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Gibeah was a large Benjamite city of Israel that was a conquered Canaanite settlement. In its early history as part of Benjamin, Gibeah became notoriously immoral by practicing the sin of Sodom; the men wishing to mob rape other men and when there wish was not met, women. As a result of Gibeah's vile deeds, the remainder of Israel entered into a brief civil war with Benjamin and killed off the population of Gibeah.Over the next few decades later Gibeah would be re-inhabited by Israelites, including the family of Saul. Saul lived in Gibeah during his reign as King, making Gibeah the capital of Israel until it was replaced by Hebron, then Jerusalem.

History

Early History

Gibeah was most likely a Canaanite city at one point, as it is first mentioned alongside other cities that were Canaanite and conquered by Israel. Gibeah was allocated as part of Benjamin[1].Gibeah was located near the border of Judah and Ephraim.

Due to the eventual immorality of the city, among other indicators, Gibeah would have been known as a large city.

A Mirror of Sodom

While Gibeah was located in God's chosen nation of Israel, it was not a God-worshipping city. Gibeah developed into a city with tremendous immorality, particularly widespread homosexuality, because they did not honor God[2]. This may be due to the remaining Canaanite influence in Benjamin, since the Benjamites failed to eradicate all the people of Canaanite culture. Additionally a lack of strict governance over Israel by a King may have contributed to Gibeah's immorality[3]

In Gibeah homosexuality was so widespread, the men of the city would want to mob rape male visitors; when they saw them in public[4]- similar to Sodom. Like Sodom the native residents of the city were also very inhospitable, not caring for any guests who came by the city[5].

The issue of homosexuality in Gibeah was very localized and was not known to those outside of the town. People even knew of the city, but no one in Israel (at least outside of Benjamin) had heard of such immorality since the Exodus from Egypt.[6]

Once a Levite stayed in the city with his concubine. He stayed in the public square with his belongings until an Ephraimite offered him to spend the night in his home, warning him not to stay in the square. When the Levite was inside the Ephraimite's home a mob approached. In the crowd were the leaders of the city. The crowd wished to know the visiting Levite, but in utter refusal the concubine was sent outside to satisfy the men. In the morning the woman was dead at the doorstep.[7]

Israel's Judgement

Several days letter, the Levite disseminated a narrative of the episode throughout all of Israel, which would have taken several weeks to month to spread. The horrendous actions of Gibeah was a shock to the Israelites, who called a special assembly at the central capital of Mizpah. All but the Tribe of Benjamin was in attendance. After deliberation and a vote the elders of Israel reached a verdict that, Gibeah's citizens must be executed and the cities riches plundered to reimburse Israel.[8]

The Assembly of Israel asked the Tribe of Benjamin to not prevent their planned military strike against the city, since it was under their jurisdiction. Either by pure defiance or tolerance of Gibeah's actions, Benjamin refused. Benjamin assembled a defense force to repel against Israel's army of 400,000[9]. Gibeah elected 700 elite left-handed slingers to join the army of Benjamin[10].

Soon thereafter Israel's army encamped against Gibeah engaged in conflict against the Army of Benjamin outside of the city. During the third day of battle Israel withdrew the majority of its army to the connecting highways surrounding Gibeah. Benjamin's army fell into the trap and the remainder of Israel attacked Gibeah while it was left defenseless. Israel killed every living creature in Gibeah and burned the city's structures. By the time the army had realized Gibeah was under attack it had been too late.[11]

The City Anew

After the Battle of Gibeah the eleven tribes of Israel proceeded to hunt down the survivors of the Benjamite army. Along the way every city in sight was burned and its civilians were slaughtered. The war against Benjamin led to a crisis for the tribe, because almost the entire population had been decimated. The Israelites became saddened by the population crisis for Benjamin, so they allowed Benjamin to re-populate and re-construct their broken cities[12].

Gibeah would have been re-constructed sometime before or during the reign of Samuel as Judge.

Capital of Israel

Saul's Family Home

Gibeah was resettled by the Benjamites and repopulated. At one time a man named Kish lived in Gibeah after its destructive episode. Kish's father Abiel or even his grandfather Zeror could have lived in Gibeah with him. Kish's brother also lived in Gibeah[13]. He had a cattle of donkey's there as well. It is possible that the entire Benjamin clan of Matri lived in Gibeah[14].

Kish had a son named Saul. Through revelation from God, Samuel learned that Saul would become the first King of Israel.

The King's Command Center

Once Saul was confirmed as King of Israel, he returned to his home in Gibeah. On his journey home, Saul was accompanied by men of God.

Originally, Saul continued his life normally performing his duties as King when necessary. Saul maintained his family field's, while acting as King. Royal messengers would come to the city when any national-scale issue required the King's attention. One day, when Saul was in the field messengers informed the people of the city of an ongoing crisis. Nahash- an Ammonite had surrounded the city of Jabesh. After Saul returned from his family's field he heard of the news. With his authority as Commander-in-Chief of Israel's army he ordered the army to be assembled. The messengers went from Gibeah out across Israel and had the army assembled at the King's command.[15]

Saul would continue his rule over the Nation of Israel, from his family's large house in Gibeah. Since the family was rich, it was likely his house became a palace- with no need to construct one. During another national crisis, Philistines were marching war against Israel. Saul ordered the army of Israel to assemble in the city of Gibeah.

Verses

  1. Josh 18:28 (Link)
  2. Rom 1:21, 24-27 (Link)
  3. Judg 19:1 (Link)
  4. Judg 19:20 (Link)
  5. Judg 19:15 (Link)
  6. Judg 19:30 (Link)
  7. Judg 19:15-28 (Link)
  8. Judg 20:1-11 (Link)
  9. Judg 20:12-15 (Link)
  10. Judg 20:16 (Link)
  11. Judg 20:29-42 (Link)
  12. Judg 21:23 (Link)
  13. 1 Sam 10:14 (Link)
  14. 1 Sam 9:21 (Link)
  15. 1 Sam 11:1-11 (Link)

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