Joshua 9

Joshua 9,
Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Now that Jericho and Ai are behind us, the countryside of Palestine has been aroused to the incursion of these insurgents.  We envision this invasion and occupation from our modern nation-state wars – but this is closer to a 21st century pattern of insurgency.

Just as the map of the ‘occupied territory’ of Palestine looks today, or the maps of Afghanistan or Syria, honeycomb or sponge patterns of strongholds for vying factions, with tides of armed combat flowing around obstructions, has replaced the 20th century ‘fronts’ of war.

6 peoples, and as many as 31 kings, are roused to respond to the 12 tribes of Israel, according to Joshua. Find these 6 peoples on a map, through the ‘hill country’, and you will be better able to ‘hear’.  We learn unfamiliar proper nouns and place names, to ‘hear’ the story.

You can ‘hear’ if I use area codes to describe Ontario: the 416 (and the 647), the 905, and the 705, or over into the 519 (and the 226).   That’s a different pattern than if I recite counties, or regional governments – or original villages, towns, or cities.  What’s it ‘mean’?

One bunch of Hivites disguise themselves to trick the Israelites into a treaty.  Did they deceive in order to avoid being punished by the other 5 tribes – who will punish them anyhow later? By then, the Hivites can call on Israel’s aid under the treaty.

Did they plan to deceive Israel to avoid the genocidal plan of the invaders?  Sure, that too – but the text says it’s Israel’s fault that they made a deal in haste, without consulting God or testing the evidence of the Hivites’ home.  Israel must honour the deal, and repent at leisure being fooled.  

The Hivites don’t become Israelites, as Rahab did.  They will be ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water’ for Israel.  Harold Innis applied the term to Canada in 1930 in ‘The Fur Trade in Canada’ to describe our reliance on primary resources rather than competing with the UK or the US imperial colonial economies.  

Peter Russell has now written a similar tome, ‘Canada, Land of Incomplete Conquests’, describing how the British did not follow through with victorious genocide of the French, nor of first nations, as the Americans did.  He, like Innis, is alluding to Joshua.  The peoples of the land remain, despite the episodic victories here.

Yet, the story of the Gibeonites, the Hivites, is not a story of equals and allies, but of patronage, of subordination, short of slavery.  The more I read Joshua, the more I am derailed from my one-track mind about justifying or repenting of invasion and genocide, and shunted around on sidings of complex coexistence with other peoples. 

That’s my 400 – enjoy 1000 from Joshua again, in chapter 9! 

Now when all the kings
who were beyond the Jordan
in the hill country
and in the lowland
all along the coast
 of the Great Sea
towards Lebanon
—the Hittites, 
the Amorites, 
the Canaanites,
 the Perizzites, 
the Hivites, 
and the Jebusites—
heard of this,
 
 2they gathered together
 with one accord
to fight Joshua and Israel.
 
3 But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard
what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai,
 4they on their part acted with cunning: 
they went and prepared provisions, 
and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, 
and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended,
 5with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, 
and worn-out clothes; 
and all their provisions were dry and mouldy. 
 
6They went to Joshua
 in the camp at Gilgal, 
and said to him
and to the Israelites, 
 
‘We have come from a far country; 
so now make a treaty with us.’ 
 
7But the Israelites said to the Hivites, 
‘Perhaps you live among us; 
then how can we make a treaty with you?’
 
 8They said to Joshua, 
‘We are your servants.’ 
And Joshua said to them,
 ‘Who are you?
 And where do you come from?’
 
 9They said to him, 
‘Your servants have come from a very far country, 
because of the name of the Lord your God;
 for we have heard a report of him, 
of all that he did in Egypt,
 10and of all that he did
to the two kings of the Amorites
who were beyond the Jordan, 
King Sihon of Heshbon,
 and King Og of Bashan
who lived in Ashtaroth. 
 
11So our elders
and all the inhabitants of our country
said to us,
 “Take provisions in your hand for the journey; 
go to meet them, and say to them, 
‘We are your servants; 
come now, 
make a treaty with us.’ ”
 
12Here is our bread;
 it was still warm
when we took it from our houses
as our food for the journey,
 on the day we set out to come to you,
 but now, see,
 it is dry and mouldy; 
 
13these wineskins were new
when we filled them, 
and see, they are burst; 
and these garments and sandals of ours
are worn out from the very long journey.’
 
 14So the leaders partook of their provisions, 
and did not ask direction from the Lord. 
 
15And Joshua made peace with them, 
guaranteeing their lives by a treaty; 
and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them.
 
16 But when three days had passed
after they had made a treaty with them, 
they heard that they were their neighbours
and were living among them. 
 
17So the Israelites set out
and reached their cities
on the third day. 
 
Now their cities were
Gibeon,
 Chephirah,
 Beeroth, 
and Kiriath-jearim.
 
18But the Israelites did not attack them, 
because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them
by the Lord, the God of Israel. 
 
Then all the congregation murmured against the leaders.
 
 19But all the leaders said to all the congregation, 
‘We have sworn to them
by the Lord, the God of Israel,
 and now we must not touch them. 
 
20This is what we will do to them:
 We will let them live, 
so that wrath may not come upon us,
 because of the oath
 that we swore to them.’ 
 
 
21The leaders said to them, 
‘Let them live.’ 
 
So they became hewers of wood
and drawers of water
for all the congregation, 
as the leaders had decided concerning them.
 
22 Joshua summoned them, 
and said to them, 
‘Why did you deceive us, 
saying, 
“We are very far from you”,
 while in fact you are living among us?
 
23Now therefore you are cursed, 
and some of you shall always be slaves,
 hewers of wood
and drawers of water
 for the house of my God.’
 
 24They answered Joshua, 
‘Because it was told to your servants
 for a certainty
 that the Lord your God had commanded his servant Moses
to give you all the land, 
and to destroy all the inhabitants of the land before you;
 so we were in great fear for our lives
because of you, 
and did this thing.
 
 25And now we are in your hand:
 do as it seems good and right in your sight to do to us.’
 
 26This is what he did for them: 
he saved them from the Israelites;
 and they did not kill them. 
 
27But on that day Joshua made them
hewers of wood and
drawers of water
for the congregation
and for the altar of the Lord, 
to continue to this day,
 in the place
that he should choose.