Online Midweek July 22

The Land of Seven Wells

A place central to Israel’s beginnings Beersheba

A phrase often used in Scripture to speak of the entire land of Israel, from it’s northernmost border to it’s southernmost border: From Dan to Beersheba.

Beersheba was Israel’s most southern border.

What happened here prior to Israel coming into the Promised Land, deep in their ancient history is tremendously important .

It goes back to Abraham, the Father of the Jewish Nation.

25Abraham complained to Abimelech because of the well of water which the servants of Abimelech had seized. 26 And Abimelech said, “I do not know who has done this thing; you did not tell me, nor did I hear of it until today.”

27 Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two of them made a covenant. 28 Then Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves. 29 Abimelech said to Abraham, “What do these seven ewe lambs mean, which you have set by themselves?” 30 He said, “You shall take these seven ewe lambs from my hand so that it may be a witness to me, that I dug this well.” 31 Therefore he called that place Beersheba, because there the two of them took an oath. 32 So they made a covenant at Beersheba; and Abimelech and Phicol, the commander of his army, arose and returned to the land of the Philistines. 33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God. 34 And Abraham sojourned in the land of the Philistines for many days. (Genesis 21:25-34)

Some background into this Scripture:

In Hebrew the word for well is “beer”

Sheba is the Hebrew word for “oath” or “seven” (signifying completeness)

Beersheba is the first place in the Promised Land to which Abraham laid claim

Here in this Scripture we have a foreshadowing of the history of Israel’s history:

There is the claim of God’s promise – To your and your descendants I will give this land

The first loss and appeal for return

The first restoration

After the giving of God’s promise it was the well, the covenant and the name of the place and the well that constituted and instituted Israel’s first legal right and title to the Promised Land.

The covenant between Abraham and Abimelech was that Ancient Declaration of Israel’s right of ownership.

The Modern Declaration was the Balfour Declaration of 1917 declaring a homeland for Jewish people in the Holy Land

There was one problem with it: Britain did not control the land; it was in the hands of the Ottoman Empire

Knowing that God’s hand is at work long before we can see it: This problem was resolved with the birth of a boy in the British Empire. Born into a devout Christian home, he became an ardent self taught student of the Scriptures. He also ended his prayers each night by saying “Lord, we would not not forget your ancient people, Israel. Hasten the day when Israel shall again be Your people and shall be restored to your favor and to their land.”

That little boy grew up, as boys tend to do. Although it was not his first choice for a career he ended up in the British Army where he experienced combat and rose through the ranks to become Major General Edmund Allenby. In the summer of 1917 he was chosen to replace General Archibald Murray as commander of the British forces in Egypt who were attempting to take control of the Holy Land from the Islamic Ottoman Empire.Gaza, Allenby, after a feint in that direction, focused his attacks on Beersheba. It appeared to be a battle stacked against the British, but by the evening of the first day of the campaign Beersheba was in British hands. This was Britain’s first major victory in the Middle East.

This happened on October 31 1917, the same date as the issuance of the Balfour Declaration which had been months in the making.

Looking at God’s Hand at work:

The “parasha”, the Jewish Scripture that centuries before was appointed to be read on the Sabbath of the week of victory was Genesis 2:31 which says:

 31 Therefore he called that place Beersheba, because there the two of them took an oath

God’s hand was at work, as Israel’s claim upon the land was reasserted.