My dear friend, thank you for this good question. I can see by your question that you read your Bible with a thirst for understanding, so I have prayed that I might be able to show you not only who these people were, but the significance of their encounter with the children of Israel in God’s perfect plan for His people. 

According to the Morrish Concise Bible Dictionary, we have: “Girgasites, [Gir’gasites] Girgasites. A people established early in Canaan, the origin of whom is not known, except that they were descended from Canaan”. And so, to help clarify about Canaan and the Girgasites, we’ll turn to the Old Testament Scriptures which speak of these folks. First of all, in Genesis 10:15-19, we read, “And Canaan begat Sidon his first born, and Heth, And the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite, And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite, And the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad. And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha.” Then again in Genesis 15:18-21 we read, “In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.  Now, in Deuteronomy 7:1-2 we read, “When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them….”

Thus I believe we see in the above verses that the Girgashite was a member of one of the families of the descendants of a man named Canaan, and these families occupied the ancient land of Canaan, which the LORD had purposed to give to the children of Israel after leaving their bondage in Egypt. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had originally settled in this land, and God had made a covenant to give this land to His people; but they must take the land and defeat and remove all the descendants of Canaan, and not to mix with them lest they turn away from God.  Now, when Joshua led the children of Israel out of the wilderness and came up to the Jordan River, Joshua said to the people, “…Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites,” (Joshua 3:10). The miracle that was about to occur which would confirm the hearts of the people was that when the priests carrying the ark of the covenant came to the Jordan and stepped into it, the swollen river  backed up and parted, allowing the children of Israel to pass over the dry river bed of Jordan, and land on the Canaan side near Jericho, where a great battle and victory for Israel was about to take place. This crossing of the River Jordan on dry ground would confirm the Word of God and his plan to drive out the natives of Canaan so that Israel might occupy the land. Now, finally, after the children of Israel had conquered all the land, and there was peace, and when Joshua had become old, he gathered the elders of the people of Israel together and spoke the Word of the Lord to them in Joshua 24:11-14, “And you went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand. And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow. And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat. Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD”.

My dear friend, isn’t it amazing how the Holy Spirit has mapped out the birth and growth of His people Israel, right down to identifying the powerful peoples whom Israel would encounter when entering the promised land? Recall that when Israel came out of their bondage in Egypt, they were without weapons or training in the art of war. But according to the promise of God, and despite the power of all these ancient warriors of the land of Canaan, God gave Israel the victory by His power, and not by their own resources. He encouraged His people with mighty works like the deliverance from Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, and the parting of the Jordan. Recall that the victory over Jericho was not accomplished with weapons, but with trumpets and obedience to God’s direction. The people must be obedient to God’s Word and must go forward in faith in order to inherit the land, and so they did. I believe the same is true for you and me, don’t you think? In Genesis 15, God spoke to Abram and promised him children numbering as the very stars in the heavens, even when he and his wife were very old. We read in Genesis 15:5-6, “And He brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and He said unto him, So shall thy seed be.  And he believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness.” And God has said to us, who are sinners by nature and by choice, and for whom no other remedy was found, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”, (Romans 10:9, 10). Do you believe on the Lord Jesus as your Savior? I pray you do.  (445.5)  (SF)