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Genesis 26

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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.
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Isaac and Rebekah visit Gerar
1When a famine gripped the land, a different one from the first famine that occurred in Abraham’s time, Isaac set out toward Gerar and toward King Abimelech of the Philistines. 2The LORD appeared to him and said, “Don’t go down to Egypt but settle temporarily in the land that I will show you. 3Stay in this land as an immigrant, and I will be with you and bless you because I will give all of these lands to you and your descendants. I will keep my word, which I gave to your father Abraham. 4I will give you as many descendants as the stars in the sky, and I will give your descendants all of these lands. All of the nations of the earth will be blessed because of your descendants. 5I will do this because Abraham obeyed me and kept my orders, my commandments, my statutes, and my instructions.”
6So Isaac lived in Gerar. 7When the men who lived there asked about his wife, he said, “She’s my sister,” because he was afraid to say, “my wife,” thinking, The men who live there will kill me for Rebekah because she’s very beautiful. 8After Isaac had lived there for some time, the Philistines’ King Abimelech looked out his window and saw Isaac laughing together with his wife Rebekah.
9So Abimelech summoned Isaac and said, “She’s your wife, isn’t she? How could you say, ‘She’s my sister’?”
Isaac responded, “Because I thought that I might be killed because of her.”
10Abimelech said, “What are you trying to do to us? Before long, one of the people would have slept with your wife; and you would have made us guilty.” 11Abimelech gave orders to all of the people, “Anyone who touches this man or his wife will be put to death!”
Isaac’s treaty with the Philistines
12Isaac planted grain in that land and reaped one hundred shearim#26.12 An unknown measure of grain that year because the LORD had blessed him. 13Isaac grew richer and richer until he was extremely wealthy. 14He had livestock, both flocks and cattle, and many servants. As a result, the Philistines envied him. 15The Philistines closed up and filled with dirt all of the wells that his father’s servants had dug during his father Abraham’s lifetime. 16Abimelech said to Isaac, “Move away from us because you have become too powerful among us.”
17So Isaac moved away from there, camped in the valley of Gerar, and lived there. 18Isaac dug out again the wells that were dug during the lifetime of his father Abraham. The Philistines had closed them up after Abraham’s death. Isaac gave them the same names his father had given them. 19Isaac’s servants dug wells in the valley and found a well there with fresh water. 20Isaac’s shepherds argued with Gerar’s shepherds, each claiming, “This is our water.” So Isaac named the well Esek#26.20 Or quarrel because they quarreled with him. 21They dug another well and argued about it too, so he named it Sitnah.#26.21 Or accusation 22He left there and dug another well, but they didn’t argue about it, so he named it Rehoboth#26.22 Or open spaces and said, “Now the LORD has made an open space for us and has made us fertile in the land.”
23Then he went up from Gerar to Beer-sheba. 24The LORD appeared to him that night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Don’t be afraid because I am with you. I will bless you, and I will give you many children for my servant Abraham’s sake.” 25So Isaac built an altar there and worshipped in the LORD’s name. Isaac pitched his tent there, and his servants dug a well.
26But Abimelech set out toward him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his ally and Phicol the commander of his forces. 27Isaac said to him, “Why have you come after me? You resented me and sent me away from you.”
28They said, “We now see that the LORD was with you. We propose that there be a formal agreement between us and that we draw up a treaty#26.28 Or covenant with you: 29you must not treat us badly since we haven’t harmed you and since we have treated you well at all times. Then we will send you away peacefully, for you are now blessed by the LORD.” 30Isaac prepared a banquet for them, and they ate and drank. 31They got up early in the morning, and they gave each other their word. Isaac sent them off, and they left peacefully.
32That day Isaac’s servants informed him about the well that they had been digging and said to him, “We found water.” 33He called it Shibah;#26.33 Or giving one’s word or seven therefore, the city’s name has been Beer-sheba#26.33 Or Well of giving one’s word or Well of seven until today.
Esau’s wives
34When Esau was 40 years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35They made life very difficult for Isaac and Rebekah.