Egypt is defeated, with her soldiers at the bottom of the Red sea; Jericho lay in ruins, with her inhabitants buried in the rubble; Ai is fallen under the sword of Joshua; Canaan has never been closer. The fights were coming to all the nations along the path of Israel to Canaan.
THE ARTFUL GIBEONITES
It was obvious that the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites were going down as well if no miracle occurred. They had no alternative but to form a great alliance to stop the children of Israel. They can’t go down without a fight, that’d be absolute cowardice and lack of dignity. That’s the only option – Israel must be stopped!
Oh sorry, there was actually an alternative to fighting against Israel. You see, my small mind hadn’t thought about it until I met a man a few days ago.
My Journey to Gibeon
So, a few days ago I decided to travel to Gibeon – that explains why you haven’t seen a new post from me this week. I’ve always heard from childhood that the Gibeonites were manipulative, deceptive, crafty, false e chi più ne ha, più ne metta. So, I wanted to meet these men who were so bold to deceive Israel despite knowing that the God of Israel was (and still is) powerful and all-knowing.
Dressed in a quasi-dirty red long-sleeved shirt, I picked up my all-purpose rucksack and jetted off to Gibeon. It was a long journey with 2 transits in Syria and Egypt, but I arrived safely.
Waiting for me at the airport was a young man dressed in rags with a plastic bottle containing an impure liquid. At first, I was a bit offended because I was expecting either a beautiful Arabian damsel or at least a well perfume-dressed gentleman to welcome me, a royal Igbo prince all the way from the revered Ojinnaka family of Awo-Omamma.
But in a split second, another stream of thought sprang up that made me smile. “This man thinks he can deceive me like they deceived Joshua and his leaders with their appearance” I mused. After exchanging pleasantries, I confidently asked him “hey man, where did you park the Ferrari?”.
He turned, gazed at my serious face and couldn’t help but laugh. “No man, I ain’t kidding. I’m not like the Israelites you guys deceived ooo” (the ad-lib was to emphasize my Igboticness). “I know you’re a billionaire with fleet of cars, expensive wardrobe and beautiful maids everywhere pretending to be an errand boy.” I continued.
At this point, addled by my comments, he retorted “Mr K, that’s not the full story!” he exclaimed. “I’ll take you to one of the senators who will explain what really took place.” I obliged and we both rode on an ass to this beautifully curated hut, where I had tea with a slice of fresh bread from the oven.
The fights aren’t necessary.
The senator (or elder as they call him) soon arrived, and as he began talking, one thing I kept telling myself during the exhaustive lecture was “these people are really artful.”
You see, Gibeon in those days was a great royal city ruled by elders. There wasn’t any mention of kings. It’s similar to the senate of ancient Rome before the fall of the republic when the people were basically governed by senators.
So, the people of Gibeon, facing great pressure from the kings of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivite and Jebusite to join an alliance with them to fight Israel, met together.
After a series of deliberation, they opted for a treaty. They had heard the stories of the lands Israel conquered and understood that their posterity was at stake if nothing was done. They were greater than Ai but that doesn’t matter when the God of Israel is against you.
The leaders chose to adapt, blend and submit to Israel for a greater goal. They counted their dignity as less important than the salvation of their entire generation. You may not approve of their tactics, but you need to understand that that was the best military strategy they could come up with. They knew that the odds were against them.
Their artfulness paid off, and very well too. They were able to strike a deal with Israel while the other kings were vanquished. Israel even fought Adoni-Zedek and the kings of the Amorites on their behalf.
Lessons from the Gibeonites
As I flew home, I couldn’t but think of the following takeaways:
1. Life is replete with battles and little daily fights that if we’re not careful we’ll lose ourselves in them. Learn to pick which fights are really worth fighting.
2. Submission today doesn’t mean submission forever.
3. You shouldn’t compromise on core values. True. But don’t fight for everything every time with everyone. That’s so much energy expended for nothing.
4. It’s not cowardice to concede some fights sometimes; it’s simply living today to fight tomorrow.
5. It’s better to go around with partial freedom for a moment than lose an entire nation in a day because of arrogance.
6. A wise man once said that a living dog is better than a dead lion. I couldn’t have said it better.
7. Sometimes courage is admitting defeat for a battle you can’t win today but you can gain a lot from tomorrow.
8. Verbal violence or physical fists is not always the solution. Sometimes the solution is in agreements, in compromise, in treaties. Not in fights
9. You win some, you lose some. You just have to choose which ones are worth fighting for and which to let go of.
10. Some husbands are so egoistic and some wives are so naggy that they’ll never submit to the opinion of their partner. They must always win the argument, else there’ll be a crisis in the house. Well, you already have a recipe for divorce and you’re doing a good job with the meal preparation so far. Jisie ike. I don’t even want to talk about manipulative husbands and wives.
11. Astute politicians know their strongholds; they understand that they can’t compete in every electoral college with the same intensity. So, they make sure to strengthen their strongholds and win big there while making a good show in the strongholds of others. Every vote is important, but you work with strong statistics not just sentiments.
12. Choose your battleground and focus on them. These are the fights that matter.
Joshua and the elders of Israel
Joshua and the leaders of Israel showed mercy on the Gibeonites, and the people of Israel even offered them clothes and food. But that was mercy born out of a superficial judgment. The judgment that is only based on what the eyes see, and what the ears hear will always be shallow and dangerous.
Seeking God’s counsel is not just one of the options, it should always be an integral part of our decision-making process in marriage, business, relationship with others, career etc. Basically, appearance is not all the story, there’s always a behind the scenes that only God sees and knows.
The Principled God
We also see a principled God. One would expect that God wouldn’t hold Israel and her leaders accountable if they killed the Gibeonites, seeing that the Gibeonites craftily entered that treaty with Israel.
But no, He supported that the family of Saul pay with their lives for going against that agreement when Saul killed the Gibeonites many years after. God keeps covenants and so expects you to do the same.
Finally, while living in the present with us, God knows the past and sees the future. On the contrary, we remember little or nothing concerning the past, partially understand the present and are blind to the future. So, relying on God is our best bet.
Which of the three points was your favourite and how did it speak to you? I’d also like to know the lessons you learnt from the passage when you read it. By now you’d have understood that I travelled to Joshua chapter 9 while sitting semi-comfortably in various offices and rooms. 😊
Please share this article with friends and family.
God bless you.
P.S: It seems like nations without kings do well. I mean, look at the ants, Israel during theocracy and these Gibeonites. I also know of Judges 21 verse 25, but that doesn’t cancel out these other examples I mentioned. #Justthinkingoutloud