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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.
26
Isaac Lives at Gerar
1There was another famine in the land besides the earlier one during the time of Abraham. Isaac went to Abimelech, king of the Philistines, at Gerar. 2The LORD had appeared to Isaac and had said, “Do not go to Egypt; stay in this land, where I tell you to stay. 3#Gen 22.16–18Live here, and I will be with you and bless you. I am going to give all this territory to you and to your descendants. I will keep the promise I made to your father Abraham. 4I will give you as many descendants as there are stars in the sky, and I will give them all this territory. All the nations will ask me to bless them as I have blessed your descendants. 5I will bless you, because Abraham obeyed me and kept all my laws and commands.”
6So Isaac lived at Gerar. 7#Gen 12.13; 20.2When the men there asked about his wife, he said that she was his sister. He would not admit that she was his wife, because he was afraid that the men there would kill him to get Rebecca, who was very beautiful. 8When Isaac had been there for some time, King Abimelech looked down from his window and saw Isaac and Rebecca making love. 9Abimelech sent for Isaac and said, “So she is your wife! Why did you say she was your sister?”
He answered, “I thought I would be killed if I said she was my wife.”
10“What have you done to us?” Abimelech said. “One of my men might easily have slept with your wife, and you would have been responsible for our guilt.” 11Abimelech warned all the people: “Anyone who ill-treats this man or his wife will be put to death.”
12Isaac sowed seed in that land, and that year he harvested a hundred times as much as he had sown, because the LORD blessed him. 13He continued to prosper and became a very rich man. 14Because he had many herds of sheep and cattle and many servants, the Philistines were jealous of him. 15So they filled in all the wells which the servants of his father Abraham had dug while Abraham was alive.
16Then Abimelech said to Isaac, “Leave our country. You have become more powerful than we are.” 17So Isaac left and set up his camp in the Valley of Gerar, where he stayed for some time. 18He dug once again the wells which had been dug during the time of Abraham and which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham's death. Isaac gave the wells the same names that his father had given them.
19Isaac's servants dug a well in the valley and found water. 20The shepherds of Gerar quarrelled with Isaac's shepherds and said, “This water belongs to us.” So Isaac named the well “Quarrel”.
21Isaac's servants dug another well, and there was a quarrel about that one also, so he named it “Enmity”. 22He moved away from there and dug another well. There was no dispute about this one, so he named it “Freedom”. He said, “Now the LORD has given us freedom to live in the land, and we will be prosperous here.”
23Isaac left and went to Beersheba. 24That night the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid; I am with you. I will bless you and give you many descendants because of my promise to my servant Abraham.” 25Isaac built an altar there and worshipped the LORD. Then he set up his camp there, and his servants dug another well.
The Agreement between Isaac and Abimelech
26 # Gen 21.22 Abimelech came from Gerar with Ahuzzath his adviser and Phicol the commander of his army to see Isaac. 27So Isaac asked, “Why have you now come to see me, when you were so unfriendly to me before and made me leave your country?”
28They answered, “Now we know that the LORD is with you, and we think that there should be a solemn agreement between us. We want you to promise 29that you will not harm us, just as we did not harm you. We were kind to you and let you leave peacefully. Now it is clear that the LORD has blessed you.” 30Isaac prepared a feast for them, and they ate and drank. 31Early next morning each man made his promise and sealed it with a vow. Isaac said goodbye to them, and they parted as friends.
32On that day Isaac's servants came and told him about the well which they had dug. They said, “We have found water.” 33He named the well “Vow”. That is how the city of Beersheba#26.33 Beersheba: This name in Hebrew means “Well of the Vow” or “Well of Seven” (see also 21.31). got its name.
Esau's Foreign Wives
34When Esau was forty years old, he married two Hittite women, Judith the daughter of Beeri, and Basemath the daughter of Elon. 35They made life miserable for Isaac and Rebecca.