The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Josue
Chapter 9
News of this was brought to all the other kings that lived west of Jordan, some in the hill country, some down on the plains, some on the coast by the shores of the open sea, or on the spurs of Lebanon. And all of them, Hethite and Amorrhite, Chanaanite and Pherezite, Hevite and Jebusite,
made common cause against Josue and the people of Israel; all were minded to offer a common resistance,
except the people of Gabaon. These, when they learned how Josue had destroyed Jericho and Hai,
devised a policy of their own, and a crafty one. They provided themselves with food as if for a long journey, and this they put into old sacks, and their wine into skins that were tattered and patched, and loaded up their beasts with such things.
Their shoes were worn out, and cobbled as old shoes would be, their clothes threadbare, the very bread they took with them for the journey dry and crumbling.
In such guise, they made their way into the presence of Josue, who was then in camp at Galgal.

To him, and to the assembly of Israel, they gave out that they had come from far away, to make an alliance. The Israelites were in doubt of them;
Neighbours more like, they said, dwelling in this land which is our home; we can have no alliance with you.
So they turned to Josue and said, We await thy commands. And when he asked who they were and whence they had come,
they answered, My Lord, we have come from a land far away, to do honour to the name of the Lord thy God. How strong a God, we learned from the story of all he did in Egypt,
of all that befell the two Amorrhite kings beyond Jordan, Sehon king of Hesebon, and Og king of Basan, who reigned once at Astaroth.
So the elders and the rest of our fellow-citizens bade us take provisions to last us through our travels, and come to meet you, assuring you of our humble duty and begging for an alliance.
Only look at the bread we took with us, hot from the oven at home, when we set out to find you, how dry it is, how it crumbles after being kept so long!
The new wine-skins we filled are all torn and leaking; the very clothes we wear, the very shoes on our feet, have worn out in our travels, and all but worn away.

The victuals passed from hand to hand, and the Lord was never asked for guidance.
Josue gave them terms of peace, and made an alliance with them, promising that their lives should be spared; the chieftains, too, bound themselves to it by an oath,
and it was not till the treaty had been three days in force, that they learned these men were close neighbours, and would share the land with them.
The Israelites moved camp, and reached, two days later, the cities where these men dwelt, Gabaon and Caphira and Beroth and Cariathiarim.
Shed blood they might not; had not the chieftains pledged themselves by an oath in the name of the Lord God of Israel? When the common folk assailed them with reproaches,
the chieftains could only answer, We have taken an oath in the name of the Lord God of Israel; how can we touch them?
Only one way is left; we must keep them alive, so as not to provoke the Lord’s anger by forswearing ourselves,
but they must live to hew wood and draw water for the needs of our company.

Such was the voice they gave;
and thereupon Josue summoned the Gabaonites into his presence. What means this trick you have played on us, he asked, telling us you lived far away, when you are in truth our near neighbours?
You shall lie under a ban; it shall ever be men of your race that hew wood and draw water for the house of the God whom I serve.
And they answered, My Lord, we had heard of the promise made by the Lord thy God to his servant Moses, that he would give you all these lands for your own, and dispossess the inhabitants. In terror of our lives at your approach, we devised this stratagem.
Now we are at thy mercy; do what seems best, do what seems right to thee.
So Josue made good his word; he would not let Israel slay them,
but there and then he decreed that they should undertake the service of the Lord’s altar on behalf of the whole people, in the place of his choice, hewing wood and drawing water as they do to this day.