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Genesis 21:31-33

Context
21:31 That is why he named that place 1  Beer Sheba, 2  because the two of them swore 3  an oath there.

21:32 So they made a treaty 4  at Beer Sheba. Then Abimelech and Phicol, the commander of his army, returned 5  to the land of the Philistines. 6  21:33 Abraham 7  planted a tamarisk tree 8  in Beer Sheba. There he worshiped the Lord, 9  the eternal God.

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

2 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.

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

4 tn Heb “cut a covenant.”

5 tn Heb “arose and returned.”

6 sn The Philistines mentioned here may not be ethnically related to those who lived in Palestine in the time of the judges and the united monarchy. See D. M. Howard, “Philistines,” Peoples of the Old Testament World, 238.

7 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Abraham) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

8 sn The planting of the tamarisk tree is a sign of Abraham’s intent to stay there for a long time, not a religious act. A growing tree in the Negev would be a lasting witness to God’s provision of water.

9 tn Heb “he called there in the name of the Lord.” The expression refers to worshiping the Lord through prayer and sacrifice (see Gen 4:26; 12:8; 13:4; 26:25). See G. J. Wenham, Genesis (WBC), 1:116, 281.



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