Located in the Negev Desert, and just a scant few miles from the more modern city of Beersheba, lies the Tel Be’er Sheva National Park, a massive archaeological site which contains the ruins of what is believed to be the biblical city of Beersheba.
Remarkably well-preserved, Tel Be’er Sheva was once a vital strategic and administrative hub to the early Israelite kingdom established by God through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Believed to have been settled in the 4th century BC, this desert border town would survive destruction and abandonment to become an Israelite stronghold for generations.
Beersheba is first mentioned in the Bible in the Book of Genesis, where Abraham and his family would establish it as their home (Genesis 22:19), and where Isaac would later hear the Word of God and establish one of the deepest and most prosperous wells in Israel (Genesis 26:32–33). Visitors to the site can see this ancient well, which Isaac named Shebah, which means “oath,” later renamed Beersheba, or “well of the oath.”
The ancient city of Tel Be’er Sheva was also inhabited by the Persians and would eventually include a Greek temple. Under the rule of Herod the Great, the city prospered and would continue to prosper during the Roman and Byzantine eras until it was eventually abandoned.
By the 8th century AD, Tel Be’er Sheva was repurposed as an Arab fortress. Centuries later, the Ottoman Army constructed a fortress there during World War I. In 1975, archaeologists excavated Tel Be’er Sheva which was later restored in 2003 and ultimately christened as a UNESCO-endorsed archaeological park.
Upon arrival to Tel Be’er Sheva, visitors will notice the site is fortified with partitioned walls which lead into rooms. A path at the entrance of the park leads to an inner gate and the city square.
Just outside the city square sits the governor’s palace, and the remnants of a Hellenistic temple nearby. Isaac’s well is also located in this area, along with an Israelite Kingdom-era storehouse. Visitors can also see the ruins of a four-room house, which date back over two and a half millennia.
Among the host of rare artifacts at Tel Be’er Sheva is an 8–9th-century era horned altar, discovered by an archaeological team in 1973. While the original altar is housed and currently on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, a replica of the altar, as well as a series of ancient cisterns, are available to see and experience in Tel Be’er Sheva.
See where the fathers of the faith lived and worshipped on your next trip to Israel!
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