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Beersheva's emblem depicts a tamarisk tree, representing the biblical past, and a pipe through which water flows, symbolizing the city's modern revival. Four thousand years ago, the patriarch Abraham dug wells (be'er in Hebrew) here and swore an oath (shevua) over seven (sheva) ewes with the king of Gerar, who vowed to prevent his men from seizing the well. And it was
here that Abraham planted a grove of tamarisk trees. Isaac built an altar here, the prophet Elijah found refuge here from Jezebel, and King Saul constructed a fort here. It's easy to envision these scenes today thanks to the cloaked figures of Bedouin shepherds with their sheep and goats on the hillsides surrounding the city.With a population of some 200,000, Beersheva has often been overlooked in spite of its size. But in recent years a young and ambitious mayor, Ruvik Danilovich, has pushed to raise the profile of Israel’s fourth-largest city by introducing or renewing public spaces, museums, and attractions and encouraging investment in infrastructure and the arts. Beersheva houses a major university, named after David Ben-Gurion, an Israel Aircrafts Industries complex, a high-tech center, a sparkling performance hall, and a regional hospital serving Bedouin shepherds, kibbutzniks, and other desert dwellers.
A legend says that after the Creation, the angels painted the earth and when they got tired, they spilled their paints: the blue became the...