Ancient Sources

Places of Ascalon, Gaza, Negev, Sinai


104. Beersheba, today Berosabba. The boundary of Judaea
to the south reaches down to it from Dan near Paneas, which
marks the northern boundary
- (Beersheba)

ORIGINAL TEXTS


Bersabee in tribu Iudae siue Symeonis. Est usque hodie vicus grandis in vicesimo a Chebron miliario vergens ad au-strum, in quo et Romanorum militum praesidium po-situm est. A quo loco termini Iudaeae terrae inci-pientes tende-bantur usque ad Dan, quae iuxta Pa-neadem cernitur. Inter-pretatur vero Bersabee puteus iuramenti eo, quod ibi Abraam et Isa-ac foedus cum Abimelech sociavere iurantes. Nec movere debet quempiam, si interdum civitates Iudae easdem in tribu Symeonis sive Beniamin repperiat. Tribus enim Iudae bellico-sissimis viris pollens et crebro adversarios supe-rans in omnibus tribubus tenuit princi-patum, et id-circo etiam aliarum tribuum sortes in eius interdum fu-ni-culo nuncupantur. Alioquin in medio tribus Iudae habi-tasse Symeonem scriptura manifestissime docet.
(Jerome 51:1-12)

Puteus iuramenti quem fodit Abraam, id est Bersabee. In regione Geraritica. Diximus de hoc et supra.
(Jerome 167:21-22)


ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Eusebius, Onomasticon 50:1-12 (ca. 295 A.D.); Jerome 51:1-12 (ca. 390 A.D.)
Beersheba, in the tribe of Judah and Sim-eon, is to this day a large village at the 20th milestone from Hebron to the south, where a garrison of Roman soldiers is posted. Here the boundaries of the land of Judaea began, ending up at Dan near Paneas. Beersheba means 'well of the oath', for here Abraham and Isaac swore a pact of alliance with Abimelech. One must not be surprised at finding cities said to belong to Judah in the lot of Simeon or of Benjamin, for the tribe of Judah, which was rich in the most warlike men and often conquered its enemies, held the leadership of all the tribes, and therefore also the lots of other tribes are sometimes ascribed to its possessions. In another passage the Scripture explains very clearly that Simeon dwelt in the midst of the tribe of Judah.


Eusebius, Onomasticon 166:20-21
(ca. 295 A.D.); Jerome 167:21-22 (ca. 390 A.D.)
Well of the oath (Gen 21: 30-31), which Abraham dug in the place where he swore. Today it is Beersheba in the Geraritica. We spoke of it above.

BIBLICAL BACKGROUND

Gen. 21:8-14 The wandering of Hagar and Ishmael
The child grew, and was weaned; and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. So she said to Abraham, "Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac." The matter was very distressing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, "Do not be distressed because of the boy and because of your slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named for you. As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also, because he is your offspring." So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.

Gen. 21:27-31 The alliance of Abraham with Abimelech
So Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two men made a covenant. Abraham set apart seven ewe lambs of the flock. And Abimelech said to Abraham, "What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs that you have set apart?" He said, "These seven ewe lambs you shall accept from my hand, in order that you may be a witness for me that I dug this well." Therefore that place was called Beer-sheba; because there both of them swore an oath.

Gen. 26:31 The well of Isaac
In the morning they rose early and exchanged oaths; and Isaac set them on their way, and they departed from him in peace. That same day Isaac's servants came and told him about the well that they had dug, and said to him, "We have found water!" He called it Shibah; therefore the name of the city is Beer-sheba to this day.

2Sam. 24:1-9 The census ordered by king David from Dan to Beer-sheba
Again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, "Go, count the people of Israel and Judah." So the king said to Joab and the commanders of the army, who were with him, "Go through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beer-sheba, and take a census of the people, so that I may know how many there are." But Joab said to the king, "May the Lord your God increase the number of the people a hundredfold, while the eyes of my lord the king can still see it! But why does my lord the king want to do this?" But the king's word prevailed against Joab and the commanders of the army. So Joab and the commanders of the army went out from the presence of the king to take a census of the people of Israel. They crossed the Jordan, and began from Aroer and from the city that is in the middle of the valley, toward Gad and on to Jazer. Then they came to Gilead, and to Kadesh in the land of the Hittites; and they came to Dan, and from Dan they went around to Sidon, and came to the fortress of Tyre and to all the cities of the Hivites and Canaanites; and they went out to the Negeb of Judah at Beer-sheba. So when they had gone through all the land, they came back to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. Joab reported to the king the number of those who had been recorded: in Israel there were eight hundred thousand soldiers able to draw the sword, and those of Judah were five hundred thousand.

MORE ANCIENT SOURCES

Josephus, Antiquities 8.13.7 (1st cent. A.D.)
(347) When Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, understood what signs Elijah had wrought, and how he had slain her prophets, she was angry, and sent messengers to him, and by them threatened to kill him, as he had destroyed her prophets. (348) At this Elijah was affrighted, and fled to the city called Beersheba, which is situate at the utmost limits of the country belonging to the tribe of Judah, towards the land of Edom; and there he left his servant, and went away into the desert. He prayed also that he might die, for that he was not better than his fathers, (349) nor need he be very desirous to live, when they were dead; and he lay and slept under a certain tree; and when somebody awakened him, and he was risen up, he found food set by him and water; so when he had eaten, and recovered his strength by that his food, he came to that mountain which is called Sinai, where it is related that Moses received his laws from God.

Notitia Dignitatum, 34,5,18 (5th cent. A.D.)
Cavalry 'Equites Dalmatae Illyriciani' at Berosaba.


BYZANTINE ADMINISTRATIVE LISTS

Hierocles, Synecdemos 717:8-719:11 (7th cent. A.D.)
Province of Palaestina Tertia, 10 cities under a praeses: Petra, Augustopolis, Arindela, Charachmuba, Areo-polis, Zoara, Mampsis, Bitarous, Elusa, Salton.

Georgius Cyprius, 1043-1057 (7th cent. A.D.)
Province of Palaestina Tertia: Petra, Augustopolis, Arindela, Charachmoba, Areopolis, Mampsis, Elusa, Zoora, Salton, Berosaba (Beersheba), Aila, Pentakomia, Mampsara, Metrokomia, Salton Hieratikon.


ICONOGRAPHIC PARALLELS

Notitia Dignitatum
(5th cent. A.D.)
Berosaba


Map Section 8 Place Discussion

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Created Saturday, December 16, 2000 at 13:36:48
by Eugenio Alliata ofm in collaboration with Stefano de Luca ofm
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copyright - Studium Biblicum Franciscanum - Jerusalem 2000