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Answering The Atheist
January 11, 2004 / Volume 4, Issue 2

Who named Beersheba? Genesis 21:31 indicates that Abraham named the place, while Genesis 26:33 says that it was Isaac. Is there a contradiction?

Who named the place Beersheba? Certainly, Genesis 21:31 reveals that Abraham named the place where he made a covenant with Abimelech Beersheba (meaning, well of the oath).

Years later, Isaac was in the same place, and also made a covenant with Abimelech. We're told, "So he called it Shebah. Therefore the name of the city is Beersheba to this day." (Genesis 26:33). I guess my question to the questioner is this: how does Isaac calling the place which his father had called "Beersheba" by the same name constitute as a contradiction?

Abraham had called it "Beersheba", and Isaac also referred to it by the same name. And so the Bible writer, in the second occurrence makes note that "...Therefore the name of the city is Beersheba to this day." That doesn't mean that the name originated with Isaac. All that phrase tells us is that people continued to refer to that specific place by the same name that Abraham originally used, and his son Isaac also used. Nothing more, nothing less.

There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible