“But [they] did not ask counsel from the LORD” (Joshua 9:14).
The people’s murmuring against their leaders is interesting. In the previous
books, they murmured against Yahweh for the lack of conveniences or preferences
and were punished; this time, they murmur over their leaders’ lack of discernment… and they are not punished. But they cannot wage war against the Gibeonites; their alliance was confirmed in the name of Yahweh, and although it was established through deceit, the leaders must have remembered: “If a man vows a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth” (Numbers 30:2). To resolve the situation, Joshua curses them to the status of servants to draw water and cut wood for the tabernacle… but at the same time, what better place is there for a Canaanite at this time than to be near Yahweh’s Presence and protected by His name? Let’s hope they learn to have faith like Rahab.
As you read Joshua 10 –12 about the battle provoked by the Gibeonite alliance with Israel, the conquest of the south and then the north of the Promised Land, notice the following:
1) Yahweh fought: “The LORD threw down large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died because of the hailstones than the sons of Israel killed with the sword” (Joshua 10:11). “And the LORD gave it [Libnah] and its king into the hand of Israel” (Joshua 10:30). “And the LORD gave Lachish into the hand of Israel” (Joshua 10:32). “And Joshua captured all these kings and their land at one time, because the LORD God of Israel fought for Israel” (Joshua 10:42).
2) Just like the Egyptian plagues, Yahweh did it with the intention of destroying those who walked in rebellion against Him: “For it was the LORD’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed, just as the LORD commanded Moses” (Joshua 11:20). “Do not say in your heart, after the LORD your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out before you” (Deuteronomy 9:4).
3) Israel fought in complete obedience to Yahweh: “And all the spoil of these cities and the livestock, the people of Israel took for their plunder. But every man they struck with the edge of the sword until they had destroyed them, and they did not leave any who breathed. Just as the LORD had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the LORD had commanded Moses” (Joshua 11:14-15).
4) The conquest was a long process, not of months but of years: “Joshua made war a long time with all those kings” (Joshua 11:18).
Finally the conquest ended and the distribution of the inheritance began: “So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the LORD had spoken to Moses. And Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments.
And the land had rest from war” (Joshua 11:23). They begin to experience the fulfillment of the promise given centuries earlier to a man who owned no land: “To your offspring I will give this land” (Genesis 12:7).