Beersheba is about 45 miles southwest of Jerusalem in the Negeb (or Negev). Beersheba played a key role in the lives of the patriarchs. Abraham lived there for a while, as did his son, Isaac. And Isaac's son, Jacob, visited the area on his way to Egypt, during a great famine.
The name Beersheba derives from an incident involving Abraham and Abimelech, the king of Gerar. The two made a covenant over a water well, and the area became known as Beersheba, which means "the well of the oath" (Genesis 21:25-34).
Abraham planted a tamarisk tree and called on the Lord in Beersheba, and lived in the area for a while.
God appeared to Isaac in Beersheba, and Isaac built an altar and resided there.
Later, Jacob offered sacrifices in Beersheba before leaving for Egypt with his family, to see his son Joseph.
Many generations later, after the time of the patriarch's, Samuel's sons were judges in Beersheba, before Saul became the first king of Israel.
The saying "from Dan to Beersheba" is used several times in the Bible to encompass the northern border of Israel, to the southern border of Judah (the complete nation). Beersheba was resettled after the return from Babylon, and later became part of Idumea. Excavations found six Israelite fortified towns and a Roman fortress.
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