2 Samuel 21:1 - 14
ESV - 1 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 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.
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Joshua had a treaty with the Gibeonites. After the destruction of Jericho and Ai, the people of Gibeon sent ambassadors to trick Joshua and the Israelites into making a treaty with them. According to the Bible, the Israelites were commanded to destroy all inhabitants of Canaan. The Gibeonites presented themselves as ambassadors from a distant, powerful land. Without consulting the high priests, Israel entered into a mutual pact with the Gibeonites. Joshua realized he had been deceived, but he kept the letter of his covenant with the Gibeonites to let them live; however, he cursed and enslaved them as woodcutters and water-carriers. Saul later pursued the Gibeonites and sought to kill them off in his zeal for the children of Israel and Judah. Much later, after the death of Absalom and king David's restoration to his throne, Israel was visited by a grievous famine, which was believed to be as a result of King Saul's treatment of the Gibeonites.
God was trying to drum it into the ears of the Israelites that they needed to be credible people. that they should always honour thier words. The vow made by Joshua was made on behalf of Israel and must be honoured. On that occasion unfaithfulness was what Israel had yo pay for. Change of leadership must not translate to change of vow or agreement - let your "yes be yes & no be no". If God allowed such act to go unchallenged, at some point the israelites might change the ten commandment which they had agreed to uphold.
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