1. Be’er Sheva (Beersheba) – Be’er Sheva (Seven Wells) is the name that Abraham gave to the place where he entered the covenant with Avimelech. It is also the place where Abraham set up an inn, welcomed travelers, and convinced them of God’s kindness. The Hebrew word be’er means well, which is a sign that Abraham made the city bloom with his Torah. Today, the modern city of Be’er Sheva is a flourishing city with universities, tech companies, and a growing young population.
“He had a dream; a stairway was set on the ground and its top reached to the sky, and angels of Hashem were going up and down on it. And Hashem was standing beside him and He said, “I am Hashem, the God of your father Avraham and the God of Yitzchak: the ground on which you are lying I will assign to you and to your offspring.” (Genesis 28:10-22) The Israel Bible
2. Beit El (Bethel) – Beit El, meaning “House of God,” is the site where Abraham built an altar to God and the site of Jacob’s dream, making it the gateway to Heaven. The modern city of Beit El is an Orthodox Jewish settlement in the Binyamin Region of the West Bank, north of Jerusalem’s hills and adjacent to Ramallah. According to the Israeli government, it is a legal settlement and therefore part of Israel, although this is disputed internationally.
“And Yehuda with its brother-tribe Shimon went on and defeated the Canaanites who dwelt in Zephath. They proscribed it, and so the town was named Hormah.” (Judges 1:17) The Israel Bible
3. Tzfat (Safed) – According to the Book of Judges, Tzfat (Zephath) was home to the Canaanites and was renamed after Yehuda and Shimon defeated the Canaanites. Later, the city was mentioned by Jewish historian Josephus and in the Mishnah. Today, the mystical city of Tzfat is home to the study of Jewish mysticism, called Kabbalah. In the 1500s, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria convinced Jews to move to Israel and to study mystical Torah. Today it is a lively Jewish city in Northern Israel, full of artists and mystics alike.
“When King Adoni-zedek of Yerushalayim learned that Yehoshua had captured Ai and proscribed it, treating Ai and its king as he had treated Yericho and its king, and that, moreover, the people of Givon had come to terms with Yisrael and remained among them,” (Joshua 10:1) The Israel Bible
4. Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) – Yerushalayim is the gateway between Heaven and Earth. The name “Yerushalayim” first appears in the Bible in the Book of Joshua and is then mentioned 631 more times in the Hebrew Bible. It is a combination of the name given by Abraham to the place where he began to sacrifice his son and the town “shalem.” However, it is also derived from the same word as “peace,” shalom, so a common translation is “city of peace.” In modern times, Jerusalem is the capital city located in the Judean Mountains between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. The city has been sacred to Jews for 3,000 years since King David proclaimed it his capital in the 10th century BCE. Jerusalem is the home to the former Jewish Temples and will be the home of the Third Temple in the End of Days.
“Avraham accepted Ephron’s terms [of 400 shekalim of silver]. … So, Ephron’s land in Machpelah, near Mamre—the field with its cave and all the trees anywhere within the confines of that field—passed to Avraham as his possession, in the presence of the Hittites, of all who entered the gate of his town. And then Avraham buried his wife Sara in the cave of the field of Machpelah, facing Mamre—now Chevron—in the land of Canaan.” (Genesis 23:15-19) The Israel Bible
5. Hevron (Hebron) – Hevron is the capital of the tribe Judah and in the Bible, it is the first place in Israel that the Jews purchased. It is considered to be the gateway to the Garden of Eden and is home to Maharat HaMachpela, the Cave of the Patriarchs. Subsequently, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rebecca, and Leah were buried in the cave and according to Jewish tradition, Adam and Eve are also buried there. The name “Hebron” has the same root as “colleague” or “friend,” and may have meant “alliance,” representing the alliance of the four clans of Kiryat Arba, an urban Israeli settlement on the outskirts of Hebron. In 2017, Hebron’s Jewish community acquired the official status of an independent settlement, separating it from the Palestinian municipality that governs the West Bank, although this is disputed internationally.
This article was written in cooperation with the Institute of Biblical Studies.