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30 He replied, “You must take these seven ewe lambs from my hand as legal proof[a] that I dug this well.”[b] 31 That is why he named that place[c] Beer Sheba,[d] because the two of them swore an oath[e] there.

32 So they made a treaty[f] at Beer Sheba; then Abimelech and Phicol, the commander of his army, returned[g] to the land of the Philistines.[h]

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  1. Genesis 21:30 tn Heb “that it be for me for a witness.”
  2. Genesis 21:30 sn This well. Since the king wanted a treaty to share in Abraham’s good fortune, Abraham used the treaty to secure ownership of and protection for the well he dug. It would be useless to make a treaty to live in this territory if he had no rights to the water. Abraham consented to the treaty, but added his rider to it.
  3. Genesis 21:31 tn Heb “that is why he called that place.” Some translations render this as an impersonal passive, “that is why that place was called.”
  4. Genesis 21:31 sn The name Beer Sheba (בְּאֵר שָׁבַע, beʾer shavaʿ) 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.
  5. Genesis 21:31 sn The verb forms a wordplay with the name Beer Sheba.
  6. Genesis 21:32 tn Heb “cut a covenant.”
  7. Genesis 21:32 tn Heb “arose and returned.”
  8. Genesis 21:32 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.

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