Lesson 2: OLD CLOTHES AND MOLDY BREAD
During the Israelite conquest of Canaan, Gibeonite ambassadors used falsehood and deception to lead Joshua and the elders of Israel to believe that they came from a distant region, when in fact they lived in the immediate vicinity of Canaan. In order to save themselves from extinction by the armies of Israel, the Gibeonites craftily deceived Joshua and the leaders of Israelites into agreeing to establish a treaty to let them live (Josh. 9:13-16). By using old clothes and moldy bread, the ambassadors misrepresented the distance they had traveled from their habitat (Josh. 9:3-6). Without asking counsel of the Lord and following their own judgment, the leaders of Israel made a treaty with them. Assuming these men were telling the truth about where they lived, they put confidence in the Gibeonites‟ claim, partook of their victuals, made an alliance with them and ultimately found themselves betrayed (Josh. 9:13-15).
Kirjath-Jearim, also called Baalah, was one of the four cities of the Gibeonites. The inhabitants of Kirjath-Jearim were not struck down on account of the covenant made, but they were put under servitude (Joshua 9:17 with 9:3-27). Joshua and the elders of Israel behaved magnanimously in their response to the
‟ deception, and rather than kill them, they let them become servants to hew wood and draw water for the house of the Lord forever (Josh. 9:22-27).
The Gibeonites seem to have had a law or a government somewhat like the Israelites had under the Mosaic Law (Josh. 9:11). This would indicate the people had some measure of respect for the Lord. Six kings made war upon the Gibeonites and were defeated and killed. Notice Joshua at Gibeon (Josh. 10). Regarding the kings who struck them, the account tells that the “…the LORD cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they (the six kings and their armies) died. “They were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword.”
Several other things, both good and bad, may be known about the Gibeonite nation. One is that the tribe of Benjamin did not avenge the crime of the Gibeonites against the Levite’s concubine, and a war followed (Judg. 19). Ismaiah was a Gibeonite who joined David at Ziklag (1 Chr. 12:4) and was one of David’s mighty men. King Saul killed the Gibeonites; a crime avenged by the death of seven of his sons (2 Sam. 21:1-9). As a just retribution for Saul’s crime, it was King David who consigned seven sons of Saul to the Gibeonites to be killed to atone for Saul’s persecution of them (2 Sam. 21:1-14). Mephibosheth was a son of Saul by Rizpah, whom David did not surrender to be killed (2 Sam. 21:8-9). Hananiah was a Gibeonite prophet who uttered false prophecies in the temple during the reign of Zedekiah (Jer. 28). Pay particular attention to Hananiah’s sin and the resulting punishment by God in verses 10-16. Melatiah was a Gibeonite who assisted in repairing the wall of Jerusalem (Neh. 3:7).
“And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai, They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up; And old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and moldy” (Joshua 9:3-5).
The Gibeonites figure notably throughout the Israelite history with some good and some evil results. The Shechemites and Gibeonites were Hivite families of Genesis 34:2; Josh. 9:17; 11:19). Although they had some respectable men in their nation, their presence was ever a reminder of the error made in allowing them to dwell among them.
1. As a foundation for this study, discuss two commands that had been given to the Israelites to govern such decisions:
· Utterly destroy the inhabitants of Canaan (Deut. 7:1-5).
· Do not swear falsely [i.e. keep your vows] (Lev. 19:12).
2. What deceit did the Gibeonites use to deceive Joshua and the Children of Israel (Josh. 9:3-5)? Why?
3. How were they received by the princes of Israel (Josh. 9:14-19)?
4. Give two reasons why there was a conflict between the princes of the congregation and the people. (Josh. 9:14-15)?
5. It is obvious from reading the account that the Gibeonites lied and purposefully deceived the leaders of Israel. How could Joshua and the elders have known what to do (Deut. 7:1-5)?
6. Once the Israelites realized they had been deceived into disobeying the command of God, what other dilemma did they face (Josh. 9:19)? Why could they not go back on their word and break the covenant (Lev. 19:12)?
7. Under the Mosaic Law, all vows, covenants, leagues, treaties and promises were viewed as binding. Search the following scriptures to see just how important these were before God: Leviticus 19:12; Deut. 23:22; Deut. 23:21-23; Num. 30:1-2; Num. 30:12-14; Num. 30:15; Prov. 20:25; Eccl. 5:1-6; Gal. 3:15 and Prov. 19:2.
8. Why was Joshua forced to make peace with the Gibeonites (Deut. 20:10-18)?
9. Who else worked wilily to save himself and his nation (1 Kings 20:29-37)? To get the whole context, read all of 1 Kings, chapter 20.
10. What Gentile lady worked wilily to secure safety from being destroyed by the Israelite armies (Josh 2:9-14)?
11. Did any city or nation make peace with the children of Israel (Josh. 11:19)?
12. How do we know that God was not pleased with what King Saul did against the Gibeonites (2 Sam. 21:1-9)? What did King David do to make peace with them?
13. How does Jeremiah 18:7-8 apply to this situation?
14. Using the account in 1 Kings 13:7-19, tell how the young prophet should have reacted to the lie told him by the old prophet. What appears to have caused him to fail the test to be faithful?
15. What special things did God provide under the Law of Moses to help the Israelite leaders to make righteous judgments (Exod. 28:30; Num. 27:21; 1 Sam. 23:9-12; 1 Sam. 30:7-8; 2 Sam. 2:1; 2 Sam. 5:19).
16. Discuss what kinds of decisions they made in each case. Could Joshua have used these methods?
17. How did the sincere people of Israel seek to gain God’s favor and obtain a favorable answer to their needs (Ezra 8:21)?
18. What transgression did King Saul commit against the Lord and why did he die (1 Chr. 10:13-14)? Was God happy when His rebellious children did not ask counsel of the Him (Isa. 30:1-2)? What was their sin?
19. Today, in the NT, how are covenant breakers described (Rom. 1:28-32)? How will obeying James 1:19 help us to avoid this sin?
20. What is Jesus’ admonition (Matt. 5:33-37)?
21. What other principles can be used to govern our decisions (Prov. 3:5-6; 20, 27; Hosea 4:6)?
22. Why did Paul, with the apostles and elders, ask counsel of the Lord (Acts 15:1-2; 13-29)?
23. What must we remember as we make decisions about things people teach in religion (Gal. 1:8-9; 1 Cor. 2:4-5; Phil. 4:6 and Eph 6:18)?
24. Consider the command not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers or to make friends with them (2 Cor. 6:14; 1 Cor. 15:33). See also: 1 Kings 11 for examples of how Solomon violated this principle. If we make a covenant of marriage with one who has deceived us, do we still have to honor our vows?
25. **What if someone deceives us? How can we know what we should do? Remember the clearly stated problem in Joshua 9:14. “…asked not counsel at the mouth of the LORD.” We need to be very careful not to be deceived, by knowing well and seeking out the counsel of the Lord; otherwise we may have to bear some unpleasant consequences.