(Jeʹbus) [possibly from a root meaning “tread down; stamp down”], Jebusite (Jebʹu·site).
Jebus was an ancient city of the Jebusites on the site now known as Jerusalem.
In the time of Abraham before the year 1900 B.C.E., this place was called Salem (meaning “Peace”), which is included in the name Jerusalem and may be a contraction of it. (Heb 7:2) Mention was made of Urusalim (Jerusalem) in the Amarna Tablets found in Egypt. And in the books of Joshua, Judges, and First Samuel, where events prior to the conquest of the city by David are mentioned, the site is often called Jerusalem. (Jos 10:1, 3, 5, 23; 12:10; 15:8, 63; 18:28; Jg 1:7, 8, 21; 19:10; 1Sa 17:54) In only two passages is it referred to as Jebus. (Jg 19:10, 11; 1Ch 11:4, 5) In Joshua 18:28 Yevu·siʹ appears in the Hebrew, the ending i indicating people, the inhabitants of the city.
It therefore seems evident to most scholars that Jerusalem (or, possibly, Salem) was the city’s original name, and that only when occupied by the Jebusites was it occasionally called Jebus. It is also generally agreed that “Jebus” was not a contraction of Jerusalem but, rather, a contraction of Jebusites, the name of the occupants of the site for a time. After David’s capture of this stronghold of Zion and the establishment of his royal residence there, it was sometimes referred to as the “City of David.”—2Sa 5:7.
The Jebusites, who occupied this city and the surrounding area, were descendants of Ham and Canaan. (Ge 10:15, 16, 20; 1Ch 1:13, 14) When mentioned along with their relatives (Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites), the Jebusites are generally listed last, perhaps because of being the least numerous. (De 7:1; Jg 3:5) They were classified as a mountain-dwelling people (Nu 13:29), and their land was said to be, figuratively, “a land flowing with milk and honey.”—Ex 3:8, 17.
Jehovah promised Abraham that he would give the land of the Jebusites to him and to his seed. (Ge 15:18-21; Ne 9:8) In carrying out this promise, Jehovah brought his chosen people out of Egypt, and as they crossed the Jordan, God sent his angel ahead, commanding that they show themselves strong and that they oust all those who resisted them. (Ex 13:3-5; 23:23; 33:1, 2) They were to conclude no covenant and no marriage alliance with the Jebusites and other Canaanites but, instead, were to devote them to total destruction, leaving no breathing thing alive, “in order that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things.”—Ex 34:11-16; De 20:16-18.
Upon observing the Israelite successes in the takeover of the land—the capture of Jericho and Ai as well as the capitulation of the Gibeonites—the Jebusite king Adoni-zedek headed a confederacy of five kings who were determined to stop the invasion. (Jos 9:1, 2; 10:1-5) In the battle that ensued, in which Jehovah caused the sun and moon to stand still, the armies of the confederacy were defeated, the kings were captured and put to death, and their corpses were impaled on stakes for all to see. (Jos 10:6-27; 12:7, 8, 10) It may have been after this victory that the Israelites put the torch to Jebus, burning it to the ground.—Jg 1:8.
With the conclusion of Joshua’s campaign of conquest in the S and central portions of the Promised Land, he turned his attention to the northern section W of the Jordan. Once again the Jebusites rallied to resist, this time under the banner of Jabin, the king of Hazor, and again Israel defeated them, with Jehovah’s help. (Jos 11:1-8) Nevertheless, after the burning of Jebus and sometime before the dividing of the land, the Jebusites had control of the strategic heights of Jerusalem, which they held for 400 years.—Jos 15:63.
The city of Jebus was assigned to Benjamin when the land was apportioned out, and it lay on the immediate border between the tribal territories of Judah and Benjamin. (Jos 15:1-8; 18:11, 15, 16, 25-28) However, the Israelites did not drive out the Jebusites but, instead, allowed their sons and daughters to intermarry with these people, and they even took up worshiping the false gods of the Jebusites. (Jg 1:21; 3:5, 6) During this period it remained “a city of foreigners,” in which a Levite once refused to stay overnight.—Jg 19:10-12.
Finally, in 1070 B.C.E., David conquered Zion, the stronghold of the Jebusites. (2Sa 5:6-9; 1Ch 11:4-8) Later David purchased the threshing floor to the N from a Jebusite named Araunah (Ornan), and there he built an altar and offered up special sacrifices. (2Sa 24:16-25; 1Ch 21:15, 18-28) It was upon this site years later that Solomon built the costly temple. (2Ch 3:1) Thereafter, Solomon put the descendants of the Jebusites to work in the great building program, working them as slaves.—1Ki 9:20, 21; 2Ch 8:7, 8.
In the last reference we have to the Jebusites, we learn that as an ethnic group they were still present to contaminate the worship of the Israelites upon their return from Babylonian exile.—Ezr 9:1, 2.