Beersheba - Well of the Oath


"From there Isaac moved to Beersheba, where the Lord appeared to him on the night of his arrival. 'I am the God of your father, Abraham,' he said. 'Do not be afraid, for I am with you and will bless you. I will multiply your descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will do this because of my promise to Abraham, my servant.' Then Isaac built an altar there and worshiped the Lord. He set up his camp at that place, and his servants dug another well.
One day King Abimelech came from Gerar with his adviser, Ahuzzath, and also Phicol, his army commander. 'Why have you come here?' Isaac asked. 'You obviously hate me, since you kicked me off your land.' They replied, 'We can plainly see that the Lord is with you. So we want to enter into a sworn treaty with you. Let’s make a covenant. Swear that you will not harm us, just as we have never troubled you. We have always treated you well, and we sent you away from us in peace. And now look how the Lord has blessed you!' So Isaac prepared a covenant feast to celebrate the treaty, and they ate and drank together. Early the next morning, they each took a solemn oath not to interfere with each other. Then Isaac sent them home again, and they left him in peace.
That very day Isaac’s servants came and told him about a new well they had dug. 'We’ve found water!' they exclaimed. So Isaac named the well Shibah (which means 'oath'). And to this day the town that grew up there is called Beersheba (which means 'well of the oath')." - Genesis 26:23-33

Throughout his long life, the biblical patriarch Abraham never settled down in one single place. As a shepherd, he wandered the land, moving from city to city every few months in accordance with the changing climate. One of places that Abraham called home was a desert oasis called Beersheba. You may have heard of the modern city of Beersheba, but the Hebrew meaning of this name, will change your understanding of the story.

The name Beersheba (באר שבע) has an interesting double meaning in the original Hebrew. In Genesis 21, Abraham finds himself in conflict with the most powerful king of the southern part of the land, King Abimelech of Gerar. Abimelech’s servants seized a well that Abraham dug for his flocks. The two men resolved to make a peace treaty. Abraham gave the king seven sheep, and in exchange the king made an oath never to harass Abraham again (Genesis 21:28-31).

It is only when you read this story in Hebrew, that it makes perfect sense why they named this well Beersheba. This is also how the city of Beersheba got its name. The name has two meanings: “the well (be’er) of the oath (shevuah)” and “of the seven (sheva)”. You can only really appreciate the depth of this story when you can read it in its original tongue.

Lord God of all creation, we thank You for Water, for oaths and for commitment to You. Bless us this day in our ministries and families. Wash over us with Your Holy Spirit and empower and embolden us to be workers in the great harvest of SE Ohio. Bless us we pray. Amen.
Aug 8 2018