Employees in the second Temple; Jewish tradition regarded them as the descendants of the Gibeonites who saved themselves from death at the hands of the invading Israelites by means of a ruse; they were punished by Joshua to be ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water’ (Josh. 9: 27). They are supposed to have been in David's service (Ezra 8: 20). The Mishnah reports that nethinim could marry into the families of priests and Levites; though this is late evidence, it could be that, from the time of the Return from Exile, the nethinim were absorbed into mainstream Jewish life.