J. B. Pritchard excavated the site (a.d. 1957-62). All the remains are from the Iron Age (Israelite period) and later, except for a few traces of the Late Bronze Age. The main discoveries were two water tunnels, a large pool (mentioned in
GIBEON gĭb’ ĭ ən (גִּבְעֹ֖ון, LXX Γαβαών, meaning hill). A city about six m. NW of Jerusalem.
Gibeon is first mentioned in connection with Joshua’s assault on the hill country. After taking Jericho and Ai, his march would have taken him N of Jerusalem. A delegation from Gibeon came to him, however, under the guise of having taken a long journey (
This treaty caused several problems. Upon discovering the ruse, Joshua did not destroy them but put them in servitude to the Israelites as “hewers of wood and drawers of water” (
The occupants of Gibeon were Hivites (perhaps Horites or Hurrians) according to
Another problem was Saul’s apparent intolerance of non-Israelite peoples in Israel.
The famous contest between the twelve soldiers of Abner and the twelve of Joab at the pool of Gibeon had nothing to do with the people of Gibeon themselves (
The last major happening at Gibeon was Solomon’s going to the high place to sacrifice (
Five hundred years later, Melatiah the Gibeonite and other men of Gibeon helped Nehemiah rebuild walls (
The false prophet Hananiah, whose death Jeremiah foretold, was from Gibeon (
During the summers of 1956, ’57, ’59 and ’60, James B. Pritchard directed the expeditions of the University of Pennsylvania Museum to el-Jib, the modern Arab. name of Gibeon. These expeditions not only thoroughly excavated the most famous feature of both ancient and modern Gibeon, viz., the great pool (
The dead during the Rom. period were buried most exquisitely in the necropolis of Gibeon. Several tombs plus a columbarium were excavated. These produced some of the finest pottery specimens.
By far the most spectacular feature was the great pool, thirty-seven ft. in diameter and eighty-two ft. deep with a circular staircase of seventy-nine steps cut out of the rock. This pool is one of the best-known archeological attractions. Actually the pool was never used to hold water but was part of a rather complete waterworks that assured the citizens of water even during times of siege. To reach the water required the descent of seventy-nine steps of the circular “pool” and then a tunnel 167 ft. long that descended ninety-three more steps. At the bottom was the cistern room filled with water from the main spring outside the city wall. This tunnel also was cut from the solid rock, although the crookedness of it indicates that the engineers followed the natural fissures of the rock. See Water.
J. B. Pritchard, Gibeon, Where the Sun Stood Still (1962).
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
One of the royal cities of the Hivites (
1. The Gibeonites:
By a stratagem the Gibeonites secured for themselves and their allies in Chephirah, Beeroth and Kirjath-jearim immunity from attack by the Israelites. Terrified by the fate of Jericho and Ai, a company disguised as ambassadors from a far country, their garments and shoes worn, and their provisions moldy as from the length of their journey, went to Joshua at Gilgal, and persuaded him and the princes of Israel to make a covenant with them. Three days later the deception was discovered and the wrath of the congregation of Israel aroused. In virtue of the covenant their lives were secured; but for their duplicity Joshua cursed them, and condemned them to be bondsmen, "hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God" (
A three years’ famine in the days of David was attributed to God’s anger at the unexpiated crime of Saul in slaying the Gibeonites. He did this "in his zeal for .... Israel and Judah," who may have fretted at the inconvenience of having the Gibeonites among them. The latter believed that Saul’s desire was to destroy them utterly. When David tried to arrange matters with them they stood upon their ancient rights, claiming life for life. They would take no rights blood money: they demanded blood from the family of the slayer of their people. This demand David could not resist, and handed over to them seven sons of Saul (
2. The Champions:
The army of Ishbosheth under Abner, and that of David under Joab, met at the pool of Gibeon. An attempt to settle the quarrel, by means of 12 champions on either side, failed, as each man slew his fellow, and the 24 perished side by side. A "sore battle" ensued in which Abner was beaten; he was pursued by the fleet-footed Asahel, brother of Joab, whom he slew.
Possibly we should read "Gibeon" instead of "Geba" in
3. Murder of Amasa:
When, after the death of Absalom and the suppression of his rebellion, Bichri raised the standard of revolt, Amasa was sent to call out the men of Judah against him. Tarrying longer than the time appointed, there was danger lest Bichri might have opportunity to strengthen his position; so David dispatched Abishai and the troops that were with him to attack Bichri at once. Joab went with this expedition. Obviously he could never be content with a second place. The force of Amasa was met at "the great stone of Gibeon." There Joab treacherously slew that unsuspecting general, and, himself assuming command, stamped out the rebellion with his accustomed thoroughness (
4. The Sanctuary:
Gibeon was the seat of an ancient sanctuary, called in
By "the great waters that are in Gibeon" Johanan overtook Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and freed the captives he had taken from Mizpah (
5. Identification and Description:
The ancient city is represented by the modern village el-Jib. It is fully 5 miles Northwest of Jerusalem, and about a mile North of Neby Samwil on a double knoll, with terraced slopes, but rocky and precipitous to the East. The village stands amid striking remains of antiquity. About a hundred paces from the village to the East is a large reservoir with a spring. Lower down, among the olives, are the remains of another and larger reservoir, which collected the overflow from the first. This is probably the "pool" of