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Genesis 26:33 - Exposition

And he called it Shebah ("Oath;" which he would certainly not have done had it not been a well): therefore the name of the city (which ultimately gathered round the well) is Beersheba i . e . the well of the oath ( vide Genesis 21:31 ). Isaac must have perfectly understood that the place had been so named by his father three quarters of a century previous; but either the name had been forgotten by others, or had not come into general use amongst the inhabitants, or, observing the coincidence between his finding a well just at the time of covenanting with Abimelech and the fact that his father's treaty was also connected with a well, he wished to confirm and perpetuate the early name which had been assigned to the town. It is not certain that this was Abraham's well which had been rediscovered; the probability is that it was another, since at Bir-es-Sheba two wells are still in existence ( vide Genesis 21:31 ) unto this day—an expression used throughout Genesis to describe events separated from the age of Moses by several centuries ( vide Genesis 19:37 , Genesis 19:38 ; Genesis 22:14 ; Genesis 32:32 ).

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