On Diplomatic Accords in the Torah: The Beer Sheva Treaty of Abraham and Avimelech, King of Gerar
14 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2013
Date Written: November 1, 2013
The three separate diplomatic arrangements made between Abraham's and Avimelech, King of Gerar and the Philistines are examined and compared: The first is a personal oath of non-belligerency offered by Abraham in consideration for past kindnesses afforded by Avimelech; the second and third pertain to hostilities and title over the well at Be'er Sheva. The first of these bilateral accords is non-specific as to content, the second pertains exclusively to title over the well, leading to the conclusion the first pertains to cessation of aggressive acts while the second pertains to ownership.
The format of the oaths incident to the treaties in these two accords is criticized by the Rashbam, who faults Abraham for binding future generations. Rather than a theoretical chastisement of impropriety of a Patriarch for not trusting Gd, it appears the Rashbam's concerns are well founded, as is seen when Isaac is confronted with the same situation, only to find that Avimelech's followers have chosen to 'forget' the treaty made by their father, while Isaac relies on it -- to his detriment.
This article explores possible diplomatic alternatives to permanent treaties with adversaries who have a history of ignoring these treaties -- thereby jeopardizing the national security of Israel.
Keywords: Israel, Treaty, Diplomacy, Accord, Binding, Philistines, Palestinians, Beer Sheva, Be'er Sheba, Akeda, Punishment, Isaac, After-Effects, Cease-Fire
JEL Classification: B31, B25, C78, C72, C23, D46, D63, D74, Q15
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation