(well of the oath), the name of one of the old places in Palestine which formed the southern limit of the country. There are two accounts of the origin of the name. According to the first, the well was dug by Abraham, and the name given to Judah (Joshua 15:28) and then to Simeon (Joshua 19:2; 1 Chronicles 4:28). In the often-quoted “from Dan even unto Beersheba” (Judges 20:1), it represents the southern boundary of Canaan, as Dan the northern. In the time of Jerome it was still a considerable place, and still retains its ancient name: Bir es-Seba. There are at present on the spot two principal wells and five smaller ones. The two principal wells are on or close to the northern bank of the Wady es-Seba. The larger of the two, which lies to the east, is, according to Dr. Robinson, 12 1/2 feet in diameter and at the time of his visit (April 12) was 44 1/2 feet to the surface of the water. The masonry which encloses the well extends downward 28 1/2 feet. The other well is 5 feet in diameter and was 42 feet to the water. The curb-stones around the mouth of both wells are worn into deep grooves by the action of the ropes of so many centuries. These wells are in constant use today. The five lesser wells are in a group in the bed of the Wady. On some low hills north of the large wells are scattered the foundations and ruins of a town of moderate size.
Smith's Bible Names Dictionary (1866)