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Beersheba (See also wiki article Beersheba.)

BEERSHEBA - A halting-place of Abraham (Gn.21.31), where Hagar was sent away (Gn.21.14), and where he made a covenant with Abimelech, from which the place is alleged to take its name ('well of the covenant,' according to one interpretation). Isaac after his disputes with the 'Philistines' settled here (26.23), and discovered the well Shibah, another etymological speculation (v.33). Hence Jacob was sent away (28.10), and returned and sacrificed on his way to Egypt (46.1). It was assigned to the tribe of Judah (Jos.15.28), but set apart for the Simeonites (19.2). Here Samuel's sons were judges (1 S.8.2), and hither Elijah fled before Jezebel (1 K.19.3). Zibiah, the mother of Joash, belonged to Beersheba (2 K.12.1). It was an important holy place: here Abraham planted a sacred tree (Gn.21.33), and theophanies were vouchsafed to Hagar (v.17), to Isaac (26.24), to Jacob (46.2), and to Elijah (1 K.19.5). Amos couples it with the shrines of Bethel and Gilgal (Am.5.5), and oaths by its numen are denounced (8.14). The fact that this shrine was a centre of pilgrimage for North Israel suggests that it was the religious centre of the tribe of Simeon, once located at Shechem (Gn.34.25-31). It is recognized as the southern boundary of the settled land in the frequent phrase 'from Dan to Beersheba' (Jg.20.1 etc.). The place was resettled by Jews after the Exile (Neh.11.30), though it was not in the Persian administrative district of Yehud, but Arabia. Seven ancient wells exist here, and it has been suggested that these gave its name to the locality. The name persists. Several Chalcolithic sites have been recently discovered in the vicinity, and the modern site was occupied by a Byzantine town, the Biblical Beersheba being probably at Tell es-Seba', about two miles to the E. In recent times a poor market village for Bedouin, it was rebuilt in Turkish times, served as an administrative centre then and during the British Mandate, when it was the seat of a tribal court, and has now expanded as the capital of the Negeb in the state of Israel. [Article: Dictionary of the Bible, J.Hastings, 2nd Ed., T&T.Clark, 1963. - R.A.S.M. - J.Gr.]