Genesis 21:31 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 21:31, NIV: "So that place was called Beersheba, because the two men swore an oath there."

Genesis 21:31, ESV: "Therefore that place was called Beersheba, because there both of them swore an oath."

Genesis 21:31, KJV: "Wherefore he called that place Beersheba; because there they sware both of them."

Genesis 21:31, NASB: "Therefore he called that place Beersheba, because there the two of them took an oath."

Genesis 21:31, NLT: "Then he named the place Beersheba (which means 'well of the oath'), because that was where they had sworn the oath."

Genesis 21:31, CSB: "Therefore that place was called Beer-sheba because it was there that the two of them swore an oath."

What does Genesis 21:31 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The formal treaty between Abraham and Abimelech seems to have been significant enough to warrant changing the name of the well involved in the transaction. Beersheba means "well of seven" or "well of the oath." The two men swore their oaths in that place, giving Abraham the official ownership of a well in the land of Canaan. Their agreement also included a promise for their respective households to treat each other agreeably. Abimelech had originally been the one to approach Abraham, seeking to benefit from Abraham's favor with God.

The taking of an oath is a significant event in the Bible. God's Law would command His people to always keep their oaths, at any cost. Jesus would later tell Christians to avoid taking oaths, to prevent even the possibility of breaking them. Instead, we must be so trustworthy that our "yes" and "no" require no additional swearing to be believed (Matthew 5:34–37; James 5:12).