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Holman Bible Dictionary [1]


Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [2]

(Heb. Giboni', גַּבְעֹנַי ; Sept. Γαβαωνίτης ), the designation of the people of the Canaanitish city GIBEON (See Gibeon) , (q.v.), and perhaps also of the three cities associated with Gibeon ( Joshua 9:17) Hivites who, on the discovery of the stratagem by which they had obtained the protection of the Israelites, were condemned to be perpetual bondmen, hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation, and for the house of God and altar of Jehovah ( Joshua 9:23;  Joshua 9:27). The compact, although the punishment of fraud, was faithfully observed on both sides (see Benzel, Syntagm Dissertt. 3:122 sq.). Saul, however, appears to have broken this covenant, and in a fit of enthusiasm or patriotism to have killed some, and devised a general massacre of the rest ( 2 Samuel 21:1-2;  2 Samuel 21:5). This was expiated many years after by David, at the suggestion of the priestly oracle, giving up seven men of Saul's descendants to the Gibeonites, who hung them or crucified them "before Jehovah" as a kind of sacrifice in Gibeah, Saul's own town (4, 6, 9). At this time, or, at any rate, at the time pot of the composition of the narrative, the Gibeonites were so identified with Israel that the historian is obliged to insert a note explaining their origin and their non-Israelite extraction ( 2 Samuel 21:2). The actual name "Gibeonites" appears only in this passage of 2 Samuel There is not the slightest evidence for the allegation which has been sometimes made against David, that he purposely contrived or greedily fell in with this device, in order to weaken the house of Saul and place it under a darker stigma. On the contrary, David's conduct throughout to that house was in the highest degree generous and noble; and at the very time when this fresh public calamity befell it, he took occasion to have the bones of Saul and Jonathan, along with the bones of the seven now publicly hanged, gathered together and honorably buried in the sepulcher of Kish. (See David). From this time there is no mention of. the Gibeonites as a distinct people; but most writers suppose they were included among the Nethinim, who were appointed for the service of the Temple ( 1 Chronicles 9:2). Those of the Canaanites who were afterwards subdued and had their lives spared were probably added to the Gibeonites. We see in  Ezra 8:20;  Ezra 2:58;  1 Kings 9:20-21, that David, Solomon, and the princes of Judah gave many such to the Lord; these Nethinim being carried into captivity with Judah and the Levites, many of them returned with Ezra, Zerubbabel, and Nehemiah, and coithinued, as before, in the service of the Temple, under the priests and Levites. (See De Platen, De Religione Gibebnitarum, Rost. 1703; Fecht id. ib. 1731.) (See Nethinim).

Individual Gibeonites named are;

(1) Ismaiah . one of the Benjamites who joined David in his difficulties ( 1 Chronicles 12:4);

(2) Melatiah , one of those who assisted Nehemiah in repairing the wall of Jerusalem ( Nehemiah 3:7);

(3) Hananiah , the son of Azur, a false prophet from Gibeon, who opposed Jeremiah, and shortly afterwards died ( Jeremiah 28:1;  Jeremiah 28:10;  Jeremiah 28:13;  Jeremiah 28:17).