Beer Sheva

| April 17, 2013 | 0 Comments
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Beer Sheva: The City of Abraham

The southern Israeli city Beer Sheva is the capital of the Negev Desert. Together, Beer Sheva and the Negev make up 60% of Israel’s land mass.

Beer Sheva: Walled City at Tel Be’er Sheva

Walled City at Tel Be’er Sheva (Photo: Daniel Baránek, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Beer Sheva History

Beer Sheva is one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, and archaeological finds show that this area was inhabited since the Copper Age. After King David conquered Beer Sheva it became part of the ancient Israelite kingdom. The remnants of this ancient walled Israelite city can be viewed today at the archaeological site Tel Beer Sheva.

After the return of the children of Israel from Egypt, Be’er Sheva was allotted to the tribe of Simeon (Shimon) but became the southern area of the tribe of Judah (Yehuda). The prophet Elijah (Eliyahu) also spent some time there.

City of Abraham

Beer Sheva is also called the City of Abraham (Avraham), as the father of the Jewish people spent a lot of time there. The name Beer Sheva means seven wells, or the well of the oath, and both names are appropriate. There are many wells in the area and the presence of water in the midst of the harsh desert allowed this place to exist.

The Torah states that both Avraham and Isaac (Yitzchak) dug wells in Beer Sheva and Avraham built an altar to G-d there (Genesis 26:23-33). Two ancient wells still in use near Nachal Beer Sheva might very well be the wells dug by Avraham. A very ancient tree in this location is believed by many to be the eshel tree (tamarix) planted by Avraham and appropriately, an eshel tree is the official symbol of today’s city of Beer Sheva.

New Beer Sheva

Modern Beer Sheva began after Israel’s victory October 21, 1948 in the War of Independence when it fell to Israel’s forces during “Operation Moshe.” Moshe was Moshe Albert, the head of the Bet Eshel Jewish settlement, who was killed by invading Egyptian soldiers in May, 1948.

Israel’s first Prime Minister, David ben Gurion believed that the Negev had to be settled and could be made hospitable so that Jews could settle there. In 1953 he moved to Kibbutz Sde Boker in the Negev and the hut where he lived is now part of a museum.

Courthouse of Be’er Sheva

Courthouse of Be’er Sheva (Photo: צילום:ד”ר אבישי טייכר, CC BY 2.5)

Beer Sheva University

Beer Sheva is comprised of Jews from over 70 countries. English speakers make up 2% of the population. Today Beer Sheva is a modern city with high rise buildings and is home to Ben Gurion University, a major center for technical research; Soroka Medical Center affiliated with Ben Gurion University; the Sami Shamoon College of Engineering; the Open University, and Kaye Teachers’ College.

Beer Sheva has also become the home for many high tech research and development (R&D) companies and technical industrial parks like the one near Omer. Also a new Advanced Technological Park was opened at Ben Gurion University. In short, Be’er Sheva has become one of the world’s high tech centers.

Beer Sheva: Turkish Building in Old City

Turkish Building in Old City (Photo: מרכז להב”ה באר שבע, CC BY 2.5)

Old Beer Sheva

An “old city” from the time of the Turkish mandate is a popular tourist site. A Governor’s House is today part of the Negev Museum. The center of the old city has become a mall and the featured attraction there is a model of Avraham’s well, Be’er Avraham. On Fridays it becomes a market with all kinds of items for sale including pottery, jewelry, and paintings.

Another interesting market is the “shuk” or Bedouin Market where one can buy fresh fruits and vegetables, shoes, and clothes. Especially popular are the embroidered Bedouin dresses. Even today sheep and camels are also bought and sold there!


Beer Sheva has several museums and a zoo. For further information about Beer Sheva, contact the municipality by email: avishag@br or call (08) 646-3683.

Beer Sheva: Did You Know?

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, said: “The future of Israel lies in the Negev.”


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Category: Archaeological, Beer Sheva, Historical, Museums, Negev

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