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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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1And there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine which had been in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech the king of the Philistines, to Gerar. 2And Jehovah appeared to him and said, Go not down to Egypt: dwell in the land that I shall tell thee of. 3Sojourn in this land; and I will be with thee and bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries; and I will perform the oath which I swore unto Abraham thy father. 4And I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and unto thy seed will I give all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves — 5because that Abraham hearkened to my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.
6And Isaac dwelt at Gerar. 7And the men of the place asked about his wife. And he said, She is my sister; for he feared to say, my wife, saying to himself, Lest the men of the place slay me on account of Rebecca — because she was fair in countenance. 8And it came to pass when he had been there some time, that Abimelech the king of the Philistines looked out of the window, and saw, and behold, Isaac was dallying with Rebecca his wife. 9Then Abimelech called Isaac, and said, Behold, she is certainly thy wife; and how saidst thou, She is my sister? and Isaac said to him, Because I said, Lest I die on account of her. 10And Abimelech said, What is this thou hast done to us? But a little and one of the people might have lain with thy wife, and thou wouldest have brought a trespass on us. 11And Abimelech charged all the people, saying, He that touches this man or his wife shall certainly be put to death.
12And Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year a hundredfold; and Jehovah blessed him. 13And the man became great, and he became continually greater, until he was very great. 14And he had possessions of flocks, and possessions of herds, and a great number of servants; and the Philistines envied him. 15And all the wells that his father's servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines stopped them and filled them with earth. 16And Abimelech said to Isaac, Go from us; for thou art become much mightier than we. 17And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his camp in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. 18And Isaac dug again the wells of water that they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, and that the Philistines had stopped after the death of Abraham; and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them. 19And Isaac's servants dug in the valley, and found there a well of springing water. 20But the shepherds of Gerar strove with Isaac's shepherds, saying, The water is ours. And he called the name of the well Esek, because they had quarrelled with him. 21And they dug another well, and they strove for that also; and he called the name of it Sitnah. 22And he removed thence and dug another well; and they did not strive for that. And he called the name of it Rehoboth, and said, For now Jehovah has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land. 23And he went up thence to Beer-sheba. 24And Jehovah appeared to him the same night, and said, I am the God#GodHebrew: Elohim of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham's sake. 25And he built an altar there, and called upon the name of Jehovah. And he pitched his tent there; and there Isaac's servants dug a well.
26And Abimelech, and Ahuzzath his friend, and Phichol the captain of his host, went to him from Gerar. 27And Isaac said to them, Why are ye come to me, seeing ye hate me, and have driven me away from you? 28And they said, We saw certainly that Jehovah is with thee; and we said, Let there be then an oath between us — between us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee, 29that thou wilt do us no wrong, as we have not touched thee, and as we have done to thee nothing but good, and have let thee go in peace; thou art now blessed of Jehovah. 30And he made them a feast, and they ate and drank. 31And they rose early in the morning, and swore one to another; and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace. 32And it came to pass the same day, that Isaac's servants came, and told him concerning the well that they had dug, and said to him, We have found water. 33And he called it Shebah; therefore the name of the city is Beer-sheba to this day.
34And Esau was forty years old, when he took as wives Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basmath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35And they were a grief of mind to Isaac and to Rebecca.