Gibeonites and Covenant

Gibeonites and Covenant

Gibeon was an ancient Canaanite city north of Jerusalem.  The inhabitants of Gibeon were Hivites as well as Amorites.  (Joshua 10:12; 11:19; II Samuel 21:2) They were descendants of Canaan, son of Ham and grandson of Noah.   Now the remains of the city are located near the Palestinian village Al-Jib. 

1) Deception: Gibeonites pretended to be travelers from a far-off place and showed as evidence the moldy provisions, worn out clothes and sandals.      

2) Covenant:  Joshua without consulting God made an oath in the Name of Jehovah and executed a covenant or peace treaty with Gibeonites. Unknowingly Joshua makes a blunder as Lord had forbidden to make peace with them.  (Deuteronomy 20:16-18)   

3) Punishment: Later they discovered that Gibeonites were neighbours, living within three days walk from them.  (Joshua 9:17) Joshua realized his foolishness as he had promised in the name of Jehovah, he cannot annul that covenant. Hence, he cursed them to do service as woodcutters and watercarriers forever in the house of the Lord. (Joshua 9:23) Thus Gibeonites were integrated to Israel.  

4) Covenant violated:  After 400 plus years, King Saul decided to completely exterminate the Gibeonites, in his unwarranted zeal for Israel and Judah.  (II Samuel 21:1) Perhaps, it was Saul and his household executed this genocide. According to Jewish tradition, it was like slaughter of priests at Nob. (I Samuel 22:6-19) 

5) Famine:  During David’s time there was famine in the land.  The violation of covenant was the reason for famine.  David summoned the surviving Gibeonites.  They demanded seven of male descendants of Saul to be killed to avenge their relatives’ death. 

6) Resolution:  David handed over Armoni, Mephibosheth (not son of Jonathan with whom David made a covenant (II Samuel 21:1-9)) and five sons of Merab daughter of Saul.  Gibeonites hanged them. Then the famine was over.  

Knowing will of God before making covenant is essential.  Even in marriage covenant, the responsibility to do investigation is essential.  Violation of covenant brings consequences.  A nation cannot violate a covenant even after 400 years.  

Do I keep my promises and covenants?

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