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Genesis 26

26
Isaac and Abimelech. 1#The promise of land and numerous descendants given to Abraham (12:1–3; 15; 17; 22:17–18) is renewed for his son Isaac. The divine blessing to Isaac is mentioned also in vv. 12, 24, and 29. #Gn 12:10–20. There was a famine in the land, distinct from the earlier one that had occurred in the days of Abraham, and Isaac went down to Abimelech, king of the Philistines in Gerar.#Gn 12:10. 2The Lord appeared to him and said: Do not go down to Egypt, but camp in this land wherever I tell you. 3Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I will give all these lands, in fulfillment of the oath that I swore to your father Abraham.#Gn 12:7; 15:18; Ex 32:13; Ps 105:9; Sir 44:22; Heb 11:9. 4I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky, and I will give them all these lands, and in your descendants all the nations of the earth will find blessing—#Gn 12:3; 22:17–18; 28:14; Ex 32:13. 5this because Abraham obeyed me, keeping my mandate, my commandments, my ordinances, and my instructions.
6#This scene is the third version of the wife-in-danger story (cf. chaps. 12 and 20). The mention of the famine in 26:1 recalls the famine in 12:10; the name Abimelech, king of the Philistines in Gerar, recalls 20:2. The deception, according to all the stories, is the claim that the wife is a sister. This story (from the Yahwist source) departs from the two previous accounts in that the wife is not taken into the harem of the foreign king. So Isaac settled in Gerar. 7When the men of the place asked questions about his wife, he answered, “She is my sister.” He was afraid that, if he called her his wife, the men of the place would kill him on account of Rebekah, since she was beautiful. 8But when they had been there for a long time, Abimelech, king of the Philistines, looked out of a window and saw Isaac fondling his wife Rebekah. 9He called for Isaac and said: “She must certainly be your wife! How could you have said, ‘She is my sister’?” Isaac replied, “I thought I might lose my life on her account.” 10“How could you have done this to us!” exclaimed Abimelech. “It would have taken very little for one of the people to lie with your wife, and so you would have brought guilt upon us!” 11Abimelech then commanded all the people: “Anyone who maltreats this man or his wife shall be put to death.”
12#The dispute is over water rights. In a sparsely watered land, wells were precious and claims on water could function as a kind of claim on the land. Scholars generally judge the account of the dispute over water rights and its settlement by a legal agreement between Isaac and Abimelech to be a Yahwist version of the similar story about Abraham in 21:22–34. Here, Abimelech realizes that Isaac has brought blessing to his people and thus desires a covenant with him. The feast in v. 30 is part of the covenant ceremony. Isaac sowed a crop in that region and reaped a hundredfold the same year. Since the Lord blessed him, 13#Jb 1:3. he became richer and richer all the time, until he was very wealthy. 14He acquired flocks and herds, and a great work force, and so the Philistines became envious of him. 15#Gn 21:25–31. The Philistines had stopped up and filled with dirt all the wells that his father’s servants had dug back in the days of his father Abraham. 16So Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us; you have become far too numerous for us.” 17Isaac left there and camped in the Wadi Gerar where he stayed. 18Isaac reopened the wells which his father’s servants had dug back in the days of his father Abraham and which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham’s death; he gave them names like those that his father had given them. 19But when Isaac’s servants dug in the wadi and reached spring water in their well, 20the shepherds of Gerar argued with Isaac’s shepherds, saying, “The water belongs to us!” So he named the well Esek,#Esek: “quarrel.” because they had quarreled there. 21Then they dug another well, and they argued over that one too; so he named it Sitnah.#Sitnah: “opposition.” 22So he moved on from there and dug still another well, but over this one they did not argue. He named it Rehoboth,#Rehoboth: “wide spaces,” i.e., ample room to live; site is probably SW of modern day Beer-sheba. and said, “Because the Lord has now given us ample room, we shall flourish in the land.”
23From there Isaac went up to Beer-sheba. 24The same night the Lord appeared to him and said: I am the God of Abraham, your father. Do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for the sake of Abraham, my servant.#Gn 46:3. 25So Isaac built an altar there and invoked the Lord by name. After he had pitched his tent there, Isaac’s servants began to dig a well nearby.
26#Gn 21:22–31; Prv 16:7. Then Abimelech came to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath, his councilor, and Phicol, the general of his army. 27Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you hate me and have driven me away from you?” 28They answered: “We clearly see that the Lord has been with you, so we thought: let there be a sworn agreement between our two sides—between you and us. Let us make a covenant with you: 29you shall do no harm to us, just as we have not maltreated you, but have always acted kindly toward you and have let you depart in peace. So now, may you be blessed by the Lord!” 30Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. 31Early the next morning they exchanged oaths. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they departed from him in peace.
32That same day Isaac’s servants came and informed him about the well they had been digging; they told him, “We have reached water!” 33He called it Shibah;#Shibah: the place name Shibah is a play on two Hebrew words, shebu‘ah, “oath,” and shwebaa‘, “seven.” In v. 31, they exchanged oaths. hence the name of the city is Beer-sheba to this day. 34#These verses from the Priestly source introduce the next section on Esau’s loss of his right as firstborn by suggesting a motivation for this in Isaac’s and Rebekah’s dislike for Esau’s Canaanite wives. When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith, daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath, daughter of Elon the Hivite.#Gn 27:46. 35But they became a source of bitterness to Isaac and Rebekah.

Genesis 26

26
1There was a famine in the country—not the one that happened before in Abraham's time, but a later one. So Isaac moved to Gerar in the territory of Abimelech, king of the Philistines.
2The Lord appeared to Isaac and told him, “Don't go to Egypt—live in the country that I tell you to. 3Stay here in this country. I will be with you and I will bless you, because I'm going to give you and your descendants all these lands. I will keep the solemn promise that I swore to Abraham your father. 4I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven and I will give them all these lands. All the nations of the earth will be blessed by your descendants, 5because Abraham did what I told him, and kept my requirements, my commands, my regulations, and my laws.”
6So Isaac stayed in Gerar. 7When the men there asked him about his wife, he told them, “She's my sister,” because he was afraid. He said to himself, “If I say she's my wife, the men here will kill me to get Rebekah, because she's so beautiful.” 8But later on, after he'd been there a while, Abimelech, king of the Philistines, happened to look out the window and saw Isaac lovingly fondling his wife Rebekah.
9Abimelech sent for Isaac and complained. “From what I saw she's clearly your wife!” he said. “Why on earth did you say, ‘She's my sister’?”
“Because I thought I'd be killed because of her,” Isaac replied.
10“Why would you do this to us?” Abimelech asked. “One of the men here might have slept with your wife, and you would have made us all guilty!”
11Abimelech issued orders to all the people, warning them, “Anyone who touches this man or his wife will be executed.”
12Isaac sowed grain that year, and the Lord blessed him with a harvest that was a hundred times what he planted. 13He became a rich man, and his wealth steadily increased until he was very rich. 14He owned many flocks of sheep and herds of cattle, as well as many slaves. He had so much that the Philistines became jealous of him. 15So the Philistines used dirt to block up all the wells his father Abraham's servants had dug.
16Then Abimelech told Isaac, “You have to leave our country, because you've become much too powerful for us.”
17So Isaac moved away and set up his tents in the Gerar Valley where he settled down. 18He unblocked the wells that had been dug in his father Abraham's time—the ones the Philistines had blocked after the death of Abraham. He gave them the same names his father had.
19Isaac's servants also dug a new well in the valley and found spring water. 20But the herdsmen from Gerar argued with Isaac's herdsmen, claiming, “That's our water!” So Isaac named the well, “Argument,” because they argued with him. 21He had another well dug, and they argued over that one too. He named the well, “Opposition.”#26:21. “Opposition”: The word is in fact the female form of the word, “satan,” meaning opponent or adversary. 22So they moved on from there and he had another well dug. This time there was no argument so he named the well, “Freedom,”#26:22. “Freedom”: literally, “wide/open space,” which is often used in Hebrew as a synonym for freedom, since people are then given room to move around. See for example Job 36:16; Psalms 118:5. saying, “Now the Lord has given us freedom to expand and be successful in this land.”
23From there he moved on to Beersheba. 24That night the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father. Don't be afraid, for I am with you. I will bless you and give you many descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.” 25Isaac built an altar and worshiped the Lord. He also set up his tent, and his servants dug a well there.
26Sometime later Abimelech came from Gerar to see Isaac, along with Ahuzzath his advisor, and Phicol the commander of his army.#26:26. See 21:22. In view of the length of time between these events it is unlikely that they are the same individuals. These were probably official titles rather than personal names. 27“Why have you come to see me?” Isaac asked them. “Previously you hated me and told me to leave!”
28“Now we realize that the Lord is with you,” they replied. “So we agreed that we should make a sworn agreement with you. 29You'll promise not to harm us in the same way we've never hurt you. You'll agree that we've always treated you well, and when we asked you to leave we did so kindly. Now look at how the Lord is blessing you!”
30So Isaac had a special meal prepared to celebrate the agreement. They ate and drank, 31and got up early in the morning and they each swore oaths to one other. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they left in peace.
32It was that very day when Isaac's servants who'd been digging a well came and told him, “We've found water!” 33So Isaac named the well, “Oath,” and that's why the name of the town is “Well of the Oath” (Beersheba) to this day.
34When Esau was 40, he married Judith, daughter of Beeri the Hittite, as well as Basemath, daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35They caused Isaac and Rebekah a great deal of grief.