A'vite (Hebrews Avvi', only in the plur. עִוּים, gentile from Ava), the name of two tribes of people.
1. (Sept. Εὐαῖοι, Auth. Vers. 'Avims," in Deuteronomy; Ευαῖος, "Avites" in Josh.) A people who originally occupied the southernmost portion of that territory in Palestine along the Mediterranean coast which the Caphtorim or Philistines afterward possessed (De 2:23). They are usually considered a branch of the Hivites, a people descended from Canaan (Ge 10:17). SEE HIVITE. As the territory of the Avites is mentioned in Jos 13:3, in addition to the five Philistine states, it would appear that it was not included in theirs, and that the expulsion of the Avites was by a Philistine invasion prior to that by which the five principalities were founded. Their territory began at Gaza, and extended southward to "the river of Egypt" (De 2:23), forming what was the Philistine kingdom of Gerar in the time of Abraham, when we do not hear of any other Philistine states. There were then Avites, or Hivites, at Shechem (Ge 34:2), and we afterward find them also at Gibeon (Jos 9:7), and beyond the Jordan, at the foot of Mount Hermon (Jos 11:3); but we have no means of knowing whether these were original settlements of the Avites, or were formed out of the fragments of the nation which the Philistines expelled from southern Palestine. SEE GERAR; SEE PHILISTINE. According to Ewald (Geschichte, 1, 310) and Bertheau, the Avvim were the aborigines of Palestine Proper. They may have been so, but there is nothing to prove it, while the mode of their dwellings points rather to a nomadic origin. Thus they may have made their way northward from the Desert (Stanley, Sinai and Pal. App. § 83). In De 2:23, we see them "dwelling in 'the' villages" (or nomade encampments — Chatzerim) in the south part of the "plain," or great western lowland, "as far as Gaza." In these rich possessions they were attacked by the invading Philistines, "the Caphtorim which came forth out of Caphtor," and who, after "destroying" them and "dwelling in their stead," appear to have pushed them farther north. This must be inferred from the terms of the passage in Jos 13:2-3, the enumeration of the rest of the land still remaining to be conquered. (The punctuation of this passage in our Bibles is not in accordance with the Hebrew text, which has a full stop at Geshuri [ver. 2], thus: "This is the land that yet remaineth, all the borders of the Philistines and all the Geshurite. From Sihor... even to the border of Ekron northward, is counted to the Canaanite," etc.) Beginning from "Sihor, which is before Egypt," probably the Wady el-Arish, the list proceeds northward along the lowland plains of the sea-coast, through the five lordships of the Philistines — all apparently taken in their order from south to north-till we reach the Avvim, as if they had been driven up out of the more southerly position which they occupied at the date of the earlier record into the plains of Sharon. It is perhaps worth notice, where every syllable has some significance, that while "the Gazathite . . . . the Ekronite," are all in the singular, "the Avvim" is plural. So with the other aboriginal names. Nothing more is told us of this ancient people, whose very name is said to signify "ruin." Possibly a trace of their existence is to be found in the town "'Avim" (accurately, as in the other cases, "the Avvim"), which occurs among the cities of Benjamin (Jos 18:23), and which may have preserved the memory of some family of the extinct people driven up out of their fertile plains to take refuge in the wild hills of Bethel; just as in the "Zemaraim" of the preceding verse we have probably a reminiscence of the otherwise forgotten Zemarites. But, on the other hand, it is possible that the word in this place is but a variation or corruption of the name of Ai. SEE AVIM. The inhabitants of the north-central districts of Palestine (Galilseans) were in later times distinguished by a habit of confounding the gutturals, as, for instance, ָע with ה (see Lightfoot, Chor. Cent. ch. 87. Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. col. 434). It is possible that הוּי, Hivite, is a variation, arising from this cause, of עֲוּי, Avite, and that this people were known to the Israelites at the date of the conquest by the name of Hivites. At any rate, it is a curious fact that both the Sept. and Vulg. identified the two names, and also that the town of ha-Avvim was in the actual district of the Hivites. in the immediate neighborhood of Gibeon, Chephirah, and their other chief cities (Jos 9:7,17, compared with 18:22-27). The name of the Avvim has been derived from Avva (Ava), or Ivvah (Ivah), as if they had migrated thence into Palestine; but there is no argument for this beyond the mere similarity of the names. SEE AVA.
2. (Sept. Εὐαῖοι, Auth. Vers. "Avites.") The original designation of the colonists transported from Ava into Samaria by Shalmaneser (2Ki 17:31). They were idolaters, worshipping gods called Nibhaz and Tartak. SEE AVA.