Rechab and Baanah were brothers from the Israelite tribe of Benjamin. Their brief story can be found in 2 Samuel 4. These two men were raiding captains for Ish-Bosheth’s army (verse 2). They are identified as “sons of Rimmon the Beerothite” (verse 2)—Beeroth being a former city of the Gibeonites.
King Ish-Bosheth was Saul’s son and of the same tribe as Rechab and Baanah. Saul’s former army commander, Abner, had made Ish-bosheth king of the northern kingdom of Israel in opposition to God’s choice, King David, who at first ruled only the tribe of Judah. Ish-Bosheth made Abner angry by accusing him of misconduct, and Abner defected to David. However, Abner was murdered by King David’s commander, Joab, and this caused Ish-Bosheth to lose his courage (2 Samuel 4:1).
Rechab and Baanah must have seen that Ish-Bosheth’s position was now a shaky one, so they devised a plan to ingratiate themselves with King David. One afternoon, they came to Ish-Bosheth’s house under the pretense of collecting wheat (possibly as food for their troops) and sneaked up to Ish-Bosheth’s room while he rested (2 Samuel 4:5). There, Rechab and Baanah stabbed Ish-Bosheth in the stomach, killing him (verse 6). They then cut off his head and fled to Hebron by night to see King David (verse 7).
Thinking David would be pleased with them for killing his enemy, Rechab and Baanah presented Ish-Bosheth’s head to David, saying, “Here is the head of Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, your enemy, who tried to kill you. This day the Lord has avenged my lord the king against Saul and his offspring” (2 Samuel 4:8). The two men were apparently unaware that David had earlier executed a man who had gleefully claimed to have killed King Saul after Saul had been mortally wounded by the Philistines (2 Samuel 1:1–16). Just as he had done to that man, David ordered the execution of Rechab and Baanah for their treachery, saying that “wicked men have killed an innocent man in his own house and on his own bed” (2 Samuel 4:11).
After Rechab and Baanah were executed, David ordered that their hands and feet be cut off and their bodies hanged by the pool at Hebron, possibly as a warning of what would happen if anyone were to harm a member of Saul’s family. As for Ish-Bosheth, David buried his head in the tomb of Abner (2 Samuel 4:12).