wish to do good each day (See Swedenborg's work, True Christian Religion 374). This must be present in our worship at the altars of the Lord.

Drawing water provides essential, life-giving refreshment for others. Water stands for truth, and our better actions draw the water of life for the sake of others. Truly, acknowledging the goodness in other people is part of our faith in God. This story shows us that we must allow others to live and to serve everything of God, just as Joshua showed mercy toward the Gibeonites.

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