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Beersheba

Beersheba (bērshē´bə, bēr´shēbə) [Heb.,=seven wells or well of the oath], city (1994 pop. 147,900), S Israel, principal city of the Negev Desert. It is the trade center for surrounding settlements and for Bedouins, who hold a weekly market in Beersheba. Construction is the city's main industry. Manufactures include chemicals, textiles, ceramics, glass, diamond cutting, plastics, and food products. Beersheba is an important rail and road hub for S Israel. The city was one of the southernmost towns of ancient Palestine; hence the expression "from Dan to Beersheba," meaning the whole of Palestine. It is especially connected, in the Bible, with Abraham, Hagar, Isaac, Jacob, and Elijah. A well believed to have been dug by Abraham when he made his covenant with Abimelech is in the city. Beersheba flourished during the late Roman and Byzantine eras but was deserted soon thereafter. It was merely a group of wells for Bedouin flocks when the Ottoman Turks reestablished it c.1900 as an administrative center for Negev tribes. Beersheba was the first city taken by the British in the Palestine campaign (1917) of World War I. Under the British mandate (1922–48) it was a city (Bir-es-Seba) inhabited by about 4,000 Muslim Arabs. Given to the Arabs in the partition of Palestine (1948), it was retaken by Israel in the Arab-Israeli War of 1948. Its population and economy have grown considerably since 1989 as a result of immigration from the former Soviet Union. Beersheba is the seat of the Arid Zone Research Institute and the Ben-Gurion Univ. Remnants of a fortress and shards of the Bronze Age have been found nearby at Tell el-Sheba, the most ancient site of Beersheba.

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Beersheba

BEERSHEBA

city in southern israel.

Located in the northern Negev (Arabic, Naqab) desert, Beersheba (Hebrew, B'er Sheva; Arabic, Bir al-Sabi) is midway between the Dead Sea to the east and the Mediterranean to the west. It is one of the biggest cities in Israel, after the metropolitan centers of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Jerusalem, and Haifa. Its principal industries are chemicals, porcelain, and textiles. Beersheba is the home of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Negev Institute for Arid Zone Research.


Historically, the city has been an important trading center between a variety of ecological zonesthe mountains to the east, the desert to the south, and the seacoast to the west. In biblical times, it marked the southern limit of Palestine. In 1901, the Ottoman Empire made Beersheba the administrative center for the bedouin tribes of the Negev. In 1917, it was the site of a British victory over the Turks that opened the way for the Allied conquest of Palestine and Syria. After Israel became a state in 1948, Beersheba was settled and enlarged by new immigrants. The population estimate in 2002 was about 182,000.

see also ben-gurion university of the negev; dead sea; mediterranean sea; negev.


Bibliography

Fischback, Michael R. "Beersheba." In Encyclopedia of the Palestinians, edited by Philip Mattar. New York: Facts On File, 2000.

Steve Tamari

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Beersheba

Beersheba (Be'er Sheva) Chief city of the Negev region, s Israel. It was the southernmost point of biblical Palestine. It flourished under Byzantine rule, but declined until restored by the Ottoman Turks c.1900. Industries: chemicals, textiles, ceramics. Pop. (1997) 160,363.

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