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Gibeon

From Academic Kids

The city of Gibeon in Canaan (about 6 miles north of the center of Jerusalem in the West Bank) was one of the four cities of the Hivites, which did not easily fall to the Hebrews. The Book of Joshua and the books of Samuel record the struggle.

The city existed when the Hebrews first arrived in Canaan. With an attack on Gibeon imminent after the destruction of Jericho and Ai, its ambassadors deceived Joshua and the people of Israel into making a treaty with them. They believed that the Gibeonites, who had come to them for protection, were from a distant land, as they claimed. Without consulting the Lord, they made an agreement to defend them if attacked. When Joshua discovered that he had been deceived, he kept his covenant with the Gibeonites but forced them to forever be woodcutters and water-carriers for Israel (Joshua 9:3-27). Thus the role of Gibeon as a source manual laborers in the kingdom of Judea was given justification.

Gibeon was in the tribal territory of Benjamin and was made a Levitical city (Joshua 18:25; 21:17).The fight between the soldiers of Joab and those of Abner took place beside "the pool of Gibeon" (II Samuel ii. 12). In this area David conquered the Philistines (II Samuel v. 25; I Chronicles xiv. 16; Isaiah xxviii. 21); and there Amasa was killed (II Sam. xx. 8 et seq.). As in all fortified cities in Canaan, there was a "great high place" in Gibeon, where Solomon offered one thousand burnt offerings. On this occasion the Lord appeared to him in a dream. Hananiah came from this city (Jeremiah xxviii. 1). In post-exilic times Gibeon belonged to Judea (Neh. iii. 7).

Its site was long connected with the Arab village of el-Jib on the north side of the hill, preserving the biblical name Gibeon. Excavated by James B. Pritchard (1956-6), Gibeon has significant remains especially from the days of the Israelites. Impressive among these finds are 63 wine cellars from the 8th-7th c. B.C. Hebrew GBON inscriptions 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 the production of wine for export at Gibeon, the Hebrew inscriptions, the rock-cut wine cellars and the well-engineered water conduits that supplied the city. Archaeologists believe that the site has been occupied during parts of the Early and most of the Middle Bronze Age (c. 3000-1550 BC) and in the latter part of the Late Bronze Age (c. 1550-1200 BC), just before Joshua's conquest of Canaan. Possibly, the place was at that time a dependency of the city-state of Jerusalem and probably not fortified.

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