Ellen G. White Writings

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Beginning of the End, Page 252

Although the oath had been secured by deception, it was not to be ignored. No consideration of reward, of revenge, or self-interest can in any way change the binding nature of an oath or pledge. He that “may ascend into the hill of the Lord,” and “stand in His holy place,” is “he who swears to his own hurt and does not change” (Psalm 24:3; 15:4).

How the Gibeonites Made Themselves Slaves

The Gibeonites were permitted to live but were assigned to the sanctuary as slaves to perform unskilled services. “That day Joshua made them woodcutters and water carriers for the congregation and for the altar of the Lord.” These conditions they gratefully accepted, glad to purchase life on any terms. “Here we are, in your hands,” they said to Joshua; “do with us as it seems good and right to do to us.”

Gibeon, the most important of their towns, “was a great city, like one of the royal cities, ... and all its men were mighty.” It is a striking evidence of the terror with which the Israelites had filled the inhabitants of Canaan, that the people of a powerful city would resort to such a humiliating way to save their lives.

But the Gibeonites would have been better off if they had dealt honestly with Israel. Their deception only brought them disgrace and slavery. God had made a way so that everyone who would give up heathenism and connect with Israel would share the blessings of the covenant. With few exceptions such people were to enjoy equal favors and privileges with Israel.

The Gibeonites could have been received on these terms. It was a major humiliation to those citizens of a royal city, of which “all its men were mighty,” to be made woodcutters and water carriers. And so through all their generations, their servile condition would testify that God hates falsehood.

Joshua’s Long Day

The surrender of Gibeon to Israel filled the kings of Canaan with dismay. They took immediate steps for revenge on those who had made peace with the invaders. Five of the Canaanite kings allied themselves against Gibeon. The Gibeonites were unprepared for defense and sent a message to Joshua at Gilgal: “Do not forsake your servants; come up to us quickly, save us, and help us, for all the kings of the Amorites who dwell in the mountains have gathered together against us.” The danger threatened not only the people of Gibeon, but also Israel. This city controlled the passes to central and southern Palestine, and Israel must hold it in order to conquer the country.

The overwhelmed Gibeonites were afraid that Joshua would reject their request for help because of the way they had deceived the Israelites. But since they had submitted to Israel and had accepted the worship of God, he felt obligated to protect them. And the Lord encouraged him. “Do not fear them,” was the divine message, “for I have delivered them into your hand; not a man of them shall stand before you.” “So Joshua ascended from

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