Mercy in judgement – Why were Rahab and the Gibeonites not killed?

RahabWhy were Rahab and her family, as well as the Gibeonites saved when God commanded that the Amalekites, Canaanites and Midianites should be destroyed?

#1. Rahab. When Joshua sent two spies to Jericho, she hid them so that the elders of the city did not find them. She told the spies, ‘I know that the Lord has given this land to you and that a great fear has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you.’ 1 She asked them to spare her life and those of her family, in return for her kindness to them. The Israelite army saved her and her family when they invaded Jericho.

Rahab’s history does not end there. She married one of the Israelites and is part of the genealogy of King David.  That means she is of the ancestry of Jesus.2  Not a bad record for a Canaanite woman, bound for destruction! As she said, ‘When we heard of it [God’s miraculous acts on behalf of His people], our hearts melted and every one’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.’  3

She proved herself a woman of faith and is one of the heroes of faith in Hebrew 11:31.

#2. Gibeonites. Another group who also benefited from God’s mercy was the Canaanites of Gibeon. When they heard that the victorious Israelite army was approaching, they made a plan to save themselves. They deceived Joshua and the leaders by pretending that they live far away, but wanted peace with Israel. They said, ‘Your servants have come from a far country because of the fame of the Lord your God. For we have heard reports of Him….’  4  Joshua and the leaders did not enquire of the Lord, but made a peace treaty with them. 5

When the Israelites later found out that they had lied to them, they wanted to destroy them. Yet because of the oath, they could not do it. They made them woodcutters and water carriers for the house of the Lord. 7

The history of the Gibeonites does not end there. They were exiled to Babylon with the Israelites. However, when the Israelites were allowed to come back to the their country after 70 years, they also came back.  People from all four the Gibeonite cities came back. 8

Just to put it into perspective, they must have been content to serve the Lord as woodcutters and water carriers, as proven by the fact that they came back voluntarily, and were known as Israelites. 9


Strangely, Dr Richard Dawkins never mentions these facts in his tirade against God. What is the lesson? Read the Bible in totality, not just a few selected verses.

In our next blog we will give attention to  another interesting Biblical fact that is seldom discussed.


  1. Joshua 2:8-9
  2. Matthew 1:5
  3. Joshua 2:11
  4. Joshua 9:9-10
  5. Joshua 91-27
  6. Joshua 9:21
  7. Joshua 9:23
  8. Ezra 2:25, Nehemiah 7:25
  9. Ezra 2:2b and Nehemiah 7:7b

Author: Gerard and Alida

As you can see in the photo, there are two of us. We live and work together 24/7, studying and enjoying our grandchildren. Our passion is to know and understand what will happen after death. Is there a way to provide for and invest in that?

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