I’ve felt rather poorly today. Blame it on poor eating and sleeping. I’m finally human, now that it’s nearly 2:30. I’m clean and pressed. My hair, however, looks as if someone sat on it. Perhaps Sasquatch from Ruby’s latest nightmare? More on that later. But I digress.
I read Joshua 9 today. I’ve written about this before, yet I saw something new today.
The synopsis is thus: Joshua and his hordes frighten the area’s kings. They band together to fight against God’s armies – the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. Ight? All but the Gibeonites. They decide to resort to deception. They sent ambassadors to Joshua. The ambassadors came loaded down with dusty saddlebags, threadbare sandals and moldy bread. Convincing actors, they made Josh and crew believe they’ve come from a far away land and desired a treaty. Well, they *did* want a treaty. But where they were truly from is another matter.
They answered, “Your servants have come from a very distant country. We have heard of the might of the Lord your God and of all he did in Egypt. We have also heard what he did to the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River—King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of Bashan (who lived in Ashtaroth). So our elders and all our people instructed us, ‘Take supplies for a long journey. Go meet with the people of Israel and tell them, “We are your servants; please make a treaty with us.”’
“This bread was hot from the ovens when we left our homes. But now, as you can see, it is dry and moldy. These wineskins were new when we filled them, but now they are old and split open. And our clothing and sandals are worn out from our very long journey.” – (Joshua 9:9-12)
Joshua and his elders examined the supplies. They handled the stale, green bread. They fingered the sandals with worn straps. I can see them in my mind’s eye, shaking their heads and feeling compelled to “do the right thing.” They did not talk to God about it. They went with their gut feeling. They sealed a binding oath with the Gibeonites.
The Gibeonites lived three days’ journey away they learned a mere three days later. They were on the “kill” list. When confronted, the Gibeonites said, “We did it out of fear. We heard God told Moses He was giving all this land to the Israelites. Everyone in it would be killed. We wanted to stay alive.” In order to fulfill the oath but not give the Gibeonites too much power, they became woodcutters and watercarriers to the exiled people, in perpetuity.
You have to have some sympathy for the Gibeonites. They faced genocide. They concocted a plan of survival. Their “fight or flight” instinct led them to do something else: “sleight”. Like sleight of hand, directing the eye. The Gibeonites’ overriding fear pushed them into unethical behavior. In turn, their emotional manipulation coerced the chosen people into a poor decision.
How often does our fear cause a bad chain reaction? Ruby’s nightmare about Sasquatch living in our house could have caused me to guiltily rethink every TV show, book or interaction she’s had in the last couple of days. Mom-guilt, it’s a killer! Mercifully, at 4:45 a.m., I had very little thought processes available to me. I do a pretty good job monitoring her TV watching. I didn’t even ask because it wasn’t important. I simply prayed for her and she fell back to sleep. Yes, I was very tired the next day. But I’m not searching the woods around our house looking for large footprints. Besides, I know Sasquatch doesn’t live here anymore.