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Genesis 21:23-31

Context
21:23 Now swear to me right here in God’s name 1  that you will not deceive me, my children, or my descendants. 2  Show me, and the land 3  where you are staying, 4  the same loyalty 5  that I have shown you.” 6 

21:24 Abraham said, “I swear to do this.” 7  21:25 But Abraham lodged a complaint 8  against Abimelech concerning a well 9  that Abimelech’s servants had seized. 10  21:26 “I do not know who has done this thing,” Abimelech replied. “Moreover, 11  you did not tell me. I did not hear about it until today.”

21:27 Abraham took some sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelech. The two of them made a treaty. 12  21:28 Then Abraham set seven ewe lambs apart from the flock by themselves. 21:29 Abimelech asked Abraham, “What is the meaning of these 13  seven ewe lambs that you have set apart?” 21:30 He replied, “You must take these seven ewe lambs from my hand as legal proof 14  that I dug this well.” 15  21:31 That is why he named that place 16  Beer Sheba, 17  because the two of them swore 18  an oath there.

1 tn Heb “And now swear to me by God here.”

2 tn Heb “my offspring and my descendants.”

3 tn The word “land” refers by metonymy to the people in the land.

4 tn The Hebrew verb means “to stay, to live, to sojourn” as a temporary resident without ownership rights.

5 tn Or “kindness.”

6 tn Heb “According to the loyalty which I have done with you, do with me and with the land in which you are staying.”

7 tn Heb “I swear.” No object is specified in the Hebrew text, but the content of the oath requested by Abimelech is the implied object.

8 tn The Hebrew verb used here means “to argue; to dispute”; it can focus on the beginning of the dispute (as here), the dispute itself, or the resolution of a dispute (Isa 1:18). Apparently the complaint was lodged before the actual oath was taken.

9 tn Heb “concerning the matter of the well of water.”

10 tn The Hebrew verb used here means “to steal; to rob; to take violently.” The statement reflects Abraham’s perspective.

11 tn Heb “and also.”

12 tn Heb “cut a covenant.”

13 tn Heb “What are these?”

14 tn Heb “that it be for me for a witness.”

15 sn This well. Since the king wanted a treaty to share in Abraham’s good fortune, Abraham used the treaty to secure ownership of and protection for the well he dug. It would be useless to make a treaty to live in this territory if he had no rights to the water. Abraham consented to the treaty, but added his rider to it.

16 tn Heb “that is why he called that place.” Some translations render this as an impersonal passive, “that is why that place was called.”

17 sn The name Beer Sheba (בְּאֵר שָׁבַע, bÿer shava’) means “well of the oath” or “well of the seven.” Both the verb “to swear” and the number “seven” have been used throughout the account. Now they are drawn in as part of the explanation of the significance of the name.

18 sn The verb forms a wordplay with the name Beer Sheba.



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