God commanded Joshua to lead the Israelites into the promised land and take possession of it. He began by destroying Jericho and Ai. Most of the other kings banded together to resist, but one group took a different approach.
But when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, they on their part acted with cunning and went and made ready provisions and took worn-out sacks for their donkeys, and wineskins, worn-out and torn and mended, with worn-out, patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes. And all their provisions were dry and crumbly. And they went to Joshua in the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a distant country, so now make a covenant with us.” (Joshua 9:3-6)
The Israelites believed the Gibeonites and made a covenant without asking God for guidance. Afterward they learned the Gibeonites lived nearby.
And the people of Israel set out and reached their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon, Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim. (Joshua 9:17)
The Israelites couldn’t destroy the Gibeonites because of the covenant they had made with them, but they punished them for their deception by sentencing them to perpetual slavery.
But Joshua made them that day cutters of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the Lord, to this day, in the place that he should choose. (Joshua 9:27)
The Amorite cities around Gibeon decided to punish Gibeon for making peace with the Israelites.
Then the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, and the king of Eglon, gathered their forces and went up with all their armies and encamped against Gibeon and made war against it. (Joshua 10:5)
The Israelites came to the aid of their new allies and God helped them to be victorious.
So Joshua came upon them suddenly, having marched up all night from Gilgal. And the Lord threw them into a panic before Israel, who struck them with a great blow at Gibeon and chased them by the way of the ascent of Beth-horon and struck them as far as Azekah and Makkedah.And as they fled before Israel, while they were going down the ascent of Beth-horon, the Lord threw down large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died because of the hailstones than the sons of Israel killed with the sword. (Joshua 10:9-11)
Gibeonites might have been involved in an incident that took place much later. After King Saul was killed in battle with the Philistines the people of Judah made David their king but the other tribes remained loyal to Saul and served his son Ish-bosheth.
Now Saul’s son had two men who were captains of raiding bands; the name of the one was Baanah, and the name of the other Rechab, sons of Rimmon a man of Benjamin from Beeroth (for Beeroth also is counted part of Benjamin;the Beerothites fled to Gittaim and have been sojourners there to this day). (2 Samuel 4:2,3)
The father of Baanah and Rechab was from Beeroth, one of the Gibeonite cities. This means they might have been Gibeonites and not true Israelites. If so, Ish-bosheth must have released them from the service to which they had been condemned and made them part of his army. If this was the case it was a mistake for which he paid dearly.
Now the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab and Baanah, set out, and about the heat of the day they came to the house of Ish-bosheth as he was taking his noonday rest. And they came into the midst of the house as if to get wheat, and they stabbed him in the stomach. Then Rechab and Baanah his brother escaped. When they came into the house, as he lay on his bed in his bedroom, they struck him and put him to death and beheaded him.
They took his head and went by the way of the Arabah all night, and brought the head of Ish-bosheth to David at Hebron. And they said to the king, “Here is the head of Ish-bosheth, the son of Saul, your enemy, who sought your life. The Lord has avenged my lord the king this day on Saul and on his offspring.”
But David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, “As the Lord lives, who has redeemed my life out of every adversity, when one told me, ‘Behold, Saul is dead,’ and thought he was bringing good news, I seized him and killed him at Ziklag, which was the reward I gave him for his news. How much more, when wicked men have killed a righteous man in his own house on his bed, shall I not now require his blood at your hand and destroy you from the earth?”
And David commanded his young men, and they killed them and cut off their hands and feet and hanged them beside the pool at Hebron. But they took the head of Ish-bosheth and buried it in the tomb of Abner at Hebron. (2 Samuel 4:5-12)
Their real motive might not have been loyalty to David but a desire for revenge. Saul had ignored the covenant Joshua had made and tried to destroy the Gibeonites. Rather than waiting for God to avenge the wrong Rechab and Baanah took matters into their own hands. When the proper time came God did act to avenge the Gibeonites for Saul’s action.
Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year. And David sought the face of the LORD. And the LORD said, “There is bloodguilt on Saul and on his house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.” (2 Samuel 21:1)
David asked the Gibeonites what it would take to satisfy them.
So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them. Now the Gibeonites were not of the people of Israel but of the remnant of the Amorites. Although the people of Israel had sworn to spare them, Saul had sought to strike them down in his zeal for the people of Israel and Judah. And David said to the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? And how shall I make atonement, that you may bless the heritage of the Lord?”
The Gibeonites said to him, “It is not a matter of silver or gold between us and Saul or his house; neither is it for us to put any man to death in Israel.”
And he said, “What do you say that I shall do for you?”
They said to the king, “The man who consumed us and planned to destroy us, so that we should have no place in all the territory of Israel,let seven of his sons be given to us, so that we may hang them before the Lord at Gibeah of Saul, the chosen of the Lord.”
And the king said, “I will give them.” (2 Samuel 21:2-6)
When someone does something evil to us it is always better to leave vengeance to God.