The Posuk says:

וַיִּקְרָא אֹתָהּ שִׁבְעָה עַל כֵּן שֵׁם הָעִיר בְּאֵר שֶׁבַע עַד הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה

Translated as:

And he named it Shibah; therefore, the city is named Beer sheba until this very day

The problem is earlier in Parshas Vayera (בראשית כ"א ל"ג) it says:

וַיִּטַּע אֶשֶׁל בִּבְאֵר שָׁבַע

Translated as:And he planted an eishel in Beer-Sheba

so it had the name earlier so why does the torah say "therefore, the city is named Beer sheba" if it already had that Name?

  • can you post chapter and verse to the verses you're quoting?
    – Menachem
    Commented Nov 27, 2011 at 1:43
  • Whose translation is this?
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 20:05

2 Answers 2


Your question assumes that the Torah is written in chronological order, but it is not.

When the Torah names places, the names given are the names that the Jewish people knew them as when Yehoshua took over Cannan. Sometimes, it will tell you the old name, so as to give you a story and lesson about the name changing, but in general, if there is no special need, the Torah just uses the 'modern' name of the city.

This is especially obvious with the use of the name of the Philishtim, or the area of the tribe of Dan and Asher giving during Bereshit.

  • 1
    (1) Even if the Torah were in chronological order, that does not mean that it may not use the names of places that were named afterward. It just means, "This is what happened in what is now..." (2) Although this does answer the above question, it does not answer the obvious question that arises from what we find regarding Avraham: "עַל כֵּן קָרָא לַמָּקוֹם הַהוּא בְּאֵר שָׁבַע כִּי שָׁם נִשְׁבְּעוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם".
    – jake
    Commented Nov 27, 2011 at 0:16
  • 1
    @jake When I saw the beginning of the question, I thought that is where it would be going. Good point in (1) as well. Could it be that there are multiple nuances to "(not) in chronological order" - episodic chronology vs. narrative chronology - the former of which would demand that events in pasuk 12 happen before the events in pasuk 13, while the latter only assumes that as long as any given event is recorded from a perspective of immediately after the event's occurrence it is consistent? (Not sure this makes sense. Just thinking out loud. . . silently.)
    – WAF
    Commented Nov 27, 2011 at 1:23
  • רמב"ן says in his pirush Commented Nov 27, 2011 at 4:05
  • כי על דעתי כל התורה כסדר, זולתי במקום אשר יפרש הכתוב ההקדמה והאחור, וגם שם לצורך עניין ולטעם נכון. Commented Nov 27, 2011 at 4:06

Peirush Radak to bereishis 26:33 explain this simply: they are not the same place (since Avraham named the site (or the well) and Isaac named the city (or the entire region). And even if one suggest this is the same thing, Rashbam to this posuk says that this refers to another Ber Sheva, which belongs to the territory of Yehudah, see Melachim Alef 19:3.

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