My six-year-old son likes to abbreviate words, so the Hebrew term for synagogue, beit knesset, is often shortened to knesset, leading to an oft-heard declaration which literally and hilariously translates as, "I want to go to Parliament with you." The Knesset, capitalized and unitalicized, is, of course, our unicameral legislature, modeled on the 120-seat Great Knesset of the Second Temple Era. But I think my son may be on to something.
This brings us to Beersheba, capital of the
Israeli southland and the ancient tribal territory of Shimon. Elsewhere
in Genesis Rabba (54:33), the Midrash credits the Patriarch Abraham
with the founding of the first Jewish court--in Beersheba. After the
Kierkegaardian trauma of the Binding of Isaac, Abraham sends his heir
off to the beit midrash of Shem and Eber, and afterwards "They arose and went together to Beersheba" to apply what Isaac had learnt (Midrash Lekach Tov,
Gen. 22:19). Generations later, the Prophet Samuel follows this example
when "he placed his sons as judges for Israel... judges in Beersheba"
(I Samuel 8:1-2).