1. A city in the mountainous region of Judah. (Jos 15:1, 48, 57) Some scholars link it with present-day El Jabʽa, about 12 km (7.5 mi) WSW of Bethlehem. Others, however, believe that ancient Gibeah was located somewhere in the region SE of Hebron, since it is listed among other cities in that general area. (Jos 15:55-57) This city (or No. 2) may have been the home of Maacah (Micaiah) the mother of the Judean king Abijam (Abijah).—2Ch 13:1, 2; 1Ki 15:1, 2.
2. A city in the territory of Benjamin (Jos 18:28), also called “Gibeah of Benjamin” (1Sa 13:2), “Gibeah of the sons of Benjamin” (2Sa 23:29), and “Gibeah of Saul” (2Sa 21:6). It was apparently situated near the main road between Jebus (Jerusalem) and Ramah. (Jg 19:11-15) Because of its position on one of the heights of Palestine’s central mountain ridge, Gibeah served well as a lookout point in time of war. (1Sa 14:16) Scholars generally identify this city with Tell el-Ful (Givʽat Shaʼul), located about 5 km (3 mi) N of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The Hebrew spellings of Geba (masculine form of the word meaning “Hill”) and Gibeah (feminine form of the term meaning “Hill”) are almost identical. Many believe that this has resulted in scribal errors in the Masoretic text and therefore recommend changing certain scriptures to read “Geba” instead of “Gibeah,” and vice versa. On this, one commentary, with reference to First Samuel chapters 13 and 14, observes: “But commentators are much at variance as to where the substitutions should be made (e.g. Smith reads Geba for Gibeah throughout; Kennedy reads Geba for Gibeah in [chapter 13] verse 2, Gibeah for Geba in verse 3, and Geba for Gibeah in xiv. 2); and it is not impossible to understand the progress of the campaign without such alterations.” (Soncino Books of the Bible, edited by A. Cohen, London, 1951, Samuel, p. 69) At Judges 20:10, 33 the context suggests that “Gibeah” is intended, and therefore many translators depart here from the reading of the Masoretic text and employ “Gibeah” rather than “Geba.”
In the period of the Judges, the city of Gibeah figured in an incident that led to the near extermination of the entire tribe of Benjamin. An old man invited an Ephraimite Levite and his concubine to stay with him for the night. Soon good-for-nothing men of Gibeah surrounded the house, demanding that the Levite be turned over to them so that they might have intercourse with him. After the Levite gave his concubine into their hands, they so abused her all night that she died in the morning. (This shocking sin may be alluded to at Ho 9:9 and 10:9.) Since the tribe of Benjamin shielded the guilty men of Gibeah, the other tribes warred against Benjamin. They twice sustained severe losses before finally defeating the Benjamites and consigning Gibeah to the fire. (Jg 19:15–20:48) (Some link the Biblical record concerning the destruction of Gibeah with the archaeological evidence uncovered at Tell el-Ful indicating that the city was burned.)
Gibeah was the home of Israel’s first king, Saul (1Sa 10:26; 15:34), and apparently also of Ittai (Ithai), one of David’s mighty men (2Sa 23:8, 29; 1Ch 11:26, 31), as well as of Ahiezer and Joash, two warriors who joined themselves to David at Ziklag. (1Ch 12:1-3) Gibeah evidently also served as the first capital of the Israelite kingdom under Saul. At Gibeah, messengers from Jabesh (Jabesh-gilead) appealed for aid when faced with an Ammonite siege, and from here King Saul immediately summoned Israel for war to meet this threat. (1Sa 11:1-7) Later, Saul’s war operations against the Philistines were launched in the vicinity of Gibeah. (1Sa 13:2-4, 15; 14:2, 16) Also, on two occasions men of Ziph made report to Saul at Gibeah concerning the hideout of outlawed David.—1Sa 23:19; 26:1.
During the reign of David, seven of Saul’s sons and grandsons were put to death at Gibeah (“Gibeon,” according to Aquila, Symmachus, and LXX) because of the bloodguilt that had come upon the house of Saul on account of his having put many Gibeonites to death. And Saul’s widowed concubine kept watch over the dead men so that scavenger birds and animals would not feed on their bodies.—2Sa 21:1-10.
In the eighth century B.C.E., through the prophet Isaiah, Jehovah prophetically spoke of Gibeah as having fled from the Assyrian army that was en route to Jerusalem. (Isa 10:24, 29-32) And by means of Hosea, God prophetically portrays a situation that makes it appear as though the northern ten-tribe kingdom had already been conquered, with the enemy threatening Gibeah and Ramah in Benjamin (in the southern kingdom of Judah).—Ho 5:8-10.