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.
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.
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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