Shebah

She'bah (Heb. Shibah', שַׁבעָה, fem. of Sheba, i.e. seven or an oath; Sept. accordingly ὅρκος; Vulg. translates less well abundantia), the famous well which gave its name to the city of Beer-sheba (Ge 26:33). According to this version of the occurrence, it was the fourth of the series of wells dug by Isaac's people, and received its name from him, apparently in allusion to the oaths (ver. 31, יַשָּׁבעוּ, yishshabeu) which had passed between himself and the Philistine chieftains the day before. It should not be overlooked that according to the narrative of an earlier chapter the well owed its existence and its name to Isaac's father (Ge 21:32). Indeed, its previous existence may be said to be implied in the narrative now directly under consideration (Ge 26:23). The two transactions are curiously identical in many of their circumstances — the rank and names of the Philistine chieftains, the strife between the subordinates on either side, the covenant, the adjurations, the city that took its name from the well. They differ alone in the fact that the chief figure in the one case is Abraham, in the other Isaac. Some commentators, as Kalisch (Genesis, p. 500), looking to the fact that there are two large wells at Bir es-Seba, propose to consider the two transactions as distinct, and as belonging the one to the one well, the other to the other. Others see in the two narratives merely two versions of the circumstances under which this renowned well was first dug. Certainly in the analogy of the early history of other nations, and in the very close correspondence between the details of the two accounts, there is much to support this. The various plays on the meaning of the name שבע, interpreting it as "seven," as an "oath," as "abundance" (so Jerome, as if reading שַׂבעָה), as "a lion" (such is the meaning of the modern Arabic Seba) — are all so many direct testimonies to the remote date and archaic form of this most venerable of names, and to the fact that the narratives of the early history of the Hebrews are under the control of the same laws which regulate the early history of other nations. — Smith. In explanation of the repetition of the names of these wells, it should be noted that the sacred text expressly states that Isaac, after reopening them, "called their names after the names which his father had called them" (Ge 26:18). A minute description of the wells and vicinity of Beer- sheba is given by Lieut. Conder in the Quar. Statement of "The Pal. Explor. Fund" for Jan. 1875, p. 23 sq. SEE BEER-SHEEBA; SEE WELL.

Bible concordance for SHEBAH.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

 
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