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Title: Gibeon and the Gibeonites from the Settlement to Solomon
Author: Blenkinsopp, Joseph
ISNI:       0000 0001 1061 3642
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1967
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The main purpose of this thesis is to study the part played by the Gibeonites in the history of Israel from the Settlement to the end of the United Monarchy. A secondary purpose is to present, within this context, a hypothesis to explain the absence of any mention of Gibeon and the Ark between 1 Sam. 7,2 and 2 Sam. 5,25. In the first chapter the material available for this study is surveyed. The occurrence of one or other of the cities in nonbiblical records and the contribution of excavation at el ǧib are examined, but in the nature of the case we are dependent almost entirely on the Old Testament. An analysis of the occurrence of 'Gibeon' and 'Gibeonite' in the Old Testament involves us in the textual problems arising out of confusion between 'Gibeon' and similar forms, especially 'ha-Gib‘ah'. We conclude that, while there are only two cases where emendation of MT is required, some cases of 'ha-Gib‘ah' may refer to Gibeon. The analysis emphasizes the absence of any mention of Gibeon in Jg. and 1 Sam. In the second chapter the situation of the four cities is discussed in the order of Jos. 9,17. The long debate on the identification of Gibeon is summarized. A situation at el ǧib has been confirmed by the recent excavation of that site by J.B.Pritchard. The important question of the relation between Gibeon (el ǧib) and the adjoining nebi samwil is discussed. Chephirah is to be identified with tell kefireh and Beeroth very probably with el bireh. Important information about the inhabitants of Beeroth is found in 2 Sam. 4,2ff and the view that 2 Sam. 4,3 refers indirectly to hostile action of Saul against the Gibeonites is defended. Kiriath-jearim raises a special problem since it occurs in the city-lists of Benjamin and Judah and is described in 1 Sam. 7,2 as the temporary residence of the Ark. After a form-critical discussion of the city- and boundary-lists it is concluded that the form kiriathis original and the identification with Baalah secondary. The position of Kiriath-jearim (karyet el 'enab) on the boundary of Judah, together with Ekron and Beth-shemesh, is seen as important for the history of the Ark's movements in this obscure period. An additional note on Benjaminite Mizpah concludes with a tentative identification of the Mizpah occurring in Jg. and 1 Sam. with nebi samwil. The Gibeonites are described as both Hivite and Amorite in the Old Testament, therefore as having a definite ethnic identity which is examined in the third chapter. It is argued that biblical Horite means Hurrian and that Hivite, though not absolutely identical with Horite, is very closely related to it. This provides good reason for believing that the Gibeonites were a basically Hurrian group, and it is shown that the designation Amorite does not contradict this. The hypothesis of a basic Hurrian element among the Gibeonites is then tested by a study of Gibeonite names, including those from el ǧib. To these are added the considerable number of Saulite names on the grounds that the mention of his family burial-place in 2 Sam. 21,13f and the Chronicler's Saulite "genealogy" in 1 Chr. 8,33ff imply that Saul had Gibeonite connexions. Making due allowance for names of uncertain derivation, the results of this onomastic study are held to confirm the Hurrian element in the Gibeonites and, to a lesser extent, in Saul's family. In the following chapter an attempt is made to place the biblical evidence for Hurrians in Palestine, especially in the region north west of Jerusalem, in the context of our present knowledge of Hurrian movements in the second half of the second millenium. The evidence from sites in Syria points to a movement towards the south and west and this is consonant with what we find in the Amarna letters and the earliest biblical traditions. A possible explanation of the absence of Gibeon in any inscription or record of the period is that this city was an appendage of the "land" of Jerusalem during the Amarna age. This view is defended and the provisional group of conclusion is drawn that the group of Gibeonite cities, as we meet them in Jos.9-10, was formed towards the end of or shortly after the Amarna period, a more exact date depending on the role of Joshua in the ratification of the treaty and the date assigned to him. Forrer's hypothesis based on the Pestilence Prayer of Mursilis is also examined. The Gibeonite cities are understood as forming a definite political and ethnic unit under an oligarchic rule, in some respects similar to the situation at Shechem. Very probably they worshipped at a central sanctuary which is identified with nebi samwil. An evaluation of the historical character of Jos. 9-10, describing the Israelite-Gibeonite treaty followed by the anti-Gibeonite Amorite coalition and its defeat, is evidently important for the Gibeonite question. A literary analysis of Jos.9 reveals two principal motives behind this composition: to justify Israelite tolerance of this ethnically non-Israelite group and to explain the origins of a class of minor cult personnel known in the post-exilic period as the nethinim. Evidence of anti-Gibeonite and anti-Benjaminite polemic is also found in this chapter. The historicity of the treaty is supported by a close comparison with contemporary or near-contemporary treaties, especially those of the Hittites. The contracting parties were Benjamin, and possibly the Joseph tribes, on the one side, all of the Gibeonite cities acting in solidum on the other. It is concluded that the biblical Gibeonites and the Benjaminites probably arrived at much the same time in Canaan and concluded an agreement shortly after their arrival. In chapter six the battle-narrative (Jos,10,10-14) is examined from which the conclusion is reached that there is no reason to doubt the historical connexion between treaty and battle, though the role of Joshua may be secondary. The hypothesis is advanced that the verse fragment (w,12b-13a) was originally addressed to a solar deity enjoining upon it not to take part in the action. It is further suggested that a causal connexion may have existed in the mind of the redactor between the discomforting of the enemy and the presence or proximity of the Ark. In the following chapter ve return to the problem of the almost complete lack of reference to the Gibeonite cities in the Old Testament tradition covering the period of the Judges and the reign of Saul. The only exceptions are 1 Sam. 6,21-7,2 and 2 Sam. 5,25-6,3, respectively the account of the transfer of the Ark from Beth-shemesh and its being taken up to Jerusalem. These tvo events are separated by a period of about half a century, for which period the Old Testament historical tradition has left us no mention of either Gibeon or the Ark. It is argued that this demands an explanation, and the possibility is investigated that Judahite and/or Deuteronomist re-editing may have been partially responsible for this "silence" of the tradition. Indirect evidence for Gibeon and the Gibeonites during this period is sought in 2 Sam. 4,2ff and 21,Iff, referring to hostilities of Saul against the Gibeonites, 1 Kings 3,4 and post-exilic references to the city and an analysis of the passages in 1 Sam. dealing with the Philistine war. On this basis a reconstruction of the part played by the Gibeonites in this period is attempted. In chapter eight the hypothesis is advanced and tested that the Gibeonite high place was an Ark-sanctuary for part of the period between 1 Sam. 7,2 and 2 Sam.6,1. It cannot be supposed without further question that the Ark was simply neglected during this period.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History of Biblical events ; Gibeonites ; Antiquities ; Al Ji (Jordan)