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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
The Lord’s First Promise to Isaac
1There was a famine in the land in addition to the earlier one during Abraham’s time. So Isaac went to King Abimelech of the Philistines in Gerar.
2The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Don’t go to Egypt. Stay where I tell you. 3Live here in this land for a while, and I will be with you and bless you. I will give all these lands to you and your descendants. I will keep the oath that I swore to your father Abraham. 4I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and give all these lands to your descendants. Through your descendant all the nations of the earth will be blessed. 5I will bless you because Abraham obeyed me and completed the duties, commands, laws, and instructions I gave him.” 6So Isaac lived in Gerar.
Isaac and Rebekah at Gerar
7When the men of that place asked about his wife, Isaac answered, “She’s my sister.” He was afraid to say “my wife.” He thought that the men of that place would kill him to get Rebekah, because she was an attractive woman. 8When he had been there a long time, King Abimelech of the Philistines looked out of his window and saw Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah.
9Abimelech called for Isaac and said, “So she’s really your wife! How could you say, ‘She’s my sister’?”
Isaac answered him, “I thought I would be killed because of her.”
10Then Abimelech said, “What have you done to us! One of the people might have easily gone to bed with your wife, and then you would have made us guilty of sin.” 11So Abimelech ordered his people, “Anyone who touches this man or his wife will be put to death.”
12Isaac planted ⌞crops⌟ in that land. In that same year he harvested a hundred times as much as he had planted because the Lord had blessed him. 13He continued to be successful, becoming very rich. 14Because he owned so many flocks, herds, and servants, the Philistines became jealous of him. 15So the Philistines filled in all the wells that his father’s servants had dug during his father Abraham’s lifetime.
16Finally, Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us! You’ve become more powerful than we are.”
17So Isaac moved away. He set up his tents in the Gerar Valley and lived there. 18He dug out the wells that had been dug during his father Abraham’s lifetime. The Philistines had filled them in after Abraham’s death. He gave them the same names that his father had given them.
19Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found a spring-fed well. 20The herders from Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herders, claiming, “This water is ours!” So Isaac named the well Esek [Argument], because they had argued with him. 21Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that one too. So Isaac named it Sitnah [Accusation]. 22He moved on from there and dug another well. They didn’t quarrel over this one. So he named it Rehoboth [Roomy] and said, “Now the Lord has made room for us, and we will prosper in this land.”
The LORD’s Second Promise to Isaac
23He went from there to Beersheba. 24That night the Lord appeared to Isaac, and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Don’t be afraid, because I am with you. I will bless you and increase the number of your descendants for my servant Abraham’s sake.” 25So Isaac built an altar there and worshiped the Lord. He also pitched his tent in that place, and his servants dug a well there.
Isaac’s Agreement with Abimelech
26Abimelech, his friend Ahuzzath, and Phicol, the commander of his army, came from Gerar to see Isaac. 27Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you hate me and sent me away from you?”
28They answered, “We have seen that the Lord is with you. So we thought, ‘There should be a solemn agreement between us.’ We’d like to make an agreement with you 29that you will not harm us, since we have not touched you. We have done only good to you and let you go in peace. Now you are blessed by the Lord.”
30Isaac prepared a special dinner for them, and they ate and drank. 31Early the next morning they exchanged oaths. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they left peacefully.
32That same day Isaac’s servants came and told him about a well they had dug. They said to him, “We’ve found water.” 33So he named it Shibah [Oath]. That is why the name of the city is still Beersheba today.
Esau’s Marriages
34When Esau was 40 years old, he married Judith, daughter of Beeri the Hittite. He also married Basemath, daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35These women brought Isaac and Rebekah a lot of grief.