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Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary


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(gihb' ih uh) Place name meaning, “a hill,” closely related to names of Geba and Gibeon. Gibeah or Gibeath was the name of four different places in the Old Testament. 1. City in hill country of Judah allotted to tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:57 ). This may be the home of King Abijah's wife Maacah (2 Chronicles 13:2 ) and could be same as the place name presupposed in the list of Caleb's descendants (1 Chronicles 2:49 ), a list including city names rather than personal names, perhaps indicating the clans who originally inhabited the cities. This Gibeah has usually been located at el-Jeba, seven and a half miles southwest of Bethlehem, but this is too far north to be connected with clans of Caleb. Otherwise, the location is not known.

2. A city closely connected with Phinehas, the high priest and grandson of Aaron. Phinehas buried his father Eleazar there (Joshua 24:33 ). Some try to locate this on a hill near Shechem or Bethel. Others would identify it with the levitical city of Geba in Joshua 21:17 in the territory of Benjamin. The Bible simply uses the general term “hill country of Ephraim.” It could even be near Shiloh.

3. The ark was lodged on a hill (Hebrew, Gibeah ) during the period between its return by the Philistines and David's initial effort to move it to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:4 KJV). The Hebrew word is probably not a proper noun (Hebrew writing not distinguishing proper names with capital letters as does English). The best translation may be “hill” (NAS, NIV, NRSV, REB; compare 1 Samuel 7:1-2 ). The hill here is apparently near Kiriath-jearim or Baalah. See Baalah; compare Joshua 15:9-11 .

4. The most significant Gibeah was the city in the tribal territory of Benjamin (Joshua 18:28 ). A bloody civil war between Benjamin and the other Israelite tribes broke out when the men of Gibeah raped a traveling Levite's concubine (Judges 19:1-21:25 ). Saul had close family connections to the city (1 Chronicles 8:29-33 also connects them with the nearby and similar-sounding Gibeon; see 1Samuel 10:5, 1 Samuel 10:26; 1 Samuel 15:34; 1 Samuel 23:19 ). If the “hill of God” (1 Samuel 10:5 KJV, NAS, REB) or “Gibeath-elohim” (NRSV) should be translated “Gibeah of God” (NIV) and equated with Gibeah of Saul, then the Philistines controlled the city prior to Saul gaining control. Apparently the Philistines built a fortress there which Saul took over, or Saul constructed his own royal complex, since archaeologists have uncovered a fortress from this period. After Saul's death, the city declined. Hosea and Isaiah referred to it during the eighth century B.C. ( Isaiah 10:29; Hosea 5:8; Hosea 9:9; Hosea 10:9 ).

Isaiah shows it was on the natural path of march for an enemy army such as the Assyrians attacking Jerusalem from the north. Archaeologists have shown the city flourished once more after the destruction of Jerusalem and again in the Maccabean age.

Gibeah is located at tell el-Ful on a high ridge three and a half miles north of Jerusalem. See Benjamin; Geba; Saul .

LeBron Matthews

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Gibeah'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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