Vayerah – Shishi

"As long as you're here, eat something..."

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Avimelech and his general, Fichol, made a pact with Avraham. They acknowledged that G-d was with him and Avimelech asked that Avraham not deal falsely with him, his children or his grandchildren. (This was not an eternal pact, but it had a pretty good run.) Avraham agreed, then he confronted Avimelech about the matter of a well, which Avimelech’s workers had seized by force. Avimelech assured Avraham that this was the first he had heard of it.

Avraham gave Avimelech sheep and cattle as a sign of their pact, but he put seven ewes aside. Avimelech asked why and Avraham informed him that these sheep were being given to Avimelech as a testimony that Avraham had dug the well. The place was therefore called Be’er-Sheva, meaning “the well of seven.”

Avraham had an eishel in Be’er-Sheva, and he lived there for a good long time. (What’s an eishel? The Talmud in Sotah 10a records two opinions: an orchard and an inn. In either event, it was a place where Avraham accommodated travelers. Rashi there tells us that “eishel” is an abbreviation for achilah, shesiyah, levaya – food, drink and an escort – the three principle things a host provides for his guests.)

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