The Gibeonites, who belonged to the Hivites (who were descendants from Canaan, the son of Ham, 1 Chronicles 1:8, 13-15), were one of the peoples which had occupied the Promised Land, prior to Israel’s arrival (Exodus 3:8). God had commanded the Israelites not to make a covenant with any of these people. Rather, He wanted them expelled from the land (Exodus 23:28, 32-33). However, under Joshua, the Gibeonites, pretending to be a people from far away, tricked the Israelites into acting hastily by making a covenant with them to let them live amongst them (Joshua 9). In fact, the capital of the Gibeonites or Hivites was “Gibeon,” a town situated on a rocky eminence, about six miles northwest from Jerusalem and four miles from Bethel, where the modern village of El-Jib now stands (Commentary on the Whole Bible, by Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, page 174; Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, under “Gibeon”).
Even though God had not desired of Israel to make a covenant with the Gibeonites, He held Israel responsible to be faithful to it. Under Joshua, the Gibeonites were made servants to the Levites, assisting them with work for the altar (Joshua 9:27). Four hundred years later, God was angry with King Saul and his sons for having killed Gibeonites, in violation of the promise that Israel had given to them at the time of Joshua (2 Samuel 21:1).
What happened subsequently to the descendants of the dark-skinned Gibeonites or Hivites? The Bible Story by Basil Wolverton, volume 4,1964, writes on page 62: “Today, the descendants of those ancient dark-skinned Hivites are called Falashas–meaning migrants–because they journeyed out of Palestine to Ethiopia to escape captivity when Israel was driven out of Palestine centuries later.”
It is interesting to learn more about this remarkable journey, and what is known today of the Gibeonites. We are told the Gibeonites or Falashas went to Ethiopia. There was also a small Jewish religious group known as Beta Israel or Falasha, in the northwest of Ethiopia.
The “Encyclopedia Britannica,” volume 9, 1959, adds, under “Falashas,” remarkable information, showing the mixture of error and truth of the traditions of the modern-day Gibeonites. It is obvious that many of their traditions, true or false, were adopted by their close contact with the Israelites:
“Falashas, or Jews of Abyssinia [Abyssinia is a former designation of Ethiopia], a tribe of Hamitic stock… who profess the Jewish religion and claim to be descended from the ten tribes banished from the Holy Land… the Falashas know nothing of… the Talmud, make no use of phylacteries… and observe neither the feast of Purim nor the dedication of the temple [the Jewish feast of Hanukkah]. They possess… books of the Old Testament [which are written in the Ethiopian language]; a volume of extracts from the Pentateuch, with comments given to Moses by God on Mount Sinai… [and] the laws of the Sabbath… A copy of the… Mosaic law is kept in the holy of holies in every synagogue… Priests are allowed to marry once only, and no one is admitted into the order who has eaten bread with a Christian… Fasts, obligatory on all above seven years of age, are held on every Monday and Thursday, on every new moon and at the passover… The annual festivals are the passover, the harvest feast, the… Feast of tabernacles… the day of covenant or assembly, and Abraham’s day… The Falashas live for the most part in villages of their own, or, if settled in a Christian or Mohammedan town, occupy a separate quarter. Their own kings, they [believe], were descended from David, but in 1800, the royal race became extinct… They do not mix with the Abyssinians, and never marry women from alien religions… Polygamy is not practiced; early marriages are rare and their morals are generally better than those of their Christian masters.”
The “Compton Encyclopedia” adds further details about the modern-day Gibeonites, even calling them, “Jewish.” We read, under “Falasha”:
“Falasha (or Beta Israel), a Jewish Hamitic people of Ethiopia… use [a] Bible and a prayer book written in… the ancient Ethiopian language; follow Jewish traditions including circumcision, observing the Sabbath, attending synagogue and following certain dietary and purity laws; in 1975 [they were] recognized by the chief Rabbinate as Jews, and [with Israeli military assistance,] allowed to [migrate to] Israel; in 1984-85 [during the Ethiopian civil war] thousands of Falashas resettled to Israel from refugee camps in Sudan as part of the Israeli government’s ‘Operation Moses’ and the US government’s ‘Operation Sheba.'”
Bartleby.com, in its article, “Falashas,” says: “A second airlift of more than 14,000 occurred in May, 1991, bringing [the] total in Israel to more than 70,000.”
We are also advised by the San Diego Union Tribune, in an article of February 1, 2005, that by the end of 2007, Israel intends to bring to the Promised Land the last known 20,000 Ethiopians claiming to be Falashas with strong ties to Judaism, dating back more than 2000 years.
This means that by then, some of the modern tribes of the houses of Israel and Judah–the United States of America and the Jewish people–will have assisted approximately 90,000 modern-day Gibeonites or Falashas resettling to the state of Israel. (For more information on the identity of the modern houses of Israel and Judah, read our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”)
It is truly remarkable how God saw to it that Israel’s covenant with the Gibeonites, which was made at the time of Joshua, would be kept and fulfilled in these last days.
Lead Writers: Norbert Link and Bill Grams