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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 Abimelek
Ge 12:10–20; 20:1–18
1#Ge 12:10There was a famine in the land, in addition to the first famine that was during the days of Abraham. Isaac went to Abimelek king of the Philistines in Gerar. 2#Ge 12:1; 12:7The Lord appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt. Live in the land of which I will tell you. 3#Ge 13:15; 28:15Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you; for I will give to you and all your descendants all these lands, and I will fulfill the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. 4#Ge 15:5; 22:17–18I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of the heavens and will give your descendants all these lands. By your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed,#Or will bless themselves. 5#Ge 22:16; 22:18because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” 6So Isaac lived in Gerar.
7#Ge 12:13; 20:2The men of the place asked him about his wife. And he said, “She is my sister,” for he was afraid to say, “She is my wife,” thinking, “The men of the place might kill me on account of Rebekah, because she is beautiful in appearance.”
8When he had been there a long time, Abim­elek the king of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw Isaac caressing Rebekah his wife. 9Abimelek summoned Isaac and said, “She is surely your wife, so how is it you said, ‘She is my sister’?”
Then Isaac said to him, “Because I said, ‘I might die on account of her.’ ”
10Abimelek said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the people might have easily lain with your wife, and you might have brought guilt upon us!”
11#Ps 105:15Abimelek charged all his people, saying, “He who touches this man or his wife will surely be put to death.”
12#Ge 26:3; 24:1Then Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; the Lord blessed him. 13The man became rich and continued to prosper until he became very wealthy. 14#Ge 37:11; Ecc 4:4For he had possessions of flocks and herds and a great number of servants so that the Philistines envied him. 15#Ge 21:30For the Philistines had stopped up all the wells which his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father by filling them with dirt.
16#Ex 1:9Abimelek said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are much more powerful than we are.”
17So Isaac departed from there and pitched his tent in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. 18#Ge 21:31Isaac dug again the wells of water, which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham. He called their names after the names his father had called them.
19But when Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found a well of running water there, 20#Ge 21:25the herdsmen of Gerar contended with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, “The water is ours.” So he called the name of the well Esek, because they contended with him. 21They dug another well and quarreled over that also. So he called the name of it Sitnah. 22#Ge 17:6; Ex 1:7Then he moved away from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called the name of it Rehoboth, for he said, “For now the Lord has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land.”
23He went up from there to Beersheba. 24#Ge 15:1; 17:7The Lord appeared to him that same night 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 My servant Abraham.”
25#Ge 13:18; Ps 116:17He built an altar there, called on the name of the Lord, and pitched his tent there. And there Isaac’s servants dug a well.
26Then Abimelek went to him from Gerar, along with Ahuzzath, one of his friends, and Phicol the commander of his army. 27#Ge 26:16; Jdg 11:7Isaac said to them, “Why have you come to me, since you hate me and have sent me away from you?”
28#Ge 21:22–23And they said, “We saw plainly that the Lord was with you. So we said, ‘Let there now be an oath between us, between you and us, and let us make a covenant with you, 29#Ge 24:31; Ps 115:15so that you will do us no harm, just as we have not touched you, and have done you nothing but good and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed of the Lord.’ ”
30#Ge 19:3Then he made them a feast, and they ate and drank. 31They rose up early in the morning and swore an oath with one another. Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace.
32That same day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well that they had dug and said to him, “We have found water.” 33#Ge 21:31And he called it Shibah. Therefore, the name of the city is Beersheba to this day.
34#Ge 36:2Esau was forty years old when he took as wives Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite, 35and they brought grief to Isaac and to Rebekah.