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Genesis 21:14-19, NIV

14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.

15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob.

17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.

Genesis 21-25-31, NIV

25 Then Abraham complained to Abimelek about a well of water that Abimelek’s servants had seized. 26 But Abimelek said, “I don’t know who has done this. You did not tell me, and I heard about it only today.”

27 So Abraham brought sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelek, and the two men made a treaty. 28 Abraham set apart seven ewe lambs from the flock, 29 and Abimelek asked Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs you have set apart by themselves?”

30 He replied, “Accept these seven lambs from my hand as a witness that I dug this well.”

31 So that place was called Beersheba, because the two men swore an oath there.

Genesis 21:33, NIV

33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the Lord, the Eternal God.

In the first part where Ishmael drank from the well, Beersheba was already named.

But it was in the second part involving Abraham and Abimelek where they explained how Beersheba got its name.

I suppose they are both referring to the same Beersheba? And Ishmael might have drank from the well that Abraham dug?

Edit:

Extension to the main question: If Ishmael drank from the well that Abraham dug, then was Ishmael also placed under the tree that Abraham planted?

2 Answers 2

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The location was first given a name by Abraham and/or Abimelek in Genesis 21:

31 So that place was called Beersheba, because the two men swore an oath there.

Beersheba.
שָֽׁבַע׃ (šā·ḇa‘)
Noun - proper - feminine singular
Strong's 884: Beersheba -- 'well of seven', a place in the Negev

Earlier, the same name is mentioned in Genesis 21:

14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.

At this time, the place had no name. The writer recorded the name of the place in verse 14 before it was officially named. This is a literary convention called prolepsis. It was done for the sake of convenience and anticipation. It's a common practice with literary foreshadowing.

Did Ishmael drink from the well that Abraham dug?

No, the well was dug after Genesis 21:14 by Abraham some years later. The verse anticipated the existence of water in that area.

Another example of prolepsis is in Genesis 12:8

From there he [Abram] went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD.

Pulpit

unto a (literally, the) mountain east of Bethel. Here proleptically named "house of God," being called in the time of Abram Luz (Genesis 28:19).

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  • The name Beersheba itself means “seven wells” or “the place of many wells.” The area was know for having wells. So its unlikely that Hagar would have a problem finding water. Arguably, its unlikely she was in Beersheba desert. Aug 2, 2021 at 16:09
  • When Hagar was there, the place had no name.
    – user35953
    Aug 2, 2021 at 16:16
  • 1
    how do you come to that conclusion Aug 2, 2021 at 16:18
  • prolepsis. Of course, I could be wrong :)
    – user35953
    Aug 2, 2021 at 16:20
  • 1
    I appreciate what prolepsis means - that's not evidence, but how do you come to the conclusion? Aug 2, 2021 at 16:21
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So Ishmael and Hagar did drink from the same well that Abraham dug up. Because Abraham did later claim that he dug up those wells when Abimelek’s servants had seized the wells. Wells had to be maintained or they would not flourish so that place was originally named Beersheba by Abraham bcuz he dug up 7 wells but was made official that day he gave Abimelek his oath he gave him sheep and cattle and the 7 ewe lambs he set apart by themselves represented that he dug up 7 wells. The first time Hagar ran away she ended up at the same place Beersheba and she named the well God showed her Beer Lahai Roi (the God who sees me) something like that. When Abraham died the wells dried up because he was no longer maintaining them. I believe Abraham knew what was going happen and made those wells for those future events with Hagar. Does anyone else see it like this it made perfect sense to no more questions about it. Thank you Jesus for your word. Amen.

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  • Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics! Welcome to Bible Hermeneutics.SE and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others.
    – agarza
    Jul 10, 2022 at 0:49
  • Hi Lulu, welcome to the site! Could you cite the verses you are referring to? Jul 16, 2022 at 20:56

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