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KMTT - the Torah Podcast

Nov 24, 2022

Toldot | Why "Beersheva"? by Rav Yitzchak Etshalom

What does "Beersheva" mean? Well of an oath? (If so, which oath) Well of the seven? (seven of what?)  Seventh well?

We first encounter the town of Beersheva in the stories of Avraham; he is in that area when Hagar is exiled from his encampment, and then again when Avimelekh approaches him to make a treaty. In spite of the repeated "seven" in that scene, the place is called "Beersheva" due to the oath ("shevua") between them; this scene repeats with Yitzchak. In that case, even though the well dug there was the seventh one in that narrative, the oath is the reason behind the name. We explore the significance of this place ironically through the lens of the Septuagint, which nearly always prefers a translation "well of the oath" to a transliteration. This survey not only explains that unusual rendering, but also a mysterious verse in the rebukes of Amos...

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