Hewers (of wood)

See also Hewer

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.