On Diplomatic Accords in the Torah: The Beer Sheva Treaty of Abraham and Avimelech, King of Gerar

14 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2013

See all articles by Barbara Pfeffer Billauer

Barbara Pfeffer Billauer

Institute of World Politics; International Program in Bioethics, U. of Porto; Foundation for Law and Science Centers, Inc.

Date Written: November 1, 2013

Abstract

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

Billauer, Barbara P., On Diplomatic Accords in the Torah: The Beer Sheva Treaty of Abraham and Avimelech, King of Gerar (November 1, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2348620 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2348620

Barbara P. Billauer (Contact Author)

Institute of World Politics ( email )

1521 16th St NW,
Washington, DC
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+1 202-462-2101 (Phone)

International Program in Bioethics, U. of Porto ( email )

Rua Dr. Roberto Frias
4200-464 Porto
Portugal

Foundation for Law and Science Centers, Inc. ( email )

1020 16th Street NW
Suite LL1
Washington, DC 20036
United States
972 54 344 6055 (Phone)

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