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Gibeon (Hebrew: גבעון‎, Standard Hebrew Giv'on, Tiberian Hebrew Giḇʻôn) was a Canaanite city north of Jerusalem that was conquered by Joshua. Joshua 10:12 and 2 Samuel 21:2 describes the Gibeonites as not being Israelites, but as Amorites.

Giv'on Hadashah ("New Gibeon") is an Israeli settlement located west of al-Jib.


Biblical account


Joshua's treaty with the Hivites

After the destruction of Jericho and Ai, the people of Gibeon (Hivites) 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 (Joshua 9:3-27).

2 Samuel 21:2 indicates that Saul pursued the Gibeonites and sought to kill them off "in his zeal for the children of Israel and Judah". The only ones who survived were those who fled beyond Israel. (2 Samuel 21:5)

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. (2 Samuel 21:1)

Other references

Gibeon was located in the tribal territory of Benjamin (Joshua 18:25), and it was made a Levitical city (Joshua 21:17). The city is also the place where God made the sun stand still during the Israelites' war with the Amorites. (Joshua 10:12)

The fight between the soldiers of Joab and those of Abner took place beside the Pool of Gibeon (2 Samuel 2:12). It was in this area that David conquered the Philistines (2 Samuel 5:25 and 1 Chronicles 14:16).

After David became king of the United Monarchy, he handed over Armoni and Mephibosheth, two of the sons of Saul and the five sons of Merab (Saul's daughter) to the Gibeonites, who hanged them. (2 Samuel 21:8-9)

Amasa was also killed here (2 Samuel 20:8). There was a "great high place" in Gibeon where Solomon offered one thousand burnt offerings (1 Kings 3:4). On this occasion the God appeared to him in a dream (1 Kings 3:15). Hananiah came from this city (Jeremiah 28:1 ). After the exile of the Israelites to Babylon, Gibeon belonged to Judea (Nehemiah 3:7). For some period of time, the Tabernacle of the LORD was set up here at the high place. (1 Chronicles 21:29)


The earliest known mention of Gibeon in an extra-Biblical source is in a list of cities on the wall of the Amum temple at Karnak, celebrating the invasion of Palestine by Shoshenq I (945-924 BCE).[1]

The remains of Gibeon were excavated in 6 expeditions from 1956 to 1962, led by the University of Pennsylvania archaeologist James B. Pritchard.[2][3][4]

Significant remains were discovered, many from the Israelite period. Impressive among these finds are sixty-three wine cellars from the 8th to 7th century BC. Hebrew inscriptions of גבען (GBʻN) on the handles of wine storage jars, most of which were excavated from a large pool matching the biblical description, made the identification of Gibeon secure and a landmark product of biblical archaeology. Pritchard published articles on their production of wine, the Hebrew inscriptions, the rock-cut wine cellars, and the well engineered water conduits that supplied the city water.

The first temporary occupation of the site was in the Middle Bronze Age I. Later in the Bronze Age there was a permanent settlement, but the only evidence found of occupation in the Late Bronze Age (the time of Joshua, according to traditional chronology) was some pottery and other deposits found in tombs which had been cut at a much earlier date.[3][4]

During the early Iron Age, a massive wall was constructed around the crown of the hill and a huge pool was cut in the living rock just inside the wall. It is 11.8m in diameter and 10.8m deep, with a spiral staircase of 79 steps cut into the walls of the pool, continuing downwards into a tunnel that provides access to a water chamber 24m below the level of the city. It is possible, but cannot be proven, that this structure is the "pool of Gibeon" of 2 Samuel 2:13. Later in the Iron Age, another tunnel of 93 steps was constructed to a better water source below the city starting from a point near the pool. A second access point to this source from the base of the hill is still in use today.[2][3] This was apparently the city's period of greatest prosperity. In the 8th and 7th century BCE there was a considerable wine industry there; cellars with room for 95,000 liters of wine have been found. From the 6th to the beginning of the 1st century BCE, there is scant evidence of occupation. During the Roman period there was considerable building, including stepped baths and water conduits.[2][3]

Gibeon was possibly a dependency of the city-state Jerusalem, and it was probably not fortified at the time.

The identification of the ancient Canaanite city of Gibeon with modern al-Jib, conjectured since the 17th century, was proved by Hebrew inscriptions unearthed in 1956.[3]

In Jewish law

In Judaism, the alleged descendants of the Gibeonites are treated differently from ordinary Jews. Such people are known as Natinim. According to classical Jewish writers, they may not, for example, marry an ordinary Jew[5].

See also


  1. ^ J. Blenkinsopp, Gibeon and Israel (Cambridge University Press, 1972), p3.
  2. ^ a b c J. B. Pritchard, Gibeon: where the sun stood still (Princeton University Press, 1962).
  3. ^ a b c d e E. Stern (ed.), The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, article "Gibeon", Israel Exploration Society & Carta (1993), Vol 2, pp511-514.
  4. ^ a b J. B. Pritchard, Culture and History, in J. P. Hyatt (ed.) The Bible in Modern Scholarship (Abingdon Press, 1965), pp313-324.
  5. ^ Yebamot 8:3

External links

Coordinates: 31°50′51″N 35°11′00″E / 31.847451°N 35.183351°E / 31.847451; 35.183351


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