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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.
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Isaac and Abimelech
1And there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine which was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech, king of the Philistines, to Gerar. 2And Yahweh appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land which I will show to you. 3Dwell as an alien in this land, and I will be with you, and will bless you, for I will give all these lands to you and to your descendants, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham you father. 4And I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and I will give to your descendants all these lands. And all nations of the earth will be blessed through your offspring, 5because Abraham listened to my voice and kept my charge: my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”
6So Isaac settled in Gerar. 7When the men of the place asked concerning his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” for he was afraid to say, “my wife,” thinking#Or “lest” “the men of the place will kill me on account of Rebekah, for she was beautiful.”#Literally “good of appearance” 8And it happened that, when he had been there a long time,#Literally “when the days there were long to him” Abimelech the king of the Philistines looked through the window, and saw—behold—Isaac was fondling Rebekah his wife. 9And Abimelech called Isaac#Or “to Isaac” and said, “Surely she is your wife. Now why did you say ‘She is my sister’?” And Isaac said to him, “Because I thought I would die on account of her.” 10And Abimelech said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have slept with your wife! Then you would have brought guilt upon us!” 11Then Abimelech instructed all the people, saying, “The one who touches this man or his wife shall certainly die.”
12And Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in that same year a hundredfold, and Yahweh blessed him. 13And the man became wealthier and wealthier#Literally “became great and went, going and became great” until he was exceedingly wealthy. 14And he possessed sheep and cattle and many servants, so that the Philistines envied him. 15And the Philistines stopped up all the wells that the servants of his father had dug in the days of Abraham his father. They filled them with earth. 16And Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you have become much too powerful for us.” 17So Isaac departed from there and camped in the valley of Gerar, and settled there. 18And Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after the death of Abraham. And he gave#Or “called” to them the same names#Literally “names as names” which his father had given#Or “called” them. 19And when the servants of Isaac dug in the valley, they found a well of fresh water there. 20Then the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with the herdsmen of Isaac, saying, “The water is ours.” And he called the name of the well Esek, because they contended with him. 21And they dug another well, and they quarreled over it also. And he called its name Sitnah. 22Then he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. And he called its name Rehoboth, and said, “Now Yahweh has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.” 23And from there he went up to Beersheba. 24And Yahweh appeared to him that night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you, and I will bless you and make your descendants numerous for the sake of my servant Abraham.” 25And he built an altar there and called on the name of Yahweh. And he pitched his tent there, and the servants of Isaac dug a well there. 26Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar with Ahuzzath his friend and Phicol his army commander. 27And Isaac said to them, “Why have you come to me? You hate me and sent me away from you.” 28And they said, “We see clearly that Yahweh has been with you, so we thought#Or “said” let there be an oath between us—between us and you—and let us make#Literally “cut” a covenant with you 29that you may not do us harm just as we have not touched you, but have only done good to you and sent you away in peace. You are now blessed by Yahweh.” 30So he made a meal for them, and they ate and drank. 31And they arose early in the morning and each one swore to the other,#Or “to his brother” and Isaac sent them away. And they left him in peace. 32And it happened that on that same day the servants of Isaac came and told him about the well that they had dug. And they said, “We have found water!” 33And he called it Sheba. Therefore the name of the city is Beersheba unto this day.
34And when Esau was forty years old he took as wife Judith, daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath, daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35And they made life bitter#Literally “they caused bitterness of spirit” for Isaac and Rebekah.