Jebus, Jebusite

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JEBUS, JEBUSITE (Heb. יְבוּס ,יְבוּסִי), one of the peoples of Canaan. The Jebusites are mentioned in the Bible in four different connections:

(1) In the "table of nations" (Gen. 10:15–19; cf. 1 Chron. 1:13–14) the Jebusite appears after Sidon and Heth as the third son of *Canaan. There may be an allusion to kinship or connection between Jebus and Heth in the Book of Ezekiel (16:3): "… Jerusalem … the Amorite was your father, and your mother a *Hittite." Some (unclear) ethnic reality is reflected by this combination.

(2) The Jebusites are mentioned in the lists of the peoples of Canaan driven out by the Israelites, lists appearing in the Bible more than a score of times (e.g., Gen. 15:21; Ex. 3:8, 17) and naming from six to ten nations. Invariably the Jebusites appear at the end of each list, and in most instances immediately after the *Hivites. The Jebusites' proximity to the Hivites may be due to the fact that both groups were thought to be related to the *Hurrians. That the Jebusites are always placed last may indicate that they were the last people to appear in Canaan and, since they were only found in Jerusalem, that they may have been the smallest in number of all the ethnic groups.

(3) The Jebusites are specially mentioned as the inhabitants of *Jerusalem, e.g., "the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem" (Josh. 15:63), "and the Jebusite – the same is Jerusalem" (18:28). Judges 19:11, however, refers to the Jebusites without mentioning Jerusalem: "When they were by Jebus" and "this city of the Jebusites." Although the name Jebus is widely attested in biblical stories set during part of the era of settlement, it is not attested in the documents of the *el-Amarna period (first half of 14th century b.c.e.), while Jerusalem is. It is possible that the Jebusites settled in Jerusalem in the 14th and 13th centuries b.c.e., not long before the settlement of the tribes of Israel in Canaan.

(4) The Israelite capture of Jerusalem and its conversion into the capital of David's kingdom at the beginning of his reign put an end to the autonomy of the Jebusites. The capture of the city as related in II Samuel 5:6–10 is surprisingly poor with regard to details. Such as are provided, "the lame and the blind" (5:6, 8 (bis)); and the ẓinnor (5:8) are unclear. The parallel in I Chronicles 11:4–9 seems to be an attempt to make sense of the difficult passages in Samuel. According to Chronicles, *Joab entered Jerusalem of the Jebusites, according to one opinion, by way of the water system – if "gutter" is the sense of ẓinnor, which some identify with "Warren's shaft" – that leads from the pool of Siloam. But the ẓinnor is absent from the Chronicler's account, and Joab is absent from the Samuel account. Clearly all Jebusite inhabitants were not destroyed because David bought a threshing floor from Araunah the Jebusite in order to build an altar (ii Sam. 24: 18–24), and also because David may have integrated Jebusite craftsmen and officials into his service.

The origin of the Jebusites is obscure and there are many opinions on the subject. Some scholars, on the basis of the names of the kings connected with Jerusalem, see the origin of the Jebusites in the Hurrians. The first recorded king of Jerusalem dates from the el-Amarna era and bears the name Abdi ḥeb/pa(t), "servant of ḥeb/pa(t)," a name compounded from West Semitic ʿ abdu, "servant," "slave," and the Hurrian mother goddess ḥeb/pa(t). The second extant name, *Araunah (ii Sam. 24:18–24; i Chron. 21:18–25), the Jebusite, is taken by some as a corruption of the Hurrian word for a king (ewri, "lord"). Another view is that the Jebusites are related to the Semitic peoples because the Jebusites are mentioned among the peoples of Canaan, and the clearly Semitic *Adoni-Zedek, king of Jerusalem, headed the Amorite alliance against Joshua (Josh. 10). Others claim that the Jebusites are Amorites because their name is similar to the name Iâbu-sum, mentioned in sources dating from the beginning of the second millennium b.c.e. and found on the northwest border of Babylonia. Research has yet to determine clearly the origin of the Jebusites and the date of their settlement in Jerusalem.


G.A. Smith, in: Jerusalem, 1–2 (1907), 266–7; J. Garstang, The Hittite Empire (1929); H.H. Rowley, in: jblx, 58 (1939), 113–41; S. Yeivin, in: Zion, 9 (1944), 49ff.; O.R. Gurney, The Hittites (1951); J. Simons, Jerusalem in the Old Testament (1952), 60–61, 246–7; B. Mazar, in: M. Avi-Yonah (ed.), Sefer Yerushalayim, 1 (1956), 107ff.; Bright, Hist, 78–87, 178–9; H.W. Hertzberg, Samuel (Eng., 1964), 265–70; S. Abramsky, in: Oz le-David Ben-Gurion (1964), 160–4; D. Winton Thomas (ed.), Archaeology and Old Testament Study (1967), 3–20, 105–18, 277–95. add. bibliography: S. Reed, in: abd, 3, 652–63; S. Japhet, i & ii Chronicles (1993), 238–42; S. Bar-Efrat, ii Samuel (1996), 53–55.

[Abraham Lebanon /

S. David Sperling (2nd ed.)]