Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheva, and there he called on the name of the Lord, the Eternal God (Genesis 21:33)
The Israeli city of Beersheva was founded by Abraham and continued to feature as an area of great importance in the Tanach (Hebrew Scriptures).
It was in Beersheva that the Lord appeared to Isaac in the night saying: “I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for My servant Abraham’s sake (Genesis: 26:24).
It was to Beersheva that Elijah ran for his life from Jezebel (1 Kings 19:3).
Now Israel’s seventh largest city (pop. approximately 197,000), Beersheva has much to offer visitors.
Howard Bass, leader of Messianic congregation Nachalat Yeshua, made Aliyah with his wife Randi and moved to Beersheva 34 years ago. Howard affirms: “Believers — whether Jewish or not — should consider visiting Beersheva because of its importance in the Bible for God’s sovereign plan through His covenants.”
Howard continues: “In the beginning, Abraham named Beersheva, and that name was confirmed by Isaac. Jacob also lived in Beersheva, and stopped here on his way to Egypt. Hagar and Ishmael also lived for a time in Beersheva, so the fathers and mothers of the Jewish and Arab peoples all lived in Beersheva, and heard from YHVH God there, His covenantal choice. He also blessed them there.”
Of special evocative interest to believers is the nearby Tel Beersheva archaeological site, thought to be the remains of the ancient city of Beersheva. There can be seen a replica of an ancient altar with its horns, and a deep well such as those used and dug by Abraham and Isaac.
Beersheva has a highly significant place in modern history as well. Howard explains: “God used Beersheva as the breakthrough place during WW1.” In the famous Battle of Beersheva of 31 October 1917, Allied forces made up of Anzac Australian and New Zealand Light Horse regiments, charged on the Turkish army that held Beersheva for the Ottoman Turkish Empire. In an outstanding display of courage and genius, the Anzacs freed Beersheva. This led the way for Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine to come into the hand of the Allies.
It is surely no coincidence that on the day of this Battle of Beersheva, 31 October 1917, the British War Cabinet approved the text of the Balfour Declaration that was so integral to the Zionist cause. Two days later, Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour declared: “His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people…”
There is much to see in the city that commemorates the 1917 Battle of Beersheva, including the immaculate British War cemetery where those who fell in this battle were laid to rest.
Howard and Randi raised their four children in Beersheva, and recommend the city as a place to settle. Howard says: “Beer Sheva is centrally located geographically in Israel, easy to get to the Mediterranean coast or to the Dead Sea, and to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Its climate is desert-like, but fairly moderate. And Israel is developing the capital of the Negev to make it a more attractive city economically and recreationally.”
It may be located in the desert, but the city has many fountains and green parks. One such park was restored as place of beauty from being a garbage dump. Indeed, there is even a lake being built in Beersheva! This area will be a place of relaxation with restaurants and other attractions.
Moreover, to those who are considering a good place to live in Israel, it may be of interest to know that Beersheva is home to a major teaching hospital (Soroka), an internationally renowned university (Ben Gurion), a library and a music conservatory.
But, as Howard says: “Beyond these mundane things, the City of the Fathers needs to know the Lord, and believers are His witnesses. We like it here!”