GLOSSARY OF TERMS

Gibeon


Young People's Bible Dictionary

by Barbara Smith (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1965)

Gibeon. O.T. town northwest of Jerusalem. During the conquest of Canaan the inhabitants resisted the Israelites by trickery. Later the town was taken from the philistines by David. Josh. 9:3-21; 1 Chron. 14:16; 16:39-40; 2 Chron. 1:3; Jer. 28:1; Neh 3:1.


Harperís Bible Dictionary

edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)

Gibeon, a town identified with modern el-Jib, five and a half miles (9 km.) northwest of Jerusalem. The identification was made when excavations there from 1956 to 1962 by J. Pritchard uncovered over fifty jar handles of the seventh and sixth centuries b.c., many of which were inscribed with the name Gibeon. Towns associated with the Gibeonite enclave were Chephirah, Beeroth, and Kiriath-jearim (Josh. 9:17).

During the conquest of Canaan the Gibeonites, who are described as Hivites (Josh. 9:7) or Amorites (2 Sam. 21:2), tricked the Israelites into making a treaty not to harm them. It was upheld, but the Gibeonites were reduced to becoming hewers of wood and drawers of water (Josh. 9:3-27). In an ensuing battle near Gibeon (Josh. 10:1-14), the Israelites defeated a coalition of Canaanite kings led by Adoni-zedek of Jerusalem. Although Gibeon figures prominently in these narratives of the conquest, an event often dated to the thirteenth century b.c. (the Late Bronze Age), no evidence for a settlement at el-Jib during that period has been found.

Later (eleventh century b.c.) King Saul broke the treaty with the Gibeonites when he attempted to annihilate them, an act that caused famine during Davidís reign. The Gibeonites gained revenge by impaling seven of Saulís sons on the mountain of Yahweh (2 Sam. 21:1-15), possibly the high place at Gibeon. At the beginning of his reign Solomon traveled to Gibeon to sacrifice at what was called the great high place (1 Kings 3:4-15). The great stone at Gibeon (2 Sam. 20:8) may be associated with this high place.

In the time of King David young warriors led by Joab and Abner fought on the edge of a pool at Gibeon (2 Sam. 2:12-17). A circular shaft identified as the pool was found cut into bedrock at a point immediately inside the city wall. It is approximately 36 feet (11 m.) in diameter and 36 feet (11 m.) deep. Cut along its edge is a stairway that spirals down to the bottom of the shaft. Thereafter the stairway continues to descend in the form of a tunnel, to a room whose floor is 1.5 feet (.5 m.) below the modern water level. The purpose of such shafts was to provide access to the water table or springs from inside the city during times of siege. It was still a landmark in the early sixth century b.c. (Jer. 41:12).

During the eighth and seventh centuries b.c. there was a winery, attested by inscribed and stamped handles of wine jars and clusters of rock-cut pits that functioned as wine cellars. Over fifty tombs were found dating from the third to the first millennia b.c., attesting to the length of time there were settlements on this site.


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