|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
Well of the oath, or well of seven, a well dug by Abraham, and so named because he and Abimelech here entered into a compact (Genesis 21:31). On re-opening it, Isaac gave it the same name (Genesis 26:31-33). It was a favourite place of abode of both of these patriarchs (21:33-22:1, 19; 26:33; 28:10). It is mentioned among the "cities" given to the tribe of Simeon (Joshua 19:2; 1 Chronicles 4:28). From Dan to Beersheba, a distance of about 144 miles (Judges 20:1; 1 Chronicles 21:2; 2 Samuel 24:2), became the usual way of designating the whole Promised Land, and passed into a proverb. After the return from the Captivity the phrase is narrowed into "from Beersheba unto the valley of Hinnom" (Nehemiah 11:30). The kingdom of the ten tribes extended from Beersheba to Mount Ephraim (2 Chronicles 19:4). The name is not found in the New Testament. It is still called by the Arabs Bir es-Seba, i.e., "well of the seven", where there are to the present day two principal wells and five smaller ones. It is nearly midway between the southern end of the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
be-er-she'-ba (be'er shebha`; Bersabee): Allotted originally to Simeon (Joshua 19:2), one of "the uttermost cities of the tribe of the children of Judah" (Joshua 15:28).
1. The Meaning of the Name:
The most probable meaning of Beersheba is the "well of seven." "Seven wells" is improbable on etymological grounds; the numeral should in that case be first. In Genesis 21:31 Abraham and Abimelech took an oath of witness that the former had dug the well and seven ewe lambs were offered in sacrifice, "Wherefore he called that place Beer-sheba; because there they sware both of them." Here the name is ascribed to the Hebrew root shabha`, "to swear," but this same root is connected with the idea of seven, seven victims being offered and to take an oath, meaning "to come under the influence of seven."
Another account is given (Genesis 26:23-33), where Isaac takes an oath and just afterward, "the same day Isaac's servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had digged (dug), and said unto him, We have found water. And he called it Shibah: therefore the name of the city is Beer-sheba unto this day."
2. A Sacred Shrine: Beersheba was a sacred shrine. "Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of Yahweh, the Everlasting God" Genesis (Genesis 21:33). Theophanies occurred there to Hagar (Genesis 21:17), to Isaac (Genesis 26:24), to Jacob (Genesis 46:2), and to Elijah (1 Kings 19:5). By Amos (Amos 5:5) it is classed with Bethel and Gilgal as one of the rival shrines to the pure worship of Yahweh, and in another place (Amos 8:14) he writes "They shall fall, and never rise up again," who sware, "As the way (i.e. cult) of Beersheba liveth." The two unworthy sons of Samuel were Judges in Beersheba (1 Samuel 8:2) and Zibiah, mother of King Jehoash, was born there (2 Kings 12:1 2 Chronicles 24:1).
3. Its Position:
Geographically Beersheba marked the southern limit of Judah, though theoretically this extended to the "river of Egypt" (Genesis 15:18)-the modern Wady el`Avish-60 miles farther south. It was the extreme border of the cultivated land. From Dan to Beersheba (2 Samuel 17:11, etc.) or from Beersheba to Dan (1 Chronicles 21:2 2 Chronicles 30:5) were the proverbial expressions, though necessarily altered through the changed conditions in later years to "from Geba to Beer-sheba" (2 Kings 23:8) or "from Beer-sheba to the hill-country of Ephraim" (2 Chronicles 19:4).
4. Modern Beersheba:
Today Beersheba is Bir es-Seba` in the Wady es Seba`, 28 miles Southwest of Hebron on "the southern border of a vast rolling plain broken by the torrent beds of Wady Khalil and Wady Seba" (Robinson). The plain is treeless but is covered by verdure in the spring; it is dry and monotonous most of the year. Within the last few years this long-deserted spot-a wide stretch of shapeless ruins, the haunt of the lawless Bedouin-has been re-occupied; the Turks have stationed there an enlightened Kaimerkhan (subgovernor); government offices and shops have been built; wells have been cleared, and there is now an abundant water supply pumped even to the separate houses. Robinson (BW, XVII, 247) has described how he found seven ancient wells there-probably still more will yet be found. The whole neighborhood is strewn with the ruins of the Byzantine city which once flourished there; it was an episcopal see. It is probable that the city of Old Testament times stood where Tell es Seba' now is, some 2 1/2 miles to the East; from the summit a commanding view can be obtained (PEF, III, 394, Sheet XXIV).
E. W. G. Masterman
Beersheba (33 Occurrences)
Genesis 21:14 Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread and a bottle of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder; and gave her the child, and sent her away. She departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. Exodus (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
Genesis 21:31 Therefore he called that place Beersheba, because they both swore there. (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
Genesis 21:32 So they made a covenant at Beersheba. Abimelech rose up with Phicol, the captain of his army, and they returned into the land of the Philistines. (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
Genesis 21:33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and called there on the name of Yahweh, the Everlasting God. (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
Genesis 22:19 So Abraham returned to his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba. Abraham lived at Beersheba. (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
Genesis 26:23 He went up from there to Beersheba. (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
Genesis 26:33 He called it Shibah. Therefore the name of the city is Beersheba to this day. (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
Genesis 28:10 Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
Genesis 46:1 Israel traveled with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father, Isaac. (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
Genesis 46:5 Jacob rose up from Beersheba, and the sons of Israel carried Jacob, their father, their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him. (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
Joshua 15:28 Hazar Shual, Beersheba, Biziothiah, (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
Joshua 19:2 They had for their inheritance Beersheba (or Sheba), Moladah, (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
Judges 20:1 Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was assembled as one man, from Dan even to Beersheba, with the land of Gilead, to Yahweh at Mizpah. (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
1 Samuel 3:20 All Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of Yahweh. (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
1 Samuel 8:2 Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abijah: they were judges in Beersheba. (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
2 Samuel 3:10 to transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul, and to set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan even to Beersheba." (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
2 Samuel 17:11 But I counsel that all Israel be gathered together to you, from Dan even to Beersheba, as the sand that is by the sea for multitude; and that you go to battle in your own person. (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
2 Samuel 24:2 The king said to Joab the captain of the army, who was with him, "Now go back and forth through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, and number the people, that I may know the sum of the people." (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
2 Samuel 24:7 and came to the stronghold of Tyre, and to all the cities of the Hivites, and of the Canaanites; and they went out to the south of Judah, at Beersheba. (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
2 Samuel 24:15 So Yahweh sent a pestilence on Israel from the morning even to the appointed time; and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men. (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
1 Kings 4:25 Judah and Israel lived safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon. (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
1 Kings 19:3 When he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
2 Kings 12:1 In the seventh year of Jehu began Jehoash to reign; and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem: and his mother's name was Zibiah of Beersheba. (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
2 Kings 23:8 He brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba; and he broke down the high places of the gates that were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man's left hand at the gate of the city. (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
1 Chronicles 4:28 They lived at Beersheba, and Moladah, and Hazarshual, (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
1 Chronicles 21:2 David said to Joab and to the princes of the people, Go, number Israel from Beersheba even to Dan; and bring me word, that I may know the sum of them. (WEB KJV JPS NAS NIV)
2 Chronicles 19:4 Jehoshaphat lived at Jerusalem: and he went out again among the people from Beersheba to the hill country of Ephraim, and brought them back to Yahweh, the God of their fathers. (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
2 Chronicles 24:1 Joash was seven years old when he began to reign; and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem: and his mother's name was Zibiah, of Beersheba. (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
2 Chronicles 30:5 So they established a decree to make proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba even to Dan, that they should come to keep the Passover to Yahweh, the God of Israel, at Jerusalem: for they had not kept it in great numbers in such sort as it is written. (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
Nehemiah 11:27 and in Hazar Shual, and in Beersheba and its towns, (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
Nehemiah 11:30 Zanoah, Adullam, and their villages, Lachish and its fields, Azekah and its towns. So they encamped from Beersheba to the valley of Hinnom. (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
Amos 5:5 but don't seek Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and don't pass to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nothing. (WEB KJV NAS NIV)
Amos 8:14 Those who swear by the sin of Samaria, and say,'As your god, Dan, lives;' and,'As the way of Beersheba lives;' they will fall, and never rise up again." (WEB KJV NAS NIV)