Josh 9:1-15 Joshua is deceived into making a peace treaty with the Hivites – the people of Gibeon (see 5 on Map 48).
Josh 9:16-27 When the deception is discovered, the Gibeonites are forced to become woodcutters and water-carriers for the Israelites.
Al Jib, the site of Gibeon ( יעקב )
Gibeon was an ancient settlement 5½ miles / 9 km north west of Jerusalem and only 1 mile / 1.5 km north of the hilltop settlement of Mizpah. It was one of the cities of Canaan conquered by the Israelites shortly after the destruction of Jericho in c.1406 BC (see Joshua 9:1-27).
Fearing that the Israelites would reduce their city to rubble – as Joshua had done at Jericho and Ai – the Hivite people of Gibeon approached the Israelite camp at Gilgal and asked for a peace treaty, claiming to be from a distant city. They deliberately dressed themselves in travel-worn clothes and carried mouldy provisions and leaking wineskins to give the impression of having travelled a great distance. The Israelites were completely taken in, and swore an oath of friendship which they were unable to break when, shortly afterwards, they discovered that the Gibeonites were really close neighbours.
As a punishment, the people of Gibeon were taken into slavery as menial servants, cutting firewood and collecting water from the deep wells. Much later, the famine that afflicted Israel towards the end of King David’s reign was blamed on King Saul’s violation of this treaty when he attempted to annihilate the Gibeonites (see 2 Samuel 21:1-6).
After it was conquered by the Israelites, Gibeon was besieged by the King of Jerusalem and four other Amorite kings of Canaan. Joshua marched overnight from Gilgal, and defeated the Amorites in a surprise attack. The sun was said to stand still all day on this memorable occasion (see Joshua 10:12-14). Gibeon then became one of the cities of the tribe of Benjamin allocated to the Levites who performed a priestly function for the people of Israel (see Joshua 21:17).
After David became King of Judah in 1011 BC, his soldiers, under the command of Joab, defeated the forces of Saul’s son Ishbosheth (who had been proclaimed King of Israel by Saul’s general, Abner) at the Pool of Gibeon (see 2 Samuel 2:8-17). It was here, also, that David defeated the Philistines (see 2 Samuel 5:25).
Modern-day visitors to the picturesque Palestinian village of Al-Jib can explore the hilltop site of ancient Gibeon, and look south across the Valley of Gibeon to the mosque and minaret marking the traditional site of Samuel’s Tomb at Mizpah. Still visible today is a huge well – the Pool of Gibeon - nearly 39 feet / 12 m in diameter and over 35 feet / 10 m deep. The well has a spiral staircase cut into the walls, which continues downwards to a tunnel leading to an underground reservoir 78 feet / 24 m below the city. A later tunnel, giving access to the underground water cistern from the base of the hill, is still in use today.
Samuel 's Tomb (Nebi Samwil) at Mizpah, near Gibeon (Tamarah)
Josh 10:1-5 The five Amorite kings of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish and Eglon attack Gibeon.
Josh 10:6-15 Joshua marches all night from the camp at Gilgal to Gibeon, makes a surprise attack on the Amorite kings, and pursues them through the mountain pass at Beth Horon (meaning ‘House of Horon’ - a Canaanite god of the underworld) and south to Azekah and Makkedah (see 6 on Map 48).
Josh 10:16-27 The five Amorite kings are found hiding in a cave at Makkedah. They are captured and killed.
Josh 10:28 Joshua captures Makkedah.