Sunday, December 11, 2011

Summer 2011: Beersheba, Israel

Abraham's Well
August 7 and 11, 2011 -- Beersheba is the largest city in the Negev desert of southern Israel and is often referred to as the "Capital of the Negev." I was able to visit the city a couple of times during the day while working at nearby Kibbutz Lahav.

My initial impression upon visiting this ancient city was that it is a bit run-down and industrial compared to other large cities in Israel. Upon further examination however, it is evident that Beersheba is a city on the rise. It is home to the main campus of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and many high-tech companies are headquartered in the region. There are construction cranes visible across the city and the Jewish National Fund's Blueprint Negev Project is helping fund new projects including creating a lively and eco-friendly riverfront district, building new shopping malls and restoring the Old Turkish section of the city.

And a new visitors center is being constructed at Abraham's Well. Like many biblical sites in Israel there are differing views on whether or not it is actually the place that Abraham dug a well and made an oath of non-aggression with Abimelech -- the leader of the Philistines. The name Beer Sheva (Well of the Oath) derives from this event. For religious Jews it is simply a matter of faith that this is the location where this event took place. Secular Jews might have more of a healthy dose of skepticism regarding the archaeological significance of this site. But in Israel the ancient and modern, sacred and profane are never far apart so it is not at all out of the ordinary that there is a Domino's Pizza literally right next to Abraham's Well. I'm sure Abraham and Abimelech would have bonded over a mouth-watering slice of cheese pizza followed by a thirst-quenching drink from the well. Maybe there isn't as much of a difference between the ancient and modern after all.

Click here for a story on my green blog about the Beer Sheva River Park restoration project.

Here are more photos from Beersheba. Click here to see the set on Flickr.