1. Grandson of Levi and son of Kohath; forefather of “the sons of Hebron” or Hebronites.—Ex 6:16, 18; Nu 3:19, 27; 26:58; 1Ch 6:2, 18; 15:4, 9; 23:12, 19; 26:30-32.
2. Son of Mareshah and father of Korah, Tappuah, Rekem, and Shema; a descendant of Caleb of the tribe of Judah.—1Ch 2:42, 43.
3. [Place of Partnership]. An ancient city in the mountainous region of Judah that was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt. (Nu 13:22) Hebron is located about 30 km (19 mi) SSW of Jerusalem and lies over 900 m (3,000 ft) above sea level. It has the distinction of being one of the oldest still-inhabited locations in the Middle East. Hebron’s ancient name “Kiriath-arba” (Town of Arba) appears to have been derived from its Anakim founder, Arba. (Ge 23:2; Jos 14:15) The city and its neighboring hills have long been famous for their vineyards, pomegranates, figs, olives, apricots, apples, and nuts. Blessed with numerous springs and wells, Hebron is surrounded by miles of greenery.
The patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob spent part of their alien residence at Hebron. (Ge 13:18; 35:27; 37:13, 14) Sarah died there and was buried in a cave at nearby Machpelah. This cave, purchased along with surrounding land by Abraham from Hittite Ephron, became a family burial place, where Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Leah, and Jacob were also buried.—Ge 23:2-20; 49:29-33; 50:13.
At the time Moses sent the 12 spies into the Promised Land, the giantlike descendants of Anak were inhabiting Hebron. (Nu 13:22, 28, 33) About 40 years later, Hoham the king of Hebron joined four other kings in an offensive against Gibeon, a city that had made peace with Joshua. The Israelites responded to Gibeon’s appeal for aid and, with Jehovah’s help, defeated the armies of the five kings that had come against Gibeon. Afterward these five kings, who had hidden themselves in a cave, were executed and their dead bodies hung upon stakes until evening.—Jos 10:1-27.
As Israel’s campaign in southern Canaan continued, the inhabitants of Hebron, including their king (evidently Hoham’s successor), were devoted to destruction. (Jos 10:36, 37) However, although the Israelites under Joshua broke the power of the Canaanites, it appears that they did not immediately establish garrisons to hold on to their conquests. Evidently while Israel was warring elsewhere, the Anakim reestablished themselves at Hebron, making it necessary for Caleb (or the sons of Judah under Caleb’s leadership) to wrest the city from their control sometime afterward. (Jos 11:21-23; 14:12-15; 15:13, 14; Jg 1:10) Originally assigned to Caleb of the tribe of Judah, Hebron was afterward given a sacred status as a city of refuge. It also served as a priestly city. However, “the field of the city [Hebron]” and its settlements were Caleb’s hereditary possession.—Jos 14:13, 14; 20:7; 21:9-13.
At Hebron, about four centuries later, the men of Judah anointed David as king. He ruled from there for seven and a half years, meanwhile becoming father to six sons, Amnon, Chileab (Daniel), Absalom, Adonijah, Shephatiah, and Ithream. (2Sa 2:1-4, 11; 3:2-5; 1Ch 3:1-4) Earlier, the inhabitants of Hebron evidently helped David when he was outlawed by King Saul. (1Sa 30:26, 31) Toward the close of David’s reign at Hebron, Abner, the main supporter of the rival kingship of Saul’s son Ish-bosheth (2Sa 2:8, 9), defected to David. Upon returning from a raid and learning that David had sent Abner away in peace, Joab directed messengers to bring Abner back and then personally killed him at Hebron, where Abner was afterward buried. (2Sa 3:12-27, 32) Later, Rechab and Baanah murdered Ish-bosheth and, expecting a reward, brought his head to David at Hebron, but he had them executed for their vile deed. (2Sa 4:5-12) Subsequently, David was anointed as king over all Israel, and he transferred his capital from Hebron to Jerusalem.—2Sa 5:1-9.
Some years later David’s son Absalom returned to Hebron and there initiated his unsuccessful usurpation of his father’s kingship. (2Sa 15:7-10) It was likely because of Hebron’s historical importance as onetime capital of Judah, as well as because of its being his native city, that Absalom chose this city as the starting point of his drive for the throne. Later, David’s grandson, King Rehoboam, rebuilt Hebron. (2Ch 11:5-10) After the desolation of Judah by the Babylonians and the return of the Jewish exiles, some of the repatriated Jews settled at Hebron (Kiriath-arba).—Ne 11:25.
[Picture on page 1083]
Street scene in Hebron, which was one of Israel’s ancient cities of refuge