The Men Who Tricked Joshua

Joshua 8-10    Review Activities for this Lesson

You remember before Moses died, he read the law to the people and helped them renew their covenant with God. Since Moses knew how quickly they would forget the Lord, he commanded them to read it again after they crossed the Jordan River into Canaan. Moses even gave instructions about how to do this. First they should make a special altar on Mt. Ebal and offer a sacrifice of rejoicing - - rejoicing because they were in Canaan at last! Afterward, some of the tribes would stand by Mt. Ebal and the rest would stand by Mt. Gerizim for the reading of the law. The Levites would be in between with the ark of the Lord. As each blessing and each curse was read, the people would all shout together, “Amen!”

Think what a wonderful time that must have been! The first curse warned against making idols to worship: “Cursed is the one who makes any carved or molded image, an abomination to the Lord, the word of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret.” The thunderous “Amen” of so many voices must have echoed mightily throughout those mountains. Hearing God’s laws like that one by one should have helped Israel remember them all of their lives.

To protect their countries, some of the kings of Canaan decided to bring all their armies together to fight the Israelites. After seeing God’s power, they were afraid to fight alone. But the people in nearby Gibeon would not join them. Perhaps they knew God of Israel would help his people win even if all of the kings in the world came together. The Gibeonites thought it would be better to make a treaty (or agreement) with the Israelites.

You remember the Lord had forbidden His people to make any kind of agreement with the nations of Canaan. Instead, they were to drive them all out of the land. If they were left there, sons and daughters of Israel might marry those of Canaan. Then God’s own people would start worshipping idols.

But the Gibeonites tricked Israel into thinking they came from a faraway country instead of Canaan. So they put on shabby, ragged clothes with patched sandals, threw worn sacks on their donkeys and got some bread so old that it had dried out and molded. When they came to the camp in Gilgal, they said, “From a very far country your servants have come because of the name of the Lord your God. For we have heard of His fame and all that he did in Egypt.”

At first Joshua and the men of Israel did not believe them and said, “Perhaps you dwell among us. How can we make a covenant with you?” But the Gibeonites lied again. To try to prove their journey to Gilgal had taken a long time, they said they had started out with new clothes and sandals and fresh bread - - anyone could see how old everything was now! Joshua and the men listened and had to admit that everything looked worn out. Then they tasted the Gibeonites’ bread, and decided the wicked men were telling the truth.

But Joshua forgot to ask God what to do. He must have been mad at himself three days later when he found out Gibeon was a city nearby. What should they do now? They had made a treaty to help one another and now Israel had to keep their side of the agreement. When they came to Gibeon, they did not attack the city but made the people their servants instead.

The Canaanite kings were furious with the Gibeonites and brought their great army against them to teach them a lesson. The Gibeonites were so frightened they sent for Joshua. Because of their treaty, Joshua marched his men all night to help them. The shocked enemy soldiers ran away and Israel chased them down - - finishing them off with swords.

God did not leave his people to fight alone. He showed his great power that day by sending huge hailstones that killed even more than His army did. And He kept the sun up in the sky until Israel was sure of the victory.

Talking it Over:

1. Why do teachers at school help children review what they have studied? How as the reading of the law at Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerizim like a review? Why do we need to keep God’s law before us today?
2. What can we learn from God’s warning about His people mixing with those who worshipped idols? Talk about some ways boys and girls can be influenced by their friends.
3. Imagine the sun “standing still” long enough for the Israelites to win their battle against the Canaanites. Why would we call that a miracle? Is the rising of the sun each day a miracle? Why or why not?

Memory Verse:
“So the sun stood still and the moon stopped till the people had revenge on their enemies.” Joshua 10:13
How would other Canaanites feel after this great battle?

Text by Betty Belue Haynes, originally published in Bible Talk Times. Used here with the kind permission of the author. Users are free to reproduce for use, but not for publication.