Hewer

Applies especially to a wood-worker or wood-gatherer (compare Arabic chattab, "a woodman") (Jos 9:21,23,17; 2Ch 2:10; Jer 46:22). Gathering wood, like drawing water, was a menial task. Special servants were assigned to the work (De 29:11). Joshua set the Gibeonites to hewing wood and drawing water as a punishment for their trickery, whereas were it not for the oath which the Israelites had sworn, the Gibeonites would probably have been killed.

See Drawer of Water.

chatsbh, from the root "to cut" or "to carve," applies to hewers of stone in 1Ki 5:15; 2Ki 12:12; 1Ch 22:15; 2Ch 2:18.

Additional Material

HEWERS (of wood) (חֹטֵ֣ב, Deut 29:11; Josh 9:21, 23, 27). This is a special social classification which was imposed on the Gibeonites, residents of four towns in the area of Jerusalem. This was done because they had tricked Joshua into a treaty fearing that their fate might be the same as Jericho and Ai. This status, which is better defined as forced labor, is not quite as degrading as slavery, but is still very low on the social ladder. The Hebrews despised forced labor as is later evidenced during the reign of Solomon. This status would include the gatherers and cutters of firewood (Deut 29:11). Joshua also delegated the Gibeonites to be “drawers of water” (Josh 9:27) which would fit with their low class status. Some of them became the later Temple slaves.

Not all woodcutters or woodsmen are included in this social status for social levels change frequently in a society. Those referred to in 2 Chronicles 2:10 and Jeremiah 46:22 are important segments of the society. With the increased construction during the united monarchy, a carpenter or craftsman would be in great demand.