The Oath

Then Joshua made a treaty of peace with them to let them live, and the leaders of the assembly ratified it by oath. Three days after they made the treaty with the Gibeonites, the Israelites heard that they were neighbors, living near them. So the Israelites set out and on the third day came to their cities: Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth and Kiriath Jearim. 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. The whole assembly grumbled against the leaders, but all the leaders answered, “We have given them our oath by the LORD, the God of Israel, and we cannot touch them now. This is what we will do to them: We will let them live, so that God’s wrath will not fall on us for breaking the oath we swore to them.” Joshua 9:15-20

The Gibeonites tricked Joshua and Israel into making a peace treaty with them after they heard what the Lord and Joshua were doing to the people living in Canaan. So while God had commanded Joshua to destroy the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites because of their wickedness in idol worship and sacrificing their children to them, the Gibeonites, who were Amorites, escaped destruction because of Israel’s oath in the peace treaty. The Gibeonites were reduced to wood cutter and water carriers, but they survived. Israel’s oath was honored for 400 years until King Saul tried to exterminate the remaining Gibeonites. But Saul’s action resulted in God bringing a three year famine on Israel until King David inquired of the Lord and was told the reason for the famine and the actions he had to take to rectify Saul’s actions. We learn several principles about God from this: 1) God expects us to keep our promises, 2) God expects governments and nations to keep their promises, 3) Our obligation to promises does not diminish with time, and 4) God’s correction may come a long time after the offense. May your promises be like God’s, Yes, and we say Amen