From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

Beersheba means "well of the oath". The southern limit of the Holy Land, as Dan in the N.: "from Dan to Beersheba" (compare in David's census,  1 Chronicles 21:2;  2 Samuel 24:2-7) comprehends the whole. Called so from the oath of peace between Abraham and Abimelech, king of the Philistines ( Genesis 21:31), else from the seven ( Sheba' ) ewe lambs slain there: indeed Sheba' , an oath, is from the custom of binding one's self by seven things, as Abraham made the seven ewe lambs a pledge of his covenant with Abimelech. Again, from the like oath between Abimelech (with Phichol, his captain) and Isaac, it being not uncommon for an event to be recorded as occurring apparently for the first time, which has been recorded as occurring earlier before: so Bethel ( Genesis 26:31-33).

The well dug by Abraham and secured to him by oath had been covered and lost. It is found by Isaac's servants just after the covenant made between him and Abimelech. The series of events recalls to Isaac's mind the original name and that which gave rise to the name; so he restores both the well itself and the name. Seven ( Sheba' Which Also May Explain The Name) wells are at the place, so that a different one may have been named by Isaac from that named by Abraham. They all pour their streams into the wady es Seba, and are called Bir es seba, the largest 12 ft. diameter, and masonry round reaching 28 ft. down, and 44 from bottom to surface of the water. The second, at a hundred yards distance, 5 in diameter, 42 in depth. The other five further off. The stones around the mouth are worn into grooves by the action of ropes for so many ages. Around the large are nine stone troughs; around the smaller, five.

The water is excellent, and grass with crocuses and lilies abounds. Abraham planted here a" grove" ( 'Eshel ) (distinct from the idol grove, Asheerah, or Astarte Baal), or tree, the tamarisk, long living, of hard wood, with long, clustering, evergreen leaves, as a type of the ever enduring grace of the faithful, covenant keeping God ( Genesis 21:33), "and called on the name (the self manifested character and person) of Jehovah, the everlasting God." (See Baal .) Here it was that Isaac lived when Jacob stole from his father the blessing already forfeited by Esau's profane sale of his birthright ( Genesis 26:33;  Genesis 26:27;  Genesis 28:10). Long afterward, on Jacob's descent to Egypt, he halted there, sacrificed unto the God of Isaac, and had a vision of God encouraging him to go down. The dispensation of the promise, which began with Abraham's call from Ur to Canaan, ended on the last night of the sojourn of his grandson Israel in Canaan.

So God's promise was repeated for the last time ( Genesis 46:1-5). Possibly the 430 years ( Galatians 3:17) dates from this, the end, not from the beginning, of the dispensation of the promise. Beersheba was given to Simeon, in the extreme S. of Judah ( Joshua 15:28;  Joshua 19:1-2;  1 Chronicles 4:28). Samuel's sons, Joel and Abiah, were judges there ( 1 Samuel 8:2), its distance preventing his going in circuit to it, as he did to others yearly ( 1 Samuel 7:16-17). Here Elijah left his confidential servant ( Narow ) on his way to Horeb ( 1 Kings 19:3-4).

"From Geba to Beersheba" or "from Beersheba to mount Ephraim" was the formula comprehending the southern kingdom of Judah after the severance of Israel's ten tribes ( 2 Kings 23:8;  2 Chronicles 19:4), and on the return from Babylon still narrower, "from Beersheba to the valley of Hinnom" ( Nehemiah 11:30). Ahaziah's wife, Zibiah, mother of Joash, was of Beersheba ( 2 Kings 12:1.) It became seat of an idolatry akin to that of Bethel or Gilgal, so that it was a formula of superstition, "the manner (cultus, or religion, as in  Acts 9:2 the new religion of Christ is designated "this way") of Beersheba liveth" ( Amos 5:5;  Amos 8:14). In Christian times, it became an episcopal city under the Bishop of Jerusalem.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

BEERSHEBA . A halting-place of Abraham (  Genesis 21:31 ), where Hagar was sent away (  Genesis 21:14 ), and where he made a covenant with Abimelech, from which the place is alleged to take its name (‘well of the covenant,’ according to one interpretation). Isaac after his disputes with the Philistines settled here (  Genesis 26:23 ), and discovered the well Shibah , another etymological speculation (  Genesis 26:33 ). Hence Jacob was sent away (  Genesis 28:10 ), and returned and sacrificed on his way to Egypt (  Genesis 46:1 ). It was assigned to the tribe of Judah (  Joshua 15:28 ), but set apart for the Simeonites (  Joshua 19:2 ). Here Samuel’s sons were judges (  1 Samuel 8:2 ), and hither Elijah fled before Jezebel (  1 Kings 19:3 ). Zibiah, the mother of Joash, belonged to Beersheba (  2 Kings 12:1 ). It was an important holy place: here Abraham planted a sacred tree (  Genesis 21:33 ), and theophanies were vouchsafed to Hagar (  Genesis 21:17 ), to Isaac (  Genesis 26:24 ), to Jacob (  Genesis 46:2 ), and to Elijah (  1 Kings 19:5 ). Amos couples it with the shrines of Bethel and Gilgal (  Amos 5:6 ), and oaths by its numen are denounced (  Amos 8:14 ). It is recognized as the southern boundary of Palestine in the frequent phrase ‘from Dan unto Beersheba’ (  Judges 20:1 etc.). Seven ancient wells exist here, and it has been suggested that these gave its name to the locality; the suffixed numeral being perhaps due to the influence of the syntax of some pre-Semitic language, as in Kiriath-arba (‘Tetrapolis’). The modern name is Bir es-Seba ’, where are extensive remains of a Byzantine city; the ancient city is probably at Tell es-Seba ’, about 2 miles to the east. Till recently the site was deserted by all but Bedouin; now a modern town has sprung up, built from the ruins of the ancient structures, and has been made the seat of a sub-governor.

R. A. S. Macalister.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [3]

Originally Beersheba was the name given to a well that Abraham dug in the dry southern region of Palestine known as the Negeb. Some years later, opponents of the Hebrews filled the well in, and Isaac had to dig it again ( Genesis 21:25-33;  Genesis 26:18;  Genesis 26:32-33). The town that grew up around the well was also called Beersheba. Abraham, Hagar, Isaac, Jacob and the sons of Jacob all at some time either lived in or passed through Beersheba ( Genesis 21:14;  Genesis 22:19;  Genesis 26:23;  Genesis 28:10;  Genesis 46:1-5).

A number of important roads passed through Beersheba. Among these were the main north-south route from Canaan to Egypt, and the main west-east route from the Philistine coast to Edom ( Genesis 46:1-6;  2 Kings 3:8). (For a map of Palestine’s main traffic routes see Palestine .)

After Israel’s settlement in Canaan, the people of Israel commonly thought of Beersheba as the southernmost town of the occupied territory. The expression ‘from Dan to Beersheba’ meant ‘from the northern boundary to the southern’ ( Judges 20:1;  2 Samuel 3:10;  2 Samuel 17:11;  2 Samuel 24:2;  1 Kings 4:25). Centuries later, when the Jews reconstructed their nation after the captivity in Babylon, Beersheba again became an important settlement. The present-day town of Beersheba stands next to the ancient site and still marks the junction of well used traffic routes ( Nehemiah 11:25-30).

Morrish Bible Dictionary [4]

This name, signifying well of the oath, was given to the place where Abraham and Abimelech made a covenant not to molest each other, and confirmed it by an oath. It afterwards became the dwelling place of Abraham and of Isaac, who also digged a well there, and a city is spoken of as bearing the same name.  Genesis 21:14,31-33;  Genesis 22:19;  Genesis 26:23,33;  Genesis 28:10 . It became a part of Simeon's lot,  Joshua 19:1,2; and after the settlement of the land it is constantly referred to as the most southern part of the land possessed, as Dan is pointed to as the most northern; thus 'from Dan to Beer-sheba' was the common expression for the whole territory even in the days of Solomon.  1 Kings 4:25 .

The prophet Amos warns the people not to trust in any places of renown or of former blessing, as Bethel, Gilgal, nor Beersheba; the glory of all had faded: they must seek Jehovah, and they should live.  Amos 5:5,6;  Amos 8:14 . On the return of the exiles some of them dwelt at Beer-sheba, and from thence northward to the valley of Hinnom.  Nehemiah 11:27,30 . Beer-sheba is identified with Bir es Seba, 34 48' E 31 15' N . There are still two principal wells in the district giving excellent water, besides five smaller ones.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [5]

Be-er'-sheba or Be-er-she'ba. (Well Of The Oath). The name of one of the old places in Palestine, which formed the southern limit of the country. There are two accounts of the origin of the name. According to the first, the well was dug by Abraham, and the name given to Judah,  Joshua 15:28, and then to Simeon,  Joshua 19:2;  1 Chronicles 4:28.

In the often-quoted, "from Dan even unto Beersheba,"  Judges 20:1, it represents the southern boundary of Canaan, as Dan, the northern. In the time of Jerome, it was still a considerable place, and still retains its ancient name - Bir Es-Seba.

There are at present on the spot, two principal wells and five smaller ones. The two principal wells are on, or close to, the northern bank of the Wady Es-Seba. The larger of the two, which lies to the east, is, according to Dr. Robinson, 12 1/2 feet in diameter, and at the time of his visit, (April 12), was 44 1/2 feet to the surface of the water. The masonry which encloses the well extends downward 28 1/2 feet. The other well is 5 feet in diameter, and was 42 feet to the water.

The curb-stones around the mouth of both wells are worn into deep grooves by the action of the ropes of so many centures. These wells are in constant use today. The five lesser wells are in a group in the bed of the wady. On some low hills, north of the large wells, are scattered the foundations and ruins of a town of moderate size.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [6]

or the well of the oath; so named from a well which Abraham dug in this place, and the covenant which he here made with Abimelech, king of Gerar, Genesis 20:31. Here also he planted a grove, as it would appear, for the purpose of retirement for religious worship. In process of time, a considerable town was built on the same spot, which retained the same name. Beersheba was given by Joshua to the tribe of Judah, and afterward transferred to Simeon,  Joshua 15:28 . It was situated twenty miles south of Hebron, in the extreme south of the land of Israel, as Dan was on the north. The two places are frequently thus mentioned in Scripture, as "from Dan to Beersheba," to denote the whole length of the country.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [7]

 Genesis 21:31 Genesis 26:31-33 Joshua 19:2 1 Chronicles 4:28 Judges 20:1 1 Chronicles 21:2 2 Samuel 24:2 Nehemiah 11:30 2 Chronicles 19:4

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [8]

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [9]

- ẽr - shē´ba ( בּאר שׁבע , be'ēr shēbha‛  ; Βηρσαβέε , Bērsabée ): Allotted originally to Simeon ( Joshua 19:2 ), one of "the uttermost cities of the tribe of the children of Judah" ( Joshua 15:28 ).

1. The Meaning of the Name

The most probable meaning of Beersheba is the "well of seven." "Seven wells" is improbable on etymological grounds; the numeral should in that case be first. In  Genesis 21:31 Abraham and Abimelech took an oath of witness that the former had dug the well and seven ewe lambs were offered in sacrifice, "Wherefore he called that place Beer-sheba; because there they sware both of them." Here the name is ascribed to the Hebrew root שׁבע , shābha‛ , "to swear," but this same root is connected with the idea of seven, seven victims being offered and to take an oath, meaning "to come under the influence of seven."

Another account is given ( Genesis 26:23-33 ), where Isaac takes an oath and just afterward, "the same day Isaac's servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had digged (dug), and said unto him, We have found water. And he called it Shibah: therefore the name of the city is Beer-sheba unto this day."

2. A S acred Shrine

Beersheba was a sacred shrine. "Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of Yahweh, the Everlasting God" Gen ( Genesis 21:33 ). Theophanies occurred there to Hagar ( Genesis 21:17 ), to Isaac ( Genesis 26:24 ), to Jacob ( Genesis 46:2 ), and to Elijah ( 1 Kings 19:5 ). By Amos ( Amos 5:5 ) it is classed with Bethel and Gilgal as one of the rival shrines to the pure worship of Yahweh, and in another place ( Amos 8:14 ) he writes "They shall fall, and never rise up again," who sware, "As the way (i.e. cult) of Beersheba liveth." The two unworthy sons of Samuel were Judges in Beersheba ( 1 Samuel 8:2 ) and Zibiah, mother of King Jehoash, was born there ( 2 Kings 12:1;  2 Chronicles 24:1 ).

3. Its Position

Geographically Beersheba marked the southern limit of Judah, though theoretically this extended to the "river of Egypt" ( Genesis 15:18 ) - the modern Wady el‛Avı̄sh ̌ - 60 miles farther south. It was the extreme border of the cultivated land. From Dan to Beersheba (  2 Samuel 17:11 , etc.) or from Beersheba to Dan ( 1 Chronicles 21:2;  2 Chronicles 30:5 ) were the proverbial expressions, though necessarily altered through the changed conditions in later years to "from Geba to Beer-sheba" ( 2 Kings 23:8 ) or "from Beer-sheba to the hill-country of Ephraim" ( 2 Chronicles 19:4 ).

4. Modern Beersheba

Today Beersheba is Bı̂r es - Seba‛ in the Wady es Seba‛ , 28 miles Southwest of Hebron on "the southern border of a vast rolling plain broken by the torrent beds of Wady Khalil and Wady Seba" (Robinson). The plain is treeless but is covered by verdure in the spring; it is dry and monotonous most of the year. Within the last few years this long-deserted spot - a wide stretch of shapeless ruins, the haunt of the lawless Bedouin - has been re-occupied; the Turks have stationed there an enlightened Kaimerkhan (subgovernor); government offices and shops have been built; wells have been cleared, and there is now an abundant water supply pumped even to the separate houses. Robinson ( BW , Xvii , 247ff) has described how he found seven ancient wells there - probably still more will yet be found. The whole neighborhood is strewn with the ruins of the Byzantine city which once flourished there; it was an episcopal see. It is probable that the city of Old Testament times stood where Ṭell es Seba‛ now is, some 2 1/2 miles to the East; from the summit a commanding view can be obtained ( PEF , III, 394, Sheet Xxiv ).