BEERSHEBA

Originally Beersheba was the name given to a well that Abraham dug in the dry southern region of Palestine known as the Negeb. Some years later, opponents of the Hebrews filled the well in, and Isaac had to dig it again (Gen 21:25-33; 26:18,32-33). The town that grew up around the well was also called Beersheba. Abraham, Hagar, Isaac, Jacob and the sons of Jacob all at some time either lived in or passed through Beersheba (Gen 21:14; 22:19; 26:23; 28:10; 46:1-5). A number of important roads passed through Beersheba. Among these were the main north-south route from Canaan to Egypt, and the main west-east route from the Philistine coast to Edom (Gen 46:1-6; 2 Kings 3:8). (For a map of Palestine’s main traffic routes see PALESTINE.) After Israel’s settlement in Canaan, the people of Israel commonly thought of Beersheba as the southernmost town of the occupied territory. The expression ‘from Dan to Beersheba’ meant ‘from the northern boundary to the southern’ (Judg 20:1; 2 Sam 3:10; 17:11; 24:2; 1 Kings 4:25). Centuries later, when the Jews reconstructed their nation after the captivity in Babylon, Beersheba again became an important settlement. The present-day town of Beersheba stands next to the ancient site and still marks the junction of well used traffic routes (Neh 11:25-30).

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