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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.

Contents

Biblical account

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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)

Archeology

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

References

  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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hill-city, "one of the royal cities, greater than Ai, and all the men thereof were mighty" (Josh 10:2). Its inhabitants were Hivites (11:19). It lay within the territory of Benjamin, and became a priest-city (18:25; 21:17). Here the tabernacle was set up after the destruction of Nob, and here it remained many years till the temple was built by Solomon. It is represented by the modern el-Jib, to the south-west of Ai, and about 5 1/2 miles north-north-west of Jerusalem.

A deputation of the Gibeonites, with their allies from three other cities (Josh. 9;17), visited the camp at Gilgal, and by false representations induced Joshua to enter into a league with them, although the Israelites had been specially warned against any league with the inhabitants of Canaan (Ex 23:32; 34:12; Num 33:55; Deut 7:2). The deception practised on Joshua was detected three days later; but the oath rashly sworn "by Jehovah God of Israel" was kept, and the lives of the Gibeonites were spared. They were, however, made "bondmen" to the sanctuary (Josh 9:23).

The most remarkable incident connected with this city was the victory Joshua gained over the kings of Palestine (Josh 10:16-27). The battle here fought has been regarded as "one of the most important in the history of the world." The kings of southern Canaan entered into a confederacy against Gibeon (because it had entered into a league with Joshua) under the leadership of Adoni-zedec, king of Jerusalem, and marched upon Gibeon with the view of taking possession of it. The Gibeonites entreated Joshua to come to their aid with the utmost speed. His army came suddenly upon that of the Amorite kings as it lay encamped before the city. It was completely routed, and only broken remnants of their great host found refuge in the fenced cities. The five confederate kings who led the army were taken prisoners, and put to death at Makkedah (q.v.). This eventful battle of Beth-horon sealed the fate of all the cities of Southern Palestine. Among the Amarna tablets is a letter from Adoni-zedec (q.v.) to the king of Egypt, written probably at Makkedah after the defeat, showing that the kings contemplated flight into Egypt.

This place is again brought into notice as the scene of a battle between the army of Ish-bosheth under Abner and that of David led by Joab. At the suggestion of Abner, to spare the effusion of blood twelve men on either side were chosen to decide the battle. The issue was unexpected; for each of the men slew his fellow, and thus they all perished. The two armies then engaged in battle, in which Abner and his host were routed and put to flight (2 Sam 2:12-17). This battle led to a virtual truce between Judah and Israel, Judah, under David, increasing in power; and Israel, under Ish-bosheth, continually losing ground.

Soon after the death of Absalom and David's restoration to his throne his kingdom was visited by a grievous famine, which was found to be a punishment for Saul's violation (2 Sam 21:2, 5) of the covenant with the Gibeonites (Josh 9:3-27). The Gibeonites demanded blood for the wrong that had been done to them, and accordingly David gave up to them the two sons of Rizpah (q.v.) and the five sons of Michal, and these the Gibeonites took and hanged or crucified "in the hill before the Lord" (2 Sam 21:9); and there the bodies hung for six months (21:10), and all the while Rizpah watched over the blackening corpses and "suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on them by day, nor the beasts of the field by night." David afterwards removed the bones of Saul and Jonathan at Jabeshgilead (21:12, 13).

Here, "at the great stone," Amasa was put to death by Joab (2 Sam 20:5-10). To the altar of burnt-offering which was at Gibeon, Joab (1 Kg 2:28-34), who had taken the side of Adonijah, fled for sanctuary in the beginning of Solomon's reign, and was there also slain by the hand of Benaiah.

Soon after he came to the throne, Solomon paid a visit of state to Gibeon, there to offer sacrifices (1 Kg 3:4; 2Chr 1:3). On this occasion the Lord appeared to him in a memorable dream, recorded in 1 Kg 3:5-15; 2Chr 1:7-12. When the temple was built "all the men of Israel assembled themselves" to king Solomon, and brought up from Gibeon the tabernacle and "all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle" to Jerusalem, where they remained till they were carried away by Nebuchadnezzar (2Kg 24:13).

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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