Gibeon, from the Hebrew word pronounced gib-own meaning hilly, was located about 6 miles northwest of Jerusalem. As such, it was one of the Bible Places that were the focus of many notable events of Bible History during the period from Joshua to King Solomon. It was also the scene of one of the first recorded uses of "air support" of ground troops, The Lord's bombardment of Canaanite armies with large hail stones, and of the miraculous "long day."
At the time that the Israelites entered the land given to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Gibeon was inhabited by Hivites.
"the Hivites the inhabitants of Gibeon" (Joshua 11:19 KJV)
When the people of Gibeon heard of what the advancing Israelites did to other Canaanite cities, they misrepresented themselves to Joshua, who got deceived because he "asked not counsel at the mouth of The Lord," and entered into a treaty with him - a treaty that Joshua honored because he had sworn an oath to The Lord, even after he discovered that it was based on fraud, and despite The Lord having told the Israelites not to enter into any treaty with the inhabitants of the land:
"And when the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done unto Jericho and to Ai, They did work wilily, and went and made as if they had been ambassadors, and took old sacks upon their asses, and wine bottles, old, and rent, and bound up; And old shoes and clouted upon their feet, and old garments upon them; and all the bread of their provision was dry and mouldy. And they went to Joshua unto the camp at Gilgal, and said unto him, and to the men of Israel, We be come from a far country: now therefore make ye a league with us." (Joshua 9:3-6 KJV)
"And the men took of their victuals, and asked not counsel at the mouth of The Lord. And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation sware unto them. And it came to pass at the end of three days after they had made a league with them, that they heard that they were their neighbours, and that they dwelt among them."
"And the children of Israel smote them not, because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by The Lord God of Israel. And all the congregation murmured against the princes. But all the princes said unto all the congregation, We have sworn unto them by The Lord God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them. This we will do to them; we will even let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath which we sware unto them. And the princes said unto them, Let them live; but let them be hewers of wood and drawers of water unto all the congregation; as the princes had promised them." (Joshua 9:14-21 KJV)
Gibeon was assigned to be within the tribal lands of Benjamin (see also Division Of The Land and Tribal Lands); the Benjamites later made it one of their cities that were given to the Levites, who, as the priests, were distributed among the lands of all of the other tribes:
"Now the cities of the tribe of the children of Benjamin according to their families were ... Gibeon" (Joshua 18:2,25 KJV)
"And the children of Israel gave unto the Levites out of their inheritance, at the commandment of The Lord, these cities and their suburbs ... out of the tribe of Benjamin, Gibeon with her suburbs" (Joshua 21:3,17 KJV)
The treaty that Joshua made with the Gibeonites was honored after the Gibeonites were attacked by other Canaanite kings who held territory in the land of Israel (including Jerusalem) at that early time; not only did the Israelites fight for the Gibeonites, but The Lord Himself, in one of the first recorded uses of aerial bombardment of ground forces in warfare, "The Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them." Gibeon was also the scene of Joshua's "long day" in which the "sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day":
"Wherefore Adonizedek king of Jerusalem sent unto Hoham king of Hebron, and unto Piram king of Jarmuth, and unto Japhia king of Lachish, and unto Debir king of Eglon, saying, Come up unto me, and help me, that we may smite Gibeon: for it hath made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel. Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, the king of Hebron, the king of Jarmuth, the king of Lachish, the king of Eglon, gathered themselves together, and went up, they and all their hosts, and encamped before Gibeon, and made war against it."
"And the men of Gibeon sent unto Joshua to the camp to Gilgal, saying, Slack not thy hand from thy servants; come up to us quickly, and save us, and help us: for all the kings of the Amorites that dwell in the mountains are gathered together against us."
"So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valour. And The Lord said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee."
"Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night. And The Lord discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Bethhoron, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah."
"And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Bethhoron, that The Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azekah, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword."
"Then spake Joshua to The Lord in the day when The Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that The Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man: for The Lord fought for Israel." (Joshua 10:3-14 KJV)
In later times, Gibeon was the setting for some of the battles between Israel, under the declining house of King Saul, and Judah, under King David.
"And Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ishbosheth the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon. And Joab the son of Zeruiah, and the servants of David, went out, and met together by the pool of Gibeon" (2 Samuel 2:12-13 KJV)
The Tabernacle was located at Gibeon for some time, and it was there when David began making preparations for the building the Temple (see Temples) in Jerusalem, a project that was later completed by his son Solomon.
"And Zadok the priest, and his brethren the priests, before the Tabernacle of The Lord in the high place that was at Gibeon" (1 Chronicles 16:39 KJV)
"At that time when David saw that The Lord had answered him in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite [see Jebusites], then he sacrificed there. For the Tabernacle of The Lord, which Moses made in the wilderness, and the altar of the burnt offering, were at that season in the high place at Gibeon. (1 Chronicles 21:28 KJV)
King Solomon visited Gibeon to offer sacrifices, and The Lord appeared to him there:
"In Gibeon The Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee."
"And Solomon said, Thou hast showed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. And now, O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?"
"And the speech pleased The Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches, and honour: so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days. And if thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as thy father David did walk, then I will lengthen thy days."
"And Solomon awoke; and, behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of The Lord, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants." (1 Kings 3:5-15 KJV)
Fact Finder: The Tabernacle was situated at Gibeon for a number of years. What eventually became of the Tabernacle?
See What Happened To The Tabernacle?