"Then the men of Gibeon sent word to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal: “Do not abandon your servants. Come quickly and save us! Help us, because all the kings of the Amorites from the hill country have joined forces against us.” Joshua 10:6

I'm a bit confused. Why would the Amorites be attacking the Gibeonites? Weren't all of these people to be killed in the name of God?

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  • Why would the Amorites be attacking the Gibeonites ? - Because there were many tribes, struggling for control over a territory; the Israelites were not the only ones engaging in battles, but simply those that would eventually emerge victorious.
    – Lucian
    Commented May 27, 2021 at 4:51

1 Answer 1


Yes, they were supposed to kill or drive them out, but in the case of the Gibeonites they did not because of a rash oath.

If you read earlier in chapter 9, the Gibeonites deceived Joshua into believing they were a people from far away and not inhabitants of the land. As a result, Joshua makes an imprudent treaty with them:

The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath.

Joshua 9:14-15 NIV

Later, when Joshua uncovers the deception and discovers they are neighbors we are told (v 18):

But the Israelites did not attack them, because the leaders of the assembly had sworn an oath to them by the Lord, the God of Israel.

So while the Lord had commanded the Israelites to drive out all the inhabitants of the land, they were deceived into making an oath before the Lord that prevented them from doing so in the case of the Gibeonites. They do, however, make themselves Joshua's servants and he presses them into forced labor for the alter. When the Amorites attack, Joshua defends them because of the treaty and because they are Israel's servants.

As to why the Amorites would have fought them, there were a number of different groups of people in Canaan and they were by no means all allies.

  • Yes though perhaps the most telling aspect of the biblical record here is in Joshua 9:14 where they "asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord" before accepting as truth the lies presented and making the oath not to kill them. Had they sought the Lord first, the outcome could have been very different. What a lesson for me! +1
    – Anne
    Commented May 1 at 9:53

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