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A very wise community humbled themselves before Joshua and the Israelites to make a convenant. They did also use deception, but the combination of humility and deceit saved their lives. They became servants as opposed to a slaughtered people. The most important point for the people of God is that we are to keep our word--it is an important part of being children of God. If Joshua had consulted God in prayer, however, they would not have fallen for the scam.
New King James Version (NKJV)
19 Then all the rulers said to all the congregation, “We have sworn to them by the Lord God of Israel; now therefore, we may not touch them. 20 This we will do to them: We will let them live, lest wrath be upon us because of the oath which we swore to them.”
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