Q&A: Why did Israel honor their contract with the Gibeonites? - Joshua 9:1

Why did Israel honor their contract with the Gibeonites? - Joshua 9:1

Question

Joshua 9 records the deception of the Israelites by the Gibeonites. After Israel discovered they had been deceived, why did they still honor their contract?

Answer

Joshua chapter 9 gives the account of why the deceiving Gibeonites (9:3-13, 22) were not destroyed. While they should have been (Deut. 7:1-6), Joshua failed to consult the Lord (9:14) prior to making a treaty with the Gibeonites (9:15). When the deception was discovered, Joshua honored his oath - a covenant - and did not destroy the Gibeonites, but did place them under a curse (9:23-27).

God is a covenant God. God establishes relationships with us, his children. Throughout the Bible, he made several covenants with men like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David. Now we live under the new covenant with Jesus as our perfect head.

Covenants are serious business! The authority of the covenant of redemption/covenant of grace rests upon God keeping his word (Heb. 6:13). As God keeps his word in covenant, so should his people. Israel was rightly concerned about breaking their oath: "We have given them our oath by the Lord, the God of Israel, and we cannot touch them now. This is what we will do to them: We will let them live, so that wrath will not fall on us for breaking the oath we swore to them" (9:19-20).

Though the Gibeonites were undeserving, Israel maintained their covenant with them. We should be thankful that God keeps covenant with his undeserving sinful people as well.

See:

Jephthah and Sinful Vows

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).