Anciently, Beersheba was the southern-most city of the land of Canaan. The expression “from Dan even to Beer-sheba” (Judges 20:1; 1 Samuel 3:20; 2 Samuel 24:2, etc.) or “from Beer-sheba even to Dan” (1 Chronicles 21:2) stood for the entire country. Beersheba has been inhabited without interruption since the days of Abraham and has retained its ancient name to the present day.
Beersheba is mostly mentioned in the Bible in connection with the Patriarchs Abraham and Isaac, who dug a well and made a peace treaty with King Abimelech of Gerar at this site. Abimelech said to Abraham, “swear to me here before God that you will not deal falsely with me or my children or my descendants. Show to me and the country where you now reside as a foreigner the same kindness I have shown to you” (Genesis 21:22–23). So, Abraham swore.
Then, Abraham rebuked Abimelech because his servants had seized the well. So, Abimelech returned the well back to Abraham. And Abraham said, “You will take these seven ewe lambs from my hand, that they may be my witness that I have dug this well.” Therefore, he called that place Beersheba, because the two of them swore an oath there. Upon the time of this treaty Isaac was about three years of age (Genesis 21:8, 22; 21:8).
The second treaty came around 97 years later (Genesis 25:26; 26:34). Abimelech’s servants ruined several wells and robbed Isaac of at least two others. But Isaac showed no violence to them because of his peaceful nature. The new king of Gerar now proposed a treaty with Isaac which was a renewal of the original treaty between Abraham and an earlier king of Gerar. And Isaac agreed to make a new alliance of friendship with Abimelech.
The Division of Canaan and the Judges
At the division of Canaan, the region of Beersheba was part of the inheritance of the tribes of Simeon and Judah (Joshua 15:20–28; 19:1–2). This region was also mentioned at the time of the judges of Israel (Judges 20:1). And it was the place where Samuel’s two sons served as evil judges in Israel and did not walk in the path of their godly father (1 Samuel 8:1–3).
During the time of the kings of Israel, King Saul built a fort there for his campaign against the Amalekites (I Samuel 14:48 and 15:2–9). And at the time of King Ahab, Elijah was afraid and ran for his life from the death threat given by wicked queen Jezebel and he came to Beersheba. Close to there, he prayed that he might die (1 Kings 19:3-4). Also, Zibiah, the consort of King Ahaziah of Judah and the mother of King Jehoash of Judah, was from Beersheba (2 Kings 12:1).
During the reign of King Uzziah, Beersheba had become a shrine of idolatry (2 Kings 23:8). So, the prophet Amos gave in chapter 5:5 the third of his three messages (Amos 3:1; 4:1) and warned the people in that city to come back to God or “come to nothing.”
After the Babylonian Captivity
During the Babylonian captivity, Beersheba was abandoned. After the Israelite captives came back from Babylon, they resettled the town. Today, this city belongs to the state of Israel and has grown in a few decades. It is the center of the fourth-most populous metropolitan area in Israel.
In His service,