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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Be´er-She´ba, well of the oath; a place in the southernmost part of Canaan, celebrated for the sojourn of the patriarchs. It took its name from the well which was dug there by Abraham, and the oath which confirmed his treaty with Abimelech (Genesis 21:31). It seems to have been a favorite station of that patriarch, and here he planted one of those 'groves' which formed the temples of those remote times (Genesis 21:33). A town of some consequence afterwards arose on the spot, and retained the same name. It was first assigned to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:28), and afterwards transferred to Simeon (Joshua 19:2), but was still popularly ascribed to Judah (2 Samuel 24:7). Being the southernmost city of the land, its name is of frequent occurrence as being proverbially used in describing the extent of the land, in the phrase 'from Dan (in the north) to Beersheba' (in the south), and reversely, 'from Beersheba unto Dan' (Judges 20:1; 2 Samuel 17:11; 1 Chronicles 21:2; 2 Chronicles 30:5). It was at Beersheba that Samuel established his sons as judges for the southernmost districts (1 Samuel 8:2): it was from thence that Elijah wandered out into the southern desert (1 Kings 19:3): here was one of the chief seats of idolatrous worship in the time of Uzziah (Amos 5:5; Amos 8:14); and to this place, among others, the Jews returned after the Captivity (Nehemiah 11:27; Nehemiah 11:30). This is the last time its name occurs in the Old Testament. In the New Testament it is not once mentioned; and for many centuries it seems to have been in a great measure forgotten. Its site was recently visited by Dr. Robinson, who, on converging from the desert and entering the borders of Palestine, came upon two deep wells still called Bir-es-Leba, situate on the northern side of a wide watercourse called Wady ir-Leba. These wells are 55 rods apart. They are circular, and stoned up very neatly with masonry, apparently very ancient. The water in both was pure and sweet, and in great abundance; the finest, indeed, the travelers had found since leaving Sinai. Both wells were surrounded with drinking-troughs of stone for camels and flocks, such as were doubtless used of old by the flocks which were fed on the adjacent hills. No ruins were at first visible; but, on examination, foundations of former dwellings were traced, dispersed loosely over the low hills to the north of the wells, and in the hollows between. They seem to have been built chiefly of round stones, although some of the stones are squared and some hewn; suggesting the idea of a small straggling city. The site of the wells is nearly midway between the southern end of the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean at Raphaea, or twenty-seven miles south-east from Gaza, and about the same distance south-by-west from Hebron.





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Beer-Sheba'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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Sunday, October 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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