“Listen to Me, you who pursue righteousness, seekers of the LORD: look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the hole of the pit from which you were dug. Look to Abraham you father, and to Sarah who bore you; for I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him.”
‘For the LORD will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her desert like Eden and her wilderness like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in it, thanksgiving and the sound of melody.’ (Isaiah 51:1-3)
Beer Sheva has a history of nearly 4000 years: the City of the Patriarchs of the Israeli people; the city named by Abraham, the father to the Jews, to the Christian believers, to the Arabs. Beer Sheva’s future is full of hope because she has deep roots in the past Messianic promises of the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob – the God of Israel. Believers in Jesus from all nations confess their own faith in the God of Israel’s fathers, who all lived in Beer Sheva.
Both Judaism and Christianity place great spiritual significance on the binding of Isaac, when Abraham believed and obeyed God to go together with his son from Beer Sheva up to Jerusalem, and then, after such an historic and dramatic event, to return again to Beer Sheva full of living faith, thanksgiving, praise, worship, hope: the wells of salvation were opened in Beer Sheva, the city of the “Well of the Seven” (or, “Oath”). Beer Sheva offers the hope of true peace and reconciliation: it was here that Abraham made a peace covenant with the Gentile Philistine king; it was here where the one true God of Abraham and of Isaac also blessed the Egyptian Hagar, the concubine of Abraham, and their son Ishmael, considered the father of the Arab nations.
The modern city of Beer Sheva rose again back in 1900, when the Moslem Turks built the beginnings of what is today the “Old City”, the historic downtown which also has British Mandate influences, and the Jewish presence which has predominated since the 1948-49 independence of the homeland for the Jewish people. The Old City is undergoing a renewal both physically and socially, with younger people seeing its unique appeal. The great and courageous victory of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (the ANZAC) in capturing Beer Sheva from the Ottomans on October 31, 1917, during WW1 opened the gateway once again up to Jerusalem. Many Christians, together with the Jewish Zionists, believed what was written in Moses and the Prophets concerning these times in which we live, and helped open the way for thousands of Jewish people to return to the Promised Land from Dan to Beer Sheva.
Today Beer Sheva remains, as always, the Capital of the Negev, and has a population of around 200,000, and a large student population, with active building to make it Israel’s third largest city: we are Sephardic Jews, Ashkenazi Jews; Jews from the North and from the South, and from all the nations where we have been scattered. Besides our unifying language of the Hebrew Bible, we speak Russian, Spanish, Amharic, English, French, Persian, Hindi, Arabic. The vision of the Prophets of Israel was picked up by the modern nation’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, who saw the Negev as a key to Israel’s future, symbolized by the desert springing forth in streams of water and fruitful fields.
Beer Sheva and Jerusalem have been joined together forever: Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, whose blessings will flow down to the waste places and out to all the world; and, when the dry places bloom and blossom as a rose, it will be as life from the dead!
Beer Sheva is home today to a major university and medical center; it is being developed as a cyber security hub; it boasts of an excellent music conservatory; major industrial engineering companies have their head offices here; the military has found the solitude of the desert a good place for its training bases; it is a regional shopping center.
Walk in the footsteps of our father Abraham; see the wells which remain, but in need of being “released”; follow Abraham, from where he dwelt in tents in his city of Beer Sheva, up to Jerusalem, the intense City of the great King! A voice is crying in the desert to prepare a way in the Holy Land. Come and see!
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, November 9, 2018, and reposted with permission.