Skeptics Annotated Bible A Response

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#47 - Who named Beersheba?

Response by Dave Marr

The skeptic's concern:
Beersheba was named by Abraham.
"Wherefore he [Abraham] called that place Beersheba." Genesis 21:31

Beersheba was named by Isaac.
"And he [Isaac] called it Shebah: therefore the name of the city is Beersheba unto this day." Genesis 26:33

Abraham originally dug the well, and gave it its name. Isaac returned a generation later, and his servants dug a well near his father’s old well. Isaac knew that his father named the place Beersheba; God appeared to him the night before, which accentuated the importance of this area. When Isaac again called it Sheba, as his father had, the name was in a sense ratified, and the name “stuck”. What is probably meant as well in Genesis 26:33 is that Isaac didn’t change the name, but rather kept the same name as his father had used. Thus, no one in later generations would dishonor their fathers by naming it something else, especially considering God’s appearance and the altar Isaac made there.