Genesis 26:33
And he called it Shebah: therefore the name of the city is Beersheba unto this day.
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(33) Therefore the name of the city is Beer-sheba unto this day.—There was no city at this time at Beer-sheba, but one is mentioned at the conquest of Canaan by Joshua (Joshua 15:28). This note, as is the case generally with those which speak of a thing existing “unto this day,” was added by Ezra and the men of the Great Synagogue, after the return from Babylon (comp. Genesis 22:14); and its meaning is that, whereas Abraham’s name had been forgotten while the place lay desolate, this remarkable coincidence of the water being again found, just when the covenant had been confirmed by the customary sevenfold sacrifice, so impressed the minds of the people that the title of Beer-sheba never again passed into oblivion.

26:26-33 When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him, Pr 16:7. Kings' hearts are in his hands, and when he pleases, he can turn them to favour his people. It is not wrong to stand upon our guard in dealing with those who have acted unfairly. But Isaac did not insist on the unkindnesses they had done him; he freely entered into friendship with them. Religion teaches us to be neighbourly, and, as much as in us lies, to live peaceable with all men. Providence smiled upon what Isaac did; God blessed his labours.The treaty with Abimelek. This is an interview similar to what Abraham had with the king of Gerar; and its object is a renewal of the former league between the parties. Besides Phikol, the commander-in-chief, he is now accompanied by Ahuzzath, his privy counsellor. Isaac upbraids him with his unkindness in sending him away, and his inconsistency in again seeking a conference with him. "We clearly saw." His prosperity was such as to be a manifest token of the Lord's favor. Hence, they desired the security of a treaty with him by an oath of execration on the transgressor. "Do us no hurt." The covenant is one-sided, as expressed by Abimelek. "As we have not touched thee." This implies the other side of the covenant. "Thou art now blessed of Yahweh." This explains the one-sidedness of the covenant. Isaac needed no guarantee from them, as the Lord was with him. Abimelek is familiar with the use of the name Yahweh. Isaac hospitably entertains and lodges the royal party, and on the morrow, after having sworn to the treaty, parts with them in peace. On the same day Isaac's servants report concerning the well they had digged Genesis 26:25 that they had found water. This well he calls Sheba, "an oath," and hence the town is called Beer-sheba, "the well of the oath." Now the writer was aware that this place had received the same name on a former occasion Genesis 21:31. But a second well has now been dug in like circumstances in the same locality. This gives occasion for a new application of the name in the memories of the people. This is another illustration of the principle explained at Genesis 25:30. Two wells still exist at this place to attest the correctness of the record.26-33. Then Abimelech went to him—As there was a lapse of ninety years between the visit of Abraham and of Isaac, the Abimelech and Phichol spoken of must have been different persons' official titles. Here is another proof of the promise (Ge 12:2) being fulfilled, in an overture of peace being made to him by the king of Gerar. By whatever motive the proposal was dictated—whether fear of his growing power, or regret for the bad usage they had given him, the king and two of his courtiers paid a visit to the tent of Isaac (Pr 16:7). His timid and passive temper had submitted to the annoyances of his rude neighbors; but now that they wish to renew the covenant, he evinces deep feeling at their conduct, and astonishment at their assurance, or artifice, in coming near him. Being, however, of a pacific disposition, Isaac forgave their offense, accepted their proposals, and treated them to the banquet by which the ratification of a covenant was usually crowned. This name had been given before, either to this or a neighbouring place, by Abraham, Genesis 21:31; but was now buried in oblivion, as his wells were; and the wells being revived, he revives and renews the name, which proved now a lasting name,

unto this day, as here follows, which is not added Genesis 21:31, because then the name, though given by Abraham, was soon forgotten and neglected by others.

And he called it Sheba,.... Which, according to Jerom, signifies "fulness", as if it had its name from the abundance of water in it; but rather it signifies an "oath", and was so called from the oath, which he and Abimelech had just took to one another; and these circumstances meeting together, the taking of the oath, and the account of the well:

therefore the name of the city is Beersheba unto this day; that is, the well of the oath: it had been so called by Abraham an hundred years ago or more; but now upon this occasion it was renewed and confirmed, and so continued until the times of Moses, and many ages after.

And he called it Shebah: therefore the name of the city is Beersheba unto this day.
33. Shibah] This word, denoting “oath-taking” or “swearing,” is here given as the explanation of the name “Beer-sheba.” For another tradition as to the origin of the name, see Genesis 21:31. The narrative there is from E; the narrative here from J. Shebûah, of which shib‘ah is a rare variety, is an “oath”; sheba‘ is “seven.” Aquila and Symmachus πλησμονή; Lat. abundantiam; reading sib‘ah.

unto this day] See note on Genesis 22:14.

Verse 33. - And he called it Shebah ("Oath;" which he would certainly not have done had it not been a well): therefore the name of the city (which ultimately gathered round the well) is Beersheba - i.e. the well of the oath (vide Genesis 21:31). Isaac must have perfectly understood that the place had been so named by his father three quarters of a century previous; but either the name had been forgotten by others, or had not come into general use amongst the inhabitants, or, observing the coincidence between his finding a well just at the time of covenanting with Abimelech and the fact that his father's treaty was also connected with a well, he wished to confirm and perpetuate the early name which had been assigned to the town. It is not certain that this was Abraham s well which had been rediscovered; the probability is that it was another, since at Bir-es-Sheba two wells are still in existence (vide Genesis 21:31) unto this day - an expression used throughout Genesis to describe events separated from the age of Moses by several centuries (vide Genesis 19:37, 38; Genesis 22:14; Genesis 32:32). Genesis 26:33Abimelech's Treaty with Isaac. - The conclusion of this alliance was substantially only a repetition of renewal of the alliance entered into with Abraham; but the renewal itself arose so completely out of the circumstances, that there is no ground whatever for denying that it occurred, or for the hypothesis that our account is merely another form of the earlier alliance; to say nothing of the fact, that besides the agreement in the leading event itself, the attendant circumstances are altogether peculiar, and correspond to the events which preceded. Abimelech not only brought his chief captain Phicol (supposed to be the same as in Genesis 21:22, if Phicol is not also an official name), but his מרע "friend," i.e., his privy councillor, Ahuzzath. Isaac referred to the hostility they had shown; to which Abimelech replied, that they (he and his people) did not smite him (נגע), i.e., drive him away by force, but let him depart in peace, and expressed a wish that there might be an oath between them. אלה the oath, as an act of self-imprecation, was to form the basis of the covenant to be made. From this אלה came also to be used for a covenant sanctioned by an oath (Deuteronomy 29:11, Deuteronomy 29:13). תּעשׂה אם "that thou do not:" אם a particle of negation used in an oath (Genesis 14:23, etc.). (On the verb with zere, see Ges. 75, Anm. 17; Ewald, 224.) - The same day Isaac's servants informed him of the well which they had dug; and Isaac gave it the name Shebah (שׁבעה, oath), in commemoration of the treaty made on oath. "Therefore the city was called Beersheba." This derivation of the name does not shut the other (Genesis 21:31) out, but seems to confirm it. As the treaty made on oath between Abimelech and Isaac was only a renewal of his covenant concluded before with Abraham, so the name Beersheba was also renewed by the well Shebah. The reality of the occurrence is supported by the fact that the two wells are in existence still (vid., Genesis 21:31).
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