Gibeonites are the people of Gibeon who descended from Hivites and Amorites. Hivites are the descendants from one of Ham’s sons, Canaan and one of those that occupied the Promised Land before the arrival of Israelites.  They are found on the Bible Timeline around 2300 BC.

God ordered the Israelites to avoid making any covenants with the Gibeonites and to expel them from the land. But after putting on worn out clothing, the Gibeonites were able to make the Israelites, headed by Joshua, believe that they were people from a far away place. They were able to persuade the Israelites to make a covenant and allowed the Gibeonites to live with them.

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King Saul and his sons violated the covenant made at Joshua’s time hundreds of years later when they murdered some of the Gibeonites and planned to slaughter the rest. This angered God and was only amended years later after sacrificing seven of Saul’s sons to the Gibeonites by hanging them before Jehovah at Saul’s hometown, Gibeah.

After that, Gibeonites were no longer mentioned though there are some writers who believed that they were among the Nethinim, the ones selected to serve the temple.

Gibeonites as mentioned in the Bible.

  • Joshua 10:12. Stating Amorites as the people of Gibeon.
  • 2 Samuel 21:1. Years of famine in David’s time as a result of King Saul killing the Gibeonites.
  • 2 Samuel 21:2. Gibeonites as the remnant of the Amorites.
  • 2 Samuel 21:3-14. Details about sacrificing the seven men of Saul’s sons to the Gibeonites as atonement after Saul’s treatment to the Gibeonites.
  • Joshua 9:3-21. The Gibeonites were able to trick Joshua and the Israelites that they came from a very far away place. They were able to make a covenant with the Israelites and had been allowed to live with them as the woodcutters and water carriers for the whole congregation.
  • Joshua 9:22-23. Joshua found out about the deception but spared the Gibeonites, yet cursed them by saying “you shall never cease being slaves.”

The Place Called Gibeon

Gibeon which means “hill-city” was a Canaanite town led by Joshua located to the northwest of Jerusalem. Remains of this 16 acres prehistoric city that was excavated after 6 expeditions headed by James B. Pritchard around 1956-1962 can be found at the south border of the modern Arab village named El-Jib.

Gibeon as found in the Bible

  • Joshua 10:2. Gibeon “was a great city” being “greater than Ai” and all of “its men were mighty.”
  • Joshua 18:25. Gibeon as one of the cities to be inherited by Benjamin’s sons.
  • Joshua 21:17.  Gibeon, with its pasture lands, became a Levitical city.
  • Joshua 10:12. A place where God made the sun stands still during the war between the Israelites and the Amorites.
  • 2 Samuel 2:12-17. Abner and Joab, along with their armies, met and fought at Helkath-hazzurim, a place found in Gibeon.
  • 1 Kings 3:4-5. In a “high great place” inside Gibeon, King Solomon offered sacrifices, and in his dreams God appeared and asked him what was it that he wished to receive.
  • Nehemiah 3:7. Gibeon became a part of Judea.
  • Jeremiah 28:1. Azzur’s son, Hananiah came from Gideon.
  • 1 Chronicles 21:29. The tabernacle of the Lord that Moses created and the “altar of burnt offering” can be found at a high place in Gideon.

Gibeonites Today

You may ask what happened to the Gibeonites? Their descendants are believed to be the people known today as Falashas, meaning migrants, for they are thought to have journeyed from Palestine to Ethiopia to run away when Israelites were expelled from Palestine. At the northwest of Ethiopia, a small Jewish religious community known as Beta Israel or Falasha can be found.

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21 thoughts on “Gibeonites

  1. It’s is interesting that the kingdom of the falashas, before conquered by the abyssinians, was called Kingdom of the Gideonites.
    The similarity between Gideonites and Gibeonites sounds suspicious indeed.

  2. Some literature that I read suggested that the Gibeonites were actually the Nethinims spoken of in Ezra and Nehemiah. Is this possible since they were temple servants?

  3. How the Tabernacle of The Lord that Moses Build was in Gibeon as shown in this word 1 Chronicles 21:29. The tabernacle of the Lord that Moses created and the “altar of burnt offering” can be found at a high place in Gideon.
    And 2Chronicles1:3“So Solomon, and all the congregation with him, went to the high place that was at Gibeon; for there was the tabernacle of the congregation of God, which Moses the servant of the Lord had made in the wilderness.”

  4. What’s the basis of the statement that the Gibeonites were dark-skinned? There’s no mention of it in the Bible.

    1. I found the same text on another site, and claimed the text was quoted from another book. The Bible Story by Basil Wolverton, volume 4,1964, page 62.

    2. I wondered the same thing! How do we know they were black-skinned and how comes we’ve not described the others based on the color of their skin?

    3. I was wondering the same thing. The Bible doesn’t mention it.

    4. Because the average evangelical Christian thinks that quite a few people mentioned in the Scriptures looked European. In fact, Yeah she was grandfather had African origin.
      Believe it or not, due to skin tone, we also deal with racism amongst God people. Many treated with disdain snd of no value due to darker skin within our own Christian circle, put at the bottom of the run by the other brethren. Need I go on?
      Moses married an Ethiopian yet, you’ll have ministers teach that she was from a Tribe called Ethiopia. Yes, it is important to know that because too many white Christians tend to whitewash the word of God.

      1. Correction. The average white evangelical thinks on these terms. And it was Bathsheba’s grandfather who was of African ancestry.

    5. Gibeonites were of the Canaanites:
      The Canaanites were descendants of Ham. Gen 10:6
      And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.
      The original inhabitants of the “Promised Land” – were Canaanites.

      And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

      Exo 3:17
      And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.
      Gen 10:16
      And the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite,
      Gen 10:17
      And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite,

      Gen 10:15

      And Canaan begat Sidon his firstborn, and Heth,


      Unchecked Copy Box Gen 10:16
      And the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite,

      Gen 10:17
      And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite,

  5. Very good description

  6. Difficult to believed the statement that gibeonites were dark skinned, while the others canaanites like jeriko are brigh skinned.

  7. Well ,Moses marry a black-skin woman and since this the area of the world are black- skin people existed I think k it is true plus they had black -skin pharoahs

  8. Joshua 11:16-20 .16 “So Joshua took this entire land: the hill country, all the Negev, the whole region of Goshen, the western foothills, the Arabah and the mountains of Israel with their foothills, 17 from Mount Halak, which rises toward Seir, to Baal Gad in the Valley of Lebanon below Mount Hermon. He captured all their kings and put them to death. 18 Joshua waged war against all these kings for a long time. 19 Except for the Hivites living in Gibeon, not one city made a treaty of peace with the Israelites, who took them all in battle. 20 For it was the Lord himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the Lord had commanded Moses.”
    So, it seems like God had a plan to save the Gibeonites even though it seems rather strange that this comically devious way of gaining mercy is His way. God hardened the hearts of all the other “nations” but gave favor to the Gibeonites who were recognized by their neighbors as more noble and better warriors. Joshua 10:2 God picks them to work as servants at His altar and in Nehemiah they are there rebuilding the city of Jerusalem. Saul in one of his acts of madness tries to wipe them out but God severely punishes Saul and the Benjaminites for doing that.2 Sam 21

    1. Well said, sir!

    2. Wow yes, have been reading about the Gibeonites quite a bit, and obviously God blessed them, or they would have been wiped out. Thank you for your insite.

  9. I really can’t understand why people find it so hard to believe some Jews are not dark skinned, if the Gibeonites were descendants of Ham.

    1. It is my understanding, that Ham was white, but his wife, was black, that’s how the black race entered the picture…

  10. I was wondering the same thing. It’s not right jumping into such conclusions on the basis of assumptions.

  11. I believe the color of their skin to be irrelevant but interesting. I believe that the big take away from the story of the Gibeonites is that the judgement of God is not necessarily enacted immediately. The judgement of God on Israel for Saul’s slaughter of them came many many years after the offense. I’m sure that applying this principle to us might become a bit uncomfortable but necessary.

  12. The Falasha Jews of Ethiopia were certified by the Orthodox rabbis of Israel before they were allowed a right of return a few decades back…This I read in a book The Sign and the Seal….
    To me the famine was only ended when the Lord Gods wrath was ended…..
    What was required was for blood to be shed by Sauls relatives….Saul had disgraced the memory of Gods mercy to the Gibeonites…,,,,by shedding innocent blood.. We are all like Mephibosheth,,,,,we deserve death,we are under a curse,and yet we have been called to sit @ the Kings table because of His mercy….

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