After a week of intensive studies on the Gospel of Matthew we were taken to the Negev Desert to experience what the Judean desert is like. As we continued our drive southward we stop first at the site of the biblical Beersheba. It is the place where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had their encounters with God. The Bible talks about Israel as the Land from Dan to Beersheba. Dan is the place located at the far north of the country while Ber Sheba is most south point.
The area of Beersheba is first mentioned in The Bible as the place where Hagar went after she was sent away from Abraham because of family conflicts with Abraham's wife Sarah. Hagar was not abandoned by God however. He spoke to her directly and helped her. Ishmael went on to become very successful, becoming a great nation from his descendants - the Arab peoples of today.
The actual well of Beersheba was apparently dug by Abraham's servants, and was a place of conflict when Abimelech's servants attempted to seize it. To avoid conflict, Abraham and Abimelech made a treaty there in which the name of the town Well of Seven, with an extended meaning of Well of the Oaths, as established (Genesis 21:22-34).
Other notable events of Beersheba: Jacob had his Stairway To Heaven dream in the area (Genesis 28:10-22), and later God spoke to Jacob there when the Israelites were on their way to Egypt, where they would remain for over 400 years in eventual slavery before the Exodus (Genesis 46:1-7). The prophet Elijah sought refuge there after wicked Jezebel ordered him killed (1 Kings 19:3). Samuel's two corrupt sons who served as judges there caused the Israelites to demand their first king, which they got in Saul (1 Samuel 8:1-3, 9:1-2,17).
There is no doubt that Beersheba was the place where God spoke to the Patriarchs form the Scriptures many times. In fact after telling Jacob to go to Egypt God didn’t speak to anyone until He spoke to Moses. However a question may be asked: Why did God chose this Beersheba in the South rather than Dan in the North. The area of Dan looks like a piece of Paradise with the majestic Mt Hermon in the background which peaks are covered with snow even in winter, where streams gush forth everywhere, where green forests and fertile
fields make life much easier for people. God however chose the desert of Beersheba where rocky and barren terrain seems to be so burnt by the Sun that one may dream to go somewhere else rather than stay here. As I was looking around Beersheba I recalled some places in the Dan area and I reflected that those Patriarchs from the Bible stayed here to be close to God who chose the place. I can see some comparison to the tension of our life. We may be drawn to some more attractive places, decisions, situations or people but there is always some restlessness as we are walking from where God chose to meet us. We may think that being a Christian is like “condemning” ourselves to living in the desert where there is no much fun but there in the desert there is the outflowing source of life: The Holy Trinity. Here I understood more profoundly that the beauty of heaven is in God.
You can contemplate the sites below to see if I am right describing Beersheba and Dan.